KHAO PAD PAK (Thai Stir-fried Rice & Vegetables)
You can use any vegetables you like in this recipe. I shoot for either a nice color combination or, in order to clean out the fridge, I’ll use just what I have on hand. I have written “more or less” on some of the ingredients. This is to allow for personal preferences with regard to how spicy, sour or salty, as well as to allow for the addition or subtraction of vegetable ingredients. Ingredients such as baby corn, unsalted cashews and peanuts and fresh golden pineapple are also a nice—and very genuine—touch.
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cups cooked basmati or jasmine rice
- ½ coarsely chopped medium onion
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ cup (more or less) broccoli or asparagus cut into small pieces
- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
- ½ large red pepper cut into thin strips
- ¾ cup sliced summer squash
- 6-8 basil leaves cut into strips
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander (if none, use about a quarter cup of freshly chopped cilantro…if you have fresh coriander, use about a teaspoon, finely chopped or mulled with a mortar and pestle)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Juice of 2 limes (more or less)
- ½ cup chicken stock or broth (more or less)
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce (more or less…you can substitute with soy sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon (more or less) sriracha chili sauce
- Fresh, coarsely chopped cilantro and cucumber slices for garnish
Heat two tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet on a high setting. When very hot, add the onion, mushroom, broccoli, red pepper and summer squash and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the minced garlic and coriander and stir-fry for another minute. Add about half of the chicken stock or broth and allow the vegetables to steam for another minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan, place them in a bowl and set them aside.
With the heat still on high, add the remaining oil and get it very hot. Pour the two beaten eggs into the pan, and stir-fry them to a very dry “scramble”. The eggs will begin to stick to the bottom of the pan. When this happens, pour the remaining chicken stock as well as the lime juice fish sauce and sriracha sauce into the pan. The liquid will separate the eggs—somewhat—from the bottom of the pan. Using a large spoon or spatula, scrape all of the cooked eggs from the pan bottom. Add the cooked rice and basil and stir it into the liquid and cooked egg, allowing the rice to absorb all of the liquid and also distributing the cooked egg throughout the rice.
Return the cooked vegetables that you’ve set aside to the pan. Stir them into the rice so that they are evenly distributed. Serve the rice on a platter or on individual plates. Garnish with fresh cucumber slices and chopped cilantro.
NAM CHIM (A BASIC THAI DIPPING SAUCE)
Whether or not you serve this Khao Pad Pak as a main course or as an accompaniment to the Thai barbequed chicken (Gai Yang) recipes I have provided, it is not unusual for stir-fried rice to be served with any of a number of dipping sauces (nam chim).
Nam Chim is the general term for dipping sauces in the Thai language. The word, “nam”—water—is used to describe anything of water-like consistency. For instance, nam plah—literally translated as “water fish”—is the salty, dark amber-colored liquid used abundantly in Thai recipes, as well as a condiment on its own. Add a few thinly sliced Thai chilies (prik kee noo—literally, “spicy peppers shit mouse”) to nam plah and you have nam plah prik (literally, “water fish spicy peppers”).
There are literally hundreds of combinations of nam chim—if not thousands. All of them combine two or more of the five flavor groups in Thai cuisine—sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter. The following is a simple base for a nam chim, using sweet, sour and spicy. As with any recipe, it is flexible—you can increase or decrease the ingredients, as well as add other ingredients to give it more body and flavor. At the restaurant I use to own, I would add crushed, unsalted peanuts, minced scallions and chopped cilantro—making “nam tua”—translated as “water peanut”.
If you’re feeling a little adventurous, splash a little fish sauce into this sauce after it is finished cooking to give it some genuine Thai saltiness. Anyway you serve it, it is a simple sauce to make. It goes well with my Gai Yang and Khao Pad Pak recipes, as well as a dipping sauce for fresh vegetables, any kind of seafood, fried and breaded or barbequed foods of any kind, chicken, duck and pork.
This recipe will keep in the refrigerator—and I’m only guessing—forever.
Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for five to eight minutes. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool before serving. It should be slightly syrupy. If you desire a thicker consistency, simmer it a little longer.
I will be adding variations to this basic sauce in the future. If you experiment with your own variations, I would love to hear about them. If I like them, I will publish them on the blog and send credit and praise your way for the entire world to see!