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Thai Fried Rice with Pork and Chicken Satay


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9 replies to this topic

#1 hitchmeer

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Posted 08 June 2003 - 10:06 PM

A friend and I made a couple of Thai dishes from a cookbook tonight and we had mixed feelings about the results. First of all the Thai fried rice with pork seemed a little bland to us. The recipe called for Thai fish sauce to be added at the end along with soy sauce and a little bit of superfine sugar. We used Vietnamese fish sauce because that was what we had. It tasted fine, but on the whole was a little bland. Does this just happen to be a more bland recipe in general or can anyone suggest ways to spice it up a little.

In addition, we made chicken satay. This turned out great, but the peanut sauce was considerably different in look and taste from what I've seen in Thai restaurants. Ours called for processing the juice of a lime, 6Ts of crunchy peanut butter, a seeded and minced red chili, salt and cocoanut milk. The consistancy was a little grainy and it started to separate. The sauces I've seen in restaurants have always had an almost velvety caramel quality about them and a deeper peanut color. Is this just an Americanized version of the peanut sauce or is that more authentic. I got the recipies out of a book called "Thai Cooking" by Judy Bastyra. I'd appreciate any advice on this and Thai cooking in general. Thanks!

#2 ecr

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 12:58 AM

In Thailand fried rice, soup noodles, and fried noodles like guaytiaow laad naa (stir-fried rice noodles with meat and Chinese broccoli "gravy"), phad kee maow (with basil, chile, and meat or seafood), and phad siiew (with soy sauce, Chinese broccoli, and meat or seafood) are always served with a set of condiments so that diners can spice it up to their liking at the table. Chopped chili peppers floating in fish sauce (nam plaa), the same floating in white vinegar (phrik namsom), ground dried roasted red chiles (phrik daeng), and sugar (namtaan) comprise the condiment foursome that grace the tables of casual eateries in Thailand (some places will also have a shaker of white pepper at the table --- meant primarily for the laad naa --- but most wok jockeys will sprinkle the white pepper over before it's served to the diner).

Fried rice is served with a section of lime on the side for squeezing over, as well as the above booster elements.

I just *love* the way a whole lot of white vinegar plays off the sweet, dark soy-soaked wide rice noodles and smoky chicken pieces in a phad siiew gai (chicken), and the extra layer of heat that the dried chili lends to a khee maow that's already lip-numbingly spicy from the fried fresh chilis peaking out from amongst wilted Chinese broccoli leaves and stems and, if you're lucky, a few fresh baby corn cobs. And I like to pile *everything* (though not in equal proportions ... I'm partial to alot of vinegar in this one too) on a plate of laad naa for an addictive, comforting, soupy mess. Slurp slurp. I've always been hard-pressed to choose a fried rice over a fried rice noodle, but when I do I'm more likely to stick to the chili and fish sauce combo and pass over the vinegar -- I'll ask for an extra slice of lime instead.

So my main advice to you is, before you cook up your next batch of Thai fried rice (which, by the way, should be dry in texture ... and do go very light on the fish sauce during the cooking) or venture on to noodles (and do venture ---- IMO there is just NOTHING like a plate of well-fried Thai noodles!), prepare the foursome and then experiment to find what combo of sweet/sour/salty/hot most speaks to you.

I have made excellent versions of the above noodles (and many other dishes) from Khomalmal's Thai Kitchen (possibly out of print?). The fried rice comes out a little wet so cut back on liquids.

As for peanut satay ... where in Thailand is this served? I never came across a peanut sauce in Bangkok ---- there muu yang (grilled pork) on a stick is served with a reddish chili-tomato-onion-and other sundries dipping sauce (namjim). It's a thin, non-uniform sauce ... smoky tasting, often sweet from caramelized onions or shallots, spicy. Just addictive, I'll just skip the BBQ pork and eat it straight with sticky rice for dipping. I've more often seen the peanut-sauced satay offered in Thai restaurants in the US, in Malaysia (although I think the stuff in the States is often much too sweet) .... you might try consulting a cookbook that focuses on this cuisine if you are not satisfied with the version you prepared. (And yeah, it separates .... no problem, just stir it back together. And it shouldn't be super thick and gloppy.)

David Thompson's book is great for Thai food but if I was just starting out with the cuisine I would find it overwhelming. I'd go for a more homestyle cuisine-focused book instead. Hot Sour Salty Sweet turns out some real tasty Thai (and other) treats --- laad naa is in there --- and the recipes are easy to follow, not overwhelming at all.

Good luck, and keep experimenting!

#3 ecr

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 01:00 AM

Ooops -- also, try to get Thai fish sauce for your Thai cooking. Vietnamese fish sauce is saltier and "fishier", it would be overpowering in alot of dishes (like fried rice!) and would definately not make the ideal phrik namplaa.

#4 tommy

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 06:12 AM

i add red curry paste to peanut sauce. also, i heat it on the stove for some time while whisking everything together (using palm sugar as well). not sure if you did that or if it might result in a more pleasant texture.

#5 MsRamsey

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 06:21 AM

Most Thai restaurants add MSG. I wonder if that might have added to the perception that some of the food was bland.

I would use only creamy peanut butter for peanut sauce.
"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."
-- State Senator John Burton, joking about
how the bill to ban production of foie gras in
California was summarized for signing by
Gov. Schwarzenegger.

#6 snowangel

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 10:30 AM

Yes, ecr has it right.

Thai fried rice is not in inself a highly spiced dish. It should be almost white in color, and the accompanying condiments are of utmost importance. Thai fried rice bears almost no resemblence to the fried rice so prevalent at your typical U. S. Chinese joint.

As to satay. I agree with ecr. While the satay meat is often marinated in a peanut-based paste, I don't think I ever saw it served in Thailand (lived there for a decade) with peanut sauce. A chili sauce, and a cucumber relish (cukes, cilantro, sugar, vinegar and fresh birds eye chilis.

Ah, guaytiaow laad naa. I used to eat a plate of this (with squid) every Sunday morning in Pattaya (back when it was a sleepy little town) before we got on the boat to go scuba diving. Lots of vinegar and peppers.
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#7 trillium

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 11:49 AM

Ours called for processing the juice of a lime, 6Ts of crunchy peanut butter, a seeded and minced red chili, salt and cocoanut milk.  The consistancy was a little grainy and it started to separate.  The sauces I've seen in restaurants have always had an almost velvety caramel quality about them and a deeper peanut color.  Is this just an Americanized version of the peanut sauce or is that more authentic.  I got the recipies out of a book called "Thai Cooking" by Judy Bastyra.  I'd appreciate any advice on this and Thai cooking in general.  Thanks!

Nearly every cook has a different recipe for the peanut stuff, but what I can tell you from the se Asian cook in our house is that you don't start with peanut butter, you start with Spanish peanuts (the red skinned kind) and it's not unusual for the sauce to separate.

regards,
trillium

#8 hitchmeer

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 02:13 PM

Thanks to everyone for the great ideas! I'm anxious to try them out.

#9 torakris

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Posted 09 June 2003 - 03:50 PM

I have my peanut sauce recipe somewher in the middle of the dinner thread, I will try to pull it out and get it in the archives. I have tried many many kinds and have come up with my favorite (it uses peanut butter though! :shock: )

What everyone has already said about the rice, condiments and lots of them, I usually stick with lime juice and sriracha because it is always at hand.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"
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#10 pim

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Posted 22 July 2003 - 11:20 AM

As to satay.  I agree with ecr.  While the satay meat is often marinated in a peanut-based paste, I don't think I ever saw it served in Thailand (lived there for a decade) with peanut sauce.  A chili sauce, and a cucumber relish (cukes, cilantro, sugar, vinegar and fresh birds eye chilis.

Interesting. I grew up in Thailand and I love Satays. You can find them pretty much anywhere. In fact I just wrote a post on the Bangkok Street Food thread on how to find the famous Sampeng market Satay vendor, http://forums.egulle...T&f=21&t=23812

I am biased, of course, but I love the Thai version of Satay more than a Malaysian version. In Thailand, the satays are served with Peanut Sauce and a condiment of lightly pickled cucumbers, shallots, cilantro and red chilli (Prik Chi Fah). It is also often accompanied by a few slices of toasted white bread---they go so well with the peanut sauce, a Thai version of PB sandwich you could say. :-)

I would suggest using Masaman Curry paste rather than a simple red curry paste to be the base for your sauce. The sauce is *supposed* to separate, with a beautiful red oil floating over the peanut sauce. You just stir it a little with the Satay while dipping into it. When I make mine I use the freshly grounded peanuts you get at places like Wholefoods. That way you get the creamy and crunch without added sugar. I use palm sugar to sweeten it a bit later. The resulting sauce shouldn't be cloyingly sweet, rather should have a bite of spiciness to it.

Edited by pim, 22 July 2003 - 11:24 AM.

chez pim
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