Headline: A triple-K recipe has shown up on the High Heel Gourmet blog, creating a stir among the members. A lot of them have already fled for their lives!
This is a recipe requested a long time ago from my girlfriend in New York, but she wasn’t so clear about the name of the dish, and also her description was horrible. This is how she asked me: “I want the recipe of the rice with Granny Smith apples.”
“Hmm…I’m pretty sure we don’t eat that. Was it from a Thai restaurant or just from a fusion Asian restaurant?” I asked.
“Thai restaurant. This is only served at a Thai restaurant and in Thailand. Not every Thai restaurant serves it, either.” She insisted.
“Ok then. What’s else in it?”
“I don’t know, stuff, lots of stuff, sweet meat.”
Great…I thought. “Any nuts?”
“No nuts, but something crunchy and salty is definitely in it and they don’t put the apples in the rice in Thailand. They use sour papaya.”
I couldn’t figure out which dish she was referring to. So, I asked her to take a picture of the dish and the picture surprised me even more. It is this dish, Khao Kluk Kapi. That is the triple-K recipe I’m referring to today 😉 Khao=rice, Kluk=mix, pronounced “Klook” (I actually want to spell the word clook but it’s already known as “kluk”. So I let it go.) Kapi=shrimp paste (Yes, the same stink bomb that we used in the curry paste.)
It is a rice dish where the steamed rice is mixed with shrimp paste. The traditional way of making this dish that I used to eat when I was a kid in Thailand, doesn’t involve stir frying the rice after the mix. We will add the accompaniments and eat it just like that.
In the modern version, the mixed rice will then be fried just to calm the smell of the shrimp paste down, and then it’s eaten with many other accompaniments, including crunchy, fried, dried shrimp (that’s the something crunchy and salty that my friend referred to), sliced fresh shallots, shredded egg crepe, julienned green apples (by the way, the “sour papaya” she mentioned is actually the sour green mango) and you can’t leave out the sweet meat.
Why was I surprised that this is the dish she loves so much, then?
Because the shrimp paste isn’t the typical ingredient that a non-Thai can appreciate. It smells very strong. Remember the story I told you about the customs officer at LAX? I normally have to wrap the container about five times. Here in my pantry, I bought a stainless steel container that has a rubber lid to secure the smell.
So I was surprised that my friend really liked this dish. I rarely cook it at home because I was afraid that my farang husband would not eat it.
Let’s see how are we going to approach it. First, you need the sweet meat. What is this? The meat normally is pork belly, cooked in palm sugar, soy sauce or fish sauce and shallots. You know that pork belly needs a long time to cook for it to be tender. Some people use ground pork, chicken, or even shrimp. The name in Thai for the pork version of the meat is called “Moo Wan”; Moo=pork, Wan=sweet. The chicken is Gai Wan and the shrimp is Goong Wan.
Ingredients for the the sweet meat (for two):
Meat of your choice 1/2 lb. 250g
Palm sugar (you can use brown sugar) 1/4 cup
Soy sauce or fish sauce 2 tablespoons
Water 1 cup
Salt as needed
Sliced shallots 1/4 cup
1) For the pork and chicken: Put everything in a pot, set the stove to high, wait until it reaches a boil then lower the heat to simmer, stirring once in a while, adding water if it gets too sticky. With the pork belly, I usually boil it for an hour, but chicken will take much less time.
For the shrimp: First use only 1/2 cup of water, and add all the ingredients except the shrimp. Boil everything until the water reduces by half before you add the shrimp. Toss the shrimp around very quickly to cook them, and turn off the stove as soon as the shrimps are cooked.
Ingredients for the rice:
Cooked rice 1-1/2 cups
Shrimp paste 1-2 teaspoons (depends on how much you can put up with as far as the smell and how salty it is)
Oil from fried garlic 1-2 tablespoons
Method for the rice:
1) Authentic traditional method: I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR THE FOREIGNER WHO’S NOT FAMILIAR WITH SHRIMP PASTE!
Simply smear the shrimp paste into the rice until they’re well blended, using the garlic oil to help smooth the paste out. Done—you’ve got your rice.
2) Recommended method for a non-Thai: Take the rice from #1 and stir fry in a wok until the rice grains are dancing (meaning jumping in the pan or wok).
Crispy fried dried shrimp (Fried the dried shrimp until crispy with medium heat)
Shredded omelette (the method for making this is here)
Julienned sour green mangos or Granny Smith apples (I chopped them up the same way I did with the papaya here)
Lime wedge (This is how to cut the lime)
(Optional) Salted egg
(Optional) Fried Chinese sausage
(Optional) Chilli cut crosswise
(Optional) Boiled fresh shrimp
(Optional) Cut up long beans or green beans
1) You just mix all the accompaniments–as much as you like or as little as you like–together with the rice, and add the sweet meat that you just made on the side.
Taste salty flavorful rice with fresh crunchy sour apple or green mango, add the crispy fried dried shrimp to the bite, then tame it down with the shredded omelette, then take a bite of the sweet pork. The combination of flavors in your mouth is just heavenly. Once you add the salted egg yolk and the sweet Chinese sausage into the mix, it expands the range of the flavors even further. If you like fresh chili, you will appreciate the cucumber that helps calm your tongue down from the poison heat of the chili, too 😉
I tested this mix with my husband. He didn’t object to it as I thought he would. Bingo! I think anyone else shouldn’t have any objection either. He personally doesn’t like shrimp paste and if he can eat this dish, it means that with all the combining, it is still good. No wonder my friend loves this dish and chased me for the recipe!
Here we go: the triple-K recipe, Khao Kluk Kapi from a Thai kitchen.