Crab Fried Rice / kao paht boo   Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking Chapter 5: The Gulf Coast, page 159

To me, making fried rice is easier than making sandwiches. This is because I habitually cook more rice than I need for a given meal, usually in my rice cooker, and put extra cooked rice in the fridge so it’s on hand for a day or two, or the freezer, which gives me a week or so. With four cups of cold, cooked rice, I’m ready to make a fast, satisfying, delicious meal, putting to use all sorts of on-hand this-and-that which my kitchen has to offer from everyday cooking. This particular variation on the fried rice theme is a great treat, as it includes a generous portion of crabmeat, four to eight ounces. For this batch I used pasteurized refrigerated crabmeat, but I’ve used freshly picked glorious crabmeat and humble canned crabmeat and it always makes a great dish.

In Thailand, fried rice is a meal, not a side dish, and it’s usually made one or two plates’ worth at a time and served hot from the wok. You can make it in a big deep skillet, or a small one if you break this recipe up into smaller batches. Oil, onion/garlic, a little bit of meat/seafood, eggs optional, tossed in or made into a sheet and shredded as I did here, fish sauce, green onion, done. No cucumbers in the picture because I was out at the time I took it, but they make a fine, simple accompaniment, cool and fresh against the hot rich savory notes of just-fried rice. The fresh round of lime, required in Thailand, adds a sparkly contrast, and is offered on the plate for the diner to squeeze onto the rice just before eating. A small saucer of fish sauce with chopped/sliced hot chili peppers floating on top is also standard, and so very good as a companion to this one-dish meal, eaten with a big spoon. Thai people eat rice from plates, but bowls work just fine. And you COULD serve this with other things, and other things with this (big salad or fruit, either is always a lovely accompaniment) but you don’t have to. Easy street. 

Now about sandwiches. For many cooks, sandwiches are the easiest ‘out’ when time is short (or ingredients or imagination or energy, etc.). To me, they are Trouble. You gotta have bread, fresh and a lot of it. Maybe two or three kinds cause people like what they like. You gotta set out the condiments, where are they? Fridge expedition. Leave them in their containers or spoon out into bowls? (I know, fussy; but when the ketchup knife goes into the mustard and mayo jars, things fall apart in my mind, so I’ve been known to fuss here. Always feel conflicted about it…)  Make the sandwiches or let people do their own? Wash lettuce? Slice tomatoes? Onions? Pickles? How many? What kind? Chips? Fruit? The counter is now full of stuff which has to be returned to its packaging or tucked into containers and stowed in the fridge. Chaos reigns! Give me a big bowl of cold rice and a small cast of supporting ingredients and a hot stove, and I’ll serve you up a big, steaming-hot platter of tasty fried rice in the time it takes to say, “Okay, who wants baloney and cheese?”