Book: Thai Street Food by David Thompson Theme: Beans Recipe: Crunchy Omelet of Mussels
Week 4 of the Cookbook Challenge! Personally, I feel like this week is a bit of a cheat really. I did use David Thompson’s new Thai Street Food as an inspiration and a guide but I deviated from his recipe so far that it practically was something I made up. Ah well. In fact, I’m even slightly indignant about calling it ‘Crispy Omelet’ as he did because as far as I’m concern egg is an optional ingredient in this dish. I think that’s the main difference between this dish and the Fujian oyster omelet. Well, that, and the fact the mussels, not oysters, are used.
But anyway, I love Thai Street Food. At first I thought, ‘What a silly idea! Aren’t all Thai food sold on the street anyway? What’s the difference?’ Until I had a chance to really flip through the book (I mean the thing weighs a tonne! Who randomly flips through a book that weighs a tonne?) and listened to his explanation of what he meant by street food. ‘Street food in Thailand’, he said, ‘as opposed to home cooking, are those food that are eaten throughout the day as snacks and main meals where a portion is not made for sharing. A single dish food, if you like.’ and that’s when it came to me that I would never find such a book that has all of these recipes. That was when I bought it. And David Thompson signed it. In Thai. Isn’t that cute?
But back to this dish. My mum used to take me around to her favourite hoy tod vendor on the street (of course) near the market where we used to live. It was one of her favourite street vendors (mine was the khao mun gai, chicken rice, lady) She would have hers with extra mussels, no egg and with picked sliced chilli and fish sauce. No Sriracha sauce. I guess it’s one of those childhood street food memory I grew up on. I swear Australia seriously lacks street food culture. You can never be a foodie country without street food culture. No sir-ree. And drinking beer and eating chips outside a pub on a Summer day does not count.
So you might be wondering how the hell is this dish conforming to the theme ‘beans’ – to me this dish is all about the batter and the bean sprouts! Personally, I have made it successfully without mussels (i.e. when I ran out of mussels) but I cannot make this dish without bean sprouts.
First of all, a tip on how to keep beansprouts: place them in a container and fill it with clean water. Change this water every day and you’ll have beansprouts that stay fresh for at least a week (usually it deteriorates when you forget to change the water).
You should not attempt to make more than one serving at a time. And the iron cast pan is really not negotiable. Every kitchen should have one. Don’t buy the expensive one from homeware store. Buy one from a camping store instead.
Preparing the mussels
- 1/2 kg of mussels (for 2 people)
David Thompson is right in saying that to prepare this dish successfully, you must shell the mussels raw. An impossible task for me as far as I’m concerned. So I cleaned the mussels, place them in a snug saucepan and put them on high heat for 5 minutes. No more. I then tipped them out straight away and shelled them while hot to prevent further cooking. I then put them in the fridge to cool down. It may not be raw when it goes on the batter but it’s the next best thing.
Preparing the batter
I thoroughly cheated here and used a Thai-style premixed batter (i.e. the Knorr’s batter mix) so you can do that if you’d like. The premixed batter would already be flavoured so you wouldn’t need to anything else. David Thompson reckoned mung bean flour which I couldn’t find in a short notice (found it last night, isn’t it ironic). Again, this is for 2 people.
- 1/2 cup of mung bean flour (I think other very fine flour such as tapioca will be fine)
- 4 tbsp of rice flour
- a pinch of salt
Add about 1/2 – 1 cup of water to the batter and whisk to make crepe batter consistency.
Everything else (per serving)
This is per serving. I know it’s confusing because the previous ingredients were given for two but it’s easier this way.
- 2 cup of beansprouts
- 2 tbsp of chopped spring onion
- 1/2 tsp of chopped garlic
- a sprinkling of fish sauce
- a pinch of sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp of oil
Okay, first of all, let me make this clear: this is not diet food*. Do not skimp on the oil. Heat an iron cast frying pan (about 20cm) – I use my camping frying pan. It’s perfect. Add the oil to the heated frying pan and wait until it smokes.
Add about 1/3 cup of the batter – spread it a bit into thin pancake (so they are crispy) add a handful of mussels and sprinkle a few pinches of chopped spring onions.
Wait for a few minutes until the edges become golden brown and crispy. Use a spatula to cut the pancake up into 2 – 3 pieces. Flip each piece over and push them to one side. Add the beansprouts, garlic and the rest of the spring onion to cook on an empty space. Crack an egg and scrambled between the pieces of batter. Keep stirring the beansprouts until they soften. Sprinkle a bit of fish sauce and sugar on top of the pieces of batter.
Once the egg is cooked and the beansprouts have softened, take the dish off heat and sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with Sriracha (pronounced ‘see-ra-cha’) sauce, which is a type of Thai chilli sauce (note: not the same as the Vietnamese sriracha sauce, nor as the Thai sweet chilli sauce) Not bad. For something so full of oil!
Thai Street Food, David Thompson, Published 26 October 2009 by Penguine Books Australia
* Josh asked ‘is anything you make ever diet?