Thai Khao Pat – The Ultimate Fried Rice

Khao Pat

Photo Credit: Mikhail Esteves

Everyone knows what fried rice is, but until you’ve had a taste of Khao Pat, you cannot know just why all that carbo is so worth every “ooh” and “aah”. In a list of 50, khao pat, the Thai version of fried rice, was named the 24th most popular food in a survey that include 35,000 responses, and it certainly lives up to that esteemed position.

What Khao Pat is All About

Thai fried rice is a very popular dish in Thailand, but it is fast gaining a following all over the world. There are many types of khao pat, and you can choose whatever central ingredients you fancy. You can have khao phat mu, which has pork, or khao phat kai with chicken, khao phat goong which has shrimp, khao phat pu, which has crab, khao phat che which has veggies. You can also ask for mixed seafood, or beef, and some versions of this dish even contain pineapple, or basil, or nuts and raisins.

Instead of the usual long-grain rice used in most Chinese restaurants, khao pat is cooked with Jasmine rice. This is a bit stickier and more aromatic than long-grain rice, and it gives khao pat a richer texture. Thai fried rice usually contains eggs, onions, and garlic. It is seasoned with fish sauce, some soy sauce, a bit of sugar, and sometimes, a bit of chili sauce.

Normally, khao pat is served with sprigs of onion, and with slices of cucumber, tomatoes, and lime. Diners often say khao pat is a complete meal in itself, and in many ways, this is true.

From Your Own Kitchen

Thai fried rice is a dish you can whip up quite easily in your own kitchen. In’s Fried Rice Recipe, Natty Netsuwan shares a few tips on how you can come up with restaurant quality fried rice. She says that among the essential requirements for really good khao pat are a wok, heat, and dry rice. She says, “…A wok is the best tool for fried rice. If you don’t, it can be tricky but still manageable. However, if you are cooking for one, it’s not a big deal. It’s harder to move volume in a pan…”

She also makes a firm statement about heat: “…You want your pan/wok as hot as possible. That’s why it frequently tastes so much better at a restaurant.” And of course, the rice cannot be mushy. She advises breaking up the rice clumps with lightly oiled hands before you start cooking, and makes it clear that wet, sticky rice won’t do: “Drier rice gives you fluffy fried rice as opposed to gummy/mushy fried rice. Cook rice with about 10% less water than normal to get firmer rice… If you are using cold rice, heat it up for a few minutes so that it’s warm. Cold rice will take away much needed heat from your wok. It’s harder to break up clumps of cold rice. You may end up with mushy and/or broken grains than you want…”

Tips from the Master

The best way to cook your khao pat is to use about three tablespoons of oil in a good sized wok over medium to high heat. Netsuwan throws in the garlic, waits till this begins to brown, then tosses in the rice. If she is using precooked meat, she adds that to the wok when the rice thoroughly combined with the oil, but if her meat is raw, she adds stir fries that before adding the rice.

Thai fried rice is cooked with egg, except when the dish is supposed to be vegetarian.  To add the egg (or eggs), make space in the middle of the wok by pushing the rice aside. Drop the egg beaten eggs into this spot and scramble the mixture, then gradually incorporate it into the rice.

Season the rice with fish sauce, white pepper, and a tiny bit of soy sauce. Mix everything well and taste to see if you have seasoned everything right. If you think you’ve added too much fish sauce, do a little khao pat rescue by adding a cup of rice. Once the rice tastes the way you think it should, turn off the heat and garnish with onions. Serve with slices of cucumber, lemon wedges, and some chili fish sauce.

A Quick Meal and a Clean Refrigerator

Thai fried rice is quite an easy meal to prepare, as long as you lay out all your ingredients ahead of time. The nicest thing about khao pat is that you can empty your refrigerator of leftovers. That last leg of fried chicken, a bit of ham, or strips of bacon may have very little appeal on your shelves, but they will be truly delicious in your fried rice.

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