Sunday, May 27, 2007
Malichanh's Khao Pun
One of our all time favorite summer dishes is Khao Pun! Once you have the sauce made, we sometimes keep it for up to a year, this becomes a relatively simple dish. It’s really using whatever cooked meat you have around. Actually, the whole purpose of our garden seems to be for making Khao Pun. It’s why we grow lettuce, mint, basil, cilantro, tomatoes, well, essentially if you can put it into a salad you can put it into Khao Pun. One thing I haven’t quite mastered is the noodle bundles. My mother-in-law once told me that a potential wife, in the Lao tradition, is based on her ability to make well-shaped noodle bundles. Let’s just say I am working on it! I have good days and bad days. Once I get a photo worthy bundle I will post it and try to explain how it is done. It is one of those things done more by technique than anything else.
The sauce recipe below is from my mother-in-law. The rest of the recipe follows.
Makes 1 quart of Khao Pun sauce.
1. Caramelize 1 cup of sugar, and 2 tablespoon of salt together.
2. Then add four cups of water, 3-4 big cloves of garlic peeled and split in half, 3-4 whole red hot peppers (optional).
3. Bring to boil; stir often to dissolve all the caramel.
4. Turn off the heat, and then add 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce.
5. Cool it off sauce a bit then add 1/2 cup of vinegar (half white vinegar and half apple cider vinegar also good).
6. Now taste it. Adjust the flavor to your liking. I like sour so I put 1 cup of vinegar instead of just the half cup, and add more fish sauce. There are many kinds of fish sauce. Some are stronger flavor than others-just adjust to your taste. I also add some brown sugar for the richer flavor.
7. Finally add a large amount of fine shredded carrots- I usually shred two good size carrots. Also, finely mince the garlic. The peppers can just be left in the sauce but give it a stir every once in a while.
8. Store the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. Stir well before serving.
As I said above, Khao Pun is essentially anything you have on hand. I often use cold cooked shrimp, leftover steak, and chicken and/or tofu works really well. If you have all of those things then try that too! As for the greens, I usually have lots of basil and mint on hand, cilantro, lettuce, arugula is very tasty, sprouts are great, avocado, sliced cucumber etc. Well, you get the idea…
For the noodles, use somen and make according to manufactures directions. When cooked, drain and put into ice water to chill. Make the bundles by picking up a small handful and in a figure 8 motion drop into your free hand. Place on a platter. Sounds simple right! Good luck! Once you made some bundles, just bring everything out on patters and let guests help themselves. Have large bowls for them to drop everything into and serve the sauce in a bowl on the side so they can add as much as they want. Have fresh cut limes and extra fish sauce available so they can adjust to taste. Frank's favorite way to eat Khao Pun is to take the letuuce leaves and make wraps out of the various fillings. There is really no wrong way to eat it. Enjoy!