Saturday, February 25, 2006

Twice a Year Thai

This is one of my favorite things to eat, but one of my least favorite things to cook. It is a royal mess (but worth all the clean-up if you do it once or twice a year). I haven't made it in a few years, but I have been craving it lately... so I thought I would share the recipe for you Thai lovers out there and inspire myself to cook it. I have YET to find a better version of this ANYWHERE (even restaurants do not make it this good). It is spicy, and yet has a lovely brown sugar sweetness... and although it is supposed to be an appetizer, I could eat this as a main dish because I love it so! You would have to have a kitchen helper to make this PLUS another few Thai dishes for a complete meal. Enlist your sweetheart to help you cook... or make some Thai Coconut Soup and a Thai Salad to accompany it (along with some Thai Tea) and enjoy!

Mee Krob - Crisp Sweet Thai Noodles

Ingredients & Tools:
Chopping Block/Knives
Food Processor
Paper towels and plates for draining grease off of cooked food
- - - - -
Medium bottle of high quality oil for deep-frying
8 oz. dried rice sticks, broken into small bunches (very thin and tiny noodles)
4 eggs (slightly beaten)
6 tablespoons light brown sugar (do not skimp!)
1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or bottled)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (red is fine)
1 tablespoon minced fresh hot chili (or Serrano pepper)
1 tablespoon minced or pressed garlic
12 oz boned and skinned chicken breast (minced or ran through food processor)
2 green onions or 4-6 chives, including tops, julienned or chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Sliced red hot chili for garnish

Note from recipe book:
"Fried wiry rice stick threads crowned with sweet and sour syrup are most often served as an appetizer in a Thai meal. Small shrimp, minced pork, or cubed tofu may be substituted for the chicken."
Pour the oil in a wok or deep-fat fryer to a depth of 2 to 3 inches and preheat to about 360° F. Add the rice sticks (tearing them apart as they fly all over your kitchen - don't worry - you can sweep later), a handful at a time, and cook, turning once, until crisp and lightly golden, 12 to 15 seconds. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly. Hold the bowl about 8 inches over the hot oil; dip a hand into the egg, then stretch it over the surface of the oil to dribble egg in long threads. Crisscross the oil in several directions to form a thin web of egg over the oil. Cook until lightly golden on the bottom, turn carefully, and cook until egg is golden on the other side. Transfer to paper toweling to drain while repeating procedure with remaining egg. After frying all the egg, discard all but about 3 tablespoons of the oil. Transfer that amount to a clean wok or frying pan.

In a bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and lime juice. Set aside after stirring.

Heat the oil in the wok or sauté pan over high heat. Add the onion and chili and stir fry for about one minute. Add the garlic and reserved fish sauce mixture and cook until sauce is syrupy (about 2 minutes). Add the chicken and stir fry until the meat turns opaque (about 2 minutes). Reduce the heat to low and add about one third of the reserved rice sticks and egg threads and gently toss to coat. Add half of the remaining rice sticks and egg and toss until coated. Add remaining rice sticks and egg and toss until all the rice sticks are coated with syrup.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with green onion and cilantro (I like to leave a bowl of extra greens on the table for those who love it like me), garnish with red chili (optional) and serve immediately. (*Then spend a few hours/days cleaning up the grease and mess in your kitchen!)

Serves 6 to 8 (*unless you are like me and horde the leftovers for yourself!)

This recipe from James McNair's Pasta Cookbook. (*my comments)

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