Fried rice is one of the few take-out delicacies I actually make more at home than I order off a menu. It’s actually the leftover rice from my much more frequent veggie green curry orders that gives me the impetus to make fried rice in the first place.
In the spirit of helping you find healthier ways of eating your favorite comfort foods, I wanted to share with you a Thai version of fried rice that I resort to often. There’s no soy sauce, which is nice for the gluten-free set. And, at least in my version, there’s no egg. As with most Thai food, it’s the fish sauce that gives the whole dish that certain something something that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Back in high school, I spent a summer in Thailand. I ate fried rice and pad Thai three meals a day. They served it everywhere, at any time. And I have very vivid memories of eating rice out of a plastic bag at a gas station for breakfast. My favorite part of authentic Thai street cooking, and what sets it so far apart from what you’ll get at a restaurant here, is that they barely season their basic dishes. You’re expected to doctor your own plate to achieve that perfect mix of spicy, salty, sweet, and sour. At every table, there was a lazy Susan full of condiments for each of these categories. You rarely need to sprinkle sugar over your pad Thai in the States. But at the gas stations, I went to town.
Fish sauce was always the condiment I ended up dousing my food with the most. It has a funky flavor, but you wouldn’t necessarily identify the fishiness if it wasn’t the sauce’s namesake. I add a lot of it to this radish and basil fried rice, and little else. And even though I’m usually just making it for myself, I like to serve fried rice with the bottle of fish sauce right next to me, alongside siracha and limes for those who need the added heat and tang.
This version is perfect for spring, as it comes time to put on our sundresses and ween ourselves off of our guilty pleasures, especially if overly oily, eggy rice in a cardboard container is one of yours.
Radish and Basil Thai Fried Rice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 small shallots thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot finely diced
- 1 cup quartered radishes
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 3 cups cold cooked Jasmine rice
- ¼ cup tightly packed chopped basil leaves preferably Thai
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
- 1 lime halved
Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over a high flame. Add the shallots, carrots, and radishes and sauté until the shallots are soft and the radishes are vibrantly pink, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Add the rice and stir fry, stirring constantly, until well coated in the shallot mixture and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in half the basil, fish sauce, and juice of half the lime. Cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
Divide the rice among two plates and garnish with the remaining basil. Cut the remaining lime into wedges and serve along with the rice.