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Archive for July, 2009

Pad BuabAlthough not the most photogenic of dishes, (made even less so with my lack of food photography skills :)) , it is a delicious and healthy dish, and quite a simple one to make.

I’ve observed many a Thai home cooks and their various personal styles for stir frying, and there is one technique which works well with vegetables such as zucchini and squash.  Some vegetables (mostly leafy ones) are best flash-stir-fried on super high heat usually called “Fai Dang ไฟแดง ” or “red fire.” Chinese broccoli and morning glory (ผักบุ้ง) are wonderful for such technique, which involves stir frying the vegetables in a very hot wok for a very short time.

However, for vegetables such as zucchini and squash, which requires a bit more time to cook and allow flavors of the sauce to penetrate, a different technique is required.  Cooks will stir fry to a point and, deglaze the wok with some water (yes, it is common in Thai cooking to deglaze with water!) and cover the wok with a lid to allow steaming and for flavors to penetrate.

So, that’s the technique we’ll use with this stir fry, a stir fry of zucchini and squash. (Note: This dish is akin to “Pad Buab” in Thailand.  Buab is a similar vegetable to zucchini and squash.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into approx one sq inch pieces
  • 1 large squash, cut into same size
  • garlic, about 4 cloves chopped
  • oyster sauce, about 2 tbsp
  • fish sauce, about 1 tsp
  • 1 egg
  • oil
  1. Heat wok and add oil.  (For this dish, we won’t rely on a super hot wok since we will stir fry a while until the vegetables are tender.  Medium to medium high heat is fine.)
  2. Stir fry garlic till fragrant.
  3. Add zucchini and squash and stir fry until almost tender.
  4. Add oyster sauce and fish sauce and continue to stir fry.
  5. Add a little water just to deglaze the bottom of the wok and cover the wok with a lid.
  6. After a minute or so, check the tenderness of the zucchini and squash, and also the flavors.  Adjust the flavors if needed.
  7. Push the vegetables to the side of the wok and add an egg.  Wait till it starts to set, then scramble and fold back in the vegetables.
  8. Serve with jasmine rice.

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Moo Kratiem Prik Thai

This is another favorite among the lunch crowd in Thailand, and made readily available by food vendors in virtually every street corner. You can find this dish anywhere, and it is indeed simply delicious.

The dish is called Moo Kratiem Prik Thai, that is:

Moo = Pork

Kratiem = garlic

Prik Thai = ground pepper (usually white pepper).

Kai (chicken) and Kung (shrimp) are also popular meats for Kratiem Prik Thai.

As a nation, Thais eat quite a lot of pork, so you will find that dishes from Thai vendors often feature pork as the main protein.

Kratiem Prik Thai is a part of a Thai food category called “Aharn Jahn Deow” or literally “one plate food,” typically a made-to-order stir-fry over white jasmine rice.  It could also be a noodle stir-fry such as Pad Thai, Pad See U, Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles), etc.  I’d go so far as to say that “one-plate-food” is the equivalent of the sandwich in terms of being an all encompassing meal offered up in one ‘package’, so to speak, and often eaten for lunch.

Although not technically street food, the Kratiem Prik Thai isn’t exactly a full sit-down restaurant food either (i.e. a restaurant where we go for dinners with friends and family and order dishes to be eaten family-style).   Most Kratiem Prik Thai is rather eaten at food stalls or lunchtime shops.  It is also a dish Thai home cooks don’t usually make at home.  So, however easy the dish is to make, I never made it until I came to live in the U.S.

There are variations to this dish – some cooks make it dryer, some make it juicier, some use only fish sauce, some only soy sauce (a friend of mine uses only Golden Mountain soy-based seasoning sauce), some a combination of the two, some throw in some oyster sauce.  In essence, this dish should taste salty savory and garlicky with just a hint of spiciness from the ground white pepper.  (Sugar is used only to balance out the other flavors, not to make the dish sweet.)

The following are my basic ingredients for Kratiem Prik Thai.

  • Meat, sliced thin-ish (Pork is most common, followed by shrimp and chicken.)
  • Garlic, minced (I use a couple of cloves per serving.)
  • Fish sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Ground white pepper (White peppercorns grounded to a powdery form – it tastes significantly different than black pepper, and commonly used in Thai cooking.)
  • Cooking oil
  • Cucumbers and tomatoes for garnish

Steps:

  1. Heat wok and add some oil. (In the meantime, I like to mix in a few dashes of soy sauce to the meat to marinate while waiting for the other steps.)
  2. Add garlic and stir-fry till fragrant.
  3. Add the pork and stir-fry till nearly done.
  4. Add a few dashes of fish sauce and soy sauce, and a sprinkle of sugar.
  5. Stir fry till pork is done and add a little water to deglaze the yummy bits from the bottom of the wok.
  6. Taste and adjusting seasoning if needed.
  7. Sprinkle in some white ground pepper.
  8. Serve over jasmine rice.  Garnish with cucumbers and tomatoes.

The perfect condiment for your Kratiem Prik Thai?   Prik Nam Pla of course!

Oh, just in case you were wondering why I have a fork and spoon in the picture…  In Thailand, we eat our rice-based (or even stir-fry noodle) meals with a fork in the left hand and a spoon in the right, using the fork to push food into the spoon and eating out of the spoon.  Give it a try! 🙂

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