Monday, October 8, 2012

Sap's Po Tak, with Grouper 10.07.2012

I dropped into Sap’s on the way home Sunday and bumped into old pals Rick and Karla Allen (and brood), and got to yammering with them about restaurants in town, and what makes the good ones good, and where did I like to eat for certain items, and where to get good deals on restaurant equipment, and Sap hisownself happened to wander by. He said he was running to the store real quick, and to hold off on ordering, that he was going to cook something for he and I to eat. I naturally agreed and continued to chat with the Allen’s.

After heated restaurant chatter, Sap emerged from the kitchen with a huge steaming bowl of Po Tak Garupa. Po tak is a soup that’s on the Sap’s menu (S-P43, made with
tilapia fillet, scallops, shrimp, squid, and mussels), and a soup I love to eat when in Thailand. Po tak means “fish trap” or “fisherman's trap”; garoupa means grouper. The name refers to a soup that is often made onboard fishing boats or docks by the crew, incorporating a mix of whatever seafood that had been caught in the nets or traps. It is a hot and spicy chicken stock-based broth flavored with lime, fish sauce, Thai green chile, shallot, galangal, lemongrass, makroot (lime leaf), and roasted chile paste or fried red chiles. It gets some cilantro and Thai basil, and in this case, chunks of some fresh grouper filet from Central Market, located directly to the east across Westgate. Straw mushrooms and slices of fresh mushrooms round out the umami. The soup was aromatic and rich, with a delicious burst of tang and spice (especially when you bite into one of those searing but tasty red chiles floating on the top).

The other dish Sap made was something that he used to cook for himself and his college roommates back in the day, when he was going to UT to get his engineering degree. It is a delicious stir-fry of jalapeño sausage, bits of minced bacon, garlic, leeks, Thai chiles and Serrano chiles, gaprao Thai basil, Chinese oyster sauce, and Thai fish sauce, all stir fried in bacon fat. I’ve eaten this dish once before, and it is addictively good; all of the elements really fit well together. The sweetness of the leeks is perfect with the richness and smokiness of the bacon; the spiciness and richness of the sausage goes great with the two kinds of chiles. It is a fantastic dish loaded with big taste.

Again, my gushing compliments to the chef, in this case, Sap hisownself. A really good meal.

Mick Vann ©

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