I’m a real noodle aficionado, fanatical enough to eat them daily. My partner is also a fan, but his enthusiasm doesn’t stretch much beyond that which is wheat based. Pasta, udon, sometimes buckwheat based soba, are all winners in Paul’s world, but bring rice or mung bean into the noodle mix and his avidity is transformed into to droopyfaced meh-ness. One day they’re not cooked enough, the next too well done (I can’t win this battle, I fear). After a thousand nights of Pad Thai for dinner and flat noodle soups, he finally made a request: do you think you could do some fried rice dishes?
No doubt based on memories of multiple vegetarian fried rice dinners from SE Asian holidays, I know he loves pineapple fried rice. Plus one of the best things about a dish like this is its customisable nature. Any number of vegetables can be included, seasonings adjusted to choice, and garnishes kept to either a minimal or a gluttonously heaped topping.
My pineapple fried rice version features deep fried cashews, tofu and shallots, all of which should be done before you even fire up the wok to fry the rice. The sugar/soy/lime mixture is a must as well, and toasted sesame seeds make for a divine topping. Serve with some thinly slices chilies and extra sauces for guests to add further flavour to their tastes. Sri racha, sesame oil, and soy sauce are table setting musts.
Other possibilities include vegan sausages fried with the veggies (a great addition) and/or a handful of coriander stems. A sprinkling of crushed peanuts is also worth considering, as is the addition of peas and kale.
Depending on the size of your wok, you may need to cook this in two separate phases. Or you could just do what I do: throw it all in and fling stuff all over the kitchen while attempting to cook too much in too small a receptacle.
Vegan Thai Style Pineapple Fried Rice
- First you’ll want to fry the tofu, shallots, and cashews, so heat about an inch of oil in a pan or wok to a medium-high-ish heat. Line two plates with paper towels. Add the tofu pieces to the oil and fry until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on one of the plates. Fry the cashew pieces until they turn a couple of shades darker, and place with the tofu. Finally, tip the diced shallots into the fat and fry until crispy-golden (be careful not to burn). Remove and set aside on a the second bowl.
- Mix the soy sauce, sugar, and lime together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat some oil in your wok and add the broccoli, onion, carrot, pepper, and mushrooms. Stir fry for a minute or two until the mushrooms reduce in size and the veg begin to brown a little. Add the Chinese leaf, sprouts, garlic, and pineapple. Toss in the tofu and cashew nuts too. Stir fry for another minute before tipping in the rice.
- Quickly mix the vegetables and rice before adding the soy/lime/sugar liquid. Mix fervently for a minute or two to avoid burning, ensuring you get the wok spoon or spatula under the rice and veg to turn frequently.
- Plate the fried rice and top it with a sprinkling of the fried shallots. Serve with chilies, soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and any other favourite Asian condiments.