This isn’t so much a recipe as a general guideline for making fried rice, which I’ve adapted from Kasma Loha-unchit. Feel free to make any variation that best suits you, but do try out the original to get you started; I think the amount of thick sweet black soy sauce and fish sauce is just perfect for seasoning the rice, while the basil adds a delicious perfume. I like to add a fried egg on top: the rich, runny yolk and the golden crunchy-edged whites contrast very well with the rice.
There is only one rule: use cold rice. I’m generally not really strict about recipe-following, but this comes from experience: fresh, warm rice just turns to mush in the pan. Leftover rice that’s been stored overnight in the fridge is best – the grains become cold and dry, frying up perfectly in the wok. You can also cook and then cool rice earlier in the day: using the absorption method or a rice cooker, 200g raw Thai jasmine rice to 280ml water should yield enough rice for this recipe (or 2 people generally).
If your pan or wok is only small, please feel free to make one portion at a time: that’s how I do it! This is easily one of the most delicious, versatile, good-natured meals you can make.
. 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a little extra.
. 200g chicken skinless, boneless thighs or breasts, or any protein of choice
. 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
. 4 shallots, sliced into thin rounds
. 3 medium carrots, or about 200g vegetables of your choice, thinly sliced
. 2 Thai birds eye chillies, finely chopped. Use more or less to your liking
. About 500g cold, cooked Thai jasmine rice.
. 2 teaspoons thick sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
. 2 tablespoons fish sauce
. 25g sweet basil leaves (about a generous handful)
. 1 egg per person (optional)
. Ground white pepper
. Lime wedges to serve
Make sure all of the chicken and vegetables are ready to go when you stir fry.
Using a fork or your hands, fluff up the rice so the grains are separate.
Heat a wok or skillet over a high heat, then add the oil, swirling to coat the surface.
When the oil is just starting to smoke, add the chicken and garlic, stir-frying until fragrant and just turning firm.
Add the shallots, chilli and vegetables. Stir-fry until just cooked – the vegetables should be brightly coloured and easily pierced with a knife.
Tumble in the rice, stirring well until thoroughly coated in oil and beginning to brown.
Evenly sprinkle over the thick soy sauce and fish sauce, giving everything a good toss.
Stir in basil leaves until just wilted and very fragrant.
Divide the fried rice onto plates immediately.
If you like, fry the eggs in a separate frying pan with 1 tablespoon oil over a medium-high heat. They should have crisp golden edges and runny yolks, and go on top of the fried rice immediately when they’re ready.
Add plenty of ground white pepper and serve with lime wedges.
I'm a self-conscious dilettante with a degree in History of Art from SOAS and UCL. I've lived in Greater London all my life, interrupted only occasionally by brief trips to Thailand. The result is that I speak Thai with a Croydon accent (and sometimes Croydon with a posh accent, but that's another story).
Far from being a charming bilingual intellectual of the world who ably holds forth on every topic imaginable at dinner parties, most of what I actually say in either language is "Hello", "That's a nice painting", and "I'm hungry". My idea of a balanced diet is a bowl of Mama instant noodles in one hand and a chip buttie in the other, but I also don't mind a nice bit of duck confit or gaeng paa gai. I don't go to dinner parties, anyway.
I like looking at interesting things. Thai contemporary art, Early Modern English portraiture, and lowbrow art have so far held my attention.
I consume vast amounts of art and food, so I thought I would give something back by writing.