Pineapple Ham Fried Rice
Pineapple Ham Fried Rice
Fried rice is one of my favorite comfort foods and my husbands too. It's also a wonderful vehicle for using up those odds and ends in the refrigerator otherwise known as leftovers. After a holiday meal it's especially good!
Many people will be having a ham this season and fresh pineapple has been plentiful so of course I couldn't resist showing you this recipe and making up some of our favorite Polynesian/Thai style pineapple ham fried rice.
My husband ordered this for lunch once at a Thai restaurant in Hood River, OR and it was so good I had to add it to my regular rotation of fried rice at home.
The first thing to know about making fried rice is that you really should use old rice. Yes, I actually make lots of extra rice so I get a quantity of leftover rice enough to make this. Cook once, eat twice, or more....there is usually enough fried rice leftover for a few more lunches too! Here's my recipe for Jasmine Rice in a Pot.
This is leftover Jasmine rice that's 3 days old. Aged rice has time to fully hydrate and then begin to dry out so it fries better without breaking and becoming mushy.
I start by getting the rice into my electric skillet. If the rice sticks together in small chunks, I gently smash the rice with the back of a spatula and the grains separate easily. This works best if you are using leftover rice at least one day old. I turn the heat on low while I get together the rest of my ingredients.
I like to get all of the ingredients ready before I start because this recipe is essentially a stir fry and it comes together very quickly once I start cooking.
I have my leftovers: diced ham, pineapple, scallion, and red bell pepper that I chopped to roughly the same size. Then I added two eggs, some frozen peas, diced carrot, celery and some grated fresh ginger to the mix. From the pantry I used fish sauce, sesame oil, low sodium soy sauce and some powdered garlic.
Fish sauce is the second thing you should know about fried rice. If you hate it, leave it out but if you aren't sure or you know you like it. Try it in your fried rice. My husband thinks its magical! It's very authentic for Southeast Asian style cooking and it's amazing what it will do to season this dish. It's inexpensive and lasts a long time. I like Vietnamese fish sauce the best.
Now that all of my ingredients are ready, it's time to season the rice in the skillet. As it begins to warm and dry the rice, I add a drizzle of sesame oil, fish sauce and soy to the rice and use a spatula like a paddle to lift and turn the rice until it becomes evenly colored.
Next I scramble the egg and add that to the rice.
Then I saute' the carrots, celery and red bell pepper just until it's translucent and the sugars are starting to caramelize.
I add the vegetables to the rice in the skillet and again, use a spatula like a paddle to lift and turn the rice.
Even on low heat the rice will begin to fry and you may find you have bits of brown crispy pieces forming on the bottom so keep stirring every few minutes while you continue to add the rest of the ingredients.
Next I fry up the diced ham until it begins to brown just a little bit.
Then I fry the pineapple until it has dried out some.
I add the ham, the pineapple, the frozen peas and the garlic powder to the rice and toss it all together. I like to give the fried rice a touch of garlic but I don't want it to be too prominent in the flavor profile so I don't use freshly minced garlic for this.
I adjust the seasoning by adding more fish sauce or soy sauce during this time.
If you are fast like Rachel Ray, you can whip up this meal in about 45 minutes but I'm a little bit more relaxed about gathering my ingredients and prepping them. It does take about 10 minutes to stir-fry and get everything into the electric skillet.
Once all of the ingredients have been added to the skillet, I like to let it steam slowly for 10-20 minutes, stirring every now and then, to let the flavors have time to blend and work their magic on the rice. I do this with the lid on the skillet but turned slightly so the steam can escape and the dish will continue to dry out but not too quickly.
That's it! This is a meal by itself of course but it makes a great side dish as well. Try it with my recipe for Tea Smoked Chicken.
Pineapple Ham Fried Rice
6 cups old rice (3-6 days)
1 1/4 cups diced ham
1 1/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks (or 1 14 oz can)
2-3 scallions chopped to 1/4" pieces
1/2 a red bell pepper chopped to 1/4" dice
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon powdered garlic.
Start warming the rice in an electric skillet on low heat. Gather ingredients and prep them for stir-frying.
Drizzle the rice with half the fish sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce.
Stir with a spatula until evenly colored and also to separate the grains.
In a separate skillet on the stove top, fry the scrambled egg and add to rice. Saute' the vegetables and add to rice. Fry the ham and add to rice. Fry the pineapple and add to rice.
Add the frozen peas and garlic powder and stir all together using a spatula like a paddle, lifting and turning to incorporate the ingredients.
Allow the rice to steam on low heat for 10-20 minutes. Stir occasionally and adjust seasoning by adding the rest of the fish sauce and soy sauce to taste.