This recipe is part of the Taste of Thai cooking classes (BLOCK 1: Sense of Cuisine. Introduction to Thai flavors, curry pastes, nam phrik kaeng). Pineapple rice is simple to make either for 2-3 people, or for a big crowd. It can be plated or beautifully served in halved pineapple boats. It’s a good way to use cooked long grain rice leftovers, as well as cooked lean meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. Personally, I cook all the ingredients for this dish form scratch. There are recipes that use only fish sauce and white pepper for seasoning. They are good for those who can’t tolerate any heat. I prefer variations with Thai green, red, and yellow curry pastes, adding more or less of them depending to my guests requests for the level of heat. I tried many ways to cook and serve this dish — all of them are delicious!
As we know, pineapples don’t grow in Texas, as well as in many other parts of world. They are harvested unripe to be delivered all over the world. When shopping for a pineapple, look for those that at least started turning yellow and have no bruises. (If you find one with beautiful green top, lucky you. If not, see my instructions below how to make it attractive anyway.) You can bring it to almost perfect ripeness at home by placing it in a bucket with apples for a day or two and keeping it surrounded with apples in room temperature.
The best rice to use for this recipe is Thai Jasmine rice. If unavailable, use another long-grain rice. Follow cooking instructions on its packaging.
If making seafood version of this recipe, use the best available local ingredients. In case on Austin, it’s Gulf brown shrimp and red snapper. I also like adding scallops. For the best tasting juicy result, they should not be fully cooked before being mixed with cooked rice.
My favorite brands: Red Boat for fish sauce, Maesri for Thai curry pastes (recognized in Thailand as a high quality export product with rich taste and authentic flavor), Savoy for coconut cream (I add water to make it coconut milk). When choosing coconut milk or cream, read labels — there shouldn’t be any other ingredients besides coconut and water. Any preservatives and stabilizers often cause coconut milk curdling. To make coconut emulsion stable, follow my cooking instructions for this recipe.
1pineapplewhole, halved, and carved as boats for serving
8ozseafoodassorted, Gulf Brown shrimp and red snapper preferred in Austin
1cuplong-grain riceThai Jasmine
3tbspfish sauceRed Boat brand preferred, adjust to taste
2tbspThai red curry pasteMaesri brand preferred, adjust to taste
2eachkaffir lime leaf
2tbspcilantroor Thai basil, fresh, chopped
Place 1 cup of Jasmin rice in a heavy saucepan. Wash rice in cold water and strain for 3-4 times. Add 1 1/4 cup of cold water, pinch of salt, and 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Bring to boil, uncovered, until rice absorbs most of water. Reduce heat to minimum, cover with lid, and continue steaming for another 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let rice stand, covered, for another 5 minutes or until ready to use.
Wash and trim green pineapple top using scissors.
Cut pineapple in half.
Cut off the core. Score around the inside of the pineapple for the future 1/2" thick "rim". Use melon knife to scoop out the flesh, reserve. Gently scrape the bottom of the pineapple boat with spoon to make it smooth.
for par-cooked seafood
(If cooking to serve, preheat oven to 400F.) Measure 7 oz of pineapple and process it into smooth puree. Prepare other ingredients for the sauce. Prepare seafood for cooking.
In a heavy saucepan, bring pineapple puree to boiling on high heat. Add kaffir lime leaves. Cook it down in half, caramelizing sugars and making it syrup consistency.
Add Thai curry paste, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Season with fish sauce and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add coconut milk (or coconut milk + water), season to taste, bring to simmering. Par-cook seafood to almost done ad remove from the curry sauce and reserve.
Chop basil (or cilantro) and cashews. In a bowl, mix rice, curry sauce, herbs, cashews, and raisins.
Fill pineapple boats with the mixture and arrange seafood on top. (Up to this step, all preparations can be done in advance, each portion wrapped in foil, and refrigerated.)
Bake pineapple boats in preheated 400F oven for 5 minutes and serve. OR Preheat oven 350F. Unwrap refrigerated pineapple boats, bake until 145F inner temp, and serve.