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Mar 31, 2014 06:50 PM

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

Remember to review the thread in order to ensure you reply to the original post on any recipe you are reviewing to make sure all the comments are grouped together.

As per usual the Chowhound Team would like me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes is a violation of the author's copyright. Any posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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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.

    10 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.)

              1. re: qianning

                Revisited this one for for the 4th or 5th time the other evening, as usual with shucked oysters, but this time didn't bother to poach them. BIG mistake. The crepe just doesn't cook properly using raw shellfish.

              2. 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.

                      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

                        Here's MelIMM's original post and tantalizing picture that inspired many of us to try this dish.

                        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.

                        45 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.

                                                          2. re: BigSal

                                                            KAI KAPHRAO KHAI DAO – STIR-FRIED CHICKEN WITH HOT BASIL

                                                            p. 189 – At long last, I got to make this amazing dish! It’s among my favourite Thai dishes so now I have a little time to do some catch-up cooking, it was high on my list of priorities. As others have noted, this dish isn’t for the faint of heart, you need to like it spicy and know your limits. If I’d used the requisite number of chilies in the author’s version of this recipe, I’m quite sure mr bc would have declared the dish inedible, if he hadn’t combusted in front of me at first bite. Needless to say, I toned it down a notch or two. Though I have access to hot basil at this time of year, I didn’t have any left today so I had to sub regular basil. It’s definitely not as fragrant but it does the trick and I upped the ante and used more to ensure the flavour wasn’t lost. I loved this version of the dish but I love it more when made with pork. This is a dish I never tire of and I’d eat morning, noon and night. I’m so excited to finally be cooking from this book!

                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                              Oh man, thanks for the reminder. I really loved this dish!!! Don't know why I haven't repeated it.

                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                I just made this dish tonight using my homegrown hot basil but used the recipe from Simple Thai Cooking. Had to tone down the spice since my 14 month old was sharing the meal. Good but not great. Will be trying Pok Pok's recipe next!

                                                                1. re: emily

                                                                  I have "simple Thai Cooking" out from the library right now. Are you finding anything really great in there that I should try?

                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                    Took me a while to find my notes on another thread. Anyway, I thought the following where all very good (and repeatable) though each needed tweaks to get the balance right for me: Tom Kha Khai, Beef Matsaman Curry, and Sweet Dry Curry of Pork and Long Beans.

                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                  Anything kaphrao is awesome, but my favorite is also pad kaphrao moo khai dai. I need to get my holy basil plants going again. When you say regular basil you mean thai basil, not italian, right?

                                                              2. 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.