Sweet Pineapple and Chili Fried Rice
Vietnam is a country I long to go back to and explore further. Even my children, Gina and Adrian, would jump in a heartbeat at the slightest idea of going there, especially Adrian who got hooked on their street food. During our trip, our first stop was Hanoi, the birth place of the famous Pho Bo soup. Our days started really early. I couldn’t help but notice how hard Vietnamese women work; believe me when I say they are truly the backbone of the family. It was amazing to watch how the empty streets were transformed into mobile cooking stations. All the equipment including stools, ingredients, charcoal or gas and utensils were transported on the shoulder using and long bamboo pole with two heavy duty wicker or reed baskets on each side of the pole balancing one another housing all the necessities. They set their kitchen just about anywhere on the side of the roads, alleys, corners of pavements and under the rail track bridges. Walking the streets is like strolling through a gastronomy experience.
The Vietnamese cuisine truly mirrors Vietnam’s landscape; a master piece of art that tantalises and tickles all your senses. The elegance of the platter served, where care and love is given arranging the food gracefully, along with the aroma of the fragrant aromatic herbs just wet one’s appetite.
Gina and Adriano’s favourite street food was the BBQ. On our trip, there were tiny shops everywhere with small plastic stools to sit on on the pavement or the side of the alley. So, we sat at one of those shops and ordered BBQ, and when we were served a huge dome of an assortment of meats and vegetables to grill by ourselves using a small table top BBQ appeared with rice or noodles on the side and a huge bouquet of herbs and lettuce.
As I bit into my first morsel, the crunch from the lettuce and fresh herbs played music to my ears, and the explosion of ying and yang in my mouth left me speechless as I continued ravishing through my meal. What a feast! Every time I savour the Vietnamese cuisine it has this spell that never fails to nourish my body and soul.
I have chosen to share this recipe for a few reasons. It is a way to recycle old steamed rice from the day before, it is also a meal that is ready in under fifteen minutes, so quite ideal for the working family, and above all, the balance between the chilli, salt, fresh herbs and sweetness of the pineapple sends messages of satisfaction to the brain. ABSOLUTE HEAVEN
How to choose your pineapple?
I am sure many of you have had bad luck with choosing a pineapple. Here are a few things to look out for that will help you choose a ripe and juicy one:
- What you smell is what you will taste, so the smell of the pineapple should be sweet.
- If a pineapple smells musky it is not fresh and will affect the flavour of the fruit.
- Stay away from pineapples that are soft or have black eyes.
- Choose a pineapple that feels heavy for its size as that is an indication of juiciness.
Why should you incorporate pineapple into your diet?
- It is a good source of magnesium which helps keep our bodies energetic.
- It has high levels of vitamin C which boost our immune system.
- It is rich in thiamine, folate and dietary fibre which help the digestive system.
- It is low in calories, 100 grams of cut pineapple equals 50 calories only.
- 6 cups cooked rice (cooked the night before)
- 1/4 pineapple, diced
- 300 grams squid
- 50 grams green peas, cooked
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 cup spring onions, chopped
- Chili, diced (optional)
- 4 tablespoons dill, chopped
- Crispy fried shallots
- In a wok under high flame stir-fry the squid in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes, then remove and set aside.
- In the same wok add the diced pineapples and stir-fry until it starts to caramelize, then remove and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable to the wok and fry the egg breaking it with the back of the spoon into small pieces. Once scrambled add the cooked peas and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to wok and add the cooked rice to the egg and peas. Stir-fry turning constantly for 2 minutes then add the chopped chili, fish sauce and adjust the salt.
- Add the caramelized pineapple, spring onions and dill to the rice and stir until it is all hot.
- Serve in a bowl and top with the fried squid, crispy shallots and curly spring onions.
- Always use old rice as it will not stick together and create a pile of mushy rice.
- You can use fresh prawns instead of squid and follow the same method of cooking.
- You can add other vegetables if more fibre is desired, just make sure to stir-fry the firmer vegetables first.
- To achieve a vegetarian option exchange the fish sauce with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and stir-fry firm tofu instead of the squid.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 556 Calories; 11g Fat (17.7% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 90g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 228mg Cholesterol; 67mg Sodium.