Having quite recently professed my preference of rice to noodles, is it hypocritical that I’ve had two posts in a row now that sing the praises of Thai noodle dishes? Nah, if you consider how many 100′s of other noodles there are out there in the Thai food world, me liking just two is no big deal. At least, that’s what I think.
Today’s tasty Thai dish is called Phat See Ew. Now, with a name like that, I can already see and hear a bunch of you Americans cringing – “if the name says eeew in it, then why in the world would I want to eat it?!” Contrary to what its title may imply, this is actually quite popular lunch fare here in Thailand, and for good reason. Not too fancy, totally customizable* as far as heat and overall flavor go, and cheap to buy on the street. It’s just plain good.
Seriously, how can you see that and not start drooling??
Now, I know you are probably curious about the name Phat See Ew, and how it could ever mean anything delicious, so let me explain. Phat means to stir-fry, and see-ew is a Southern Chinese word for soy sauce. Little did I know before relocating to Asia, and studying a module on Thai cooking as well, there are actually several different kinds of soy sauce! In Thai cooking, however, there are two basics: light or thin soy sauce (think the hourglass shaped bottle of Kikkoman on the table at your local Chinese buffet), and dark or thick soy sauce. This particular meal, when made traditionally, uses the latter.
Phat See Ew’s distinct flavor comes mostly from the dark soy that is used in making its sauce. Differing not only in thickness and color, dark soy sauce is also more pungent than light soy sauce. Dark or black soy has a more molasses-like flavor and moves just about as slow. As usual, there are some who will change it up to their liking by using light soy – as its flavor is a bit less imposing – but, I seem to think it’s best made the traditional way.
When you think of Phat See Ew, imagine tender wide noodles, perfectly wilted, yet slightly crunchy broccoli and stems, thin slices of pork (or, my favorite, tofu!) all tossed together in a bit of slightly sweet and salty sauce. Mmmmm.
Just look at this.
Instead of trying to post the recipe here, I’ve spent a bit of time online looking around for the best (and most authentic, not Americanized) version to share with you. I’ve found two that I believe are acceptable, just like what I would get at the noodle shop down the road. They are both quite similar, though one chooses to marinate the meat beforehand (not necessary, but delightful just the same).
- The first, click here, features beautiful step-by-step photos to help you along in the process of making this meal for yourself.
- The second, click me!, is a bit simpler and offers some suggestions on acceptable noodle & vegetable substitutions in the event that you don’t have something on the ingredient list.
The beauty of this particular Thai meal is that it doesn’t require much in the way of exotic Asian ingredients – you should be able to find everything you need in the Asian aisle of your local grocery store (yes, Kroger and WalMart should have it all!).
Now, go forth and make yourself a big bowl of Phat See Ew!
* As in most Thai restaurants and food stalls, there are a variety of seasonings provided at each table for use in adjusting the flavor of your meal. There are 4 basic flavors associated with Thai food, and a balance is sought between all 4 in much of Thai cuisine – hot: dried/ground chili flakes, sweet: sugar, salty: fish sauce, and sour: vinegar (sometimes w/sliced peppers). I usually add a slight sprinkle of sugar, chili, and a pickled pepper or two to my plate, but it’s all up to you!