Thai chiles, on their way to becoming Sap's sriracha sauce.....
I got a call from Sap Apisaksiri the other day, wanting to know if I knew of a good local source for sauce bottles. I touched base with J.P. Hayes, of Sgt. Peppers and Tears of Joy hot sauce fame, and got back to Sap with a source. While on the phone, Sap told me that I needed to drop by to sample some steaks he had bathing in his Tiger Cry marinade which he had come up with. We have been having an ongoing discussion about Thai chiles, and I had turned Sap on to some Thai chiles I had obtained from a seed source I have in Africa, specifically an authentic prik kee nuu, a Thai golden, and a Thai orange. The prik kee nuu is a little tiny chile whose name translates to “mouse dropping” or “mouse shit” chile, based on the size of the chile and its appearance when it is dried. The golden chile is shaped like a conventional Thai chile, except that it ripens to a chrome yellow. The orange chile gets a little larger and wider, ripening to a deep orange hue. I give chile seeds and plants to Sap, and then he provides the seed harvest to Chris Winslow at It’s About Thyme Nursery (see link), who is able to sow them and sell plants to select customers the following season, and also provide Sap with baby chile plants for his gardens. Those chiles end up in the dishes at Sap’s restaurants, and we all benefit.
All of this relates to my quest for more of the excellent yellow chile sriracha sauces I have tasted in the past. Sap made one of those sauces, and the other one I stumbled across on the shelf at the Asian market. I am of the school of thought that a genuine Thai sriracha sauce, made in Thailand from red, ripe Thai chiles, is far superior to the unrefined, Vietnamese Rooster Brand sauce, made in Southern California from red jalapeños. Give me a bottle of genuine Thai Sriraja Panich or Shark Brand any day (see my previous article, linked below). But even those pale in comparison to the exquisite flavor of a golden hued Thai sriracha sauce made from yellow Thai chilies. The flavor is incredible. It’s a shame the stuff is so hard to find, and maybe with some luck, Sap will be turning me on to another bottle in the near future. I hope he ends up bottling it commercially.
Prime ribeye, tiger cry style, and pork loin gai yang
My UT work buddy, Shane, and I dropped by the Sap’s Fine Thai Cuisine location at the southwest corner of Burnet Rd. and 2222 (or Northland Dr., or Allandale Road, or Koenig Lane, or whatever other name it goes by), to see what all this tiger cry hubbub was about, with these steaks that Sap had mentioned. We sat down and perused the menus, and then Sap popped by to let me know he was bringing a little steak for us to taste. He came back a little later with a platter holding a pile of Prime ribeye slices, which had been marinated for two days in tiger cry marinade. On the other side of the platter were slices of pork loin, which had been marinated in a gai yang marinade (gai yang is the traditional Northern Thai grilled chicken marinade). The two dipping sauces in the middle were tiger cry (roasted rice powder, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaf, fish sauce, soy, etc.) and Sap’s Mom’s quick dipping sauce of chopped Thai chiles with Maggi sauce and a little fish sauce.
The two meats just melted in your mouth, especially that prime ribeye. Soooo tender. The gai yang pork was perhaps even better than gai yang chicken, which I am a huge fan of. Both sauces were excellent, and although I really love tiger cry, his Mom’s Maggi-based quick sauce with fresh chiles may have been my favorite, especially on the ribeye. On the side was a bowl full of roasted yellow new potatoes and mushrooms, to go with the steak. They were perfectly caramelized, and absolutely delicious.
Caramelized roasted spuds and mushrooms
We also had an order of S-F11, Guay Teaw Kua Moo, with pork and sen yai (wide) noodles. For all of you pad thai junkies that are afraid to order anything else on a Thai restaurant menu, I strongly urge you to get adventurous and branch out. It comes with a side salad and a great dressing, but the noodles are cooked with bean sprouts, beaten egg, fried garlic, pickled radish sprouts, and a soy based sauce. Fantastic, and one of my favorite noodle dishes. We split a bowl of Sap’s incredible Tom Kha soup, S-P11, with chicken. It is rich, thickened from coconut cream, and aromatic with galangal and makroot, spicy from the chiles, with just a kiss of tart from lime. This is an amazing version of tom kha.
Tom kha soup
We also split a bowl of Gaeng Prik with chicken. Gaeng prik is a thinner-style, soupy curry from Southern Thailand, spicy as hell, and cooked with lots of turmeric and no coconut milk. It’s perfect with some nutty brown jasmine rice. We had to waddle out of there, stuffed to the gills. But the pain from gluttony was worth every single bite. Damn fine meal!
Gaeng prik gai
Mick Vann ©