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Tom Yum Fried Rice

♫ Let’s talk about rice, baby… let’s talk about grains and steam… ♫

Sometimes there’s nothing I crave more than a giant bowl of rice. Rice with something lusciously saucy like syrupy chicken. Or sticky rice delicately flavoured by its snug lotus leaf casing.  Or, in my opinion, the holy grail of rice dishes that fires up my appetite like nothing else can: fried rice.

My ultimate fried rice is made with jasmine, which has a delightful daan nga mouthfeel. Translated literally, this means ‘bouncy teeth’. Jasmine rice is perfect for fried rice because whilst the grains are loose enough to allow the seasonings to distribute evenly, this variety also has a slightly tacky and al dente bite.

And now for the seasoning. If I had to make the most basic (but still perfect!) fried rice, I’d simply use a little dark soy, a splash of light soy and a sprinkle of sugar. If I have them in the kitchen, I’ll crack in an egg or two and toss through some sliced spring onions. I guarantee that this combo will hit the spot, every single time.

But sometimes I want to take the dish to new heights, to make it feel more opulent and special. That’s when the roast pork and prawns will come out to create Yangzhou fried rice, or when some bacon will be fried off first so its oils can flavour the grains with that irresistible bacony savouriness. This is the beauty of fried rice: you can pretty much add whatever you like!

So in that spirit, one day I looked inside my fridge for inspiration and decided to add some tom yum paste to my wok. And my word, was the result next-level-delicious. Suddenly each spoonful of fried rice transported me to bustling street market in Thailand. An intoxicating medley of smells, smoky hot woks, and fresh seafood. The best part of tom yum is the tanginess from the lemongrass, which sings in perfect harmony with the the spicy, salty and sweet notes.

You could make your own paste for this dish, but I’m cheerful about using a pre-made one. While some pastes can lack the pizazz and punch of freshly made versions, nowadays you can get absolutely fantastic pastes from brands like Mae Ploy. On weeknights, the promise of being able to turn out something so delicious with the help of a little blob of pre-made paste is just the incentive we need to get cooking when we could so easily chuck a pizza in the oven instead.

Finally, you may have heard that fried rice is best when using rice that has been cooked the day before and then cooled. This is to prevent it from getting sticky when frying, as the precooked and cooled grains are slightly drier and can therefore separate more easily. However, that requires a bit of forward planing which just doesn’t jibe well with sudden cravings and ‘what-do-I-have-in-the-fridge’ situations. That’s why most of the time, say 90%, I just make fried rice using freshly cooked rice. With a few little tricks and tips, grain separation is no issue. Check them out in the recipe below!

Serves
4
Ingredients

320g jasmine rice (uncooked weight), cooked
225g raw king prawns, shells off
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp tom yum paste (like the Mae Ploy brand)
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
4 Chinese mushrooms, soaked and diced
vegetable oil

To serve
4 fried eggs, chopped coriander, lime wedges and fried garlic (optional)

Sometimes there’s nothing I crave more than a giant bowl of rice. Rice with something lusciously saucy like syrupy chicken. Or sticky rice delicately flavoured by its snug lotus leaf casing.  Or, in my opinion, the holy grail of rice dishes that fires up my appetite like nothing else can: fried rice.

My ultimate fried rice is made with jasmine, which has a delightful daan nga mouthfeel. Translated literally, this means ‘bouncy teeth’. Jasmine rice is perfect for fried rice because whilst the grains are loose enough to allow the seasonings to distribute evenly, this variety also has a slightly tacky and al dente bite.

And now for the seasoning. If I had to make the most basic (but still perfect!) fried rice, I’d simply use a little dark soy, a splash of light soy and a sprinkle of sugar. If I have them in the kitchen, I’ll crack in an egg or two and toss through some sliced spring onions. I guarantee that this combo will hit the spot, every single time.

But sometimes I want to take the dish to new heights, to make it feel more opulent and special. That’s when the roast pork and prawns will come out to create Yangzhou fried rice, or when some bacon will be fried off first so its oils can flavour the grains with that irresistible bacony savouriness. This is the beauty of fried rice: you can pretty much add whatever you like!

So in that spirit, one day I looked inside my fridge for inspiration and decided to add some tom yum paste to my wok. And my word, was the result next-level-delicious. Suddenly each spoonful of fried rice transported me to bustling street market in Thailand. An intoxicating medley of smells, smoky hot woks, and fresh seafood. The best part of tom yum is the tanginess from the lemongrass, which sings in perfect harmony with the the spicy, salty and sweet notes.

You could make your own paste for this dish, but I’m cheerful about using a pre-made one. While some pastes can lack the pizazz and punch of freshly made versions, nowadays you can get absolutely fantastic pastes from brands like Mae Ploy. On weeknights, the promise of being able to turn out something so delicious with the help of a little blob of pre-made paste is just the incentive we need to get cooking when we could so easily chuck a pizza in the oven instead.

Finally, you may have heard that fried rice is best when using rice that has been cooked the day before and then cooled. This is to prevent it from getting sticky when frying, as the precooked and cooled grains are slightly drier and can therefore separate more easily. However, that requires a bit of forward planing which just doesn’t jibe well with sudden cravings and ‘what-do-I-have-in-the-fridge’ situations. That’s why most of the time, say 90%, I just make fried rice using freshly cooked rice. With a few little tricks and tips, grain separation is no issue. Check them out in the recipe below!

GET THE METHOD →

Rice tip #1: turn the hot cooked rice out onto an oven tray (or a plate with a large surface are) and break it up as much as you can with a spatula. Leave to cool.
Heat 2 tsp of oil in the wok over a high heat. Just before adding the prawns, toss them in the cornflour. Add the prawns to the wok and stir fry for a few minutes until they are firm and cooked through. Remove from the wok and set aside. With the wok still on high heat, brown off the diced mushrooms for a minute or two, then set aside with the prawns.
Over a medium heat, add another 2 tsp of oil to the wok, along with the tom yum paste, soy sauce and rice. Rice tip #2: turn the heat up to high then add 3 tbsp of cold water. Use your spatula to quickly alternate between pressing down on the rice and tossing it. The addition of water will help separate any rice clumps so the seasonings can be evenly distributed. Adding the water over a high heat will ensure that the water evaporates quickly so it doesn’t overcook the rice. If necessary, keep adding water, pressing and tossing until every grain is evenly coated with the seasoning and the rice is heated right through.
Return the prawns and mushrooms to the wok, along with the spring onions and toss for a minute or two.
Serve with chopped coriander, lime wedges for extra tanginess and crispy fried eggs with fried garlic sprinkled on top.
01 Prawns Fry
03 Mushrooms
05 Rice
06 Everything In
DSC_0244
  • Juliana Costa

    Hi, Dumpling Sisters! This looks amazing! Wanna try it. But here in Brazil we can´t find some ingredienst so easily. Is there any replacement for tom yum paste? And may I substitute chinese mushrooms for some other kind, like shitake? Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hi there Juliana! I wonder whether the ingredients for tom yum paste will be more readily available in Brazil than pre-made pastes? I have found a pretty good recipe for homemade paste here. Alternatively, I think that you could achieve a similarly lovely flavour (although different) by adding a dollop of any kind of Thai curry paste (red, yellow, green etc). But my favourite part of the tom yum flavour is the tanginess. The chief ingredient in tom yum paste responsible for this is the lemongrass, so if you can get lemongrass and blitz it in a food processor you should get that lovely sharp flavour. Another way to add this is with lots of lime juice. In fact, I think that if you are struggling to find ingredients for tom yum paste, simply adding lime juice, diced ginger and your favourite Asian-style chilli sauce will still make for a delicious fried rice. P.S. Loving the Olympics!! Go Brazil! 😀

      • Juliana Costa

        Great! It seems much easier now. We have plenty of lime here in Brazil. I´ve also gotten some lemongrass and Sriracha at home. By the way, I just love your Oyster Sauce Beef and Broccoli recipe. Thanks again! PS: I´m so excited about the Olympics too!! 🙂

        • Oh fantastic! I hope it all works out deliciously for you 😀

  • This is too good.Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re very welcome! I’ve just had a quick look at your blog and the dishes look so delicious!!

  • ome

    just made this but substituted left over duck for prawns and added some shredded green veg. Gorgeous. I’d never thought of using Tom Yom paste for anything other than soup. Now I’m wondering what else I can do with it

    • dumplingsisters

      That’s great to hear! Tom Yum paste has a pretty feisty flavour so it could go in lots of dishes I reckon…smeared over fish before baking for a yummy crust, mixed into mashed potato…endless! If you like Thai flavours in general, we’ve just released 4 new recipes using curry pastes and sweet chilli if you want to check them out 🙂 Beef and Potato Massaman Stir Fry, Red Curry Salmon, Sweet Chilli Spring Rolls and Green Curry Fried Rice (another one!). Hope you enjoy!

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