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08/23/2014

~ Oh My Thai: Savory Minced Pork Stuffed Omelette~

IMG_1822Eggs are universal, and, as a person who loves eggs, whenever I travel to a foreign country, I make it a point to try at least one of their egg dishes.  Almost every country offers some version of "the omelette", and, unlike here in America where we associate eggs with breakfast or brunch, eggs are considered a filling, healthy, nutritious meal any time of the day.  For an egg lover like me, eating an omelette in a foreign country is also a tasty way to indoctrinate myself to the herbs, spices and seasonings I'll be encountering "full-strength" in their other dishes!

IMG_1018 IMG_1372 IMG_1542 IMG_0810

 

 

 

 

Over the past week, I've added some of my favorite Thai recipes, more specifically Thai street food recipes, to Kitchen Encounters.  We've feasted upon ~ Spicy Red Curry Sweet Corn Fritters ~, ~ Quick, Easy and Classic Thai Fish Cakes ~, and, a  ~ Thai Crispy, Airy, Puffy Fluffy Omelette -.  I even made ~ Spicy Quick-Pickled Cucumber Relish ~ to serve with all of them.  You can find all of the recipes, and more, by clicking on the Related Article links below!

Now my friends -- it's time to meet the "hot pocket" of Thailand!

IMG_1860Before taking a break from Thai food for a while, I want to share a second Thai omelette recipe with you:  the minced or ground pork omelette, known as kai jad sai, which means "stuffed eggs".  It it absolutely amazing.  Once again, this is an omelette that isn't necessarily eaten for breakfast, nor is it one that is typically made and sold on the streets either.  It just plain old, home-cooked good Thai eats.  Similar to the French omelette, this Thai omelette is thin, and, it can be prepared in a wok, a classic omelette pan or an ordinary nonstick skillet.  It is filled with a sauted mixture of minced pork and diced vegetables (garlic, onions, tomatoes and beans or bell peppers) seasoned with fish sauce or oyster sauce, seasoning soy sauce and sugar.  

IMG_1837Once filled, it is folded into a square, to encase it on all sides.  It is typically served with steamed jasmine rice, Sriracha sauce and sometimes, cucumber relish.  

This omelette can be small, to feed one, or larger, to feed two or more at the communal dinner table.  In my American kitchen, I usually do serve it for breakfast or brunch, and, I serve it without the rice.  I like to serve it to overnight guests too. Why?  The minced pork filling (even a large amount of it to feed a group of 10-12) can be prepared a day or two in advance.  At breakfast time, I simply reheat the filling then quickly make, fill and fold an individual omelette for each guest!

A Thai stuffed omelette is made at the discretion of the cook. 

Here is my favorite way to prepare it -- American Mel-style!

IMG_1658For the pork filling (enough for 12 omelettes -- do the math-- divide by 4 to make 3, etc.):

2  pounds ground pork, the leanest available (Note:  I use 2, small, 1-pound pork tenderloins.  I cut them into 1" chunks, place them in the work bowl of my large-capacity food processor fitted with the steel blade and grind the meat using a series of 15-20 rapid on-off pulses.)

4-6  tablespoons chopped garlic

1  cup diced yellow or sweet onion

4-6  tablespoons thinly-sliced green beans

4-6  tablespoons minced cilantro, stems included

1 1/2  cups "coined" (cut into round, flat coin-shaped discs) grape tomatoes

4  tablespoons Thai fish sauce

2  tablespoons Thai seasoning soy sauce

1  teaspoon lime juice, fresh or high-quality bottled concentrate

2  teaspoons sugar

2  teaspoons white pepper

1  teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

2  tablespoons vegetable oil, to coat bottom of a 12" skillet

IMG_1639 IMG_1151 IMG_0663 IMG_1649~Step 1.  Prep the garlic, onions, green beans, cilantro and tomatoes as directed.  Cover the tomatoes with plastic wrap and set them aside until just prior to preparing the omelettes, or, overnight in the refrigerator if preparing the filling mixture in advance (as explained above).

IMG_1675~ Step 2.  In a 1-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, white pepper and optional ground ginger.

IMG_1688Note: Ground ginger is not typically found in this omelette, but, I love the flavor and recommend you try it!

IMG_1680 IMG_1692~ Step 3.  In a 12" skillet heat the oil over low heat.  Add the garlic, onion and green beans. Increase heat to medium-high and saute, stirring frequently, until vegetables are beginning to "sweat" and soften, about 3 minutes.

IMG_1711 IMG_1699~ Step 4. Add and thoroughly stir the pork into the unseasoned vegetable mixture.  

Continue to saute, stirring frequently, until pork is cooked through and almost all moisture has evaporated from skillet, about 12-15 minutes (for this amount of pork).

IMG_1719 IMG_1734~ Steps 5 & 6.  Add the seasoning sauce to skillet. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until once again, almost no liquid remains in bottom of skillet, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.  To this point meat mixture can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated overnight.  Note:  Do not add  tomatoes at this time -- fold them into warm meat mixture (today or reheated tomorrow) just prior to stuffing omelettes.   

IMG_1763Set aside while preparing each omelette according to the following directions:

IMG_1631For each omelette (I always prepare and serve these stuffed omelettes individually:

3  large eggs, at room temperature

1  teaspoon fish sauce

1  teaspoon lime juice, fresh or high-quality bottled concentrate

1 teaspoon water

1/4-1/2  teaspoon white pepper

1  tablespoon vegetable oil, to coat the bottom of a 10" skillet

IMG_1776 IMG_1779                                           ~ Step 1.  In a medium bowl, place the eggs, fish sauce, lime juice water and white pepper.  Using a hand-held rotary egg beater, whisk the eggs to a frothy state.

IMG_1748~ Step 2.  In a 10" skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.

IMG_1783 IMG_1784 IMG_1785 IMG_1787~Step 3.  In a thin but deliberate steady stream, add (don't drizzle) the egg mixture to the hot oil.

IMG_1789~ Step 4.  Lift skillet from heat and begin swirling egg mixture around bottom and sides of pan until an even layer of egg mixture is distributed on bottom.  Return skillet to heat.  Using a thin spatula, quickly scrape down sides of  pan and cook omelette for 10-15 seconds.  Lift the pan and swirl again.  Continue this process of lifting, lowering and swirling until bottom of omelette is very lightly browned and top is moist and shiny, not dry.  Remove skillet from heat.

IMG_1791^^^The sort of ragged looking inside of the omelette will look like this.^^^

IMG_1797 IMG_1800 IMG_1803 IMG_1808~Step 5.  Place 1/2 cup of meat mixture into the center of omelette.  Fold two sides toward the center, with or without overlapping them.  Fold two more sides toward the center with or without overlapping -- sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but forcing them to overlap can cause the omelette to tear.  I do however "fuss-budget" around with this for an extra few seconds to form a perfect square.  Invert a medium-sized plate over the top of omelette. Lightly place your fingertips on top of the plate, just enough to hold it in place (you do not want to squish the omelette to smithereens).  Lift up the skillet, invert it, and, invert the omelette onto the plate.  

If you feel like a schooled chef right now, you should!

IMG_1818Dress this baby up w/a splash of Sriracha & a sprig of cilantro...

IMG_1839... and for the love of Thai -- grab your fork dig in!

IMG_1894Oh My Thai:  Savory Minced Pork Stuffed Omelette:  Recipe yields 6 cups pork filling, enough for 12 omelettes, and, insructions to make individual omelettes.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; plastic wrap; 1-cup measuring container; fork; 12" skillet, preferably nonstick; large spoon and/or spatula; hand-held rotary egg beater; 10" skillet, preferably nonstick; thin spatula

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c6d1fc54970bCook's Note:  I call Thai Sriracha sauce "the ketchup of the Asian food world" and my refrigerator has a bottle of it in it at all times.  To learn more about this delightfully spicy condiment, read my post ~ Would You Like Red 'Rooster Sauce' With That ~.  You can find it in Categories 8, 13 or 16.  If you are already a lover of Sriracha, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Sriracha Cookbook!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 

08/21/2014

~ Oh My Thai: Crispy, Airy, Puffy & Fluffy Omelette ~

IMG_1577A Thai omelette is comfort food at its best.  The Thai people satisfy hunger with Kai Jeow (Khai Jiao) the same way we Americans satisfy it with pizza or macaroni and cheese -- which -- is why --  Kai Jeow is a very popular snack or street food too.  Why?  Unlike America, in Thailand an omelette is not primarily associated with breakfast -- omelettes are for eating any time of the day!

IMG_1521A bit about Kai Jeow-style omelettes:  Aside from the fact that they are made with eggs, they are quite a bit different than the thin, light-colored, creamy French-style omelette.  This Thai omelette is prepared in a wok with quite a bit of very hot oil (at least 1").  When the frothy, lightly-seasoned egg mixture is poured into the oil, it puffs up, causing it to become browned on the surface and crispy around the edges while remaining soft, fluffy and multi-layered inside.  The egg mixture is seasoned with Fish sauce (the salt of Thailand), a squirt of lime juice, and occasionally some white pepper.  It's not uncommon to find some minced green onion, shallot and/or cilantro or Thai basil whisked in either.  And -- just like we Americans often add bits of crisp bacon to our egg mix, in Thailand, it's bits of minced pork (everything tastes better with a bit of oink).  

When taken out of the wok, the entire, perfectly-cooked golden-colored affair is placed over a bed of slightly-warm, steamed Jasmine rice and served drizzled with Thai Sriracha sauce.   The kai jaow omelette may not win any beauty contests,

IMG_1542but, it is decadent and marvelously addicting darling!

IMG_1825That said, don't throw everything you know about French- or Western-style omelettes out the window just yet.  Thai cooks make a stuffed omelette too.  Called kai yad sai, they're less common on the streets than kai jeow.  Like the French omelette, it is thin, filled with diced, lightly-sauted vegetables (onion, tomato and beans or bell peppers)  and/or minced pork or shrimp, then folded into a square.

IMG_1860The stuffed omelette can be small, to feed one, or larger, to feed two or more.  It too is served with jasmine rice and Sriracha, but because of the onions and tomatoes, it's a bit runny (kai jeow isn't). While the Thai stuffed omelette is not the subject of this post, they are just as delicious. Click on the Related Article link below to get ~ Oh My Thai: Minced Pork Stuffed Omelete ~ recipe!

Ready?  From start to finish, this takes less than 5 minutes:

IMG_16142  jumbo eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2  teaspoons fish sauce

1 1/2  teaspoons water

1/2  teaspoon lime juice, fresh or high-quality bottled concentrate

1  tablespooon cornstarch

1/2  teaspoon sugar

2  tablespoons sesame oil, for frying

3/4  cup peanut oil, for frying, more or less, depending on the size of the wok

1  cup steamed jasmine rice per omelette, a bit more or less, for accompaniment (Note: Each omelette, from start to finish, takes less than 2 minutes to prepare, so, be sure to steam your rice, and, allow it to cool a bit prior to making and serving the omelettes.  The rice should be slightly-warm, not steaming hot, when the finished omelette gets placed on top of it.)

1/4  cup Sriracha sauce per omelette, per omelette, more or less, for dipping or drizzling

IMG_1425 IMG_1432 IMG_1436~ Step 1.  Place 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in the bottom of a medium-sized wok.  Add enough of peanut oil to total 1" of oil.  

Note:  In my 10" All-Clad wok, this requires 3/4 cup of peanut oil.  Using a bigger wok?  Plan on adding more oil.  Heat the oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.  While oil is heating:

IMG_1452 IMG_1456 IMG_1462~ Step 2.  Place the eggs, fish sauce, water, lime juice, cornstarch and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat/whisk until frothy.

IMG_1485The Thai Kai Jeow Technique:

~ Step 3.  Transfer the frothy egg mixture to a 1-cup measuring container.  Doing this will help you to control "the pour" into the oil.

Note:  The kai jeow omelette is known for its signature freeform shape and somewhat raggedy edges.  The only way to achieve that is to pour the liquid into the wok in a thin, steady stream holding the vessel several inches (6"-12") IMG_1489above the seething hot oil.  The higher you hold it the better.

It's kitchen drama, but it is safe.

Because the oil is so hot, the liquid in the eggs turns to steam instantly, causing the eggs to puff up right before your eyes.  Kids and adults love to watch the performance so invite them to stand around the stove.  If you're worried about hot oil spatter, don't be -- it's so minimal there is almost no cleanup.

IMG_1490The rest goes really fast so pay attention!

IMG_1624~ Step 4.  In 30-45 seconds the omelette will be golden and ready to be flipped. With the right kitchen tools, this is surprisingly easy to do. You will need two large slotted spatulas, or, as pictured here, one large slotted spatula and one Asian spider-type utensil.  Slide one or the other underneath the omelette, lift it out of the oil, place the other over the top, invert the omelette and place it back down in the oil.

Cook on the second side another 30-45 seconds:

IMG_1506Lift omelette out of the wok (leaving the excess oil behind), place it on a plate that has a bed of steamed jasmine rice on it and serve immediately with plenty of Sriracha sauce for dipping or drizzling: 

IMG_1541Oh my Thai:  I think I need an invervention!

IMG_1588Oh My Thai:  Crispy, Airy, Puffy, Fluffy Omelette:  Recipe yeilds instructions to make one Thai kai joew omelette, or, one serving.  Trust me, you will eat the entire thing.

Special Equipment List:  medium-sized wok; 1-cup measuring container; hand-held rotary egg beater or whisk; 2 large slotted spatulas or, 1 large slotted spatula and an Asian spider

6a0120a8551282970b017ee7d25972970dCook's Note:  I call Thai Sriracha sauce "the ketchup of the Asian food world" and my refrigerator has a bottle of it in it at all times.  To learn more about this delightfully spicy condiment, read my post ~ Would You Like Red 'Rooster Sauce' With That? ~.  You can find it in Categories 8, 13 or 16.  If you're already a lover of Sriracha, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Sriracha Cookbook!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 

08/18/2014

~ Oh My Thai: Quick, Easy and Classic Fish Cakes ~

IMG_1372If the thought of snacking on fish cakes sounds a bit uninspiring, you've obviously never encountered Thai fish cakes -- they are unlike any European or Western fish cake you are ever going to taste.  They're one of Thailand's signature and most popular street food snacks.  They're one of my favorite Thai snacks too, and that's not just because they are bursting with Thai flavor. If you keep canned Thai red chili paste in your pantry, once you have a fresh fish fillet and some green beans in hand, you can satisfy your craving for Thai food in less than an hour!

Thai Snacks vs. the Thai Meal & some Thai Table Etiquette too: 

IMG_1305As I mentioned above, Thai fish cakes are a popular snack food, meaning:  they don't serve them at mealtime.  In Thailand, a traditional home-cooked "proper meal" revolves around the rice bowl, with several satellite dishes and condiments placed around it.  Without exception a proper Thai meal is always served family-style so everyone can share everything.  At each place setting there is a medium-sized plate, small soup bowl, fork, spoon and glass.  The plate is not over-sized to insure each dish is tried and eaten one-at-a-time with a scoop of warm rice.  No knives are used because Thai food is always bite-sized.  Whether the meal proper is prepared for two or twenty people, it is the event that is looked forward to all day long.  In order to stave off hunger, the Thai people perfected the art of snacking often throughout the day. "Outside of the meal food" (snacks), like these fish cakes, are prepared in the home or sold on the streets!

IMG_11031 1/2  pounds firm white fish, cut into  1 1/2"-2" chunks (Note:  This is a whole wild cod fillet.)

1/4 cup minced cilantro

IMG_11091/2  cup thinly-sliced green onion, white & light green parts only 

1/2  cup thinly-sliced green beans

2  tablespoons very-thinly-sliced kaffir lime leaves

1  extra-large egg, lightly beaten

6  tablespoons red curry paste

3  tablespoons Thai fish sauce

2  teaspoons palm sugar, or light brown sugar

corn or peanut oil for deep-frying

IMG_1162 IMG_1147 IMG_1160~ Step 1.  Prep the cilantro, green onions, green beans and kaffir lime leaves as directed and set aside.

IMG_1110 IMG_1117 IMG_1130Note:  To slice kaffir lime leaves, stack them, largest to smallest, then, roll them up cigar-style and slice them as thinly as you can.

IMG_1173 IMG_1177 IMG_1182~Step 2.  In  a small bowl whisk egg.  Stir in the curry paste, fish sauce and sugar until smooth.  Stir in the lime leaves and set aside 15-30 minutes.

IMG_1192Note:  Kaffir lime leaves are tough in texture.  Stirring them into this mixture and allowing  them to marinate will soften them up a bit.

IMG_1165~ Step 3. Cut fish as directed, placing it in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Using a series of 45-50 rapid on-off pulses, finely-mince. Do not over-process to a puree.  

IMG_1203 IMG_1206 IMG_1217~ Step 4.  Place fish in a large bowl.  Add the curry mixture and thoroughly combine.  Fold in cilantro, onions and green beans.

IMG_1229Cover with plastic wrap and set aside 15 minutes to marry flavors.

IMG_1232~ Step 5. Using a 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place firmly-packed scoops of fish mixture onto a 17 1/2" x 12" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  You will have 24-26 fish cakes.  

IMG_1247Set aside while preheating oil in deep-fryer to 360 degrees according to manufacturer's specifications, or, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 hours prior to frying as directed below.  Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to  frying.

While oil is heating:  line a baking pan with 3-4 layers of paper towels and position it next to fryer.  Set a large cooling rack off to the side too.

IMG_1262 IMG_1269 IMG_1286 IMG_1293~Step 6.  Pick up a fish cake and compact it into a firm disc about 1/2" thick and 2" around. Gently drop it into the hot oil, and, working as quickly as you can, form and drop two more discs into the oil. Do not overcrowed fryer basket by adding too many.  Close the lid and fry fish cakes for 2-2 1/2 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Using a pair of tongs, transfer the cakes to the paper towel lined pan (to absorb any excess oil), and, give them light sprinkle of sea salt.  After a minute or two, transfer them to the cooling rack.  Repeat this process until all fish cakes are fried.

IMG_1316Fish cakes are best served hot -- ASAP -- Oh My Thai:

IMG_1325Oh My Thai:  Quick, Easy and Classic Fish Cakes:  Recipe yields 2 dozen appetizer- snack-sized fish cakes, or, six servings, planning on four fish cakes per person.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; fork; food processor; large rubber spatula; plastic wrap; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 1 3/4" ice-cream scoop; paper towels; tongs

IMG_0803Cook's Note:  Traditionally fish cakes are served with ~ Oh My Thai:  Spicy Quick-Pickled Cucumber Relish ~ which you can find in Categories 4, 13 or 20, and/or, ~ Would You Like Sweet Chili Sauce With That? ~, which you can find by clicking on the Related Article link below!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)