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Favorite One-dish Meals in Thailand

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

One of the best things about Thailand is the ready availability of delicious one-dish meals, both as street food and in restaurants. This blog looks at 5 of my very favorite non-noodle dishes. I’ll reserve noodles for another time. You can also look at my blog Thai Noodles – An Amazing Variety.

Of course, almost any dish can be a “one-dish meal.” Green Curry over Rice, for instance provides a protein from meat or seafood, vegetables (usually Thai eggplants and pea eggplants) over a starch (rice). Four of the dishes here, though, are often thought of as stand-alone dishes and eaten most often by themselves as a quick breakfast, lunch or (even) dinner.

Several of these dishes are Chinese-influenced; these are the one-dish meals I order the most in Thailand. I’ll save the more “Thai” one-dish meals for another blog.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Basil Pork with Fried Egg over Rice – Moo Pad Kaprao Khai Dao

Pork Dish

Stir-fried Pork dish

I’ll start with one of the most popular dishes in Thailand (and an authentically Thai dish) – Basil Pork with Fried Egg served over Rice.

The picture shows the dish – Moo Pad Kaprao Khai Dao Rad Khao – as it was served in a no-name restaurant in Bo Klua in eastern Nan province in northern Thailand. (See my blog: Bo Klua – Visiting the Salt Ponds.) It comes with a typical Thai-style fried egg – ไข่ดาว (Khai Dao) – literally a “star egg” – with its crisp-fried edges. The dish here is made with larger pieces of pork; I see it more often with ground pork.

Kasma taught a Spicy Basil Chicken recipe in the 3rd class of her Beginning Series. You can easily adapt the recipe for pork and add a crispy-fried egg at the end. Or check out my blog Basil Pork – Moo Pad Kaprao.

    Pork Leg Rice – Khao Ka Moo

    Pork Leg Rice

    Pork Leg Rice

    This just might be the one-dish meal that I order the most in Thailand: it’s Stewed Spiced Pork Leg Rice with Pickled Mustard Greens, Blanched Asian Broccoli and Hot-Sour Sauce – Khao Ka Moo. The picture to the left is from the food court at Imperial World Shopping Center in Samut Prakan.

    Although it’s a Chinese-influenced dish, you find it all over Thailand, though not so much in the Southern provinces that have a larger Muslim population. It is predominantly a street food or found at food courts (which are, basically, street food brought inside). In restaurants you’ll see stewed pork leg (or fried stewed pork leg) mainly as a dish to be served over rice, family style (as in the picture below right).

    This dish has an incredibly rich mouth feel – the pork leg is stewed with the skin on, which means it includes the fat in-between the skin and meat as well. You don’t really need to eat very much of this: the rich fat will fill you up. The richness is balanced by the pickled mustard greens and by the hot-sour sauce that you put on top. When you order, you have the option of getting it with a hard-boiled duck egg or without; I always get it with the egg, which typically has been cooked first and then stewed a while with the rest of the ingredients. Yum!

    Stewing Pork Leg

    Stewing Pork Leg

    Stewed Pork Leg

    Stewed Pork Leg

    The picture above left shows the stew pot in one of Kasma’s classes just after the pickled mustard has been added. The right-side picture shows how she serves it in class – more as it would be served in a restaurant. It does need to be eaten with rice though: it’s such a rich dish.

    Kasma taught this dish in Advanced Set E-2.

    Poached Chicken Rice – Khao Man Gai

    Chicken Rice Shop

    Chicken Rice Shop

    Another Chinese-inspired dish, perhaps more famous in its Singapore version, is Poached Chicken Rice with Melon Soup and Hot Fermented Soybean and Ginger Sauce (Khao Man Gai). It is often found as a street food and probably just as often at shops which specialize in the dish. It’s pretty easy to find a place that serves it: just look for the plump, hanging chickens such as in the picture to the left, taken at the Imperial World Food court in Samut Prakan.

    What makes this dish special is the rice, which is cooked with chicken broth and also chicken fat, a bit like making a risotto; the rice by itself is rich and tasty. The stewed chicken is succulent and juicy. This dish is invariably served with a spicy fermented soybean-chilli sauce and accompanied by a light, chicken-broth based melon soup.

    Poached Chicken Rice

    Poached Chicken Rice

    Poached Chicken Rice

    Poached Chicken Rice

    Here are two versions of the dish. To the upper left is the dish as Kasma had it last year at the food court at the Imperial World Shopping Center near her Samut Prakan townhouse. The rightmost version is from one of Kasma’s Advanced Cooking Classes.

    Kasma used to teach this dish during Advanced class D-3.

    Black Olive Rice – (Kao Pad Nam Liap)

    Salted Black Olive Fried Rice (Kao Pad Nam Liap or Kao Ohb Nam Liap) is another Chinese-influenced dish. It’s not a dish that you see very often in Thailand. The main ingredient is a Chinese salted black olive, which is mixed with shrimp, dried shrimp, green mango, Thai chillies and ground pork. It’s a marvelous dish, full of several different types of flavors and anchored by the black olive.

    Black Olive Rice

    Black Olive Rice

    Black Olive Rice

    Black Olive Rice

    Here are two versions of the dish. Kasma’s version, above left, presents it more like a composed salad; before eating, all the ingredients are mixed together. The above right version is from My Choice Restaurant in Bangkok. It’s a rare trip to Thailand when I don’t make it by My Choice at least once or twice to get this dish for lunch.

    Bitter Melon Stir-fried with Egg – Mara Pad Kai

    Bitter Melon & Egg

    Bitter Melon & Egg

    This is a recipe that is very easy to cook and very healthy. Bitter melon is a vegetable that is said to help regulate the blood sugar and here it is served with eggs, still one of the healthiest foods you can eat. This is a dish that I cook often at home, particularly when I’m on my own. Start to finish, including prep time, is about 10 minutes or less. Serve it over rice and you’ve got a satisfying, healthy meal.

    Try it yourself using Kasma’s Bitter Melon & Egg Recipe. Or try my variation – Bitter Melon, Chorizo and Egg – for some extra pizzaz. (You also can substitute Thai sour sausage for the Chorizo.)


    Written by Michael Babcock, July 2014

    Mae Hong Son Breakfast

    Michael Babcock, Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

    Whenever we’re in Mae Hong Son we head to a small shop by the morning market for our breakfast. Found on the small by-street leading into the market, it’s run by a friendly Vietnamese family and has several excellent choices to start out the day. As another plus, they make fresh-brewed coffee that is very good.

    Kasma with Owner

    Kasma and the restaurant Owner

    The Mae Hong Son morning market, Thetsaban Market, is lively, colorful and fun. Several online sites say it is found on Sihanatbamrung road near Wat Hua Wiang; When I look at the map of Mae Hong Son it appears to me to be right off Nivet Pisan Rd. This restaurant is on one of the little alleys leading into the market, off Nivat Pisan Road (also transliterated as Nivespisan), as far as I can tell. There’s a Krung Thai bank on the left as you look from the street to the market entry with an archway over the alley: check out the pictures at the bottom of the page.

    I’m going to include pictures of our favorite breakfast foods here and show the exterior and interior of the restaurant at the bottom of the page.

    (Click images to see larger version.)

    Vietnamese Eggs

    Eggs, Vietnamese Style - Kai Gata - ไข่กะทะ

    Close-up of Dish

    Vietnamese Eggs (Kai Gata - ไข่กะทะ)

    I call these Vietnamese Eggs, or Eggs, Vietnamese Style, because I’ve only had them in Vietnamese-run restaurants in Thailand, in Mae Hong Son and also in the Northeast. In Thai they are called Kai Gata – ไข่กะทะ. As you see in the photos, it consists of two fried eggs topped with sweet (the red) sausage, Vietnamese sausage, ground pork and green onions. It’s served with a bun with more sweet sausage. It’s a good, meaty breakfast.

    Noodle Dish

    Noodle Dish - Kway Chap (or Kway Jap)

    Rice Porridge

    Rice Porridge - Johk

    Kway Chap (or Kway Jap) – ก๋วยจั๊บ – is a type of noodle – a flat noodle that curls up so that it looks like tubes when served. At this shop it is usually served with pork innards; this is a bowl that Kasma ordered without the innards, though it does have pork blood. The innards are quite delicious and super healthy. The rice porridge (congee, or johk – โจ๊ก) can also be ordered with the innards.

    Pad See Ew

    Stir-fried Noodles - Pad See Ew - ผัดซีอิ้ว

    Fresh Brewed Coffee

    Fresh Brewed Coffee

    The Stir-fried Noodles, or Pad See Ew – ผัดซีอิ้ว – are made with wide, fresh rice noodles. You can get them with pork or chicken. They make a very good fresh-brewed coffee here. The picture shows Kafee Sohd Rawn – กาเเฟสดร้อน – literally, “hot, fresh, coffee.” You can also get Kafee Sohd Yen – กาเเฟสดเย็น – yen meaning cold. Each cup is brewed to order. It is served “Thai style,” meaning it comes with a glass of tea as a chaser for the rich, dark coffee.

    Condiment Set

    Condiment set

    Tangerine Juice

    Tangerine Juice

    Of course, you can add and balance flavors, as at any noodle shop in Thailand. To the left is the collection of condiments on the table. (See Michael’s blog on Thai Condiment Sets.) Also available, and shown to the right, is fresh-squeezed “Orange Juice” – nam som – น้ำส้ม. I put it in quotes because their orange is really more like a tangerine. Whatever you call it, this drink is very, very good: it is pure, unadulterated, unsweetened fruit juice. Very tasty and delicious.

    Breakfast Shop

    Front of restaurant

    Restaurant Cart

    Front of restaurant

    This is our breakfast restaurant to the left. It’s right next to a store selling books and newspapers on its left; the store on the right is selling clothing. Look for the cart in the right-hand picture; the cart has a picture in the center of coffee with pictures of the the specialties of the restaurant in the 4 corners (click to see a larger image).

    Street View

    View towards the street

    Restaurant

    Inside looking out

    The leftmost picture shows the view looking from just past the restaurant (which is towards the left, look for the stand) toward the street. You can see the archway in the middle of the picture. The right hand picture shows the view from the back of the restaurant looking toward front alley. It’s a very typical Thai store-front restaurant.

    Menu 1

    Menu with specialties

    Menu 2

    Another menu

    These are the menus found on the wall of the restaurant. The blue menu (to the left) has the specialties: from the top down they are Vietnamese Eggs (kai gata), toast (kanom bang), Pork Blood (leuak moo), kway chap noodles, rice porridge (johk), fresh-brewed coffee, Nescafe and Ovaltine. The red menu, except for the bottom two items, are either fried rice dishes or dishes served over rice. We’ve never ordered rice dishes here. I always have a hard time choosing: everything is done very well, indeed.


    Written by Michael Babcock, 2012