Pineapple fried rice is the perfect vegan dish that combines firm tofu, pineapple, cashews, red peppers, tomatoes, and curry powder to make a dinner that’s full of healthy ingredients. Even better…it tastes like a tofu tiki party.
If there’s one thing I learned from my mom in the kitchen, it’s to taste as you go and adjust depending on what suits your preference! She never really followed recipes to a T and went with her instincts and taste buds.–Jeeca Uy
HOW DO I MAKE PERFECT FRIED RICE?
- Use cold, leftover cooked rice. Leftover rice firms up overnight, making it easier to separate and decreasing the chances of your fried rice turning out mushy. If you don’t have leftovers, air freshly cooked rice (spread it on a sheet pan) so it dries out a little, then refrigerate for a few hours before cooking.
- Use medium to long grain rice. Jasmine and basmati rice are perfect choices for fluffy, sturdy grains that don’t clump or fall apart when fried. Short grain rice is softer and absorbs more moisture, so it sticks together easily.
- A blazing hot wok (a large pan, skillet, or Dutch oven works, too) and an adequate amount of oil will ensure your ingredients don’t stick to the surface. Asian restaurants use very high heat to get that gorgeous flavor in their fried rice; you probably don’t have that kind of stovetop power at home, but get it as hot as you can. Just remember to preheat your wok before adding ingredients.
- Use the biggest pan in your kitchen and don’t crowd it with ingredients. Ideally, you should cook one to two servings at a time. Too many ingredients and your wok won’t stay blazing hot and everything will steam instead of frying—leaving you with mushy rice. You can cook each ingredient individually, if you prefer, then return everything to the wok at the end for a final mix and season.
- Don’t overdo sauce or seasonings like soy sauce or oyster sauce. Add just a few tablespoons of your chosen sauce for flavor. Too much sauce will make your rice mushy.
Pineapple Fried Rice
- 3 cups cooked and cooled rice preferably leftover
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more if needed
- 1 small (5 oz) onion diced
- 1/2 cup seeded and diced red bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or 1 bird’s eye chile, sliced (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks sliced into 1⁄2-inch (1.3-cm) cubes
- 1/3 cup roasted cashews
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions plus more for garnishing
- 1/2 cup seeded and diced tomato
- Place rice in a large bowl, use a spoon to carefully break apart and separate grains. If using freshly cooked rice, leave rice to cool in front of a fan for 10 minutes for the moisture to evaporate.
- Using a tofu press or weighted plate, press tofu for at least 10 minutes to drain any excess liquid. Slice into 1⁄2-inch (1.3-cm) cubes.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, add oil. Once hot, add tofu cubes. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over tofu then mix. Pan-fry tofu cubes, flipping them about every 2 minutes, until golden brown and crisp on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to move tofu to a plate or bowl.
- Add onion and bell pepper to the skillet or wok. Sauté until bell pepper is tender, about 2 minutes. Add rice then season with soy sauce, coconut sugar, curry powder, and chili powder or fresh chile. Mix well then season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and white pepper.
- Add pineapple and increase heat to high. Give mixture a good stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in tofu, cashews, scallions, and tomato. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Adjust seasoning, as needed, and remove from heat. Serve in bowls or pineapple bowls.
- Garnish rice with more chopped scallions, if desired. Enjoy while hot!
*How do I press firm tofu?Wrap your tofu in a paper or kitchen towel, then place on a plate or any flat surface. Place two chopping boards or any weighted flat item, such as a plate, on top of the tofu
to squeeze out the excess liquid. Leave the boards on for a good ten minutes. Just make sure the boards aren’t too heavy, since this can squish the tofu and completely break it apart. You’ll notice afterward that your tofu has shrunken slightly and lost significant amounts of water. An alternative to this towel and board method is to invest in a tofu press—because, yes, one exists! After the tofu has been drained of its excess liquid, soaking it in a marinade or cooking it in a sauce will make it absorb all that flavor and make it taste so much better.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What a treat! This pineapple fried rice was very different than my usual go-to fried rice recipe, but I absolutely loved it! I think it should more aptly be named “Singapore fried rice” because the curry powder immediately made me reminisce about delicious Singapore noodles from my favourite take-out restaurant.
I was a bit unsure how the combination of spices and ingredients would turn out, but really, have no fear at all–it’s wonderful! I used Braggs liquid soy, canned pineapple instead of fresh, chili powder instead of fresh chili, and brown sugar instead of coconut sugar. I served it with a side of garlic shrimp, and we found ourselves mixing the shrimp into the rice because it went so well together. I’d highly recommend this combo!
I love pineapple fried rice and this recipe is pretty similar to the one I make for myself except for one major difference, this recipe lacks fish sauce. Adding fish sauce to this will yield you a far tastier pineapple fried rice, in my opinion. It adds that extra umami that this dish is known for.
I like how my favorite Thai restaurant adds raisins to their pineapple fried rice and since I didn’t have any on hand, I added dried apricot to mine, which was just as good. Since this leaned into being vegetarian fried rice, I took the liberty of adding cremini mushrooms to mine as well, which I added after cooking the onions.
I would suggest mixing the soy sauce, curry powder, sugar, and fish sauce (1 Tbsp.) together to make it easier to add to the rice. Making fried rice is a quick task so I think making the sauce first and adding it together all at once just helps in making things go smoother. I don’t think it’s necessary to cook this on medium-high heat. I always crank my heat up to high heat when cooking with a wok. You want things to be charred nicely when cooking with a wok, so because I cook over high heat, I didn’t cook the pineapple for the suggested 2-3 minutes, but for 1-2 minutes instead. I know I have made a lot of suggestions but they’re all quite minor and that’s what I love about fried rice, creating a meal out of leftovers and scraps. It turns out delicious whether you keep it vegetarian or add shrimp or chicken. Anything works, just make sure you add that fish sauce!
If I have one criticism of this version of pineapple fried rice, it’s that it’s just a bit too much…I’m more of a minimalist where fried rice is concerned. Getting the perfect texture and the wok flavor is what is most important, and to do that the add-ins are best kept to a minimum. This recipe is the opposite–maximal add-ins. It has great flavor and a variety of textures which make for good eating. It’s just not what I typically strive for in my fried rice. But most folks will love it. And I will make it again.
The amount of tofu called for is just too much. Granted, it makes this a candidate for a one-dish meal, but it overwhelms the rice. Also, the total quantity of rice plus additions is a lot and overloads the wok a bit, making it harder to get the optimal texture. I use a 16″ wok on a high-BTU outdoor burner. Most home cooks are using a 14″ wok on an indoor stove. If I thought my wok was overloaded, it will certainly be for those with more typical set-ups. My advice is to make half a recipe, or to divide the full recipe and do the stir-fry in two batches. Despite these issues, the flavors are great, and I think the recipe is absolutely worth tinkering with.
Originally published September 6, 2021