The other day I was just finishing my lunch when a plate of chicken and basil atop a bed of rice was carried by. “What’s that?” I asked excitedly in Thai, because it looked so delicious. I wrote down the name so I could order it as soon as I had the chance.
Let me introduce you to Pad Grapow Gai: minced chicken stir fried with holy basil. It is a nice, non-spicy dish with tender little pieces of chicken and the fresh flavor of basil.
We went into the actual town of Bang Saphan Yai, about a 6 kilometer motor-bike ride from where we are staying, for some lunch. I’m really glad I learned how to order food in Thai, because the place we went had no menus.
I saw chicken and holy basil in the open kitchen, so I ordered Grapow Gai, and it was delicious! I spiced it up with my new favorite condiment: sliced fresh chiles in fish sauce. This concoction is magical, adding a salty heat to anything you sprinkle it on. With the basil, chicken, and rice, I was almost completely satisfied with my meal.
I say almost, because it has gotten to the point where no meal is complete without Som Tham. Look at the dried shrimp in this one!
(hint: they’re the peachy-pink colored things, and the one towards the lower right corner has black eyes!)
When I cooked with dried shrimp at home, I couldn’t stand them. They were tough and just didn’t taste like anything I wanted in my food. These however, taste fresh plus they are nice and tender. I’m definitely a fan of dried shrimp now!