Nam Prik Pao Fried Rice with Shrimp and Pineapple (ข้าวผัดน้ำพริกเผาใส่กุ้งกับสับปะรด)


Last week, in the course of interviewing my friend M, who devised this fried rice recipe, I came to realize that, based on the way he was answering my questions, I probably wouldn’t be able to get anything bloggable out of this. But it was too late. The blog post had already been planned, the dish had already been made and photographed, the conversation had already started, and I had imposed upon myself the obligation to see it through and make the most of what I got. After all, a famous American philosopher from the 1990s once said, “Anything less than the best is a felony.”

In order for you to understand the interview the translated transcript of which will appear below, I need to tell you something that happened many years ago.

In an attempt to get rid of my flab, I started going to the gym with M for several weeks just so I could observe what exactly he did to achieve the kind of physique he had (and still does). I’d noticed that M always began with upper-body weight machines. Then he moved on to either a cardio then lower-body workout or vice versa. It was the same sequence every single time.

Finally, I asked him to enlighten me on his workout method.

Prone to over-analyzing things, I just assumed that there were physiological reasons for this which I didn’t understand, e.g. the depletion and repletion of glycogen. Instead, I was told that the only reason he did the upper-body workout first was because, “My armpits sweat a lot and if I do cardio first, chicks can see the armpit sweat circles on my shirt when I do the lat pull-down.”

Okay, then.

thai fried rice
With M’s personality established, here’s the translated transcript of the pertinent part of my Pulitzer-worthy Skype interview.

Leela: So, M, this is your signature dish – something we all expect you to make every time we get together. Why do you think people like it so much? What’s special about it? [Preferred answer: Oh, you know, Leela, this is a dish that’s easy and quick to make and it uses the stuff that most Thai people have in their pantry already.]

M: It’s delicious.

Leela: Okay, so, um, yeah. Why Nam Prik Pao in fried rice? [Preferred answer: Nam Prik Pao, also known as Thai chili jam, is a versatile ingredient that gives you all the flavors that you love about Thai food. It helps streamline the cooking in that with only one ingredient, you get all the flavors you need. Notice that other than a bit of fish sauce, I don’t use other seasonings.]

M: It was there. And I just got sick of spreading it on bread. There was some rice in the fridge, so …

Leela: That makes sense, M. What about the use of fresh pineapple in this? How did you think of using pineapple in a Nam Prik Pao fried rice? [Preferred answer: The tart pineapple together with Nam Prik Pao create the juxtaposition of fresh and smoky that works very well.]

M: It was there.

Leela: (Brain cells are now dying in droves.) So you like pineapple?

M: Mhmm.

Leela: And you, uh, also like Nam Prik Pao?

M: Yes.

Leela: Like — a lot?

M: (5-second pause) Yes.

Leela: The last time you made this fried rice for me, you used brown jasmine rice instead of regular white jasmine rice. Is that a new variation that you’ve come to like? [Preferred answer: Ah, you noticed! Well, it’s for health reason. We need more fiber and nutrients in our diet, you know? Plus, I’ve found that the nuttiness of brown rice actually makes the dish more delicious.]

M: Not really.

Leela: So why did you use brown rice?

M: My wife made me.

Leela: Oh.

M: (Yelling to his 3-year-old in the background.) I said, DON’T PEE ON THE DOG!

Leela: M?

M: Huh? Oh, sorry. (Continued yelling.) Fine! Go do it outside!

Leela: Um, M. What about shrimp? You’ve been using nothing but shrimp. Never pork. Never beef. Never chicken. Never squid. Is it also because it’s there?

M: Yeah.

So there you have it, folks — the background information on this fried rice, straight from the horse’s mouth. I hope this has been enlightening and helpful.

[Added June 4th, 2012: A reader, VB, made this fried rice and it looked way better than mine. You can view it here.]


Nam Prik Pao Fried Rice with Shrimp and Pineapple (ข้าวผัดน้ำพริกเผาใส่กุ้งกับสับปะรด)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree, Main, Seafood, Stir-fry, Gluten-free
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ medium yellow or red onion (90g), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 lb large (16-25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of Nam Prik Pao (store-bought or homemade)
  • ½ large red bell pepper, deveined and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup (150g) ½-inch cubes of fresh pineapple
  • 4 cups (650g) cold cooked long-grain rice (or brown rice)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion dice; stir until soft and almost translucent.
  2. Add the shrimp, Nam Prik Pao, and red bell pepper dice to the pan; stir until the shrimp is almost cooked through.
  3. Add the rice and pineapple to the pan, followed by the fish sauce; stir to heat everything through and get the seasoning to coat the rice. Remove from heat. Serve with a bowl of lime-heavy (especially if you use commercial Nam Prik Pao as it can make the fried rice a bit too sweet Nam-Pla Prik (and fried eggs, if desired).

20 Responses to Nam Prik Pao Fried Rice with Shrimp and Pineapple (ข้าวผัดน้ำพริกเผาใส่กุ้งกับสับปะรด)

  1. raquel April 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Now drooling on your fried rice. I can smell the tasty shrimp and imagining how spicy this is. Made me hungry… again. I just ate dinner. =)

  2. gtrine April 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    HAHAHAHAHA. Your friend M is my kind of cook! And the fried rice sounds delicious! Especially with the addition of the fried egg.

  3. MrsAdams April 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Making this for lunch today! I’m looking forward to trying the fried rice with the nam prik pao! Thanks

  4. Rick April 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    Leela, looks great, going to give this a try… that was very verbose interview… have a great weekend

  5. no dragons April 22, 2012 at 1:42 am #

    I just love it! Can’t wait to go to Thailand.

  6. sundevilpeg April 22, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    Hilarious. Reminds me of trying to interview the Ramones back in my college days, in 1979. Gaaaaah!

  7. S April 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I came to your blog via Saveur- your photos are utterly gorgeous. i wish you all the best in the competition. x s

  8. Marialyn April 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    I’ve been a follower of your blog for several months but never felt moved to comment, until today….. Very creative and funny post! I love the “Don’t pee on the dog!” line. And I’m thinking, I just may try making this rice this afternoon since I already have everything needed(including a fresh pineapple)in my kitchen. Thanks!!

  9. Shu Han April 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    HAHAHA great story. I love how this dish looks. it reminds me of a favourite from home, nasi goreng! esp with that fried egg on top, crispy at the edges and with a runny yolk!

  10. thecookssister April 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Yum! Reading about this friend rice is making me hungry! Love the combination of sweet and savory flavours!

    Amber @ The Cook’s Sister

  11. Arwen from Hoglet K April 23, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    It sounds like he can cook an amazing fried rice even if he can’t explain why. I loved the contrast between the preferred answers and the real ones!

  12. Dwight Turner April 25, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    Hilarious and so thai. Nam prik and pineapple isn’t the only clever juxtaposition here. I love your preferred answers in the interview 😉

  13. Eric April 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    I’m thinking about substituting chicken breast for the shrimp since that’s what I have on hand. Anything I should do differently besides just swapping the proteins?



  14. Admin April 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

    Eric – Nope. I’d cut the chicken into pieces the same size as the shrimp, so they cook at the same rate.

  15. Eric May 6, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    I made this last week and loved it! I really enjoyed the mixture of flavors (although I’m not well-practiced at frying eggs, so that part wasn’t so pretty). I’m so glad that you advised serving with nam-pla prik — since the dish itself isn’t too hot, the nam-pla prik is a great way to let the heat lovers spice it up more.

    I also made your nam prik pao with asparagus and was thinking about doing a little combo. I am planning to cut the asparagus into ~1.5 inch pieces and then add to this dish. Any reasons why that might go wrong? And if I don’t blanch or steam the asparagus ahead of time, would you recommend adding around the same time as the chicken?

    Thanks so much for your great recipes and all of your help in the comments. The quality of my dinners has increased exponentially over the past few weeks!


  16. Admin May 6, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    Eric – Great to hear. I think your plan to add 1/2-inch pieces of asparagus in this is good. I don’t think you need to blanch them. Cooking them along with the chicken should work out well.

  17. Kevin May 10, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    I am liking the pineapple and prawn combo here!

  18. Mama Netas May 13, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    Vanilla ice writes words of wisdom! Great shot, making this tomorrow!

  19. JohnMich July 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Made this last night. Absolutely delicious and not difficult if you have pre-measured and got ready before getting into the cooking process. I think this site is fabulously and interesting.
    One thing with this recipe – we did not put the shrimp (in OZ we call them prawns) into the mix until the very last reheat. That way they stayed plump and crunchy instead of overcooked.
    This is in accord with your ideas for other prawn recipes – and the way we do it in OZ.
    Many thanks for the recipe,Leela, John

  20. Malaysian Delicacies May 16, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    Hello, first time to your site, an entertaining interview with Mr M . Its actually a simple recipe and yes I like the combo of shrimp and pineapple too.Try adding some coarsely pounded soaked dried shrimp and I bet it will taste heavenly . Bye.