We were at the grocery store the other day and I was perusing through the fresh produce when I noticed some delicious looking pineapples.
I’ve selected fresh pineapple before, but the truth is I didn’t know how to pick out a good one.
As I stood there fondling the prickly fruit, my husband returned from the other side of the store with a gallon of milk in hand. He placed the milk in our cart and realized I was staring at pineapples.
“I love pineapples!” he said, seemingly reading my mind. “We should get one.”
He reached into the pineapple display and grabbed a more-yellow-than-green-or-brown pineapple, brought it close to his face and smelled it, and then gently tugged at the leaf at the fruit’s top center.
He explained – and I later googled his facts to verify – how to pick out a ripe pineapple.
You can tell a pineapple’s ripeness by its color, scent and by gently tugging on a leaf.
The closer to ripe the pineapple gets, the more robust the scent. An unripe pineapple’s scent is faint.
Also, the top center leaf will easily pull from the fruit when fully ripened.
So we brought home a good, ripe pineapple, and my excited husband cut it open as soon as we got home and began eating the sweet tropical delight.
But I had more in mind than simply eating the pineapple alone. I was thinking of my time in Southeast Asia, and a dish that quickly became a favorite – Pineapple Rice. Pineapple Rice is basically fried rice with pineapple and shrimp.
Pineapple Rice is known as a popular Thai dish, but something I found out firsthand is the fact that, though it’s popularity is not in question, it’s not actually a Thai dish; which really confused me because nearly every Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to serves the dish.
But during my travels, I spent time in Thailand, where locals told me that Pineapple Rice is not part of their diet, nor do they consider it an actual Thai dish. In fact, I only saw the dish in restaurants in touristic areas.
I first tried Pineapple Rice in Singapore, in Golden Mile Complex - the Thai market in the city. And I ate the dish often during my time in Asia.
When I think about the dish, I think of my dear friend Bere.
Several years ago, Bere and I traveled together to Indonesia on a whim for a several days, for a relaxing miniature birthday vacation.
I had just gotten back to Singapore from a long work trip and was at home when my friend, Bere, began texting me.
After our greetings, I told her I was back at home and asked what she was doing.
It was a random Monday for her, so it was strange that she was able to communicate with me during work hours.
“I took the week off work,” she told me.
I replied, saying, “We should go somewhere!”
She upped the ante with a suggestion: “We should go to the beach!”
It was the middle of December, and my birthday was only a couple of days away and I had been gone for work, so I was planning to take the rest of the week off, so I agreed.
And just like that, we decided to leave and go to the beach; Bere suggested Bintan Island in Indonesia, which was a two-hour ferry ride from Singapore.
Within an hour after texting, we met at the ferry terminal, bought tickets and headed to Indonesia.
On the way, Bere made hotel reservations, and we were set.
At the hotel where we stayed, there wasn’t much around, so most of our days were spent napping in the room or lying on the beach.
The beach was beautiful, with crystal clear waters and golden sands.
To this day, that trip remains one of the most relaxing times of my adult life.
We spent a couple of days resting and relaxing at one of the most beautiful beaches in that area. And I ate lots of Pineapple Rice.
Bere is a vegetarian, so she was able to eat the dish as well – she just picked the shrimp out.
I remember trying other foods during that trip, and wasn’t impressed; but the Pineapple Rice was a continual delight.
So now, when I think of Pineapple Rice, I think about Bere and our spontaneous trip to Indonesia and how she remains one of my best friends and favorite travel partners.
PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE RECIPE
(2 -3 People)
(All the ingredients are approximation, add or change ingredients to taste)
1 Cup of cooked white rice (cold, or day old if possible) - Check how to make a better rice
1/2 Yellow onion finely cut in small pieces
2 Green Onions chopped
1-2 Medium-sized Tomatoes, seeded and chopped in 1/2 inches pieces.
2/3 Cup Fresh Pineapple, cut into 1/2 inches pieces. (*If you can’t find fresh pineapple, use
canned pineapple drying with a napkin as much juice as you can.)
1/2 Cup of roasted unsalted cashews
1 tsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Fish sauce
1 tsp Curry powder
1 tsp Sugar
1 Sliced Cucumber for garnish
1 dash of White Pepper
1 dash of Salt
2 tsp Cooking oil (vegetable, olive or whatever you regularly use in your kitchen)
Before starting, mix all the dry ingredients (curry, sugar, white pepper, salt) in a small cup. Mix wet ingredients (Soy sauce and Fish sauce) in a separate small cup. Set aside.
(You are free to skip this step and serve direct while cooking.)
In a big frying pan, heat on medium-high and sear the shrimp until pink and on all sides. Once it is ready, take it out of the pan, and drain the excess oil and set a side.
Using the remaining oil (and adding a little more if necessary), add the egg and scramble. When the egg starts changing color (half way cooked) add the rice and stir until it is mixed (around 2 minutes).
Add onions and mix for approximately 2 minutes.
Add dry ingredients (curry, sugar, white pepper, salt) and half of the wet ingredient mix (soy sauce and fish sauce), keep stirring until the rice grains are separated, and the seasoning has covered all the dish (about 3 minutes).
Add pineapple, shrimp, cashews and the other half of the wet ingredient mix. Stir approximately 3 minutes.
Once the pineapple is darkened and the rice is dry, turn off heat. Add tomatoes and the green onions.
Serve the rice garnishing with the whole shrimp on top and cucumber on the side as garnish.
Omit the shrimp and egg (vegan)
Use coconut oil and add spice it up with some garlic and fresh ginger.
Try this recipe and share with us through #johastable and visit IG @johastable