If I was asked to choose my favourite Thai dish, I’m not sure I would be able to make a choice. All of it is wonderful – full of flavour – hot, sweet, sour and salty. For two years, while living in Thailand, I enjoyed curries and noodle dishes for lunch and more often than not, for dinner as well. All were very much enjoyed. Except of course, when I put too much chilli on!
In my top five there would have to be; Pad Krapow Muu, Pad Pak Ruam Mit, Geng Kiaw Wan Gai, Kow Pad Gai and Pad Sieu. All of these were routinely cooked on order at roadside stalls or the local market throughout the day. We would walk 100 metres down the road from the office and order from what was on offer, or make a custom order (a la carte). My custom order was often Pad Sieu. Made with wide rice noodles, stir-fried with a little pork, egg and kale and seasoned with soy sauce, it was simple and delicious. And, with the four condiments on the table – vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and chilli – customising the flavour further was completely under my control.
If you like Thai food and you have little time for dinner prep, may I recommend this dish – just like street food, but made in your very own kitchen!
Pad Sieu Recipe
It has not been easy to track down an authentic version of the dish but I believe this one fits the bill. Having a baby has meant that a trip to Chinatown is less convenient, so I have tried to make a Pad Sieu that is as authentic as possible with supermarket ingredients alone. It certainly tastes right, which makes me happy!
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
Serves 2 (with leftovers)
200g wide or thin (vermicelli) rice noodles
200g chicken or pork fillets, sliced thinly into bite size pieces
2 tsp light soy sauce (regular soy sauce, e.g. Kikkoman or Tamari)
200g broccoli or choy sum, yielding 2-3 cups cut up
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 Tbsp black soy sauce or dark soy sauce or thick soy sauce
1 Tbsp Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)
1 tsp sugar, to taste
2 large eggs, warmed to room temperature
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
Pickled chilies (sliced Serrano or jalapeno peppers pickled in white vinegar)
Soak flat rice noodles in cold water for about an hour or vermicelli for about half an hour (don’t be concerned if they are still al dente; they need to be able to soak up soy sauce once added to the wok).
Cut broccoli/choy sum into pieces two to three inches long. Cut stems by slicing on the bias so that stems will cook evenly.
Heat oil in a deep pan or a wok. Sauté the chopped garlic in the oil for a few seconds until fragrant, then add the chicken or pork. Stir until the meat is cooked, then push up the sides to leave a space in the middle of the pan. Crack in the eggs and scramble lightly until eggs are mostly cooked. When they are cooked through, break into smaller chunks and toss with the meat.
Toss in the noodles along with black soy sauce and light soy sauce. Stir and spread out over heated surface of the wok. Sauté and flip the noodles a few more minutes and then add the vegetables. Stir and spread mixture over the surface and continue pan-frying for a minute, keep folding in vegetables until softened. Add Kecap Manis and sprinkle with some sugar. Stir and mix well.
Finally, sprinkle with white pepper and toss. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm with a pickled chili sauce and dried Thai chilies.
To make pickled chilies, slice jalapenos or Serrano peppers into ¼ inch ring, cover with white vinegar and let sit for at least an hour or more. To make dried chilies, toast chilies in a dry pan on the stove or in the oven at 180C (350F) for about 5 minutes. Grind the chilies in food processor and keep in air tight container.