Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday at Sap's: 3.18.2012

Sunday afternoon I stopped off at Sap's on Westgate on the way home, to strap on the Thai feedbag. I had a hankering for a couple of dishes, Tiger Cry, the Isaan grilled beef dish, and Lard Nah, the classic noodle vendor dish.

Lard Nah (Lat Na, Rat Na, Radna, Ladna) -- S-F7
This is an extremely popular street dish in Thailand, eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s another one of those classic Thai-adopted and changed Chinese noodle dishes that we love so well. The classic way to serve it is with sen yai (wide) rice noodles; and it can come with any meat or protein (here with pork, my favorite). “Rad” in Thai means “to pour” and “na” means “face”; appropriate here since the noodles are cooked first, and then the sauce is quickly made in the wok and poured over the noodles. The sauce, made of black soy, garlic, fermented yellow bean paste, fish sauce, oyster sauce, Maggi, and white pepper, should be
very thick, and the dish is accented with kai lan (Chinese broccoli) slices, which add both a slightly sharp flavor and crisp texture to counterpoint the soft noodles in the rich gravy. Like most Thai noodle dishes, it usually gets customized by the diner, with some ground white pepper, fish sauce, sugar, chiles in vinegar, and a shake of crushed dried red chile. A delicious Thai noodle dish that flies under the radar of many Westerners………..

Seua Rong Hai: Tiger Cry -- S-P48
Tiger Cry is an Isaan dish of sliced, marinated grilled meat accompanied by a spicy nam phrik dipping sauce. It can be eaten as a salad or as an entrée, and is very popular as a snack eaten to accompany drinks. When you see this dish offered by Thai restaurants in the States cooked as a stir-fry, you can be assured that it is not an authentic preparation. In less chile-tolerant America, this old traditional dish has taken on a new meaning as being a “dish so hot that it makes even a tiger cry,” but that is far from the original translation of the dish in Thailand, where seua means “tiger” and rong hai meanscrying”.
Originally, the dish was made using only meat from water buffalo that had gotten too old to continue working the fields. A water buffalo is too valuable as a farm work animal, especially in the rice paddies, to be raised for food; they are only eaten after having lost their ability to contribute. In Thailand it was known as “tiger cry” because the meat of the older water buffalo was so tough and hard to chew that it made even a tiger cry. Although water buffalo meat is still eaten in Thailand, especially in poorer outlying districts, the growth of the Thai beef cattle industry, and the import of beef from Australia, the U.S., and South America has made high quality affordable beef available nationwide. Thankfully the tiger cry cooked at Sap’s is a misnomer; it is remarkably tender, and spicy, but not intolerably so.
Sap’s kitchen uses high quality sirloin steak, marinated simply in garlic, soy, and fish sauce. The beef is grilled to medium rare, briefly rested, and sliced thinly against the grain, yielding delicious and smoky fork-tender steak strips. These slices are wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves and red onion, and dipped into a thin nam phrik sauce of lime, fish sauce, chile, scallion, and cilantro, thickened slightly with nutty ground roasted rice, with just a touch of sugar to give a little balance to the citrus. The sticky rice is eaten with the fingers, shaping it into little footballs, to soak up the meat juices. The flavor of tiger cry is extraordinary and it's one of the best meat dishes on the menu.

Once again, an excellent meal at Sap's.

Mick Vann ©

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