Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns
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This Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice is quick and easy to make, and exploding with the BEST sweet-savory, tangy, and spicy flavors! It’s full of big juicy prawns, and stars Thai Chili Paste (Nam Prik Pao), a delicious Thai condiment that provides a tremendous depth of flavor!
I know we’re in the middle of December and I should be sharing holiday and cozy comfort food recipes. But I have been dying to share this Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns with you because it is my EVERYTHING right now! 😍 ❤️
It actually might be great to whip up if you’re looking for a break from all the rich and indulgent holiday food and sweet desserts.
This easy weeknight fried rice has so many fantastic flavors going for it. It’s salty, sweet, and a bit spicy thanks to Nam Prik Pao – Thai roasted chili paste, and full of big juicy prawns! In the herbs and greenery department, we’ve got lemongrass and Thai holy basil for some herbal peppery notes, and spring onion and a sprinkling of coriander (cilantro) for garnish. All you need is a good squeeze of fresh lime juice to brighten up everything and you’ll have yourself a spectacular plate of Thai style fried rice!
The whole dish comes together in just 30-35 minutes, inclusive of prep time, and I guarantee that all the brilliant flavors will blow your mind.
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s quick and easy to make on any given weeknight. Hurrah for easy fried rice dinners!
- Thai chili paste (Nam Prik Pao), the star ingredient in this fried rice, adds sweet-savory notes and a lot of flavor depth.
- Lemongrass and Thai holy basil add herbal and peppery notes, and makes everything sing.
- It’s a one wok wonder. Less cleanup = Win!
- Big. Luscious. Juicy. Prawns. Need I say more?!
Grab your wok, and let’s make some fried rice for dinner tonight!
- Oil: I used canola oil, but any neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point will work.
- Prawns: I used peeled and deveined black tiger prawns. But you could use shrimp instead too. If you’re using prawns that haven’t already been peeled and deveined, you’ll need to use double the weight indicated in the recipe card below. Peeled and deveined prawns or shrimp are approximately half the weight of their unpeeled counterparts.
- Chilies: I’ve used red and green Bird’s Eye chilies, fiery hot Prik Kee Nu green Thai chilies, and a large red chili. But any small hot red and green chilies will work. Feel free to adjust the quantity depending on your heat level preference. Prik Kee Nu green chilies are incredibly hot, so use at your own discretion. They’re optional, and you can totally leave them out if you can’t get a hold of them easily or aren’t big on heat. The large red chili is rather mild, and is more for color than heat.
- Lemongrass Stalks: If you can’t get fresh lemongrass easily, you can use lemongrass paste instead.
- Cooked Rice: Long grain (such as Thai Jasmine rice) day old cooked rice will work best.
- Thai Holy Basil Leaves: Holy basil (also known as ‘kra pow’ in Thai or spicy basil) has a peppery herbal flavor. It’s used in many popular Thai classic favorite dishes such as Thai Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Kra Pow Gai) and Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice. Look for it at your local Asian or Thai grocery store if you’re based in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. If you’re based in Asia, you can find this in the Thai stall at your local wet market. Substitute with Thai sweet basil or Italian basil if you can’t locate it.
- Thai Chili Paste/(Nam Prik Pao): This is the shining ingredient in this fried rice! It’s a sweet and savory umami packed chili paste which has the texture of jam. It’s also known as “roasted chili paste” or “roasted chili paste in soybean oil”. Thai people love to use it in stir-fries, soups, and even spread it on bread, sometimes for a sandwich. It’s made with soybean oil, dried shrimp, onion, garlic, dried chilies, tamarind, sugar, salt, and shrimp paste. Everything is blended together and then roasted in a pan before being packaged in small jars. Look for it in your Thai or Asian grocery store, or purchase it online. I use Maepranom brand.
- Tamarind Paste/Concentrate: I use a paste that comes in a jar instead of fresh tamarind for convenience. Depending on how tangy your jarred paste is, you may need to adjust the amount I’ve indicated. I use Talad Thai brand. Be sure to use a Thai tamarind paste and not an Indian one. The latter is black and sticky and not what we want for this recipe. You can find Thai tamarind paste in the Asian aisle of some large supermarkets, Asian/Thai grocery stores, or online.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns (Khao Pad Nam Prik Pao Goong)
- Make the garlic chili paste and prep fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic, Bird’s Eye red and green chilies, and Prik Kee Nu green chilies. Then add to a mortar and pestle and pound until a coarse paste forms. Prepare all the other fresh ingredients.
- Make the sauce: Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a measuring cup (or small bowl) and set aside.
For the Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns:
- Cook the prawns. In a bit of oil in a large wok for 1-2 minutes. Then transfer them to a clean bowl (we’ll be adding them back in later).
- Sauté onion and aromatics. Heat up some more oil in the wok and add the onion, spring onion white parts, and lemongrass. Sauté for a minute until the onion starts to lightly brown. Then add the garlic chili paste mixture and thinly sliced large red chili, and stir-fry for a few more seconds.
- Add the rice and sauce: Stir-fry until the rice is evenly coated in the sauce.
- Add the shrimp. Then season the fried rice with ground white pepper and toss to combine with everything else.
- Cook the egg. Push everything to the side of the wok and add a tiny bit of oil. Pour in the egg and allow it to set for half a minute, then scramble and toss to combine with everything.
- Toss through the greens. Add the Thai holy basil leaves and spring onion green parts and toss for a few seconds until wilted, then switch off the heat.
- Serve! Plate the fried rice and garnish with more spring onion and chopped coriander. Serve with a few cucumber slices and a lime wedge for squeezing. Then enjoy!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Use day old cooked rice. Day old rice works better for cooking fried rice than freshly cooked rice, which can become mushy as there’s too much moisture in it. Storing it in the refrigerator overnight gives it a chance to dry a little, which’ll give you the best texture for making fried rice.
- Have everything prepped before you start cooking. As with all stir-fries, this one goes by fast and is ready in under 15 minutes. It’s best to have everything ready to go so that you’re not fumbling around trying to chop/prep anything once you’ve switched on the heat.
- Use a different protein. Diced chicken thighs or breast, thinly sliced pork scotch fillet or tenderloin, or thinly sliced flank or skirt steak would work well in this recipe. Although in my honest and humble opinion, the prawns/shrimps version tastes the BEST! If using meat, season with salt and pepper and cook it through before adding it to the fried rice.
- Make it vegetarian. There are a few recipes on the internet for vegetarian/vegan Nam Prik Pao, so you could try making one of them to use in this fried rice. Also, use crispy pan-fried tofu for the protein and low sodium light soy sauce in place of the fish sauce.
- Add veggies. Feel free to add some bok choy, Chinese broccoli, snap beans, or other fried rice friendly veggies you like if you’d like to up to nutritional content.
- Serve with fried eggs. Instead of scrambling the egg into the fried rice, you could serve with a fried egg instead. I recommend serving one fried egg for each person.
There isn’t one unfortunately. I recommend making your own Nam Prik Pao if you can’t get a hold of the store-bought type.
For 2-3 days in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator. You can reheat it in a wok on the stovetop by first adding a bit of oil or water to keep it from drying out. Or reheat it in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, until hot throughout.
You can add it to salads, or stir-fries such as Thai Cashew Chicken, soups such as Tom Yum Soup, or even make a sandwich with it. It’s a very versatile ingredient and even tastes great as a dip for crackers and veggies such as cucumber or carrot sticks.
More Fried Rice Favorites
More Quick & Easy Weeknight Stir-fries
- Thai Cashew Chicken
- Lemongrass Pork Stir-fry
- Spicy Pepper Chicken
- Taiwanese Lamb and Water Spinach Stir-fry
- Spicy Korean Pork Stir-fry
- Khua Kling Moo (Southern Thai Dry Curry Pork)
- Or feel free to browse the entire Stir-fry recipes collection.
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Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns
This Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice is quick and easy to make, and exploding with the BEST sweet-savory, tangy, and spicy flavors! It’s full of big juicy prawns, and stars Thai chili paste (Nam Prik Pao).
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 3 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stir-fry
- Cuisine: Thai
For the Sauce:
- 2 TBLS Thai Chili Paste/Chili Jam (Nam Prik Pao)
- 1 TBLS Fish Sauce
- 1 TBLS Light Soy Sauce
- 1 TBLS Oyster Sauce
- 1 TBLS Tamarind Paste
- 1 TBLS freshly squeezed Lime Juice
For the Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns:
- 3 TBLS Canola Oil (or any neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point)
- 200 grams / 7 ounces peeled and deveined Black Tiger Prawns/Shrimp (use 400 grams if using unpeeled prawns)
- 6 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
- 2–10 Red Chilies (Bird’s Eye preferred, but any small hot red chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
- 2–6 Green Chilies (Bird’s Eye preferred, but any small hot green chilies will work), to taste – roughly chopped
- 2–6 Prik Kee Nu Green Chilies (optional), to taste – cut in half
- 1 Large Red Chili – deseeded if desired and thinly sliced at an angle
- ½ Yellow Onion – finely chopped
- 2 Lemongrass stalks – outer tough layers removed and finely minced (substitute with 2 TBLS lemongrass paste if unavailable)
- 3 cups cooked Long Grain Rice (Such as Thai Jasmine rice. Day old rice works best.)
- ½ TSP ground White Pepper
- 1.5 cups Thai Holy Basil Leaves – washed and pat-dried
- 1 Spring Onion – chopped, white and green parts separated
- 1 Egg – lightly beaten
- To Serve: more chopped spring onion, chopped coriander (cilantro), cucumber slices, lime wedges for squeezing
- Prepare the fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic, Bird’s Eye red and green chilies, and Prik Kee Nu green chilies (if using). Add to a mortar and pestle and pound into a coarse paste. Thinly slice the large red chili at an angle, chop the onion and spring onion, and mince the lemongrass. Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then wash and pat-dry with paper towels. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Set everything aside.
- Prepare the prawns: Peel and devein the prawns if they aren’t already. Then rinse thoroughly and pat-dry.
- Make the sauce: Whisk together the Thai chili paste (Nam Prik Pao), fish sauce, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind paste, and freshly squeezed lime juice in a measuring cup or small bowl. Set aside.
For the Thai Roasted Chili Fried Rice with Prawns:
- Cook the prawns: Heat one tablespoon of canola oil in a large nonstick wok. Once hot, add the prawns and cook undisturbed for about a minute. Turn the pieces over and cook for another 30 seconds, then stir-fry for 10-20 seconds. Switch off the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer to a clean bowl, then set aside.
- Sauté onion and aromatics: Heat 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil in the wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, spring onion white parts, and lemongrass. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until the onion starts to lightly brown and everything is fragrant. Next, add the garlic chili paste mixture and thinly sliced large red chili. Stir-fry for 30-40 seconds.
- Add the rice and sauce: Add the rice and pour the sauce on top. Stir-fry, breaking up the lumps as you go, until the rice is evenly coated in the sauce.
- Add the shrimp: Add the shrimp and ground white pepper, and toss to combine with everything.
- Scramble the egg: Push everything to the side of the wok and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil. Pour in the egg and allow it to set for 20-30 seconds, then scramble and toss to combine with everything in the wok.
- Add the greens: Toss through the Thai holy basil leaves and spring onion green parts until the basil has wilted, then switch off the heat.
- To Serve: Divide the fried rice evenly onto plates. Garnish with more chopped spring onion and chopped coriander. Serve with cucumber slices and lime wedges for squeezing if desired.
Ingredient Notes and FAQs
- Thai Chili Paste/(Nam Prik Pao): This is a sweet and savory umami packed chili paste which has the texture of jam. It’s also known as “roasted chili paste” or “roasted chili paste in soybean oil”. It can found in Thai or Asian grocery stores, or purchased online.
- Tamarind Paste/Concentrate: Depending on how tangy your jarred paste is, you may need to adjust the amount indicated. Be sure to use a Thai tamarind paste and not an Indian one – the latter is black and sticky. You can find Thai tamarind paste in the Asian aisle of some large supermarkets, Asian/Thai grocery stores, or online.
- Chilies: Feel free to adjust the quantity depending on your heat level preference. Prik Kee Nu green chilies are incredibly hot, so use at your own discretion. The large red chili is rather mild and is more for color than heat.
- How long will the fried rice keep? 2-3 days in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator. You can reheat it in a wok on the stovetop by adding a bit of oil or water to prevent it from drying out, or in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until hot throughout.
- What else can I make with Nam Prik Pao besides fried rice? You can add it to salads, or stir-fries such as Thai Cashew Chicken, Tom Yum Soup, or even make a sandwich with it. It’s a very versatile ingredient and even tastes great as a dip for crackers and veggies such as cucumber or carrot sticks.
- See post above for tips on ‘Variations’.
Shop the Recipe
- Serving Size: 1 plate
- Calories: 622
- Sugar: 20g
- Sodium: 1397.6mg
- Fat: 19.1g
- Saturated Fat: 1.9g
- Unsaturated Fat: 14.7g
- Trans Fat: 0.1g
- Carbohydrates: 79.6g
- Fiber: 5.3g
- Protein: 26.1g
- Cholesterol: 169.3mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.