Tuesday, January 18, 2011

neua pat bai grapao

David Thompson is one of the most respected chef in Australia. He made his name by getting the backing of the Thai government to re-establish authentic Thai food in Thailand, to fight the onslaught of fusion food in the country. He has a comprehensive Thai recipe book called Arharn Thai, but I was totally intimidated by it, so I never got around to buying it. So, when his new book Thai Street Food was published, I said to myself I definitely have to get that book.

My first thought was that surely street food would be easier than full-on Thai food to cook. I was sort of right, I think. Some recipes were totally do-able, like the neua pat bai grapao. But, there are quite a few pretty complicated recipes in there with a lot of ingredients. I was intimidated for about a minute, but I thought, it's totally time for me to get a bit of a challenge. To get me started, I picked this pretty straightforward recipe, with manageable amounts of ingredients.

I have to say David Thompson's neua pat bai grapao or stir-fried minced beef with chillies and holy basil got me a bit scared with the amount of chillies he requested in the recipe. I am not a person who can eat that many chillies. So, I modified the amount of chillies and substituted one ingredient with another because it's not readily available at the local supermarket. Even with these adjustments, I find that the final dish was yummy and not at all spicy. The basil is the obvious picker-upper of this dish.

Neua pat bai grapao
Adapted from David Thompson's Thai Street Food

  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 4 bird's eye chillies, chopped with most of the seeds removed (you can use up to 10, with seeds for heat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g minced beef
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves (or holy basil if you can find them)

  1. Fry four eggs for two people. The only way I know how to get lovely eggs with crispy blistered skin and yolky eggy centre is to have the eggs fried in a deep pool of hot oil. But I didn't want to use too much oil, so I only shallow fried it. They weren't as crispy as I'd like them to be. Keep the eggs warm while you cook the beef (I put them on a plate covered with an upside down bowl).
  2. On a medium heat, add a splash of canola on the frying pan, stir fry the garlic and chillies until fragrant, but do not let it brown. Add the beef and continue to stir fry until half-cooked and season with the fish sauce and sugar.
  3. Add a few tablespoons of water to develop a bit of a sauce, simmer for a moment until the beef is cooked. Then add the basil leaves and remove the pan from the heat as soon as the basil is wilted.
  4. Serve the beef with a bowl of rice, topped with two fried eggs. If you want more heat, make a small saucer of condiment, composed of fish sauce, 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and 4 chillies.

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