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April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Greetings all!

Please use this thread to post your reviews of the following:

The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239
Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

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  1. Hoi Thwat, Broken Crepe with Mussels (Oysters), pg. 224

    The library copy of "Pok Pok" showed up early and has to be back by the 10th, so we've been having a premature romp through it the past week or so. But the first dish we made was this one, simply because at the time there were some oysters in the fridge in need of a home. Yes oysters, not mussels.

    But other than subbing shucked oysters lightly poached in their own liquor for the called for par cooked mussels, followed the recipe straight on, including tracking down the right brands of banh xeo and tempura flour (there are Thai brands of tempura mix, who knew?). It seemed silly using pre-fab flour mixes, but you know what we did a side by side of the Ricker version with the Thompson from scratch version from Thai Street Food, Pok Pok won hands down.

    Meanwhile, it is an easy enough dish. Prep the shellfish, set aside. Mix the batter, set aside. Mix together the shellfish, chopped garlic chive, pepper, fish sauce, and 1/2c batter. Heat a pan with quite a bit of oil, add the batter pancake like, crack an egg into the center, cook a bit, add some bean sprouts into one side of the pan, flip the pancake onto the beansprouts, then drain off the excess oil from the pan (by far the hardest part of the whole exercise), and finish cooking, breaking up the crepe with a spatula before serving.

    Its one of those recipes that has a bunch of 30second steps--the cooking moves very fast. Mis en place is essential, writes one who forgot to have a receptacle for the drained oil ready. But none of it is exacting and after about ten minutes of prep and five of cooking you have a truly delicious dish.

    One note, the batter recipe yields enough for about 1 and a half large crepes. Next time I make this I think I'll just proportion it to make two medium sized ones cooked sequentially, using an additional egg for the second one, as well as extra beansprouts and bit more of the other ingredients.

    9 Replies
    1. re: qianning

      Looks great. This is something I want to make as well.

      1. re: qianning

        I hadn't even noticed this dish. I'm going to check it out now, it sounds great.

        1. re: qianning

          This cliffhanger was worth the wait. and the picture is gorgeous. You've made street food look quite elegant. I hope to give this a go with oysters too (thanks for the inspiration).

          1. re: qianning

            Hoi Thwat, Broken Crepe with Mussels (Oysters), pg. 224

            I followed qianning's lead and made this with oysters as well.This came together quickly with just a little prep in advance. Because I made just a half a recipe, I used a smaller cast iron skillet (8"). This decision left me with no room for the bean sprouts, so I had to remove the crepe from the skillet, add the bean sprouts, and then return the crepe to the skillet (a minor detour), but the result was delicious indeed!

            1. re: BigSal

              So glad it worked for you. I'd been thinking it would be easier to remove the crepe from the pan when draining the oil, from your experience, sounds like it would work.

              1. re: qianning

                Any broken mussel/oyster crepe people around today? This dish is on our Pok Pok menu and I just noticed that the amount of bánh xèo mix called for states:
                "1/2 cup ounces."
                Did you assume the recipe called for 1/2 cup and they just forgot to write in the ounces equivalent? Or is there a later version of the book with that corrected?

                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  My book also says "1/2 cup ounces" banh xeo mix. I've been using 1/2 C. Have made it twice now, and pretty sure "1/2 cup" is correct, ignore the "ounces".

                  Looking forward to hearing how you like this. Are you using mussels?

                  1. re: qianning

                    Thanks! Yes, not PEI, our local Penn Cove mussels.

            2. re: qianning

              Hoi Thwat, Broken Crepe with Mussels, page 224.

              I keep a list of the COTM dishes I've cooked, and this is now number 500! I'm glad #500 was such a success. We live in musselville here, so local mussels were used. qianning has the dish well-described above, and I didn't deviate from the prep. I did find the Gogi tempura mix, but used a different brand of the banh xeo mix. I doubled the recipe (one of several dishes for four people), but did it in two batches. It's certainly easy enough, but it does move fast. Like qianning says, mise en place is essential.
              (I went a little crazy with the Shark srirarcha on my serving.)

            3. Phat Si Ew (Ipad Version Page Unknown)

              I'm a bit behind due to a busy work schedule but I wanted to at least get my review of this lovely dish in today. This was my first successful Thai dish. My only previous attempts were some terrible renditions of Pad Thai, which are best forgotten. I made this a few nights ago and was very happy with the results.

              I will start by saying that I made one major substitution, I used wheat instead of rice noodles. I had fully intended to use rice noodles, but my local Asian grocer was out, so wheat it was. I must admit I was a bit relieved by this as I have never had much luck with fresh packaged rice noodles, I always end up with mush. Either way, I tackled this one with the wheat noodles, and I still think it worked very very well.

              The process is quite simple. Essentially you stir fry a bit of garlic before adding some sliced pork shoulder/loin and some fish sauce. When just cooked through reserve your pork and then add some shallot/garlic oil to the wok. You then crack an egg into the wok and cook the egg till just done on both sides. Add the noodles and break them and the egg up a touch, then a bit more garlic, then some baby gai lan (You Choy in my case), back in goes the pork along with light and dark soy. Once everything is heated through you can plate and serve with your chosen garnish. In my case I simply went with the chillies in vinegar, which was just right for us.

              I'm not sure how much of a difference the wheat noodles made but the resulting dish was very good. Everything retained its own character (greens, egg, noodles, pork) just enough to stand out, but it all melded together beautifully. I also love soy and fish sauce for their umami hit, so that was a welcome flavour profile here.

              I would also say the technique worked very well, especially the egg. Normally I would beat my egg and then cook it separately to add later as I find that if it gets cooked in the work with everything else it pretty much disappears. In this case however the egg goes straight into the wok and has enough time to set before the rest of our friends go in. In the end you get a bit of melding of the yokey goodness into the noodles, but you still have plenty of subtantial egg to enjoy as a standalone component of the dish.


              6 Replies
              1. re: delys77

                Delys, did you double the recipe to serve 2? If so, did you cook everything in the wok at the same time or did you cook the portions sequentially? Was one recipe enough food for one person to have for dinner or did you need side dishes as well? Thanks - just trying to sort out my menu planning!

                1. re: Westminstress

                  No worries Westminstress, I ended up quadrupling the recipe and I cooked it in two batches in my le creuset wok. We were two hungry fellows and we ended up with about 3 portions instead of the 4 I was hoping for. I might say that the individual portion would satisfy a light to normal eater, but might be best with a little something else on the side for hungry diners.

                2. re: delys77

                  Phat Si Ew, Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Pork and Chinese Broccoli, p.

                  Threw this together for lunch after noticing that I had everything on hand already made, even the sub-recipes. The time it took from opening the fridge to opening my mouth was under ten minutes--that's a big win in my books!
                  Confession time: I used dried rice noodles (pre-soaked 1/4" leftovers from the Boat Noodles). The grocery store offerings for "fresh" noodles were just too pitiful to purchase. I also used ground pork, since it was there, and it was easy--and so often lunch is all about fast and easy. Replaced the black soy with sweet dark and omitted the sugar. Many phat si ew recipes call for the sweet soy anyway so I figured it would be just fine. I also topped the bowl with a large handful of leftover blanched beansprouts.
                  I made sure to get a good sear on the rice noodles; the most important part, imho. There was a frantic moment when I realized I had overlooked the second use of garlic and had to very quickly peel and mash some cloves, but the noodles were all the better for that extra time unfussed in the wok (the air quality in the kitchen--not so much, but now I'm saved the onerous and often overlooked task of smoke-detector testing).
                  This was definitely the best version of phat si ew I've ever made. I did add a little extra sweet soy at near the end, and enjoyed this with the toasted chile powder and the chile/vinegar combo. It was a very delicious meal. My only gripe--it wasn't enough food! I'd make 1.5 the amount for a single serving next time. Or maybe I should just reconsider my portion sizes....

                  1. re: delys77

                    Phat Si Ew, Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Pork and Chinese Broccoli, and Soy Sauce p. 218


                    This would go on my COTM (Cookbook of the Month) Recipes So Good You've Made Them at Least Three Times: Quick and Easy/Weeknight Edition, but I’ve taken to making my own rice noodles which takes a bit longer. See pictures here. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9626...

                    The recipe as written is on the sweetish side which is perfect for my Mr. I enjoyed the addition of the fish sauce-soaked peppers, vinegar-soaked peppers and the toasted-chile powder. Hearty and satisfying. I've found comfort in the one-plate meal chapter.

                    1. re: delys77

                      Phat Si Ew

                      I made this last night for dinner but unfortunately didn't find it to be a huge hit. This was partly my fault -- in an effort to streamline dinner I cooked a double portion at one time in my wok. My poor little wok was overloaded and I couldn't get a good sear on the noodles. That said, I don't think I'll try to repeat this one. I would need to cook the dish one portion at a time which is just not going to happen at my house.

                      I made two portions for the four of us and served the carrot salad from Burma on the side. This made enough food for the four of us but just barely, and there wasn't a scrap left.

                      I have a small amount of the uncooked rice noodles leftover and wondering whether anybody has a good suggestion for what to do with them? It's not enough for dinner on its own, it's probably about 1/4 pound of noodles.

                    2. Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao (Stir-fried Chicken with Hot Basil) p. 189

                      The recipe http://piccinacucina.blogspot.com/201...

                      Here's MelIMM's original post and tantalizing picture that inspired many of us to try this dish. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9666...

                      We had never tried this dish before, so we didn't have a point of reference to compare it to, but I've found Ricker's flavor profile notes to be very helpful when trying an unfamiliar dish. He notes this one as aromatic, salty, spicy,and sweet.

                      To date, I have been unable to procure holy basil. So, Thai basil it was.

                      MelIMM's account of how to make this dish is excellent, so I will add just a couple notes. I would suggest cooking this in a well ventilated area. The first time we made this, both of us were overcome with coughing fits and runny noses from the fumes of the chile peppers. This also happened the second time we made this. Apparently, both of us have issues with our short-term memories.

                      This dish is spicy! No joke. I enjoy heat, but man this was one of the spiciest things I have eaten in some time (Pok Pok's papaya salad is also up there). The first bite was packed full of flavor. and then the heat caught up to me. The rice and egg help provide relief from the heat of the peppers. I also noticed that Ricker suggested fish-sauced soaked chiles to serve alongside this dish. More chiles??!! This was plenty hot and so flavorful, we wouldn't add a thing.

                      This was a warm introduction to Thai cooking and is already a favorite recipe. I've even purchased holy basil seeds, so I can try the dish as intended.

                      39 Replies
                      1. re: BigSal

                        This was my favorite dish during my time in Thailand (exept with pork instead of chicken). I ate it probably every other lunch at my factory's cafeteria during three separate month long trips. Really anything kaphrao is fantastic.

                        But it has to be holy basil - thai basil just doesn't compare IMO (and obviously makes it not a kaphrao dish).

                        I also bought holy basil seeds to grow my own as the only market that ever has it is far from home and the holy basil gets snapped up quick when it's available.

                        1. re: ARenko

                          Interesting, this is on the menu for us tonight but it is also going to be with Thai basil as I have never seen holy basil here in Vancouver.

                          1. re: ARenko

                            I also grow it in the summer, as finding it around here is hit or miss, and even if I can get it, it requires an inconvenient trip.

                          2. re: BigSal

                            Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao (Stir Fried Chicken with Hot Basil) Pg. 189

                            My turn for this dish last night. Much like Mel I used thai basil instead of hot, but I still thought the dish was excellent, even if it wasn't quite according to the recipe. I found the combo of the slightly runny egg with the super pungent stir fry and the mellow rice to be a winner. I must admit Mel's comments about the heat scared me off the chilies a bit. We ended up going with the suggested amount of fresh chill but cut the dried back to 1 per serving, and I actually removed it after stir frying. I could have been a bit braver and gone with two dried per serving but that would probably be our limit.

                            On the whole I really liked this, and it may even go into rotation as it came together very very quickly. Definitely a weeknight winner.

                            In passing, I took the same approach with this as I did with the Phat si ew, I quadrupled and cooked in two batches. Worked very well.

                            1. re: delys77

                              I wonder if you are confusing Big Sal's comments with mine?

                              1. re: MelMM

                                Oops, you are right Mel, I meant to say Big Sal. I was going to edit my post, but then your own post would have seemed out of place. My bad.

                            2. re: BigSal

                              Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao (Stir-fried Chicken with Hot Basil) p. 189

                              This was my gateway dish to Pok Pok. I've probably made it 4 or 5 times now, using ground turkey, ground chicken thighs and ground pork. I've always used Thai basil, because I cannot find hot basil, but I intend to track down some holy basil seeds so I can make it as intended as well. I think the dish is very flexible with the vegetable component. I've made it with long beans, green beans as well as chopped baby broccoli stems. All have worked well.

                              I usually quadruple the recipe for my family of 5 and do two double batches. I cut the chilis out in the kids batch and have been trying to find the right heat level for my husband and me. As written it is too fiery for us, but it is addictively delicious so we keep coming back for more.

                              After making it a few times, this has become a very easy weeknight stir fry. As long as I have some kind of ground meat and Thai basil, I know I can throw this together. I am tempted to try it using cubed tofu to see how it tastes vegetarian, but I haven't gone quite that far yet.

                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                Wow, I thought I was the only one with difficulty locating holy basil, but it seems a common problem.
                                I love the version from "Thai Food" and am looking forward to trying this rendition. Happy to hear the quantities can withstand expansion.

                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                  My tiny Asian grocery store has holy basil almost always. Maybe you are not seeing it? I missed it at first but now know what to look for. It is usually packed into a cellophane - kind of flat and triangular. The leaves are small and almost purple, the branches a bit longer than Thai basil. I am in Ottawa and we have small Asian population and therefore teeny Chinatown. I am thinking that it is available here, it will be available anywhere :) I must say that over the last 5-7 years a number of new Thai restaurants sprang out.

                                  1. re: herby

                                    It's amazing to see what is scarce to one person may not be to another. My endless quest for holy basil continues. I've only come across it once in my city, and when I did I snapped it up immediately. Meanwhile, I can find fresh peppercorns here while others in much larger communities come up empty!
                                    Cilantro roots are another of those tricky hard-to-find items here. After seven+ years of looking for them, I came across my precious this past spring (and may have let out an actual squeal of happiness) and bought an actual armload of cilantro to store the roots in my freezer. Then I went to Montreal and found them literally everywhere.

                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                      I hear you. There is a store where I can sometimes buy cilantro with roots still attached while most stores (or their suppliers) chop them right off! I see fresh peppercorns now and then but have not bought any because I do not know what to do with them :) Indian pickled bunches of peppercorns are wonderful but I have no clue how to make that pickle. What do you do with them?

                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                        Cilantro roots are a problem here too. For now, I'm subbing cilantro stems. Later, I will pull some cilantro up from the garden. When I lived in TX, I never had trouble finding them, but here, I haven't seen them once in 10 years of looking.

                                        1. re: MelMM

                                          Where in Texas did you find cilantro root? I'm in Texas and haven't found cilantro roots. I did ask at the farmers market though and they said they could see if "the guy" can keep them for me next time he harvests.

                                          1. re: ARenko

                                            I can't recall! It was almost12 years ago. Where in TX are you? I was in Austin. It was perhaps a farmers' market, or perhaps an Asian grocer, or perhaps just a regular grocery store. No idea. I wouldn't find them all the time, but when I did, I'd buy the cilantro (which I use in large quantities), and freeze the roots. I always had a stash of cilantro root in the freezer. Then I moved to Charlotte, and I have never seen them here. I do grow some cilantro, so I can get them that way, but I don't want to sacrifice my plants.

                                            Sorry I can't be more help, I've been gone from TX for too long.

                                            1. re: MelMM

                                              I meant to say I was in Houston. Tons of asian markets here, and while I've only been to a handful of them I've yet to find cilantro roots - even at one market that is predominantly thai.

                                              1. re: ARenko

                                                It is funny but I have my best luck finding fresh SEA herbs at a) Cambodian Markets b) Laotian Markets c) Viet-Namese Markets; in that order. For whatever reason my local Thai run market is great for condiments/dry goods, and frozen stuff, but much less so for fresh. No idea why. And of course this doesn't necessarily apply in other parts of the country (I'm in New England).

                                                1. re: ARenko

                                                  Heck, in Houston, I'd think you could find cilantro roots easily. But I've been out of state for going on 12 years, so I'm sorry I can't point you to anything specific. It makes me wonder if perhaps cilantro roots have become harder to find in recent years, and my geographical move is not the real reason I can't find them now.

                                  2. re: BigSal

                                    Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao (Stir-fried Chicken with Hot Basil) p. 189

                                    That's it, I'm moving to Thailand so that I can eat like this forevermore. Anyone want to join me?

                                    I made this as a single serving just for myself while everyone else in the house picked at leftover mediocre pizza. Hah, the poor suckers.
                                    Lacking quality long beans at the grocer, I subbed in sliced gai lan stems for colour and texture. I've been unable to locate Thai dark soy, so I used a blend of thin and sweet soy sauce and omitted the sugar (see how versatile this dish is?!) Used the full amount of chiles, and left out the egg. Also a Thai basil user here.
                                    This was ferociously, awesomely, irresistibly spicy without the soothing release of the egg yolk to cushion the blow. My household members also were set into frantic-window-opening coughing fits, but it was completely worth it. I seasoned with extra fish sauce at the table (no more chiles for me!) and it was just perfect!

                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                      Hi Allegra_K, Where you been?
                                      I found that if I make this dish without eggs than it is better to use less oy.

                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                        I would gladly join you. As I said above - my favorite dish. You must try it with holy basil though. I have seeds I need to get started, but everyone's posts here are making me contemplate doing what I once thought was unthinkable - making this dish with thai basil. I'll have to change the name though - its a pet peeve of mine when restaurants call this dish kaphrao and then use bai horopa.

                                        1. re: ARenko

                                          I made David Thompson's version once with holy basil--the only time I've ever found it, and it was glorious!
                                          In the meantime, when life gives me Thai basil....

                                        2. re: Allegra_K

                                          Allegra, I am finishing current contract in May and will be on the plane the day I am done :)

                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                            Love your post! I laughed when I read the part about "frantic-window-opening coughing fits" having experienced this first hand (twice).

                                            How does it compare to David Thompson's version?

                                            Interesting how difficult it has been for us to procure holy basil. Is it difficult to grow or is it just snatched up as soon as it's available?

                                            1. re: BigSal

                                              I made Thompson's version for lunch today since it had been a while since I had it and I wanted to answer your question accurately. This was strictly for scientific purposes, you understand.
                                              I am giving the win to Ricker's recipe because I love that he includes shallots and some form of greenery, but honestly they are both spectacular options for a meal and anyone should be thrilled to be offered either.

                                            2. re: Allegra_K

                                              Made this tonight with ground pork, but used roughly 70/ 30 thai basil/ mint (I remembered in It Rains Fishes that Kasma recommended a mix of mint/ thai basil as an alternative). I missed the fragrance and great flavor of gkrapao, but it was still really really good. Except for the basil/ mint I made it exactly as written. When I have some holy basil I'll have to make it again and compare with my standard recipe (Kasma's).

                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao (Stir-fried Chicken with Hot Basil) p. 189

                                                Add us to the long list of people who are enamoured with this dish. We LOVED this.

                                                As usual, I had to butcher the recipe according to my circumstances and available ingredients. I used pork and long beans, so that was good. This was my first time cooking with long beans, and I loved them. Wonderful texture. Unfortunately, I was unable to get holy basil and had to substitute Thai basil. And unaccountably had no yellow onion so for that I had to sub a mix of red onion and shallot. I had no black soy so subbed sweet soy and left out the additional sugar. I made the dish in two batches to serve a family of four with two adults and two little ones. First I cooked the eggs all together in a cast iron skillet, fried for the adults and scrambled for the kids. Next in the wok I cooked a single serving for the kids in which I omitted the chiles. Finally I cooked a double serving in the wok for myself and my husband. Keeping in mind comments of others here about the heat levels, and after tasting my fresh and dried chiles which were ferociously hot, I used four fresh and one dried chile for our double batch. I also didn't bother to fry the chile but simply crumbled it into the fish sauce mix. My husband liked the resulting spice level, but I thought this was not quite enough and would add maybe one more fresh and one more dried chile for next time. I also tasted my kids' chile-less portion, and next time I think I will cook theirs with one fresh red chile to add a touch of heat, we can then pick out the pieces at serving time.

                                                The dish took me probably 45 minutes to one hour to prepare, most of which was prepping the veg and preparing my mise en place. The actual cooking took maybe 5 minutes. I think I could get a lot faster with the prep if I didn't have to consult the book so often (I was cooking from e-book on my phone and every time I checked the book the page would have to reload.) Plus the veg could be prepped ahead.

                                                This dish was so delicious, I want to make it over and over again and have it become one of my family's favorite recurring weeknight meals.

                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                  So glad you liked it Westminstress. For me one of it's major advantages is that it is weeknight friendly. I am working on a list of easy worknight dishes that I can put together on the fly if I haven't had time to menu plan. For me, this is going on the list for sure.

                                                  1. re: delys77

                                                    Yes, the only issue with this dish as an "on the fly" dish is that you might not have the basil and beans on hand (or the meat for that matter). But if you have easy access to those ingredients close to work or home, it is a great candidate for a weeknight fallback meal for sure.

                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                      Most definitely, in my case I can always pop out to the store at lunch or on the way home. The key is having a list of recipes that I know we like and that will work on a weeknight. I've got this topic on the brain because we went away last weekend and I've found myself scrambling all week without a planned menu because I don't have a proper fall back list of easy weeknight meals.

                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                        Shhh, don't tell, but I've made this using genovese basil and string beans more than once; not the same but still very good, and after a little practice very quick & weeknight friendly.

                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                          Lol I a promise I won't divulge your secret ha ha.

                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                            I'm with you on the string beans... they work fine. I've even considered making this with nopalitos - that would qualify as a fusion dish for sure, but still might be great.

                                                  2. re: BigSal

                                                    Kai Kaphrao Kai Dao, Stir-Fried Chicken with Hot Basil, pg. 189

                                                    This version of Basil chicken is pretty similar to the one we usually make, biggest difference is the yellow onion rather than shallots, and ever so slightly different proportions. I made mine with Kraphao, and used hand minced thighs (had boneless thighs in the freezer, not ground chicken).

                                                    What was new for us was adding the egg and serving it as a one plate dish, which we enjoyed, the egg certainly balances the heat. I made one batch of the chicken, but fried two eggs, split the chicken over two bowls of rice, added egg, and a side plate of cucumbers, a nice easy weekend lunch.

                                                    Happy Songkran (& Thingyan!) everyone!

                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                      Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao--Stir-fried [Pork] Chicken with [Thai] Basil, p. 189

                                                      My turn on this, ground pork version. Like others, I had to sub Thai basil. While I felt like I struck oil on my visit to the Asian market Saturday--my second trek in a week--the one thing on my list I still couldn't find was hot/holy basil. The long beans were also long in the tooth so I skipped those and subbed regular green beans. The other tweak was that I cut both the fresh and fried chiles by half.

                                                      We thought this was delicious, but it was still too fiery for my husband. Nevertheless, he said he'd absolutely like to have it again, just with less heat. So leftovers were all mine, each re-do w/an egg. Love that component. (Almost forgot it--when I spotted the cracked eggs in their bowl, I to enlist DH to emergency-fry them in a separate skillet while I stir-fried the pork.)

                                                      I'll definitely make this again, likely w/pork, but I'll cut back on the chiles even more. Even I would probably enjoy it more w/less heat.

                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                        Kai Kaphrao Khai Dao--Stir-fried [Pork] with Hot Basil, p. 189

                                                        I made this again (pork) a couple of nights ago, this time with the hot basil, but again subbing green beans for long. I'd forgotten that I'd dialed back the chiles by half last time and did the same this time--so still too spicy, especially for DH.

                                                        I'll be in Portland later this month and definitely will get to Pok Pok, but probably won't order this if it's on the menu because I'm sure the full heat would be more than even I can handle. Still, I'm going to try the recipe at least once more while my hot basil is thriving and remember to cut back on the chile even more.

                                                      2. re: BigSal

                                                        KAI KAPKRAO KHAI DAO (STIR FRIED (PORK) WITH HOT BASIL, PG. 189

                                                        Finally made this with all the ingredients called for - and I thought this was just sublime. Others have gone into detail about the prep so I only have a few things to add. My Thai chilies were very hot - so went with just one (fresh) and that was more than enough for me. I used the full amount of fried dry Thai chilies. The holy basil adds a special taste that is delicious but difficult to describe - with notes that seemed a bit minty and also a bit tangy ( at least to me).
                                                        I almost made this without the egg, but am glad I didn't as the runny yolk took this over the top.
                                                        As a side note, I tasted the Dragonfly black soy sauce and it had a distinctly molasses-like taste. I read somewhere that you can sub equal parts of blackstrap molasses (or palm sugar) and black soy sauce to mimic the flavor of the Thai black soy - and IMHO think that would work very well - having now tasted it.
                                                        This was actually very fast to put together.

                                                        1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                          I loved this dish, glad you enjoyed! Must make this one again soon ....

                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                            This one goes on my list of all-time-favorites! It was just delicious.

                                                      3. Kuaytiaw Reua (Boat Noodles) Ipad Version

                                                        This was just delicious and can actually be made on a weeknight if you have the hour or so to simmer the stock. The star here is really the broth and the stewed pork, just bursting with flavour!

                                                        You start by making the stock, which consists of the following simmered in a stock pot for 1 hour: pork shoulder, galangal, lemongrass, cilantro root (just stems in my case), pandan leaves, chinese celery, thin soy, black soy, rock sugar (regular in my case), cinnamon, bay leaves, star anise, peppercorns, and water. Once all of it is simmered AR suggests you ladel out the stock and pork while trying to avoid any of the aromatic bits, in my case I just strained the stock. Not to say that my way is correct, but I honestly hate biting in to fibrous bits of galangal or lemongrass when I am eating.

                                                        The rest of the dish is pretty much just an assembly job. You add some fried garlic and garlic oil to each bowl, as well as some grilled chile vinegar, and toasted chile powder. Meanwhile you add some water spinach (double the amount of you choy for me), sprouts (omited), pre-cooked noodles, pork balls, and slivered raw pork shoulder, to a noodle basket. Which then goes into some simmering water for about a minute to finish cooking the noodles and the pork, spinach etc...

                                                        You simply turn your basket into the seasoned bowl, add stock, stewed pork (I put my pork on the bottom but I suggest putting it on top for a nicer presentation), and then a sprinkling of herbs (chinese celery, cilantro, sawtooth but I used basil), and voila.

                                                        The broth has so many layers of flavour, which the stewed pork really picks up. There are definitely herbal notes one expects from a Thai soup, but the heavy hit of soy gives it more nuance. Plus the chile vinegar, garlic oil, and toasted chiles add spice, tang, and a lovely mouth feel. The herbs, greens and noodles, along with the pork balls continue to up the flavour and provide a lot of substance for a stick to your ribs meal. I would say this is a dish with noodles though, as opposed to a noodle dish. Overall we really liked this.

                                                        I did however halve the amount of pork balls, as I was a bit worried about their texture, for us this was the right amount, but I'm sure others might go with the full amount. We also cut the balls in half as they were far too large for one bite. I would also cut the toasted chile back by about half, it was great but I did find the broth became to spicy over time. Otherwise a very well balanced recipe.

                                                        I did find the cooking instructions a touch fiddly. The amount of broth and pork prepared is about twice as much as you need. I might just go with a half recipe of broth next time as it is relatively simple to put together. Plus I might not bother with the sliced raw shoulder at the end, as I found it boring compared to the super flavour stewed pork. Also, while it might sound sacrilegious, couldn't one just strain the broth, cook the noodles separately, and then add the cooked noodles directly to the broth along with the pork balls, slivered pork ((if you want it) and water spinach. The disadvantage would be that it might be harder to get the right amount of all the ingredients into a final serving, but does it really matter if you get 2 pork balls or 4. Just my thoughts.

                                                        The photo below was taken in haste as we were getting very hungry so it doesn't quite do the dish justice. Once everything is all mixed in it is really quite pretty.

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: delys77

                                                          Looks pretty enough to me! This has been on my list for a while. Enjoyed your write-up.

                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                            Thanks Mel, if you do take it on I am curious to hear what you think of the process.

                                                          2. re: delys77

                                                            This recipe been on my list for a while. I do not eat pork and was thinking to make the broth with chicken thighs, forget about raw pork shoulder but what to do about pork balls? Shall I make chicken balls and cook them in the soup or just use stewed chicken from the broth making? Thoughts?

                                                            1. re: herby

                                                              Hi Herby
                                                              I'm not sure about your access to a large Asian grocer but at my local Asian market (primarily East Asian goods) they have chicken balls right next to the pork balls. That said, the stewed pork was really the star, so I would assume that if you have to cut all the other meats and simply increase the quantity of the stewed chicken that would be a good way to go. Best of luck!

                                                              1. re: delys77

                                                                Thank you, Delys! Not sure when I'll get to it but once I do, I will be back here to report. There is a large Asian store here but I do not care for it very much just as I do not care for the regular supermarkets and prefer to shop in small stores. There is an Asian dumpling store - wonder if they might have chicken balls. Have to investigate :)

                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                  They very well might. Whatever happens I'm sure you will enjoy it, the broth is deilcious.

                                                            2. re: delys77

                                                              I cut down the amount of soys and sugar.

                                                              1. re: delys77

                                                                Kuaytiaw Reua (Boat Noodles), p.204

                                                                Wow. This was astoundingly delicious. It lived up to all my expectations, and was easy on the eyes, too!
                                                                I made a half-recipe of the broth, and that lovely stock combined with the other flavours in the bottom of the bowl made for quite the explosion of tastes. I even opted to use the pork blood (first time ingredient for me!) and that with the deep burgundy of the toasted chile powder gave the broth an enticing brick-red hue. Every bite was so exciting and hit all the right spots on the tongue.
                                                                I served this with all the chile-laced condiments and the sugar at the table. The chiles in vinegar were a well-loved addition, and a light touch with the sugar rounded it out for me, but my dining companions preferred their bowls without the extra condiments. I used gai lan leaves in place of water spinach since I had forgotten this was on the menu and had already used up the purchase. I agree with delys that there could have been less pork and may just use the stewed shoulder for next time. The meatballs are an interesting addition but not my favourite-they were rather large and I found the whole thing too meat-heavy. But then again I'd be happy as a vegetarian so what do I know. Next time I'll customize it a little, but I am very impressed with this recipe and it's another fabulous noodle dish to add to the repertoire. A huge win here.

                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                  Beautiful presentation Allegra! Did you use the noodle basket? I halved my meatballs to make the,m more manageable.

                                                              2. I ended up ordering this book, though it has not arrived yet - so would like to keep tabs on this thread.

                                                                1. Khao Tom, Thai Rice Soup, page 196

                                                                  I made this at the end of March when everyone in my family was battling a cold. Some hot soup seemed like it would be soothing to everyone, and so I modified Ricker's recipe to suit what we had. Rather than the called for pork broth, I modified a chicken stock by simmering it with lemongrass, ginger, garlic and daikon radish. I made the Bouncy pork meatballs (page 269) and boiled those as directed. I also made the fried garlic as directed on page 272.

                                                                  Once I had my broth, meatballs and fried garlic, assembly is pretty fast. You coddle some eggs, then season your broth with fish sauce and soy sauce. You are supposed to add salted radish, but I didn't have any and left it out. You add your leftover rice to the stock, add your meatballs and then garnish with your egg, fried garlic, green onion and cilantro.

                                                                  The finished soup was delicious, fortifying, savory and comforting. It was perfect for a bunch of sniffling kids and adults. The fired garlic really added to the flavor and we kept adding more as we ate. The pork meatballs were also a great addition. I had never boiled meatballs before and was somewhat dubious of this cooking method. It really worked out well though and the texture and flavor really helped balance out the relatively bland rice and stock. The egg also really added to the whole, with the runny yolk enriching the stock.

                                                                  Doing all the components at the same time, it was a bit time-consuming for one evening, but nothing was difficult. I'm sure we will make this again, and I have a feeling I'll be craving it with the next cold that comes around. No pic, but it really looked like the picture in the book.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                    Rice Soup, pg. 196

                                                                    Things to use up leftover rice are always in demand in this house. And with an Asian leaning mixed stock in the freezer, and garlic chips ready and waiting, this went together pretty fast for me. Like GE&H, I'd never boiled pork meatballs before, but like her thought they really worked in this soup. I added extra ginger strips to my bowl, Mr. QN went heavy for the garlic chips, we both enjoyed it. My picture's not very good, but it tasted prettier than it looks.

                                                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                      Thai Rice Soup

                                                                      This was dinner for us last night. I also cheated a bit on the stock by improvising a little. I only had about 1.5 hours before dinner so I simply simmered the pork bones in chicken stock for about 1 hour, then added the aromatics. It may not have been precisely what was intended but it was very good. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly and was very happy with the results. As stated by the others, the relatively large amount of soy and fish sauce made for a lovely umami soup base, with just enough rice, pork, and herbs to create substance. I also tried to cook the egg with boiling water in a narrow cup but the result was still far too runny for our tastes after 15 minutes so I simply ommited it. I would expect it does add a nice element to the dish so next time I will simply soft boil some eggs as per my usual method.

                                                                    2. Khao Soi Kai P.214
                                                                      Yet another Excellent Khao Soi, this one on the mild side. The garnishes including the chili paste essentials.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: wewwew

                                                                        In Ricker's notes on coconut milk he recommends using tetrapack coconut milk. This dish will show how much better the tetrapack coconut milk is.

                                                                      2. I didn't realize this was going to be the CoTM, but I did make the Kung Op Wun Sen (shrimp and glass noodles baked in a clay pot) last night, along with the seafood dipping sauce.

                                                                        I did not use a tao for the Kung Op Wun Sen and I can assure you that it still came out well. Instead I used a cast iron Dutch oven on a gas stovetop. I had this dish at Pok Pok and remember it being smokier, probably because of the tao, but other than that the non-tao version was pretty similar and very delicious. Oh, I also omitted the Thai seasoning sauce, and the effect was negligible. Really tasty, especially with a liberal amount of the dipping sauce.

                                                                        1. Khao Phat Muu (Thai style fried rice with pork) p. 191

                                                                          My book was waiting for me when I arrived home from work, so fried rice (albeit not that adventurous) is my first attempt from Pok Pok. I had almost everything on hand except for Thai thin soy sauce (for which I subbed Chinese light soy sauce which is all I had) and boneless pork shoulder ( I used 4 oz of ground pork, an acceptable sub). The use of non-Thai soy sauce is heresy, I know, but it turned out delicious anyway!
                                                                          It all comes together very quickly. First, you make the sauce in a small bowl by combining a tablespoon of Thai fish sauce with a teaspoon of thin soy sauce, a pinch of ground white pepper and a teaspoon of sugar.
                                                                          After heating the wok over very high heat, you add a couple T of vegetable oil, and when it begins to smoke, add an egg which you allow to cook, undisturbed for about fifteen seconds before you flip it and move it to the side. Then into the wok goes a tablespoon of chopped garlic and a quarter cup of thinly sliced Thai shallots which cook for about a minute. Add the 4 oz. of boneless pork shoulder sliced against the grain (ground pork in my case) and cook about till the pork is no longer pink (30 seconds to a minute). At this point, add the rice (2 cups leftover cold cooked jasmine rice) and mix everything (including the egg) and break it up a bit with your spatula. After thirty seconds, in goes the fish sauce mixture - and continue to stir fry a minute or so until everything is cooked. Off the heat and add 2 T of chopped scallions and top with chopped cilantro and a few green onions for garnish. AR recommends serving this with cucumber slices, lime wedges and fish-sauced-soaked chiles ( which I did not make this time around).
                                                                          I am looking forward to trying this with the Thai soy sauce and the chiles next time.
                                                                          Very tasty!

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                            Thai-style fried rice with pork, pg. 191

                                                                            Not much to add to Blythe's excellent review. Made this straight on, with the pork shoulder. But served it with the Thai Cucumber Salad, rather than just the cuke & lime wedges. One batch of the fried rice + one batch of cucumber salad was plenty for the two of us as a meal.

                                                                            1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                              Made this Sunday night with ground pork. It was good in taste, but bad in appearance. Ended up looking like mushy brown rice. I messed up my rice the day before and it was sticky/ clumpy. I felt like the sauce wasn't quite enough - I added a good bit of prik naam pla.

                                                                            2. Ba Mii, Tom Yam Muu Haeng (Spicy, Sweet, Tart Noodles with Pork, Peanuts, and Herbs) Ipad Version

                                                                              This dish was reminiscent of the boat noodles in some ways as it had many of the same flavour elements. The major difference of course is that it was dry and there is no stewed pork. That said, this dish is easier to put together and still has lots of great flavour.

                                                                              Essentially you put some of each of the following into your serving bowls: grilled chile vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, fried garlic/shallot, garlic/shallot oil, toasted chile powder, roasted unsalted peanuts. Meanwhile you are meant to cook off some ground pork with a dash of fish sauce, and set a large pot of water to boil. The recipe calls for you to assemble the ingredients to be simmered in portions that will be cooked individually in your noodle basket. I opted to modify this aspect of the recipe as I found it unnecessarily fussy when I did it for the boat noodles. Instead I simply boiled my noodles all at once, drained them then tossed with a touch of oil. Meanwhile I had a second pot of water on to which I added the pork balls and long beans (omitted the sprouts). Once they were cooked I also drained these but left them in the pot. I then placed the required amount of noodles in each bowl and, topped with a few spoons of the ground pork, and then a few spoons of the pork ball and green bean mix. Topped with the minced herbs and voila, dinner was ready. For me this approach meant I had to wash another pot, but honestly I would prefer to do this than to stand over a pot of boiling water cooking individual portions in a noodle basket.

                                                                              Flavour wise, this was a delicious dish with a great balance of the sweet, spicy and tart elements that are listed in the title. We didn't make the broth as we were looking for a dry dish, but I imagine this would be nice along with the noodles. The nuts also added a nice textural element and a touch of richness to the dish. Overall I would likely make this again.

                                                                              1. Phat Khanom Jiin, Stir-fried Thai Rice Noodles, p.238

                                                                                This insanely easy recipe was the perfect addition to another all-pok-pok dinner, and it was so quick to prepare that it will be making additional appearances in the future.

                                                                                Here it is, the instant side-dish: soak reconstituted rice vermicelli in a mix of shallot or garlic oil, black and thin soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and salt. I used my standard sweet soy sauce/less sugar trick. Stir-fry with more flavoured oil and toss in a bit of fried shallots until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with fried shallots, and season with extra sugar and fish sauce as desired.

                                                                                Now, this isn't the world's prettiest plate of noodles, but what she lacks in looks she more than makes up for in personality. Salty and sweet with a subtle sea-flavour, this was a very popular selection. It is rather oily and I would perhaps reduce for next time. The shallots that went into the wok with the noodles ended up clumping together so I would likely wait until the very end to add them to the dish. Otherwise no complaints, and I heard nothing but happy chewing from my dining companions.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                  Phat Khanom Jiin, Stir-fried Thai Rice Noodles, p.238

                                                                                  We made this using 1/2 T of shallot oil (instead of 2T) per 2 oz of noodles (half recipe). Depending on your wok, 1/2 T may not be enough oil- 3/4T-1T would have better. As Allegra_K indicates, this is very quick to prepare if you have the shallot oil and fried shallots already made.

                                                                                  My husband loved this dish. I found it a little sweet, but still tasty.

                                                                                2. Kung Op Wun Sen, Shrimp and Glass Noodles Baked in a Clay Pot, p.210

                                                                                  Having an insatiable desire for noodles, it was only a matter of time before this recipe made my extensive list. Happy I got around to it--it was a lovely meal (as well as a fun excuse to play around with more outdoor charcoal cookery!) that will be repeated.

                                                                                  Start off by lining a Chinese sand pot with a layer of pork belly. On top of that goes an even blanket of Chinese celery, onion slivers, and a hearty dose of julienned ginger that had all been briefly stir-fried with a potent paste of coriander root, black pepper, and salt., Next, a layer of head/shell-on shrimp, followed by more coarsely cracked pepper. Soaked and drained glass noodles are tossed with black soy sauce and spread atop the medley in the pot, and then drizzled with a sauce made up of thin soy, oyster sauce, seasoning sauce, sugar, water, and sesame oil, and topped with a sprinkle of Chinese celery leaves.
                                                                                  I did a double batch in two separate cooking vessels. I don't have a sand pot (yet! this is a perfect excuse to buy one) and made do with a donabe and a cazuela of sorts that I covered with a pot lid. Used sweet soy in place of black and omitted the sugar. Upped the shrimp to about a 10 smaller ones per batch, still about 1/2 lb, and made one batch with rice noodles. The clay pot is covered and placed atop a tao to bubble and cook and entice eager, hungry diners.

                                                                                  Entice it did. The lovely fragrance wafting up from the brazier was simply irresistible and attracted the curiosity of several neighbours...or perhaps they were just poking around to gawk at the crouched nutso...err, enthusiast... fanning the flames in the middle of a snowbank. I'll stick with the former, because this really was delicious! It was sharp and spicy in only the way ginger and pepper can be, fresh and herbal from the celery and onions, savoury from the soy seasonings....and it all had a delectable smoky background note from the charcoal. It was a fabulous one-pot meal, and indubitably it will make another appearance in this household.

                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                    Kung Op Wun Sen, Shrimp and Glass Noodles Baked in a Clay Pot, p.210

                                                                                    Despite my electric range, this one has been on my mind. Was there a way to cook this on the trusty Webber? A little bit of jerry rigging later, and it was time to test the theory. With much trepidation, and fingers and toes crossed I put the claypot over the charcoal, and it worked!

                                                                                    Ten minutes later we had a perfectly cooked pot of noodles, pork (shoulder not belly), and shrimp. We had this with the green mango salad from "Classic Thai Cuisine", so skipped the tart hot seafood dipping sauce. It was a fantastic meal, my favorite of the month so far.

                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                      Good! That looked so wonderful, and I've got some very nice shrimp in the freezer.

                                                                                      I wonder if this would work in a tagine?

                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                        Don't see why not. I did warm my claypot on a disperser on the range before putting the dish together and moving it to the charcoal. Don't know if AK did this step?

                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                          It hadn't occurred to me until after the fact that I should have warmed the pot up first. Luckily nothing went awry but that could easily happen next time! I did, however, come thisclose to placing the just-removed-from-tao donabe into the snow. My brain kicked in just in time for that one.

                                                                                      2. re: qianning

                                                                                        Great improvisation skills you've got there!

                                                                                        @ncw--I bet your tagine would work swimmingly! My second cooking deviceI used in this recipe was cazuela-ish in appearance, but was in actuality a terracotta plant pot base....

                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                          A flower pot--ha and here I thought my take was jerry rigged!

                                                                                        2. re: qianning

                                                                                          Looks delicious Qianning! I have had this dish at the restaurant in Portland and we loved it. This was on my menu tonight and I had thought to try something similar to your approach but it is raining here so the bbq is out. I think I might try my luck at simply layering the ingredients in my le creuset saucier and putting on the element at full blast. The vessel is very conductive as well as the right size and similar in shape so I thought it worth a try. I know it won't quite be the same, but I have seen a few recipes online where people are simply using a covered pan on a regular range so I hoped my approach would at least produce a reasonable facsimile.

                                                                                          1. re: delys77

                                                                                            I think it'll be fine done on a range, just a little less smokiness is all. It will be interesting to hear how you thing the home version compares to the restaurant dish.

                                                                                          2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                            Kung Op Wun Sen, Shrimp and Glass Noodles Baked in a Clay Pot, p.210

                                                                                            We also loved this dish. We cooked it indoors, but will definitely try it outside to add some smoky goodness.

                                                                                            The most challenging aspects for me were procuring cilantro roots (but now I know how to find them when they are not available at the farmers' market) and getting a 3.5 oz portion of glass noodles. The glass noodles came in a big batch (8-9 oz)and it was impossible to pull the noodles apart, so my husband used a serrated knife to cut the noodles into an appropriate portion.

                                                                                            So much to enjoy in this dish.. crispy pork, succulent shrimp, wonderful aromatics (cilantro root, black pepper and ginger), and seasoned noodles.

                                                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                                                              I'm glad you liked it so well! After reading your review I'm now fondly reminiscing about that meal. I'd say it's a good candidate for a twice-in-a-month dish.

                                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                Yes, twice a month easily...with or without snow. :)

                                                                                            2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                              Kung Op Wun Sen

                                                                                              Sorry all, I'm a bit late with the report. The last week or so has been very hectic but I am finally getting to posting on this lovely dish.

                                                                                              I'd like to start by saying I made a mistake, I interposed the amounts for the dark and light soy, as a result my noodles were much browner than those I see in everyone else's pictures, that said, the flavour was still excellent. The LC saucier was just the right size for a 1.5 times recipe and the pork belly caramelized very nicely on high heat after about 11-12 minutes. I did find this dish a touch less smokey than at the restaurant, but on the whole I thought it was a very good approximation.

                                                                                              My only challenge was the shrimp, which were really overdone after the 12 minutes. I used medium sized shell on headless shrimp and I think they were too small for that amount of time. Next time I might go with Jumbo shrimp so that they can stand up to the time it takes to caramelize the pork belly. That said, I might also look into the clay/sand pot as I expect this might be a solution as well (although I'm not familiar with the vessel).

                                                                                              Regardless, the results were very tasty and enjoyed by all served with the cucumber salad on the side.

                                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                Kung Op Wun Sen--Shrimp and Glass Noodles Baked in a [small LC] Pot, p. 210

                                                                                                When I saw some lovely jumbo shrimp at the FM, I decided it was time to bring this "to-do" to fruition. It was not as delectable as it could have been because of several improvisations--the main one, cooking it on the stove in a Le Creuset. (I opted against my tagine because it is glazed and thus wouldn't have resulted in smokiness anyway. By the time it occurred to me that I could have used my Romertopf baker on the gas grill, it was too late for the soak.) So I missed any smoky quality.

                                                                                                Due to poor planning, I also couldn't get pork belly conveniently so subbed with guanciale I had in the freezer. By the time the dish was done, the fat had started to brown but it wasn't really caramelized and certainly not crispy. I also had to make do with cilantro stems (as I can never find cilantro roots anywhere) for the paste. Finally, I had no Chinese celery--or any celery whatsoever--so that was left out. The shrimp were a tad overcooked after 10 minutes (and thus hard to peel). And the dish sat for a little because DH's sister called just as I took it the pot off the heat.

                                                                                                So not a giant success, but we still enjoyed it. Next time, I'll prepare better by having all ingredients on hand and trying either the Romertopf or a terracotta planter on the grill. I know I'd absolutely love this dish prepared correctly.

                                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                  At some point, I need to get to this one.

                                                                                                  I don't know about you, but it seems that people ONLY call me when I'm in the middle of making dinner. I keep wondering why family members have not figured out that if they call me at 6pm, in my time zone, I am making dinner.

                                                                                              2. Khao Man Som Tam, Papaya Salad with Coconut Rice and Sweet Pork, p.193

                                                                                                Wow. Please excuse the broken record over here, but this was truly an incredible dish. I have had coconut rice, I have had papaya salad, and even sweet pork, but never together in the same wondrous, fantastically palate-blowing bite at the same time! How have I never experienced this taste sensation before?

                                                                                                MelMM has done an excellent job of writing this up already (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9666...) so I won't go into it again. I cooked the pork pretty much as written, except after mashing the meat and reducing the liquid I took it a step further and let it go on low heat for another 3/4 hour or so, stirring occasionally, until the pork was semi-dried out and had a nice chewy-crispy thing going on. I used shoulder steaks (that'll show me for showing up at the butcher shop on a Sunday an hour before closing) so I had no long shreds of meat in my pot; it was more like a pork floss. A delicious, addictive porky candy that needed guarding at all times. And perhaps some additional taste-testing, to ensure the quality was still supreme.

                                                                                                This recipe makes quite a bit of pork, and I only plated about half the recommended amount per serving. Nobody complained--the pork was quite sweet and salty and I thought it would have been overkill to add any extra, and now I have a ton of leftovers, to which I can look forward to with giddy anticipation. The way these flavours combined--the subtle fragrant sweetness of the soft coconut rice (mayhap I'll add a pandanus leaf to the pot next time) with the explosive papaya salad: crispy,crunchy sweet, sour,salty all at once; and the sweet and chewy umami-rich pork--together these are the makings of one memorable meal. Even the addition of a cabbage wedge was a perfect complement as a refresher. The creator of this combination is a culinary genius.

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                  Wow. This one is on my to make list for this week .. sounds like i should try it as written and not go messing around with cucumber salad instead of papaya, leaving some sugar out of the rice, etc. What do you think?

                                                                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                    I strongly recommend this one being made as written. More than anything else in the book, this one plate meal hit a perfect balance of flavors. It's all really pretty easy to make, and it goes together so well. I have played with other dishes in the book, so it's not that I am opposed to improvisation, but this one really shines just as AR wrote it.

                                                                                                    Allegra_K, beautiful plating and photo!

                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                      Done! I will do as written -- this weekend for sure! I thought I could do it on a weeknight if I cooked the pork ahead, but I'm a bit nervous about how long it will take to get the papaya shredded. I will cut up some cukes and tomatoes for the kids and my spouse and I can enjoy real papaya salad in all its true spicy glory. I cannot wait!

                                                                                                  2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                    Khao Man Som Tam, Papaya Salad with Coconut Rice and Sweet Pork, p.193


                                                                                                    We made a quarter of a recipe (1/2 lb) of the pork candy over the weekend, leaving just the papaya salad and coconut rice to make after work.

                                                                                                    We only made 1 c of rice (on the stove instead of my rice cooker which is too big for a small portion of rice) and used coconut milk instead of coconut cream.

                                                                                                    My husband absolutely loved the pork candy and the coconut rice. He tried a small taste of the papaya salad and the heat from the peppers kept him away.

                                                                                                    This was a delicious combination of flavors, textures and aromas making it a very satisfying meal.

                                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                      Khao Man Som Tam, Papaya Salad with Coconut Rice and Sweet Pork, p.193

                                                                                                      I am happy to report that all my anticipation was not in vain -- we loved this dish. I had intended to make it this weekend but my kids were sick so I had to postpone my plans. I spread the cooking of the pork over two days, and I also dry-fried my shrimp, softened my palm sugar, prepared my tamarind water and chopped my long beans ahead of time. Last night all I had to do was make the rice, heat up the pork, and prepare the som tam, so it came together pretty easily even on a weeknight.

                                                                                                      The coconut rice was so delicious. Easily the best coconut rice I've made. I cooked it on the stove-top and needed to add an extra 1/4 cup of water to get it to the right consistency. The coconut flavor really came through and the subtle sweetness of this rice was an absolute delight.

                                                                                                      The pork was easy to prepare though it took much longer than the recipe suggested to get to the recommended shreddable consistency. The pork had a great balance of sweet and salty. Like Allegra, I used much less than suggested for plating. Just a bit of pork was enough for me and, though it was very good, I could also happily eat the papaya salad and rice without the pork. I have quite a bit left over and I think I will freeze it for an easy redo of this meal in a few weeks.

                                                                                                      I am saving the best for last. I will report in the appropriate thread, but suffice it to say that the som tam made me very, very happy. Like, seriously ecstatic. And the coconut rice was the perfect foil.

                                                                                                      Great meal! I've been pushed over the edge by this one; I am going out to buy the book today during my lunch hour.

                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                        Khao Man Som Tam (Papaya Salad with Coconut Rice and Sweet Pork)
                                                                                                        I won't add much, but I also thought this was a great combination. The Thai red pepper in my salad was exceptionally hot but the coconut rice was a great foil.

                                                                                                      2. Phat Thai--Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp, Tofu, and Peanuts. p. 211

                                                                                                        I could swear I'd seen a review of this recipe, but not in this thread (or MelMM's) apparently.

                                                                                                        I know this dished gets dissed a lot, but I confess that it is almost always what I order in Thai restaurants, my favorite in a Charlotte, NC, restaurant 7-8 years ago. But I had never tried it at home.

                                                                                                        I decided to give this a whirl as part of a three-(Pok Pok)-dish dinner, to which we invited friends who don't mind being guinea pigs.

                                                                                                        I made a double batch. I omitted the salted radish, which I'd forgotten to put on my list when I trekked to the Asian market. And while I prepared the dried shrimp as directed, they smelled and tasted vile so I ended up tossing them. My husband also came back from the store with "extra firm" rather than pressed tofu so I pressed it myself all day and got it reasonably dry and somewhat "pressed." I also couldn't find "semi-dried" noodles so had to use dried, which I ended up soaking for almost an hour (rather than the 30 or so minutes Ricker indicated). After draining, they were just right for the recipe.

                                                                                                        I put about 2½-3 rendered pork fat in my hot wok, added the eggs and tofu, which I stirred around while the eggs fried. I broke up the egg, and added the noodles and bean sprouts and flipped those around for a minute or so. I then added shrimp (for this double batch, I used eight jumbos, which I halved lengthwise; they weighed about 7 oz, so quite a bit more than the recipe stipulates, but no complaints about too much shrimp) and the sauce mixture (I used store bought, ready-made tamarind water, palm sugar syrup I'd made last week, and Tiparos fish sauce) and stir fried a few minutes before adding peanuts and garlic chives (which grow like crazy in my garden) and giving it all a toss. I put limes, extra fish sauce, and Phrik Phon Khua on the table. Everyone used lime, but I noticed noone adding anything else (except for a splash of thin soy by DH).

                                                                                                        We all really liked this. It is mild and not as dark as many of the versions I've tried. But I'd make it again. It was pretty easy, too.

                                                                                                        Aside: None of the desserts in Pok Pok jump out at me, so I made coconut milk flan, to raves. (The garnish of absolutely perfect fresh strawberries was a nice foil, too.) I think this is a lovely dessert for many of menus one might come up with from this book, especially grilled or spicy dishes.

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                          Do you have a pointer to a recipe for coconut milk flan? That sounds delicious!

                                                                                                          1. re: fairyinthewoods

                                                                                                            After consulting a Food 52 recipe


                                                                                                            and an Alice Medrich recipe


                                                                                                            here's what I did:

                                                                                                            Caramel sauce for lining custard cups:

                                                                                                            2/3 c sugar
                                                                                                            1/3 c water

                                                                                                            I cooked that over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the caramel darkened. (This took much longer than I expected. Next time, I'd just caramelize the sugar without the water. If I had muscavado sugar, I'd do what Medrich suggests.


                                                                                                            Meanwhile, I heated a kettle of water for the water bath and preheated the oven (350F).


                                                                                                            3 lg eggs (one was a definite jumbo)
                                                                                                            3/4 c sugar
                                                                                                            1/4 tsp salt
                                                                                                            1 T dark rum

                                                                                                            1 c. whole milk
                                                                                                            1 c. coconut milk
                                                                                                            1 c. coconut cream*

                                                                                                            I whisked the eggs, then whisked in the sugar, salt, and rum. I then heated the milk/cream until it started to steam, just before scalding, and whisked a little into the sugar egg mixture, and then whisked in the rest, pouring in a small, steady stream. Even so, I still saw a few bits of cooked egg, so I strained the custard through a regular sieve, and the divvied it up between the caramel-lined cups already sitting in a baking dish. Since only six 6-oz cups fit into the dish, I overfilled them instead of using eight. After pouring water to halfway up the cups, I put the dish into the oven. It took about 45 minutes (Medrich suggests 20-25) to get mine to the wobbly-center stage, I'm sure because they were so full. I served these after they'd been in the fridge (after an initial cooling of about 20 minutes) for eight hours. They held their shape nicely when turned out onto plates, but the custard was still wobbly and very creamy. And delicious.

                                                                                                            *I used coconut cream b/c I had it leftover from another recipe, but I would otherwise use coconut milk.

                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                              That recipe sounds and looks delicious!

                                                                                                          2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                            Phat Thai (Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp, Tofu, and Peanuts) p. 211


                                                                                                            We made the recipe as written using oil instead of pork fat and like nomadchowwoman, we made this with a little more shrimp than the recipe suggests.

                                                                                                            Making the palm sugar syrup and tamarind water in advance help make it an easy weeknight meal.

                                                                                                            I liked using the semi-dried noodles. Mostly because it was easier to separate the noodles into manageable portions (we are just cooking for 2 most of the time).

                                                                                                            We finished the noodles with a big squeeze of lime, roasted chiles and red chiles in vinegar.

                                                                                                            We also liked this dish, although admittedly this is only the second time we've made phat Thai.

                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                              Phat Thai

                                                                                                              I made this a couple weeks ago, and am just now writing it up.

                                                                                                              I made the recipe using all the ingredients specified, including the dried shrimp and salted radish. I used tamarind water made from whole pods. The only change I made was that after the tamarind/palm sugar syrup/fish sauce mixture is made up, the author tells you to use only 1/4 cup of it, and discard the rest. I used the full amount.

                                                                                                              Unlike Nomad, I almost never order this dish in restaurants, because most restaurant versions are too sweet and saucy. I will only order it in a restaurant after I've tried several other dishes and have some confidence in the place. Phat Thai is supposed to be a mild dish, with a nice tang to it, that you can garnish yourself to spike it up if you want. I have made it at home before on occasion, using recipes from various cookbooks.

                                                                                                              I thought this version was a tad over-sauced, but that is my own fault for using more of the tamarind/sugar/fish sauce mix than called for. Next time, I will stick to the author's recommendation of 1/4 cup per serving, which probably would have been the perfect amount. Even so, this version was much better, to my taste, than many restaurant versions I've had.

                                                                                                            2. Ike's Vietnamese Fish-Sauce Wings, p.249

                                                                                                              It seems that after two solid weeks of Thai food for dinner, the fellow eaters in my household were becoming bored. To maintain interest, I allowed The Offspring to select the menu for one night, so of course they picked the least-Thai item in the book. Luckily, it was delicious so I didn't mind.

                                                                                                              Split wings are marinated overnight in a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, salt, and garlic water (the garlic mince used to flavour the water is strained and reserved for later). Half of the marinade liquid is set aside, pre-meat soak, for later use. The leftover garlic is fried to golden brown in a small amount of oil. When ready to cook, drain wings well and toss in a breading of rice flour and tempura batter (I just used a blend of rice flour and corn starch) and deep fry in batches. For the glaze, the leftover marinate is reduced in a pan with extra water and some roasted chile paste, and the wings are tossed in it and cooked along with the fried garlic until the glaze adheres and darkens several shades.
                                                                                                              The wings were really tasty--the sweetness of the glaze with the fried garlic was similar to a honey-garlic style, only much better. The fish sauce adds a really great briny depth to the wings, and the optional roasted chile paste gives the only form of heat . I would add even more next time. We served this with the recommended carrot/daikon pickle, cucumber, mint, and lettuce leaves, which was a welcome counter to the highly-flavoured, salty wings. They really were quite saline, so I would always have that neutral addition at the table. To make this a meal, I also cooked up a batch of sticky rice and some sweet chile sauce. To increase the heat in the wings we found ourselves dipping into the sweet chile rather frequently. This recipe would be a great introduction for the fish-sauce fearing folk. If I decide to undertake wings again, this will be repeated.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                This one's on my list. I may have to move it up.

                                                                                                                That plate looks wonderful.

                                                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                  Gorgeous plate of wings. You are inspiring me to make this before the end of April.

                                                                                                                2. I had high hopes to do a bunch of recipes from this book, but only managed to fit one in. At the very last minute too.

                                                                                                                  I actually wanted to do a lot of the other recipes in the book, but after scanning the ingredients, I found that I need to really upgrade my Thai pantry items or make a special trip to the asian grocery store to get specific asian produce. Maybe I will save this book for when I can dedicate myself to focusing on Thai cuisine.

                                                                                                                  For now, I have an open jar of Naam Phrik Phao and an open bag of white rice flour that I don't know what to do with. More fish sauce wings, I guess!


                                                                                                                  1. Khao Soi Kai/Northern Thai Curry Noodle Soup with Chicken pg 214

                                                                                                                    I made this last night. The bulk of the recipe is making the curry paste (half of which is used, and the rest can be frozen). The curry paste was fantastic, and I'd recommend making more since it's kind of a PITA so you might as well. It consists of some ground spices, dried chilis, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, shallots, garlic, and some of the "homemade shrimp paste" that I made for a previous recipe and now have a 5 lifetime supply of :)

                                                                                                                    I cheated; instead of using a mortar and pestle (I don't have a big one) I used my mini food processor. No way would I spend that much time banging away at things. I forgot to put the coconut cream on top at serving time; I'm sure it would be great, but it was good without it.

                                                                                                                    When I make this again with the leftover paste, I'm going to just serve it on rice; the noodles were fine, but not really my favorite. I did fry the little noodle nests on top, and they gave an interesting textural contrast.

                                                                                                                    Here is an online version of the recipe if you want to take a look:

                                                                                                                    1. Kuattiaw Pet Tuun, Stewed Duck Noodle Soup, pg. 200

                                                                                                                      This seemed like our kind of dish, but as it was cooking doubts crept in; they shouldn't have, this was wonderful, and very much to our taste.

                                                                                                                      The broth is a straightforward simmer of duck legs, re-hydrated shitakes and aromatics--galangal, pandan, cilanto roots, lemongrass, celery, light & dark soy, cassia, Asian bay (daun salam? that's what I used) peppercorns--plus rock sugar and 5 cups water and the mushroom soaking liquid. Bring to a boil & then simmer covered 2 hours.

                                                                                                                      The hard part around here is finding fresh duck legs. I gave up and started with a whole fresh duck, using the legs, wings, neck and head for the broth and reserving the body for another use.

                                                                                                                      Ricker says straining the broth is optional, I opted in, first reserving the duck and the mushrooms, and discarding the aromatics. To skim I used a skimming cup.

                                                                                                                      To assemble the noodles, wide fresh rice noodles are heated with the mushrooms in boiling water, place them in a bowl, top with chopped cilantro, fried garlic, a little garlic oil, some broth, and a duck leg.

                                                                                                                      A few notes on the recipe--a) 25 grams dried shitakes does not equal 2 cups. I used 25 grams, about 6 medium sized dry shitake. b) the yield on the broth is closer to 2 quarts than the 5 cups Ricker indicates. The broth is great but I'm not sure I need that much extra.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                        That looks spectacular. I quite literally just finished dinner, and I want a bowl of your duck noodle soup!

                                                                                                                        1. I am finally going to make the Pok Pok version of stir fried chicken with hot basil. I had wanted to wait until I had most of the authentic ingredients, including the dragonfly soy sauce - which I now have NO idea how to open! Am I supposed to just poke a hole in the top? I feel like I just failed an IQ test and apologize in advance for bothering people with this. I thought I saw someone else post about this at some point but cannot remember who or where to find it. Any help would be appreciated :-)

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                                                                            The discussion on how to open the soy sauce was at the beginning of this thread

                                                                                                                            1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                                                                              I had to cut the plastic top off, then I ended up having to cut everything off and was unable to reseal the bottle. I ended up transferring the contents to an empty glass jar with a lid that I pulled out of the recycling bin. This is by far the worst product packaging I have ever come across.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                Yes, this was a bit of a pain! I put a hole in the top, but I do not really like the idea of it remaining uncovered like this. I have an olive oil dispenser somewhere...will probably transfer the contents to that.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                                                                                  I cut the whole top off and then stuck a cork in it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                    I ended up calling the distributor for dragonfly products because they are located close to where I live. I had previously purchased the dragonfly thin soy sauce, which is NOT the one needed for this recipe. They were nice enough to tell me who carries the extremely elusive, Thai black soy sauce (with the orange cap) in my area. While I had the very nice sales rep on the phone, I asked him how to open the bottle. He said you are just supposed to take a knife, cut of the 'nipple' and that is it. Thanks, Stockholm, I think the cork idea is a good alternative if I cannot find my empty olive oil dispenser. After all this, I sure hope I like the dish!
                                                                                                                                    I tasted the dragonfly thin soy sauce and it is significantly different in flavor than other soy sauces I have in my cupboard; so now I can see why it might make a difference in an authentic dish. Am going to get the black sauce tomorrow and will be very curious to taste it as well.