Take a tip from Thai street vendors and have all your ingredients lined up next to the stove so you can work quickly and continue to move the ingredients around in the wok nonstop. Unsalted peanuts would make a crunchy topper to this dish for added texture.
8 oz pork loin cutlets, trimmed and cut into ½-inch-wide strips
2 cups chopped baby bok choy
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions, divided
1 cup fresh bean sprouts, divided
1 tbsp dried shrimp, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into quarters
In a large bowl, combine noodles with enough very hot tap water to cover. Soak until pliable, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a small cup, combine tamarind, fish sauce, sugar and 1 tbsp hot water and stir to dissolve; set aside near the stove.
In a wok or large sauté pan on medium-high, heat oil. Add garlic and chile pepper and stir-fry until fragrant, 10 seconds. Add pork and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add bok choy and bell pepper and stir-fry until tender, 2 minutes.
Push meat and vegetables to the side of the wok. Add eggs and stir-fry until just cooked, 1 minute.
Add noodles and fish sauce mixture to the wok and stir-fry everything together until the noodles sear in places and soften a little, 1 to 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup onions, ½ cup bean sprouts and dried shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute. Divide among bowls and top with remaining ¼ cup onions, ½ cup bean sprouts and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Fried rice in Thailand is made with cold leftover white jasmine rice, but I prefer the flavor and fiber of short-grain brown rice. The combination of sweet, fresh pineapple, salty fish sauce and spicy chile sauce is typical of Thai dishes.
All over Thailand, you’ll see cooks in makeshift sidewalk food carts working huge mortars and pestles, pounding together the ingredients for this spicy, refreshing salad. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, chop and smash the chiles and garlic with the side of a chef’s knife before mixing them with the remaining dressing ingredients. Traditionally, the papaya is cut into julienne threads with a large, sharp knife, but I prefer the safety of a nifty julienne peeler.
Fish cakes in Thailand are often augmented with tapioca flour to make them sturdier; I opt for healthy, protein-rich quinoa instead. These make a great appetizer or can be served as a main course with noodles or rice. When preparing your quinoa for this recipe, use a ratio of 1 cup quinoa to 12/3 cups water – this ensures your fish cakes don’t get soggy. Do try the dipping sauce – just a little gives the fish cakes a sweet-tangy bite.
I first had this mildly spicy curry-smeared fish in the northern capital of Chiang Mai steamed in ingeniously folded banana leaf packets that also served as a takeaway container. The banana leaf is 100% natural and compostable and infuses the fish with a subtle herby flavor. Look for banana leaf at Asian and Latino markets in the freezer section, or wrap the fish in Swiss chard leaves instead.
The pork and veggies in our quick stir-fry bounce around your taste buds, thanks to a sauce with salty soy, tangy vinegar, spicy ginger and sweet orange juice, all ringing in at less than 350 calories per serving!