If you follow me on social media, you may have seen my announcement a few days ago: we are headed to Hawaii at the end of the year! I’m still getting used to this military life. I can’t believe it’s been almost two years in California and that it’s already coming to an end. But, if you have to leave, Hawaii is a pretty darn good place to head to.
I mean, so I hear. I haven’t actually been yet. House hunting trip is already booked though… look out for that soon!
So I’m going to cut to the chase. My husband finally said it was cool to share the moving news (even though pretty much all my friends already heard) and I got super excited and I saw a pineapple at the market and I said I’m going to buy that pineapple and it’s going to be my Hawaiian celebration! (Exhale.)
I don’t need to defend my love of a good theme meal to you. Especially when it’s this delicious. This recipe is a little more complicated than some of my others, but I have some shortcuts for you at the end as always. Let’s dive into my island-inspired pineapple fried rice!
For the chicken:
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 cups cornstarch
- vegetable oil for frying
- Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, ginger and red pepper flakes until combined. Add the chicken and refrigerate for at least an hour up to overnight.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade (save the marinade) and use a shallow pan or plastic bag to toss with the cornstarch until evenly coated. Heat oil on the stovetop to 350 degrees. It should be deep enough in the pan to just cover the chicken when it’s added. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oil and let drain on a paper towel.
- In a small saucepan, heat the marinade to a boil, stirring consistently as to not let it burn. You have to let marinade that has been on raw chicken come to a couple boil for about a minute. Remove from heat and toss with the fried chicken pieces to coat.
For the fried rice:
- 2 cups pineapple, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp mirin or rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 bell peppers, red and yellow, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
- 4 green onions, sliced (white & light green parts, save tops for garnish)
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 large egg
- Skewer the pineapple pieces. On the grill or a stove-top grill pan over medium heat, sear the pineapple for 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside.
- In a wok or extra large skillet over medium-low, add the mirin, garlic and the chopped bell peppers, carrots, red onion and green onion. Stir often for 3-4 minutes, until the veggies become slightly tender.
- Add the cooked rice and soy sauce, stirring to mix with the veggies. Make a well in the center of the pan and crack open the egg. Once it is cooked through, break it up and incorporate it into the rice.
- Add the cooked chicken and grilled pineapple, continuing to stir and toss all the ingredients together. Serve immediately with sliced green onion tops for garnish and a drizzle of sriracha sauce, for added heat.
OK, I’m not going to lie. This took me a while to put together. It was worth it though, and this recipe easily makes 4-6 servings. I like challenging myself a little bit, so I executed it all from scratch to prove a point or something stupid like that. Now that that’s done, here’s all the shortcuts!
If you are in a rush, don’t make a pineapple bowl. It was time spent on watching YouTube how-to’s and cleaning up a sticky mess. If you want to make it fun or take a nice photo, give it a try though, because it is fairly easy and looks awesome. I’m not going to lie, I thought it was super fun to eat out of the shell, but you could just buy some pre-cut pineapple and get this show on the road.
Next big thing is the chicken. If you are vegetarian, leave it out! Easy. If you don’t want to fuss with an extra pan by frying it, you can cook it in the wok with the marinade and set it aside before you start the fried rice. Again, I do recommend the cornstarch/frying method because it adds a nice texture to the dish, but I understand it’s extra work.
You know, this could be a great way to spice up some Chinese take-out left overs. If you have some sesame or general tso’s chicken in the fridge, cut it up and throw it in. My next tip was going to be that fried rice is an awesome way to use up leftover rice, because even it’s a bit dry or clumpy, you can bring it back to life in the wok.
If you don’t have leftovers and are starting from scratch, you can always save yourself some time by prepping the rice, the chicken and the vegetables a day in advance. If you do that, this recipe will take about 10 minutes to dump in the pan and toss together.
The one thing I don’t want you to skimp on is the pineapple. Cooking it in the wok, the pineapple can fall apart and make the the whole thing mushy and too sweet. You need to lock in all those juices, so when you get a piece of pineapple it’s like a little flavor bomb. If you don’t have a grill or grill pan or griddle or anything, just sear it in a skillet if you have to.
I kid you not, while typing this, my husband stopped in for lunch and reheated a bowl of this and it smells so good. I need to wrap this up and get in that action.
The second half of 2017 is going to be full of travel and new adventures, and of course, food. I’m pretty excited, so I’ll be back soon with more updates and more recipes!