Phuket. I was there ten years ago. I didn’t like the place. I wasn’t even impressed by Patong Beach. But I loved the food — from the spring rolls sold by an ambulant vendor to the multi-course meal that included Thai fried rice that we had in a market.
A birthday reminded me of Phuket. One of the two friends with whom I spent an afternoon there had her birthday recently. Rosa Ana. Osang, as she is fondly called. She was my constant drinking buddy during the seven (or was it eight?) days and nights when we went cruising. From Singapore to Malaysia to Thailand.
Osang with a model’s body. Tall and lean. And curls that always seemed impossible to tame.
Her hair looked better uncombed, she said, as she stared at herself on the mirror inside our cabin. I chuckled. But she was dead serious. She rubbed hair mousse on her palms, spread it on her damp hair then ran her fingers through the curls. An hour later, her hair had dried in the heat while we had breakfast on deck.
She was right. Her hair did look good. Wild and free, but the curls bounced back in place after the breeze has had its way with them. I bet no one would have guessed how much mousse went on her hair after her morning shower.
We had fun on that cruise. Like a very extended girls’ night out. But, unfortunately, not enough time to get to know the places we visited really well.
I’m thinking of going back to Thailand soon. Not to Phuket though. Not to Bangkok either. Chiang Mai is a better destination for a food lover and a culture addict. Maybe I’ll try every version of Thai pineapple fried rice. Quite an attractive proposition.
But when “soon” will be, I don’t know. The thing about Thailand is that the weather is hot almost all year ’round. There’s a very small window when the temperature is friendly. December through January. No one wants to travel in December (Christmas! New Year!) and everyone’s generally broke in January after all that holiday shopping.
I’ll figure it out.
Meanwhile, may this Thai shrimp and pineapple fried rice recipe constantly remind me not to give up on that Chiang Mai trip.
Thai Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 10 to 12 large shrimps peeled, deveined then cut into small pieces
- 2 shallots chopped
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
- 1 finger chili thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped carrot
- fish sauce
- 1/4 cup sweet peas
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh pineapple roughly chopped
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 1 tablespoon Thai tamarind paste (available in the Asian aisle of groceries)
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis (Thai sweet soy sauce; available in the Asian aisle of groceries)
- 2 tablespoons chopped toasted cashew nuts
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok.
- Spread the shrimps on the hot oil. Stir after ten seconds.
- Add the shallots, garlic, scallions, chili, carrot and peas to the shrimp. Stir fry for a minute.
- Drizzle in a little fish sauce. Toss.
- Add the pineapple pieces and toss until heated through.
- Spread the rice over everything in the wok.
- Spread the tamarind paste and kecap manis over the rice.
- Stir fry just until the rice is heated through.
- Toss in the nuts before serving.