Thai-Fusion Cuisine: The American Fried Rice

If there is an underlying theme for the culinary experience in Thailand, the most prevalent would undoubtedly be experimentation—in the contrasting tastes of spicy and sour, in the unique gastronomic profiles of each province, and with different types of proteins and ingredients found in different regions of Thailand.  This liberal attitude towards cooking in Thailand has brought on some of the most creative and distinct fusion dishes in the world. Not least interesting is the dish that is said to be one of the progenitors of Thai-Fusion cuisine—American Fried Rice (ข้าวผัดอเมริกัน). 


So, what exactly is the deal with this dish? The first reaction of any U.S resident (or Western expat for that matter) to the dish would be that of confusion, despite the dish being called American Fried Rice. The origins of the dish are no less confusing, with multiple different sources each claiming to be the inventor of the dish. One story claimed that Madame Sureepan Maneewat, the manager of a Thai restaurant in Don Mueang Airport, was left with cooking ingredients for a typical airline “American Breakfast”—sausages, ham, fried eggs, and presumably raisins and frozen vegetables. Madame Sureepan, whose restaurant regularly prepared on flight meals for the airport, decided to use this stash of ingredients in a fried rice dish, giving birth to possibly the first ข้าวผัดอเมริกัน plate. 

Much like its origin, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes this dish so special. At a glance, it is a fried rice dish with a mish-mash of incoherent ingredients—no fresh vegetables, a mix of sweet and savoury ingredients, and ketchup as a flavour base. When deconstructed, the dish is no doubt one of the more peculiar Thai Fusion dishes that has ever existed. However, the dish is as popular as it is because it pioneered these strange combinations of Western and Asian, without the dish and others like it, Thai Fusion cuisine would not be where it is today. And so, its ingenuity, accidental or otherwise, is the result of one woman’s abundance of ingredients and her gut feeling to experiment.

The recipe presented here today is one of our personal childhood favorites; the ข้าวผัดอเมริกัน (American Kao-Pad). This dish represents the Thai people’s appreciation of the American palate, incorporating ingredients prevalent in a lot of American cuisines (such as deep-fried battered chicken, ketchup, ham, bacon and raisins), cooked in a Thai style wok fried rice, turning it into one of the grandfathers of Thai-Western Fusion cuisine.

For this recipe, you will need: 

• 2 cups of cooked jasmine white rice (better if left refrigerated overnight)

• 5-6 tablespoons of American ketchup 

• 30 grams of raisins

• 30 grams of frozen vegetable assortments (peas and diced carrots specifically) 

• Ham with high fat content or Bacon 

• Sausages, cut into 2 inch portions

• 400 grams of lean chicken cuts  

• Cooking flour 

• 1 cup egg wash 

• 100 grams Panko breadcrumbs 



1. Begin by soaking the chicken in the egg wash and coating it in the bowl of Panko. breadcrumbs. Repeat this process until the exterior has a consistent texture. 

2. Once tempura-ed, cook the chicken meat in a deep-fryer or air fryer until golden brown in medium-high heat for 30 minutes.

3. Deep-fry/air-fry the sausages in very high for 5 minutes.

4. Leave sausages to rest.

5. In a large wok, begin cooking the ham/bacon until fat begins to rind.

6. Add 2 tbsp of canola oil to the wok and cook ham/bacon until mildly crispy.

7. Remove the ham/bacon from the wok.

8. Add all other unused ingredients into the wok and consistently stir the pan.

9. Add around 1 tbsp of ketchup into the wok and continuously stir until rice becomes softly red and orange.

10. Add the ham/bacon back into the wok.

11. Season with salt and pepper.

12. Plate the dish with the chicken and enjoy. 


By no means is the recipe and cooking methodology exhaustive. Like its origins, the dish is always changing and ingredients may vary from cook to cook. What was provided is a good base for you to be able to branch off and incorporate your own ingredients (such as spam and corned beef). Whatever you come up with at the end of the day will be a faithful recreation of the dish as long as you adhere to it’s one and only principle: experiment as much as possible.

If you missed last week's article, check out this recipe for the local classic Thai Style Crab Omelette here!

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