Made the weekly pilgrimage to Sap's Fine Thai Cuisine on Sunday for another round of excellent Thai food. We started with the Green Bean and Chicken Salad. Yum Tua Kieow: a variation of a famous Thai salad which uses a vegetable called winged beans (tua puu, or Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), a tropical green bean pod with four winged edges that tastes like a sweet, chewy green bean. Since winged beans are difficult to locate on a consistent basis, green beans or long beans are often substituted here in the States. Wing beans are sliced very thinly, while green beans or long beans are lightly blanched and cut into bite-sized pieces. The plate always has thin slices of hard-boiled egg arranged to one side, and is usually made with shrimp or shredded chicken meat tossed with the beans. The shrimp or chicken is lightly simmered with lemongrass, lime, and honey, while the wonderfully balanced dressing is made from tamarind, palm sugar, roasted shredded coconut meat, fish sauce, peanuts, and a bit of roasted chile paste. The dish is garnished with coconut cream, fried shallot, toasted coconut, and whole fried red chiles. If you have never had this dish, it should definitely be on your short list of Thai salads to eat.
Next came Sap's Special Masaman Curry with Beef. Masaman curry is an Indo-Malay influenced Southern Thai Muslim dish that uses the Thai version of curry powder as a main spice component (coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, white cardamom, bay, star anise, etc.) and what makes it UN-Indian, is the addition of tamarind to calm the spices, and add a bit of tart fruitiness, and depth, and the addition of fish sauce. The coconut milk mellows out the heat, as do the peanuts, potatoes, and onion. What makes it special is that it's got chunks of fall-apart slow-braised beef in it instead of sliced beef. Tender, unctuous, and delicious.
The coup de grace was S-P29, Stir Fried Eggplant with Fermented Bean Paste Sauce. I always add ground pork, which only makes it better. The sauce is perfectly balanced with the saltiness of the beans and fish sauce, the heat of the jalapeños and chile paste, sweet kick of the palm sugar, with herbs, and basil. I love this dish...as colorful as it is tasty.
We finished off with Mango and Sticky Rice, the consummate Thai dessert. Pity that we can't get Thai mangoes here in the States (not that Sap's ripe Mexican mangoes were a negative in any way!). Thai mangoes are so incredibly aromatic and sweet,with no hint of fiber. Anyway, this is warm sticky rice with some sugar to sweeten it up, dressed with coconut cream, served with slices of ripe mango. Superb, as always! Love this restaurant!
Mick Vann ©