My spouse orders only one dish from any Thai restaurant: Curried Chicken Fried Rice. Wherever we go the dishes vary, but his favorite is served with scrambled egg, onions, chunks of chicken, wedges of tomato as garnish on the side, and a tangy sauce we can’t fully identify. Then he pours peanut sauce all over it.
I was with him on the dish until the peanut sauce.
Aside from the peanut sauce inappropriately slathered all over, it’s a tasty dish. So, when I found a listing for it on the Cook’s Illustrated website, needless to say our peanut sauce-obsessed web admin was a little excited. To tell you the truth, so was I.
So far, this is the closest I have come to what my spouse calls the “definitive” Curry Thai Fried Rice. To be perfectly honest, this really was better than 90% of what we’ve bought from restaurants. Typically, I consider Thai Fried Rice dishes more of an afterthought, bland and boring, probably meant to dump an entree on top of, not to eat solo.
This was different. Flavorful and fun, I loved the crunchy vegetables and the little kick of heat. It was also much less complicated than I had expected. The Cook’s Illustrated recipe calls for a LOT of rice, and I halved it because it seemed to me that the sauce would get a little lost in all of that. To give it its full due as a main entree, I also doubled the vegetables.
Thai-Style Curried Chicken Fried Rice
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 large onion, sliced thin
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3 Thai green chiles or 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 cups cooked white rice
5 medium scallions, sliced thin (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves or Italian parsley
Lime wedges for serving
The original recipe calls for cold, clumped rice, but that really didn’t appeal to me. The rice was the first thing I put on the stove and its added warmth to the dish was really comforting — I hate cold Thai Fried Rice, I think that’s what gives me the feeling that it’s an afterthought when I’m eating it.
Dissolve sugar in fish and soy sauces in small bowl; set aside. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside.
Heat 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon oil and swirl to coat pan bottom. Add egg and cook without stirring, until they just begin to set, about 20 seconds.
Scramble and break into small pieces with wooden spoon; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until egg is cooked through but not browned, about 1 minute longer. Transfer egg to small bowl and set aside.
Return skillet to burner, increase heat to high and heat skillet until hot, about 1 minute; add 1 teaspoon oil and swirl to coat pan bottom. Add 1/2 teaspoon curry and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with eggs and set aside.
Return skillet to high heat and heat until hot, about 1 minute; add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and swirl to coat pan bottom. Add 1/2 tablespoon curry, cook for 20 seconds.
Add onion and and cook, stirring constantly, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes.
Stir in garlic and chiles; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add rice and fish sauce mixture; cook, stirring constantly and breaking up rice clumps until mixture is heated through, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs and chicken, scallions, and cilantro; cook, stirring constantly until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately with lime wedges.
I really enjoyed this. This was light and fun, and I won’t have to go out for it anymore, though I probably will need to find a new source of peanut sauce.
Weeknight Cooking: B+ (it makes quite a mess – 1 pot, 3 bowls, lots of utensils…)
Take Out Dish: A