This dish is loosely based on Thailand’s ubiquitous fried rice dish, kao pad. Usually some kind of animal protein accompanies the rice — squid, crabmeat, ham, chicken, whatever the cook has on hand. My version relies instead on tofu and vegetables; the most important ingredients are the rice itself, the garlic and the fish sauce. Have all of your ingredients prepared and close to the stove. Cooking goes very quickly.
- 4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced small or cut in julienne
- 4 ounces tofu, patted dry and cut in 1/2-inch dice
- 4 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper
- 5 cups cooked rice, preferably Thai jasmine rice available in markets that sell Asian foods
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (to taste)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons Thai or Indonesian chile sauce (to taste)
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 bunch scallions, both white and green parts, chopped
For the garnish
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Thinly sliced cucumber
- Lime wedges
- Fish sauce with hot chiles nam pla prik or half the amount of soy sauce
Serves four to six
- Heat a large wok or large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water evaporates upon contact. Add the oil and swirl, then add the carrot and tofu. Stir-fry until lightly colored, about two minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Pour in the beaten egg. Stir-fry until scrambled, then add the rice. Cook the rice — scooping it up and pressing it into the pan, then scooping it up again — for about two minutes. Add the fish, chile sauces, tomato and chopped scallions, then stir together for about a half-minute. Serve, garnishing each plate with the cilantro and cucumbers and passing lime wedges, scallions and fish sauce with chiles. Diners should squeeze lime juice onto their rice as they eat.
- Advance preparation: Cooked rice will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator. The dish is a last-minute stir-fry. Martha Rose Shulman can be reached at martha-rose-shulman.com.