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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pineapple Baked Rice, Take 2


I make this dish so often and have been mailed about it so often, I actually didn't realise until Sharon pointed it out last week (or was it 2 weeks ago?) that I didn't post the recipe on the blog! The post was done in November 2004, one of the first food postings I actually did. I was new and since it was initially a post done for my now defunct private blog; it didn't occur to me to post a real recipe. After all, it is basically a fried rice recipe and being Malaysian; fried rice or nasi goreng is something you make by just chucking everything in the wok, not something you consciously plan.

Since then I have made a conscious decision to post real and more accessible recipes in this blog. Real as in, measuring all my ingredients, if possible to a T (though for some it is really impossible!) and noting the cooking/baking time. Mailing with my readers enlightened me to the problems and things I should be take more care about in writing recipes i.e the metric measurements I use, the level of familiarity and accessibility with the ingredients and the skill of the cook.
A little note on the ingredients - I use whatever I have in season and what is in my pantry and fridge. For instance, I list a cup of peas because fresh peas are now in season but you can also successfully use frozen petits pois, snake beans, french beans and which ever beans you happen to have. There are different types of mushrooms available in my supermarket and I use them interchangeably. Just use the ingredients here as a guide and go wild wokking! It is however important to keep everything cut and chopped more or less to the same size. I use the pea again as a guideline for all the vegetables. The garlic, ginger and shallots should be chopped finely so they almost disappear during the cooking process. The lemongrass is there ONLY for flavouring - peel a few layers out, cut the stem to about 5-6 cm, crush the bottom with something heavy and taken out before you bake the rice!

The hardest thing which is also the most important is to describe what you should endeavour to achieve, taste wise. This dish for instance will have to be colourful by using different colours in the ingredients. It will be a canvas of deep rich yellow which is achieved through the usage of curry powder. The fragrance a melange of intoxicating pandanus, lemongrass, ginger, curry and luscious with pineapple that is sticky and sweet.

The texture of the rice is sticky, sweet and silky. This is achieved not by using sticky rice but by using cold cooked rice and the juice of the pineapple. If you can't get fresh pineapple or you want to experiment before using the fruit, you can use tinned ones by employing the juice and the fruit. It will be sweeter than if you use the fruit itself and then you should just fry it and bake it in a dish and you will not get the caramelised fragrant and taste from using the pineapple boats.

When you finally take a bite, the sticky sweet velvety rice will drape your tongue - prepping it for the piquant, spicy, curry sensation before the very subtle chili tickle the back of your throat. And with every movement in your mouth, you discover the different texture and flavour of every single ingredient.

It is a show off dish and made perfectly, can be served by itself with no accompaniments as a main dish. It is of course delicious to be served with a few other ingredients to complement rather than to compete - as long as they remember the star will always be the rice itself ;-)
Pineapple Baked Rice

Ingredients:
one pineapple - cut into two pineapple boats. Scoop out flesh of the fruits with a melon ball and keep it chilled in the fridge until ready to use. Save the juice of the pineapple in a bowl.

3 cups of cold cooked rice - preferably cooked the night before and leave to cool in the rice cooker or a tight container in the fridge. I prefer to use Thai pandan/jasmine rice.

150g chicken thighs or breast fillets - cut into cubes
150g prawns - shelled and deveined
1 cup peas - I used snaked beans, you can also use french beans which is chopped into the size of peas
3 baby carrots - chopped to the size of the peas
5 chestnut mushroom - chopped to the size of the peas
2cm ginger chopped finely
2 garlic chopped finely
3 shallots chopped finely
1 fresh chili - chopped finely
half a bunch of coriander - chop the stem and leave the leaves whole
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cashew nut
1 lemon grass - crushed
1 TBSP curry powder - any brand available to you is fine
2 TBSP oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
salt, pepper and sugar to taste
cooking oil
equipment - wok, aluminium foil, baking tray

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat oil in the wok and when it is hot and smoking, Add the cashew and fry till golden and take it out, drain on a paper towel.

2. Add in the shallots, ginger, garlic and lemongrass and fry until fragrant. Add in the chopped chili and coriander stem.

3. Add the chicken and fry until it turns opaque. Add the prawns.

4. Add in the curry powder and stir to make sure the chicken and prawns are coated.

5. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce and the reserved pineapple juice. Let everything cook for a bit and taste for seasoning.

6. Add in all the vegetables, pineapple and raisin and stir everything until they mix well for about 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be a little wet but not soppy.

7. Add in the rice and cashew. Stir furiously until everything mix well and the rice is yellow. taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

8. Scoop the rice into the pineapple boats. Wrap the boats in aluminium foil and place on a baking tray. To BBQ, just place the pineapple boat as is sans baking tray.

9. Bake for 10 minutes. Leave to cool slightly. Be careful to tear open the foil as the steam can be very hot. Scatter coriander leaves on top of the rice. Serve immediately. Enjoy!


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