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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Saffron tints mild Thai-style fried rice

 •  Cosmopolitan Filipino

By Elaine Magee

This lighter version of fried rice can be made with shrimp or any kind of meat. Or use tofu to keep it vegetarian.

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Q. I had a mildly flavored fried rice in a Thai restaurant in Northern California while visiting. The rice had a yellow color to it and contained onions, egg, tomatoes, and your choice of chicken, beef or shrimp. How can I make this?

A. I'm still marveling that this reader used the words "mildly flavored" to describe a Thai dish. I've ordered "the mildest dish on the menu" at many a Thai restaurant and they were all still too hot/spicy for me!

I searched a few Thai fried rice recipes over the Internet, and none of them seemed to be similar to the dish the reader described. I borrowed a few things from one recipe and a couple from another. I'm not sure how "authentic" this Thai rice recipe is, but it is mildly flavored and includes all the ingredients mentioned by the reader (plus a few more) and I absolutely enjoyed eating it.

I used brown rice to make this a "whole grain" dish, and kept the oil to 1 tablespoon (and used canola oil).

I made the requested "yellow" rice by blending some saffron powder and curry powder in a mixture of milk and coconut extract. This coconutflavored milk helped keep the rice mixture moist at the end of the stir-fry without adding lots of fat. You can add some shrimp or meat if you like, or keep it a lacto-ovo vegetarian dish.

To boost the yellow color of the brown rice, you can cook the rice in low-sodium chicken broth (made with yellow broth powder and water) instead of water, if desired.

If you want to add some obligatory "heat" to this rice dish, feel free to add a tablespoon (or to taste) of chopped red chilies along with the tomato.


  • 2 large eggs (higher omega-3 eggs, if available)

  • 1/4 cup egg substitute

  • Canola cooking spray

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1 sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic (depending on your preference)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoon ketchup

  • 1 cup finely diced tomato

  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk (whole milk or fat-free half-and-half can be substituted)

  • A pinch or two of saffron (available in small jars in the spice section)

  • A pinch or two of curry powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

  • 4 cups cooked brown rice

  • 8 ounces or more frozen, cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp, thawed (substitute diced tofu or cooked shredded or diced chicken, or beef, or pork if desired), optional

  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

    Add eggs and egg substitute to medium-size bowl and beat with fork until well blended. Coat a large nonstick wok or frying pan with canola cooking spray and start heating over medium-high heat. Pour in the egg mixture and scramble or cook like an omelet (your choice).

    Set cooked eggs aside. If you made an omelet, then cut into shreds and set aside.

    In the same wok or frying pan, add the canola oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir-fry until golden (a few minutes).

    Add in the salt (if desired), pepper, ketchup and diced tomato, and continue to stir-fry for a minute or two. Meanwhile, add the milk, saffron, curry and coconut extract to a 1-cup measure and stir to blend.

    Add the brown rice, shrimp and coconut milk mixture to the wok with the onion mixture and continue to stir-fry for a couple of minutes more. Stir in the cooked egg pieces or strips.

    Arrange each serving of rice in a bowl and garnish with the green onions and cilantro.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving (without shrimp): 330 calories, 12 g protein, 53 g carbohydrate, 7.5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 3.8 g monounsaturated fat, 2.2 g polyunsaturated fat, 107 mg cholesterol, 5.4 g fiber, 178 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21 percent. Omega-3 fatty acids. 0.5 g; omega-6, 1.7 g. Weight Watchers points, 6.

    Elaine Magee is a registered dietitian. Her latest book is "Comfort Food Makeovers." Find out more at www.recipedoctor.com.