When your other half is insisting on something fancy for dinner and flings a recipe in your direction, it always looks oh-so-simple and a dream to whip up in the kitchen. But we all know that the reality involves far more swearing, sweating and burning that the book lets on. So we’re putting recipes to the test to work out how easy these things really are. Taking on the challenge of Thai-style lobster fried rice is Australian Peter Traianou (good luck mate).
Thai-style Lobster Fried Rice
Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 40 minutes
3 fresh lobsters (or a kilo of prawns)
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large pinch of salt
Some good quality vegetable oil
4 beaten eggs
3 cups of cooked rice (slightly warm to prevent sticking)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pinch sugar
1 pinch white pepper
4 spring onions, chopped thinly
1 knob of butter
1 packet of fried shallots
Serve with ripped coriander leaves and some lime wedges
Here’s what to do
Cook the lobsters in a pan of boiling salted water for 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove all the tail meat and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Melt some butter in a pan and stir the lobster through for five minutes, adding in a little salt and pepper.
If you’re using prawns, lose the head, peel off the skin, and de-vein (getting the black stuff out of the back of the prawn – it’s basically prawn poo) by running a sharp knife down the vein and then scraping the black out.
To cook the prawns, put a knob of butter in a pan with a little oil, add the prawns and salt and pepper. Cook the prawns until pink and stand aside in the pan, retaining the butter.
Using a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic and salt until it forms a paste. Take a hot pan and add some of the oil and garlic paste. Cook this lightly without burning the garlic.
Add the beaten eggs and then mix gently, keeping the eggs light and fluffy.
Add in the rice and stir through, making sure there are no lumps of rice sticking together – chop with a spatula to break any clumps. If the rice is not frying, pour some more oil down the side, but don’t overdo this as it will become too oily.
Turn down the heat and stir until everything is nicely mixed up. Season with a few good glugs of soy sauce and pinches of sugar and pepper.
Add most of the lobster or prawns, including the melted butter which makes the flavour rich and deep and also gives the rice a nice shine. Add the spring onions (saving some green tops to garnish) and stir everything through.
To serve, take a bowl and fill with the rice to the top. With the back of a spatula, push this down firmly to set the rice in the bowl. Then take a serving plate and place it on top of the bowl, flipping it over so the bowl rests on top of the plate. Now carefully lift off the bowl and hey presto, you should be left with a lovely mound of the rice mixture.
Sprinkle on some off the fried shallots, chopped green tops off the spring onion, the ripped coriander and the remaining lobster or prawns. Accompany this with a few lime wedges and there you have it folks.
Name: Peter Traianou
Chef proficiency: Most comfortable in front of a barbecue and often need directions to find the kitchen.
Party Piece: Jalapeno Chicken Poppers. Chicken breast cut up into bite-sized pieces, with a slice of jalapeno pepper wrapped in a bacon rasher and held together with a toothpick. A real party favourite.
Who you’re road testing the recipe for: Heading back to Oz so thought I would shock my mum and mother-in-law by jumping in the kitchen and cooking up something for them.
The ingredients were really easy to find and I purchased the lot from Cold Storage. Rice, eggs, salt/pepper, butter and oil were all in plentiful supply in the pantry. I used prawns instead of lobster as my wife prefers prawns. The prep time took the longest as I had to chop the spring onions, peel, slice and mash the garlic, cook the rice and prepare the prawns. Once all the ingredients had been prepared it was very easy to follow the recipe and by easy, what I’m really saying is that I only burnt the garlic once! This is where I cheated a little bit and had my wife chop up some more garlic for me (something about burnt garlic ruining the taste).
For me, the secret was in the timing. Put the rice cooker on first and then prepare the ingredients. I wanted to make sure the rice was just right. Then following the instructions as written really made a difference. Also, getting the garlic right is a real art. I thought I had it right the first time, then I turned to get the next ingredient and by the time I turned back it was too late. A little hint for all first-timers: read the instructions through thoroughly before starting. That way there won’t be any surprises along the way.
Everyone who tried it liked the taste though as the head chef I was a little more critical. Probably could have added more soy sauce during the cooking and kept the prawns until later as they were on the cooler side by the time I served the meal. Will most definitely cook this again when I get home but mostly for the shock value.