YAM MET MAMUANG HIMAPHAAN from the Drinking Food of Thailand

READY IN: 17mins
SERVES: 2-4
UNITS: US

INGREDIENTS

Nutrition
  • 12
    cup neutral oil, (such as soybean or palm) for deep-frying
  • 12
  • 12
    teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2
    tablespoons sliced green onions (1/2 inch)
  • 1
    tablespoon fresh Thai chile, preferably red and sliced 1/4-inch thick
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DIRECTIONS

  • A little more about the recipe:
  • Bangkok’s Lam Sing Pla Tong is part bar, part music hall, and part cabaret. It’s on a busy strip that comprises a sort of entertainment district for people from Isaan (Northeast Thailand), who make up a good portion of the working class in the city. All of the city’s cab drivers, primarily men from Isaan, seem to know the place. The crowd is a mix of construction workers, also primarily men from Isaan; women; and kathoey, men who dress flamboyantly like women.
  • Before you pass through the dark door, a gentleman brusquely pats you down to make sure you’re not packing. Sadly, in this atmosphere, acts of passion-fueled violence are not uncommon. You join the rabble in the audience, dodging inebriates and noting the visiting dignitaries—and I don’t mean heads of state. Amid the shit show, they’re the ones with the cherry tables, expensive whiskey, and many admirers who crowd around hoping for handshakes. On a stage that looks as if it’s been plastered with glitter, a band plays almost nonstop, and a varying cast of characters—nearly a dozen different singers who later reappear as backup dancers and, sometimes, end up pouring your drinks—perform deafening renditions of songs that everyone but you seems to know. The music is morlam and lukthung, mournful songs depicting the hardships of country living or ribald stories of love. The numbers are highly choreographed. Some particularly happy customers show their appreciation by stuffing money into shirt collars and waistbands.
  • A couple of friends, two longtime expats and enthusiastic explorers, put me onto this place, which they stumbled into while on the prowl for duck laap. As soon as I got to Bangkok—or at least, after a few plates of laap and some deep-fried duck bills at a restaurant next door—I went to experience Lam Sing Pla Tong for myself. The night before I flew back to the States, I went again. I came for the fun. I came back for the cashews.
  • To sustain us that first night, my entourage and I ordered a few dishes from the menu, a typical booze-friendly collection of fried stuff and salads but with an Isaan bent. What got me was a plate of fried cashews, aggressively salted and tossed with roughly chopped green onions and fresh red chiles in chunks big enough to inspire alarm. I spent the rest of the night shoveling down this salty, spicy, crunchy snack between slugs of beer.
  • Since then, I’ve ordered the dish every time I’ve spotted it. Sometimes what I receive is a variation that’s closer to yam (or so-called Thai salads), complete with fish sauce, lime juice, raw shallots, and ground pork. The version at Lam Sing Pla Tong reflects the dish at its simplest. And it’s the one I like best.
  • SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:
  • A deep-fry thermometer.
  • A large spider skimmer (recommended).
  • MAKE THE CASHEWS:
  • Pour the oil to a depth of 1/2 inch / 12 mm into small saucepan, set over medium heat, and heat to 325°F / 165°C Use the thermometer to test the temperature, measuring the oil at the center of the vessel and carefully stirring the oil occasionally to ensure a consistent temperature. Line a bowl with paper towels or newspaper and put it near the stove.
  • Carefully add the cashews to the hot oil and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Keep in mind that the cashews will get a shade or two darker once they leave the oil. Using the spider or a slotted spoon, transfer the cashews to the prepared bowl to drain. Immediately season the cashews with the salt, tossing them as you season.
  • Transfer the nuts to a plate and sprinkle on the green onions and chiles. Serve warm.
  • Recipe courtesy of THE DRINKING FOOD OF THAILAND by Andy Ricker.
  • Get the book here: https://www.amazon.com/POK-Drinking-Food-Thailand-Cookbook/dp/1607747731/.
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