Dropped by Sap's Fine Thai Cuisine yesterday for a late afternoon repast and Sap brought by a small bowl of the staff meal they were making in the back: Gaeng Daeng Kai, or as it is referred to by most Thais, Gaeng Kai: chicken pieces with red curry and coconut milk and bamboo shoots. These bamboo shoots are fresh, packed in water. They look like large pointy domes before they are vertically sectioned, and the texture is tender, the taste sweet and earthy. Working there must certainly have it's benefits if you get to eat like that every day. Delicious.
Yum Ahp-pel Kiew: Green Apple Salad: S--P6
Apples, green apples, and Asian pears are found in Thailand and are very popular; they are often shipped down the Mekong from Southern China, or brought in by air or boat from points north. Low-chill apples are being experimented with as a crop in the northern mountainous areas of Thailand, but generally apples are an imported fruit. Go along the Mekong River not too far outside Chiang Saen, near the Golden Triangle, and there is a huge riverside market of almost nothing but cases of apples from China...for a quarter mile or so, apples. The sweet tart flavor of green apples is somewhat similar to the taste of Thailand’s fantastic green mangoes; both have crisp, juicy flesh with a balance of sweetness and tartness, but the green mango benefits from having a definite mango taste component. Typical Thai green mangoes (ma-muang is mango) that are commonly eaten in salad-like preparations are: keow savoey: oblong dark green fruit with white flesh, the ripe fruit and flesh are pale white, with a sweet and juicy taste; rat, rad, rhino, (“rhinoceros”): slightly more sour, with a tantalizing hint of sweetness; falan (“thunder”): not as sweet, commonly eaten with nam pla wan: a savory chile dip prepared by blending roasted chiles, palm sugar, and fish sauce heated to a caramel-like consistency; lin ngo hou (“Cobra Tongue”) a sharper, almost bitter taste balanced with sweetness. Any of these fruits are also commonly eaten out-of-hand as a snack with prik kab kleua, a dry sea salt and palm sugar dip seasoned with crushed fire-roasted chile.
Legend suggests that King Chulalangkorn invented apple and dried shrimp salad while sailing to Europe aboard his yacht Maha Chakri in 1897; there were apples onboard but no green mangoes. Since green mangoes are largely unavailable in the produce markets of the Continental United States, green apples make the ideal substitute. The version served at Sap’s is complex in flavor, yet deceptively simple. Thin slices of fresh green apple are tossed with large dices of ripe tomato, chopped roasted peanut, and a few fried dried shrimp. The dressing is superb: hints of fish sauce, subtle overtones of palm sugar and the balance of lime, a subtle touch of garlic, the kiss of smoky chile, all creating an exciting, and cool taste with a crisp texture which matches perfectly with the more complex flavors of the typical Thai meal.
Ordered with was Kai Jaew Moo – S-P35
It's an omelet with ground pork and cilantro, served with a sauce of fish sauce, garlic, and Thai chiles. Might sound pedestrian, but it makes an ideal meal companion to the rest of the group.
The star of the show was Nuer Ob (Nuea Ohp), S -- P46
"Ohp" in Thai means baked or perfumed, both of which apply in this case. Technically the beef isn't baked, but it would sit in a pot on the edge of the cooking fire all day, very slowly braising and getting spoon tender. The perfumed part refers to the aroma of the dish, with a dark rich sauce of onion, tomato, black pepper, palm sugar, soy, and fish sauce, served with a sweet-sour green chile and garlic sauce on the side.Succulent, rich, and decadent. Another great meal at Sap's.......