Khao pad (Thai fried rice)

In Thailand, fried rice is street food – junk food, even – whipped up in a flash at a streetside stall after dark, made with leftover rice and whatever bits n pieces happen to be lying around.

I’m often surprised westerners would order it in a Thai restaurant outside Thailand, as there are so many more glamorous and exotic dishes to choose from. But on a balmy tropical evening in Thailand, just after the sun’s gone down and you’re tired from a sweaty day’s work or play, a kerbside plate of khao pad with all the trimmings goes down a treat.

Traditionally, fried rice is a very simple dish with only a small variety of vegetables tossed through it for good measure. Feel free to vary it up with a wider array of veg, or keep it simple – whatever suits your fancy 🙂

Here’s how to whip up a tasty treat from leftover rice and whatever veg you happen to have lying around… 😉

Flavour: Savoury & moreish

Serves: 2 as a substantial main meal


  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 100g firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped – skin on
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 cup cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped – green and white parts separated
  • 2 cups leftover rice (ideally cooked and cooled, but if you want to make it fresh, that’s fine too – just be sure to stand it for a few minutes after cooking before frying it off so it doesn’t go sticky)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • juice of half a lime
  • sprinkle of white pepper

Optional extra veggies:

  • broccoli, broken into small florets (add along with the cabbage and carrots)
  • cauliflower, broken into small florets (add along with the cabbage and carrots)
  • any Asian green vegetable, stems and leaves separated and chopped coarsely (add along with the cabbage and carrots)
  • green beans, chopped into 3cm pieces (add along with the cabbage and carrots)
  • tomato, chopped into chunky wedges (add at the end, with the green bits of the spring onion)
  • peas (add at the end, with the green bits of the spring onion)
  • pineapple chunks (yes, you read that right – pineapple adds a lovely juicy burst of flavour, and is well worth trying!)

To serve:

  • slices or wedges of cucumber
  • wedges of lime
  • a small dish of soy sauce with a chopped up bird’s eye chilli in it
  • chopped coriander to garnish (optional)
  • sweet chilli sauce (optional – see here for my recipe)


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat
  2. Crumble tofu into wok, and scramble it around with a spatula until it starts to turn golden
  3. Toss in your garlic, and stir-fry with the tofu for a minute
  4. Toss in the carrot, cabbage, and white parts of the spring onion – stir-fry for 2 minutes (max!)
  5. Push the stir-fried vegetables and tofu to one side of the wok
  6. Pour the rest of your oil into the wok, and pop in the rice – stir-fry the rice in the oil until it’s tossed through
  7. Stir-fry the vegetable and tofu mixture together with the rice
  8. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, and white pepper – stir through, and take off the heat
  9. Stir through the green parts of the spring onion, and plate up your fried rice immediately

Serve your fried rice with a few wedges of cucumber and lime on the side, and a wee sprinkle of coriander on top. Chilli-spiced soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce serve as accompaniments to those who want even more flavour… and now watch this go down fast! 😛

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