Spicy & Sour Mee Sua

It’s cheap and it very easy to cook, but making a bowl of very flavourful mee sua can prove a challenge even to experienced cooks. Wh? Because meed sua is sloppy and tasteless. Not only that, it seems to be able to dilute the taste of whatever broth you place the mee sua in. Go with sour and spicy.

You may have a can of these lying around. I happen to have one this morning, so I decided to make some tasty mee sua out of it. It’s so simple and delicious, it can make you cry.

One can of soup with one can of water. Bring to a boil, then put in the mee sua. Simmer till the strands separate, then turn off the heat (mee sua burns easily in thick broth) and let it “incubate” for 5 minutes.

There you have it, a tasty breakfast treat.

Phad Thai

Sometimes eaten as lunch and sometimes as a snack, phad Thai is probably the most well-known dish in Thailand after tom yam goong. This dish looks deceptively simple, but believe me, it isn’t easy to do well. Newbies are very likely to fail. Well, this is my first attempt at phad Thai goong sot. Let’s see how it works out and what are some of the lessons learned.

Garlic and shallots. The standard for most stir-fry dishes. Just dice them up nicely.

Rice stick noodles. Kway teow sen lek. This is the Vietnamese version. Soak it for about an hour. Don’t expect it to turn soft as bee hoon.

The bulk of the other ingredients are here. I have tau kwa or pressed tofu cut into small cubes, some preserved radish, prawns, eggs, bean sprouts, chives, ground peanuts.

Heat up the wok, fry the shallots and garlic till they begin to brown.

Add the tofu and radish first. Stir fry for a few minutes, then add the prawns, followed by the noodles. To the noodles, I would add 2 tablespoons of tamarind juice and the same amount of sugar dissolved in 1 cup of water. Adding some oil at the side, I would cook the eggs, then mix them with the rest of the noodles.

Finally, ban sprouts and chives. Toss everything nicely around until the vegetables are cooked.

And here’s my phad Thai goong sot. Do try this at home. Your kids may like it.

Chan Joon Yee is the author of Spellbound in Chiangmai, a collection of short stories based on sheltered and simple Singaporeans’ misadventures in the Land of Smiles.

Bitter Sweet Gourd

Most people don’t mind a little bitter gourd in their diet. This fruit is believed to lower blood sugar levels and has a “cooling” effect on the body. However, most people merely tolerate bitter gourd and don’t really enjoy the bitter taste. Thus, many cooks have come up with various ways to reduce the bitterness of this fruit.

One of the most popular methods is to salt the sliced bitter gourd and then drain the liquid that is expressed. Don’t do that! I’ve tried it before. Not only does the bitterness remain, the bitter gourd slices will taste too salty even if you rinse them with water after salting.

Here’s a much better method. First, you’d slice the bitter gourd and set it aside. There’s no need to salt. Then, fry the bitter gourd slices in a good amount of oil for a few minutes. After that, pour some water into the pan, bring it to a boil and drain off the excess water. This will get rid of the bitterest bit.

My seasoning is very simple. Some bean paste, some XO sauce and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Mix the seasoning with the fried and boiled bitter gourd slices and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add some prawns, simmer for another 5 minutes and the dish is done.

The bitter gourd tastes sweet with just a hint of bitterness. It’s so tasty that even the kids would love it. Do try this at home.