After I met Alayna in France, but before we lived together in New York, I lived in a village in the south of Thailand called Amphur Muang Phang Nga. That picture is of the market where I shopped for food and a friend of mine worked. That friend, Pi Nee, also owned a small food stand and would cook me dinners most nights. They were delicious.
Pi Nee once asked me if Americans ever ate Thai food. I told her it was very popular. She asked what was the most popular dish. I said Pad Thai. She literally freaked out. She thought that was hysterical. “Why Pad Thai?” She kept asking. Then she asked about how much money someone would spend for a plate of Pad Thai. I said about ten US dollars. From that point, for the next two years, she remained a little too serious about going back to America with me to open her food shop and rake in the big bucks. She said she would travel in my suitcase.
Pi Nee honestly would have raked in the big bucks because her food was dope. Unfortunately this was a time in my life where I didn’t think I had the ability to cook. I just didn’t think it was physically possible for some reason. If I did I would have spent a lot more time paying attention to what she was cooking, because when I moved back here I deeply missed her food.
Fast forward a bunch of years later. My friend from the Peace Corps, Julia (hi Julia!), who still lives in Bangkok visits New York. She brings me a small little cookbook a friend of hers made for extra money. It’s not a real book, it’s just her recipes bound in plastic, translated into English. There are typos, she obviously took the photos herself, it’s very DIY. I thanked Julia and put it aside and didn’t think much of it for a few weeks until one day I decided to try out the Pad Thai recipe. And holy shit, it was incredible.
I have been cooking through this cookbook ever since, and repeating the recipes over and over because they are delicious. I’ve actually gone on to compare these recipes to other cookbook versions of Thai favorites and they are very different- and superior. What is below is a recipe that I love from my little Thai cookbook (Note that I have made some modifications to the recipe, simply adding more veggies). I’ll keep posting a few more of these recipes because if you are in the mood for good REAL Thai food- this is it.
Serves 2… Feel free to add more or less veggies
- Cook 1 cup of brown rice in 2 cups of chicken broth
- Meanwhile, using a large saute pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and put on medium heat. Add 3 crushed cloves of garlic and one chopped hot red pepper. Add a little salt and heat for a minute or two
- Add 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms, handful of edemame and saute for about 5 minutes until beginning to get soft
- Add 1/2 pound ground pork or beef (whatever you prefer, both are delicious), add salt and cook for about 4 minutes until meat is no longer pink
- Add seasoning: 1 tbsp of Oyster Sauce, 1 tspn of soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp of white sugar, 1 tspn of fish sauce, cook for about another 2 minutes
- Add a handful of scallions, small handful of fresh, chopped basil, give a mix for a minute and put into a large bowl and set aside
- In the same saute pan, add more oil if you need to, and fry 2 eggs— try not to overcook the yolk!
- Put the brown rice in two bowls, top with meat/veggies, top with fried egg.