Pad Cha Het | Spicy Mushroom Stir-fry

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Yields: 2 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 10 Mins Total Time: 20 Mins

Some authentic ingredients for Thai food are really difficult to get out of the country. So, when I got my hands on some young green peppercorns (prik Thai on), I knew that I just had to make pad cha het! Pad means fry and cha is the sizzling sound that the ingredients make when they hit the hot oil. Pad cha is usually done with seafood (talay) but it works perfect with mushrooms as well.

While prik Thai on is pretty much everywhere in Thailand, it is super hard to find elsewhere. It appears that you can find pickled young green peppercorns in the Asian grocers of developed countries. If you use those, the taste might be slightly more tart or briny. So, be prepared to add a little more sugar to balance the taste.

Another unique ingredient of this dish is fingerroot (krachai) which is arguably even harder to find overseas than prik Thai on. Substitutes include galangal or young ginger.

This dish is not complicated to prepare, with the caveat that you are comfortable doing a stir-fry over a hot flame. The oil has to be sizzling hot the whole time for maximum flavour. In Thailand, this is obviously done in a wok. However, I use a non-stick saucepan (long story) so don’t worry if you don’t have a wok!

Tips

  • Make sure the oil is hot before you start. It has to be smoking.
  • In a conventional pad cha talay, you would add some liquid. For this dish, we are going to use the natural juices of the mushrooms. However, if you use canned mushrooms then you may find your dish a little dry. In that case, you can add some vegetable stock. Traditionally, you would rinse the blender/mortar and use that water.
  • You can use any combination of mushrooms. Just make sure that you add them in order of cooking time.
  • If you have Chinese celery (keun chai / 芹菜 / qíncài), you can use it instead of coriander. It has a stronger taste that goes well with seafood but I prefer the taste of coriander with mushrooms.

Pad cha is fantastic served with plain rice. I also like to have some puffed crackers on the side to balance the heat and strong flavour.

If you like authentic Thai food made vegan, check out Steamed Tofu Fish Custard (Hor Mok).

Pad Cha Het

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Ingredients

0/17 Ingredients
Adjust Servings
  • Seasoning
  • Spice Paste

Instructions

0/11 Instructions
  • Blend or pound the ingredients in the spice paste. Set aside, and rinse the blender or mortar with 1/4 cup of water.
  • If you are using king oyster mushrooms, tear them into smaller strips by hand. Similarly, tear up big pieces of oyster mushrooms.
  • The flavouring ingredients are ready.
  • Heat up the oil over high heat until it is smoking.
  • Add the spice paste and fry it until the pungent smell of garlic is gone.
  • Add the thicker mushrooms and toss.
  • Add the thinner mushrooms and cover with the pan lid to make the mushrooms sweat. You can turn the heat down to medium here if the pan is making scary sounds. Wait for the mushrooms to leak out their juices, approximately 3 minutes.
  • If you turned the heat down earlier, turn it back up to high. Add the kaffir lime leaves (bruised and crushed in your fist), the green peppercorns, the red finger chillies and the fingerroot. Add the seasoning ingredients. If your pan is too dry, add blender/mortar rinsing water or stock. Toss it furiously so the juices get the flavour of the kaffir lime and pepper.
  • Add fresh Thai basil and coriander (or Chinese celery).
  • Toss for 10 seconds and turn off the heat.
  • Serve hot with rice!

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