We’re talking about the capital of Thailand, home of Pad Thai and other noodle dishes. It’s capital, Bangkok, also known as Krung Thep, is little more than 13 degrees north of the equator. It’s always summer there. Cools down to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Cooks there spend lots more of their kitchen time selecting menus, chopping vegetables, and soaking noodles so they’ll cook faster. They spend only a few minutes actually cooking. (You may want to clip and save this column for when our hot weather arrives.)
The other night I made Bangkok Noodles. The thread-thin noodles, soaked for 15 minutes in very hot water and then drained, cook in 2 to 5 minutes. You can prepare the rest of the ingredients ahead, pull them from your refrigerator just before supper time, and very quickly have your main dish ready for the eager forks awaiting the meal.
1 ½ cups coconut milk
½ cup ground meat
½ cup small shrimp or large shrimp cooked, shelled and cut in pieces
Red curry paste to taste
In a quali or heavy saucepan bring the coconut milk to a boil. Stir in the ground meat. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is done. (At this point you may be tempted to add salt. Don’t do it Add red curry paste, stirring and tasting until the degree of spiciness pleases your taste buds. There will have been salt enough in the red curry paste to salt the whole dish.
Stir in the shrimp. Cook just long enough for the shrimp to be heated through, 2 to 5 minutes. Pour into a serving dish and store in your oven with the heat set at Warm.
½ cup coconut oil or olive oil
1 red onion halved and cut into strips
1 pound rice vermicelli, a.k.a. cellophane noodles, soaked in hot water 15 minutes then drained and reserved
8 lettuce leaves washed, dried and arranged on a platter
2 eggs well beaten, cooked as an omelette, and reserved
2 limes microwaved 1 or 2 minutes and then cut in wedges
Chilly sauce or red hot pepper flakes
Bean sprouts, optional
Heat the oil in a wok or large, deep saucepan. Stir-cook onion. Adde the bean sprouts if using.
Add the vermicelli. Toss as the threadlike noodles as they cook for 5 minutes. Mound them on the lettuce. Arrange the lime wedges around the edges. Decorate with omelette strips. Diners squeeze lime juice on their portions. This dish makes a very pretty presentation, and the blandness of the cool lettuce leaves provides a pleasant counterpoint to the spicy noodle and meat dish.