The Thais show genius and imagination when combining flavours. Here is a simple dish that pairs minced beef with bits of dried shrimp to make a typically delectable dish. The flavours blend perfectly.
You can find dried shrimp at Chinese or Asian grocers. I like to serve this with lettuce for a light and refreshing starter. Each diner serves him or herself with a portion of the beef inside the lettuce, sprinkled with mint and basil leaves. It is delicious ‘finger food’, and best eaten that way.
Combine the minced beef with the rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornflour. Mix and marinate for about 20 minutes.
Soak the dried shrimp in warm water for 15 minutes until soft. Drain and finely chop them.
Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. Then drain them and squeeze out the excess liquid. Remove and discard the stems and finely slice the caps.
Separate the lettuce leaves, wash them and dry in a salad spinner. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the groundnut oil, and when it is slightly smoking, add the onions, garlic and shallots and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the beef, shrimp and mushrooms and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Now add the chillies, fish sauce, sugar, coriander and pepper. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn onto a warm platter. Chop the mint and basil leaves and strew over the dish, and arrange the lettuce on a separate platter. Serve at once.
© 2001 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.