Making Pad Baigapoa ..a love affair!

For those of you who have become regular readers of my weekly blogging welcome back to another pulse pounding episode! Not to infer by ‘pulse pounding’ I mean this time out Wit is writing about the Thai bar girl scene in Thailand since for sure that’s something I know nothing about 😉

However with any luck, as the title of this weeks missive implies, it’s my plan to serve up a hot and spicy helping of blog! Those of you who read my stuff regualrly may have noticed a particular reference or two pop up on occasion, namely my addictions to American coffee, listening to my huge collection of pleing Thai เพลงไทย and most notably my culinary favorite that fiery hot stir fried beef and basil Thai creation otherwise known as pad baigapoa neua ผัดใบกะเพราเนึ้อ

It’s my Holy Grail in DC to find a Thai resturant that serves pad baigapoa hot enough with the suicidual spicy kick I like where I don’t have to ask the waiter to bring me a puen prik พวงพริก to heap on enough chillies. Sure I could always send it back to the kitchen but really to be honest I feel enough kreeng jai เกรงใจ that I don’t want to bother the cook with my farang death wishes haha.

However recently I think I may have finally found my match! A few weeks ago I stopped in to check out a fairly new Thai resturant in my neighborhood only about 5 minutes walk from home. I was looking to treat myself to some nice Thai cooking after a frustrating day shopping at the local monster mall dealing with mass human insanity, which I can’t stand, then to top it all having to walk away without buying what I went there to get in the first place! So I decided to seek some solace in some good Thai grub and stopped into this new place I had seen to check it out as it is literally on my way home.

For the middle of the afternoon it was slow with hardly any customers but the service was quick and friendly. After settling in at my table I managed to stumble through my usual request of pom yaak pad grapao neua phet mahk, pom chawp Thai phet, mai chawp farang phet, ok? ผมอยากผัดใบกะเพราเนึ้อเผ็ดมาก ผมชอบไทยเผ็ด ไม่ชอบฝรั่งเผ็ดใหม? which I hope serves two purposes, one I get to practice my Thai and two if I said it correctly then they know I meant business and I’m wanting the real deal and not pussyfooting around with ‘watered down’ spicy Thai just because I was born on the wrong side of the planet from Thailand. 😉

My genuinely friendly waiter (unfortunately something rare in most resturants I’ve been to) after bringing me a nice cool glass of Thai tea smiled and left with my order probably quite bemused at my poor mans Thai. But before I even had a chance to dig into my homework which I always carry with me he was coming back with my order! The pad baigapoa looked so good and smelled delicious I could only hope he understood my request to make it hot enough to stunt growth but I was impressed with the service and everything so far. I asked him how come it was so fast and he said with that famous Thai smile “No problem sir, we have microwave!” Ye Gods! A Thai resturant with great (looking) food, service and a Thai waiter with my same cheeky sense of humor? That’s right up my alley! If the food was as hot as I like it I knew I would be in love. 🙂

With a build up of expectations like that I was fearful to take my first bite no matter how good it looked or smelled. If my gapoa was not hot enough or just didn’t taste good then it would be a big disappointment. Luckily I had nothing to fear, I will admit my dish was not as hot as I make it at home but hands down it was the closest to it yet. By the time I finished my plate I was sweating like I had run a short marathon and my nose was sniffling like I either had a bad cold or I had sat through watching ‘ET: The Extraterrestrial’ again, the ending when ET goes home always chokes me up ;), but I am here to tell you every sniffle was delicious!

Verdict in with handsome service like I experienced and food as good as I could possibly hope for plus only 5 minutes away from home on foot I knew I would be back to this place again but I digress I am getting off the point. I didn’t plan to make this blog a resturant review column but to talk about my own ‘resturant’ at home (I could call it ‘The Wit’s End’ catchy no?) At home I can get my grapao as hot as I like any time I like and without a reservation or even a dress code! I can show up in just my calvins if I want but trust me this is a family blog so rest assured even at Wit’s End and especially when cooking I am always tastefully attired, jing jing!

I really love to cook Thai food at home and it’s one thing that most people know about me and, not to sound egotistical, love about me especially when I’m making with the leftovers and samples of my cooking. I’ve even taken on the challenge before to cook Thai food for everyone at work one day but that’s a blog for another time. So how did I get to know my way around my own Thai kitchen? We’ll I’d love to say I was taught everything at the knee of a expert Thai mom but I don’t have one so there was the next best thing, Borders Bookstore!

Last year I found this great and inexpensive cookbook that has become my bible of simple Thai cooking called the Thai Cuisine Quick and Easy Lemongrass Cookbook’ by Panurat Polanditmontri and Judy Lew and published by Japan Publications (ISBN 4-88996-094-5.) I figure if theres someone actually Thai in the kitchen and not Martha Stewart then it’s really a good thing! The book is great because it has easy to read instructions with pictures (always a BIG help for me) plus the book has bonus cool points since the names of each dish inside is in both English and Thai. So I’d like to share with you my favorite recipe from the book for making pad baigapoa at home but shhh! This is just between you and me ‘k? I like my resputation with some folks as some sort of wiz in the kitchen with Thai food lol.

Spicy Basil Beef (Pad Baigapoa)

Ingredients: 4 Servings

2 Tablespoons Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. (225 g) sliced tender beef
1 teaspoon chopped Thai chillies, chopped
1/4 cup sliced onions
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 Tablespoon Oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 Teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Then there are only two steps in making it

1. Heat pan or wok; add oil, garlic and chillies. Add beef and stirfry 1 minute

2. Add onions and basil. Cook 1/2 minute adding oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar and white pepper. Top with green onions (optional) and cilantro.

Easy right? Well follow along as me and my good companion Toh who came along and brought his digital camera help whip up some spicy, tasty pad baigapoa just for you guys in this blog, unfortunately there aren’t any left overs 🙁

Sorry na. At least with Tohs camera for a change in my blogs you can see what you missed! Hmm am I being cruel or just a bad tease?

Our first step was to go shopping to get what we needed for the ingredients that I didn’t already have at home. Unlike the monster mall I am cool with this because Maryland which borders DC is littered with small mom and pop asian stores kinda like the ones I used to go to as a kid for .25 cokes and pop rocks candy..remember those? You have to know what store to go to for what items though.

For the best fish and seafood that is also very cheap you go to the Korean store Lott Plaza in Glenmont Maryland. For the best meats you go to the Korean supermarket Han Ahm Reum a few miles down the road. For the best produce hands down it’s the Cambodian store Asian Market in the Safeway strip mall over in Rockville Maryland. Today we went to Thai market the Thai store in Silver Spring Maryland. It’s the easiest to get to by Metro from DC and usually has a good selection of everything we’d need and well, this is Thai-blogs isn’t it?

Now any other time I came to the Thai market they had plenty of basil on hand sold in small bunches wrapped in plastic baggies but the one time I specifically needed it they were almost out except for two bags left that looked like they were rotted! Oh man!!!! I’m thinking it’s becoming a tradition that whenever I plan a special occasion to cook some near disaster happens the main ingredient we needed to get for the gapoa was the basil leaves. You have to have that since the name ‘pad baigapoa’ in Thai means stir fried basil leaves!

What could we do? There was nowhere else near by that we could buy fresh basil! The only thing we could try was buy both bags and see if together we could pull enough good leaves off to make the gapoa. They even looked so bad the lady at the register wouldn’t let us pay for them but gave them to us for free. At least that was something!

No they don’t have .25 cokes or pop rocks candy but you can get plenty of red bull and Thai VCD’s 🙂

A kinda au natural ‘before’ picture. I like to use purple onions because they are more colorful and I will use red bell peppers and green chillies and green bell pepper with red chillies but I only had red and red peppers this time but those sad looking basil leaves, oh well!

Speaking of chillies are these hot enough for you? How many do you think we put in? Seriously? I usually make pad gapoa for myself with all 10 of these bad boys but it’s hell if I drink coffee the next day lol. Since Toh was eating this too we only made it with 5 chillies. I sliced them up like I had seen done in another resturant before adding them with the garlic to the hot oil

We chopped up the garlic first then smashed them in my Krok ครก and Sak สาก (otherwise called a mortar and pestle in English) bruising herbs and roots this way often brings out a different flavor from them rather than just cutting.)

Toh sliced up the beef to get it ready to go in next….watch the fingers!

This is proof that I should not try action poses in pictures

Cooking the meat with the chillies and garlic…hmm starting to smell good!

Toh and I took turns adding the fish sauce, oyster sauce, and other ingredients….not too many cooks in the kitchen I hope!

Look at the beautiful rich colors with the chillies, basil and onion plus the golden mountain sauce added to the beef…too pretty to eat?

Finished product..ta-dah! Add some cooked rice and Thai tea and you have an awesome meal!

Wow spicy, tasty and good I don’t know about Toh but I am getting full, next time your in DC stop by and pull up a chair to join us

Well that’s it for now campers it’s been, literally, an all night party to get this blog posted and look, oh I’m supposed to get up in 4 minutes..grrrrreat. Maybe I can call in ‘dead’ for work today…tune in next time.

ไชโย !


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