Thai Red Curry Fried Rice
Thai red curry paste makes for a flavorful base for simple fried rice. Use your favorite protein and herbs and you’ve got breakfast, lunch or dinner.
What’s your go-to meal when you find yourself out of time and you have less than 30 minutes to prepare dinner? A few selections from the prepared food counter at your market? A sandwich? Cereal? Or do you just say, forget it, we’re eating out?
I admit to resorting to all of the above depending on how crazy life gets, though I don’t turn to those convenient options as much as I turn to another: fried rice. Rice is a staple in my pantry as not just my favorite clean-out-the-fridge meal but it’s also for those days when time is short.
And I realize that these days no one needs a lesson on how to prepare fried rice–we all know we can use whatever protein and vegetables are available. At its simplest, you can have a satisfying meal with just leftover rice, eggs and soy sauce.
But there are ways add a little flair to the ordinary. Instead of regular soy sauce, use sweet soy sauce (kecap manis). It’s a main ingredient in Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng) and is especially complementary when chicken is used as the protein (or tofu).
For this recipe I relied on another favorite flavoring agent–Thai red curry paste. It’s been a staple in my pantry for years and not just for preparing the traditional coconut milk based dishes. I love it in this Thai-Style Coconut Curry Chicken Soup and this Thai-Style Carrot Soup but it’s wonderful for simple fried rice, too.
How to Prepare Thai Red Curry Fried Rice
The red curry paste has a way of making leftover rice taste like much effort has been put into preparing it when the opposite is true.
For this recipe I used leftover tofu, eggs, scallions and cilantro to toss with the rice and served it nasi goreng style garnished with tomato and cucumber slices. The eggs can be incorporated two ways–fried and served over the rice or scrambled and stir-fried with the rice.
If you have little bits of kale or spinach throw them in, too. I tend to go heavier on the vegetables with fried rice which ups its nutritional value but here I just used an abundance of scallions and cilantro. Either way, a fresh-from-the-skillet bowl of rice that took only a few minutes to put together would be a much more satisfying dinner than cereal but I’d happily have it for breakfast or lunch, too.
Thai Red Curry Fried Rice
Thai red curry paste makes for a flavorful base for simple fried rice. Use your favorite protein and herbs and you've got breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed (1/2 block)
- 1/2 onion, diced (or 1 shallot)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (soy sauce or Liquid/Coconut Aminos)
- 3 cups cooked rice (brown or white; long or short grain)
- eggs (one per person)(See Note)
- 3-4 sprigs chopped cilantro
- 2-3 stalks chopped scallions
Optional Garnishes (choose what you like)
- lime wedges
- sliced cucumbers
- sliced tomatoes
- chopped cilantro
- chopped scallions
- Fish sauce
- chopped Thai Chilies (or other chilies)
Heat two to three tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the tofu cubes, seaon with salt and pepper and cook until the golden, about eight minutes. You can precook any other protein you prefer in same way. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. If you want to top your rice with fried eggs, fry them in the same skillet and set aside. (See below if you plan to cook the egg in the rice.)
In the same skillet add the chopped onion (or shallot) and cook for two to three minutes. Add another splash of oil if your skillet is too dry. Watch your heat–you want the onion to begin to caramelize but not burn. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the Thai curry paste and fish sauce and stir around in the onion until fragrant and well-distributed. Add the rice, turn up the heat to medium high (if not already there) and stir fry for about three minutes. If you want add eggs, take two eggs and lightly scramble them in a bowl. Make some room in the skillet by setting the rice to one side and pour in the eggs. Scramble until mostly cooked then stir into the rice. Toss in some of the chopped cilantro and scallions then turn off the heat.
Plate and serve with recommended garnishes.
This is really wonderful. I’ve made versions of fried rice, like David Chang’s bacon fried rice, but this is fabulous. Such great flavors, and I love tofu in anything. In case you care, there are two – i’s in scallions.
Mmm, bacon fried rice is so good, too. Glad you like the idea of this fried rice, Mimi and thanks for the heads up! Typo fixed!!
Jeff the Chef says
I love fried rice, but I’ve never made it at home. So thank you for the recipe. I especially love that you’ve talked to yours with an egg. Hope that the lime wedges squeezed on top are perfect. And cucumber makes everything taste so fresh.
Hi, Jeff. I hope you try fried rice one of these days. It’s such a great way to clean out the fridge–anything goes and it always tastes great. 🙂