This article is brought to you by OCT. It is his first attempt at writing a food related article, which I certainly hope won't be his last!
It has been ages since I last made something for Mandy, or for that matter, cook in the kitcken. I consider myself very lucky to come home every evening to either new menu or tasty meals. The days where I have to reheat my 3 day old food seems a distant memory.
Occupied with work, the time I have with Mandy is mostly spent on meals and grocery shopping. The latter is what I look forward to most every weekend. There were lots of pineapple in Soulard market that Saturday, and we decided we would like to make pineapple fried rice.
Before Mandy came to St. Louis, pineapple fried rice was my favorite dish for any Singaporean gathering. However, I used to cook with canned pineapple and ready-made seasoning packet (from Asian Gourmet).
Here, we used fresh pineapple and Mandy prepared her own seasoning for the fried rice. Mandy is quite good in making sauces that often taste "multi-dimensional". I am more obessed in food presentation, as you can see from all the finely minced vegetable and meat ingredients.
A big wok on direct fire stove would be ideal for frying rice. Unfortunately we only have a medium size non-stick pan on electric stove. As a result, I have to fry the various ingredients separately to saute the meat and caramelise the vegetables. Shrimps, sliced sausages and imitate crab meat were pan-fried in oil with garlic and shallot. They were set aside as I continued frying the carrot and asparagus. Frying in batches imparts more flavour to the food and prevent them from being overcooked. The cooked vegetables were removed from the heat as I proceeded with the rice.
The key to flavorful rice lies in controlling the temperature of the ingredients in the pan. I learnt from a cook show that 3 cycles of "cold & hot" treatment is critical. Briefly, the first cycle is to add cold rice (refrigerated cooked rice) to a hot pan of garlic and oil and fried until the rice became hot. The next cycle is to add the sauce onto the rice. The mixture was cooked until the sauce became evenly distributed and dried. The smell of evaporated sauces and wine indicates that the pan has reached the desired heat. The third cycle ends with the adding of minced pineapple onto the rice. The rice was fried again until it became dried. It is important that the steamed rice is cold. Although considered as "cold step", the sauces and pineapple can be at room temperature.
Finally, the vegetables and meats were added onto the rice and fried for several minutes. I admit that the frying process was quite a strenous exercise and two spatulas were used all the time to ensure complete mixing of all the ingredients. The point when the rice looked dried and some of them beginning to get charred indicates that the dish is done. This usually takes about 5-8 minutes. Last but not least, we put peanuts (Planter's party peanuts) and pork floss onto the fried rice.
I thought it really tasted good...hmm I am feeling hungry again as I typed. Mandy really has the sauces blending well with the pineapple. If you have time, we would suggest you replacing sausages with chicken. The reason being sausages tend to dominate other ingredients with their strong taste.
Edit: Upon finishing his debut entry, OCT is now munching on the lemon lavender cake Mandy made last Friday.
OCT's Pineapple Fried Rice
2.5 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup cubed imitation crab
4 oz sliced sausages
8 large shrimps, shelled, deveined (5 oz/150g
1/2 cup pineapple chunk
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 tbsp sambal oelek (or more)
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup of finely diced carrot
3 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice from the pineapple
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup roasted unsalted peanut
1/2 cup sliced asparagus
2 stems green onion, thinly chopped
strips of red pepper
pork floss and sesame seed for garnish (optional)
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok (or a large frying pan) until it is just about to smoke. Add carrot, stirfry for about 1 minutes, until it slightly caramelised. Add garlic and shallot and stirfry for 30 seconds.Remove from pan.
In the same frying pan, add 1 tbsp oil, add sausages and shrimps and stirfry for 1-1.5 minutes, until the prawns turn pink and edges of the sausages brown, remove the ingredients from pan, then decrease heat to medium high.
Add the cold rice to the pan,breaking it up with the wooden spoon.Add sambal oelek, soy sauce,pineapple juice and fish sauce on the rice and then using a shoveling motion to combine the sauce and rice, making sure that all the rice has broken into individual grains and covered with sauce. Toss the carrot, garlic, shallot, shrimp, sausages and imitation crabs back to the pan, and stirfry for another minute.Toss stirring from the bottom up so that all the rice has a chance to fry in the oil and everything is integrated.
Sprinkle black pepper on the rice and add peanut, green onion and the reserved pineapple chunks. Toss-stir for 1- 2 minutes, folding the new ingredients into the rice .Taste, if it's not salty enough, add some salt. Think the rice tasted a bit bland, try adding one/two tablespoons of rice vinegar and one tablespoon of sugar. Continue to stirfry and taste until satisfy. Remove fom heat. Transfer to a serving dish (in this case, it's the hollowed pineapple halve) and top with red pepper strips.
Garnish with more peanuts,pork floss and sesame seed. Serve immediately.
Note: This is a guestimated recipe. We used fresh pineapple for this dish, but the canned one works in a pinch.You can easily swap with other meat and veggies you have on hand.Use the ingredient list as a guideline and season the fried rice to suit your taste.