This vegan Thai pineapple fried rice isn’t the first time I’ve tried to recreate a vegetarian Thai dish from a certain restaurant in Baltimore. I also played around with replicating their spicy basil noodles to delicious results last year.
(This post was originally published on 6/25/2015)
Why am I not mentioning the restaurant by name? The food there is greasy greasy greasy. I don’t mind indulging once in a long while, but that’s not generally how I like to eat nor is it the kind of food I like to endorse eating! So they’ll stay nameless for now.
Instead I have bridged the gap by making a vegan Thai pineapple fried rice at home that’s a lot less oily, free of refined sugar, more vegetable-focused, made with brown rice, and whipped up in a snap for an easy weeknight dinner! It’s so so important to have easy, fast, vegetable-forward recipes in one’s arsenal.
This recipe is beckoning for you to mix and match vegetables. Last time I made it I used snap peas and asparagus. Anything that cooks fairly quickly and/or can be eaten crisp-tender will work. Mix it up more by switching between roasted peanuts and roasted cashews; making it spicier; or whatever other fried rice customizations you fancy.
The key to the deep and unexpected flavor of this fried rice is a good pinch of both Indian curry powder and Chinese five spice. For best results, you’ll also want to allow the cooked rice to sit in the fridge overnight. And… one last thing. I served some of this to a friend who said, “looks like you added a little bit of rice to your vegetables!”. Yes, I like my fried rice to have a very high ratio of vegetables to rice. Feel free to increase the ratio of rice according to your preference – you may also want to increase the amount of the stir-fry sauce if you do that. P.S. this dish would also be fantastic served with cauliflower rice! See my recipe notes for suggestions.
RECIPE UPDATE: I recently updated this vegan Thai pineapple fried rice recipe to make the sauce even more delicious. It’s just a little bit less sweet and a little more sour now, along with a bigger kick of umami from more soy sauce. Enjoy!
Vegan Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
For the stir-fry sauce:
- 3 tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp sriracha (or other chili sauce)
- 5 tsp coconut sugar (1 tbsp + 2 tsp) (or brown sugar)
- 1 tsp Indian curry powder (see notes)
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice (see notes)
For the vegan Thai pineapple fried rice:
- 1 tbsp neutral oil (I used refined coconut oil)
- 1/2 medium red onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 inch fresh ginger peeled and minced
- 1/2 small head of purple cabbage chopped
- 2 carrots chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 head broccoli cut into small florets, stem peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (I used frozen thawed)
- 2 and 1/2 cup cooked rice (white or brown; starchy varieties are best - or try cauliflower rice; see the notes!)
- stir-fry sauce (see above)
- sliced green onion or scallion for serving
- chopped toasted peanuts or cashews for serving
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce to dissolve the coconut sugar, and set aside.
Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil and onion. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook, continuing to stir, just until the onion becomes translucent, about 1 more minute.
Add the cabbage, carrot, and broccoli, and continue to cook while stirring frequently, until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes (or until the broccoli and carrot are cooked to your liking).
Add the pineapple, rice, and stir-fry sauce to the skillet, and stir to combine. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sauce coats the rice and vegetables, about 1 minute.
Add more soy sauce or hot sauce to taste. Serve garnished with green onion and chopped nuts.
Note on ground spice blends: These spice blends lose their flavor over time, especially if not refrigerated (which most people don't do). If you've had your five spice or curry powder for more than a couple of months, I recommend increasing the amount to 1 and 1/2 teaspoons each. For very fresh blends, that might be a little too strong which is why the recipe is written to use 1 teaspoon of each.
For gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce. For grain-free, use cauliflower rice. You'll want to add about a half tablespoon of cornstarch to the sauce if you do use cauliflower rice, so that it will be sticky enough; cauliflower won't absorb liquid the same way that real rice does.
For this recipe you should have your mise en place ready to go before you start cooking, as everything comes together in a snap!
For variations, use fast-cooking vegetables of choice.