What Is American Fried Rice? Not What You Think

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In fact, you’ll rarely see it outside of Thailand

One of the ingredients in American fried rice is ketchup.

When you think American fried rice, you’re probably thinking about your most recent take-out order, or maybe the stuff you get at Panda Express. Sure, those are both fried rice dishes you can get in America, but are they American fried rice? Not really.

American fried rice, also called “khao pad American,” is a Thai dish served with a protein like fried chicken, bacon, or hot dogs; croutons; and sometimes, for a Hawaiian twist, pineapple. It retains its reddish color from being fried in tomato sauce, or, if you’re feeling extra American, ketchup. It was conceived during the Vietnam War, when American Marines and Air Force personnel were stationed in various parts of Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, this dish is called “nasi goreng USA.”

Blogger Leela Punyaratabandhu of SheSimmers compares American fried rice to the tater tots or chicken nuggets we’d find on a kid’s menu in the USA. “It was one of those kids-friendly dishes which I, as a wee Bangkokian, ate quite a bit of,” she writes.

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