Mom Chao Sai Ladawan’s (Princess Saisawali Phirom) khaao bping (ข้าวปิ้ง) is a dish of seasoned rice mixed with sweet pork and crispy fried garlic, then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. Unwrapping the parcel reveals a slightly charred rice cake that melts into a pleasantly chewy, smoky, and deliciously savory treat. Created by using basic ingredients of Siamese cuisine, the dish can be served on a bed of banana leaves or on fine porcelain plates, thus touching the hearts of diners from all walks of life.
Grilled parcels of rice in various shapes and seasonings are treats that stand out in the childhood memory of every Siamese person. Khaao jee (ข้าวจี่), snacks of plain steamed glutinous rice, brushed with beaten egg and grilled over a charcoal grill, were the snack of choice for upcountry kids, running joyfully through a landscape of rice paddies. But similar parcels of grilled rice mixed with fish meat (แจงลอนข้าวปิ้ง; jaaeng laawn khaao bping) or seasoned with chili relish and sweet pork, were equally comforting served as afternoon snacks in the palace gardens behind the white walls.
Leftovers of cooked rice, fermented shrimp paste chili relish (น้ำพริกกะปิ ; naam phrik gabpi), and sweet pork condiment (หมูหวาน ; muu waan) – ingredients commonly found in the pantry of any Siamese household of the past – were mixed together with a generous amount of crispy fried garlic, then wrapped in banana leaves and slowly grilled over a charcoal grill. These surplus ingredients were transformed into a successful dish that stands on its own – and is worth the time and effort to cook from scratch, even when the leftovers are long gone.
The following recipe is inspired by a recipe by Mom Chao Sai Ladawan (HRH Princess Saisawali Phirom, พระวิมาดาเธอ หม่อมเจ้าสาย ลดาวัลย์)
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- 2 cups cooked rice (ข้าวสวย)
- 3 tablespoons sweet pork (หมูหวาน)
- 2 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste chili relish (naam phrik kapi)(น้ำพริกกะปิ)
- 1/3 cup crispy fried Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทยเจียว)
- 1 duck egg (ไข่เป็ด)
Seasoning: fermented shrimp paste chili relish (naam phrik kapi)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ) grilled
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย)
- 1/2 tablespoon dried shrimp pounded to powder (กุ้งแห้งป่น)
- 5 fresh bird’s eye chili (kee noo suan) (พริกขี้หนูสวนสด)
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1 3/4 tablespoons palm sugar (น้ำตาลมะพร้าว)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
- 1 tablespoon water or stock (น้ำเปล่าหรือน้ำสต๊อก) as needed
- madan (sour cucumber, มะดัน)(garcinia schomburgkiana) optional
- hairy-fruited eggplant (มะอึก) optional
Sweet minced pork:
- Banana leaf (ใบตอง)
- crispy fried Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทยเจียว)
Prepare the banana leaf wraps or containers:
- Lightly pass fresh banana leaves over an open fire until they soften. Choose a wrapping style, then cut the banana leaf to the appropriate shape. Set aside.
Prepare a basic fermented shrimp paste relish (nam prhrik kapi) that is slightly runnier than usual:
- Pound the fermented shrimp paste (grilled in banana leaves) with an equal amount of garlic until the mixture is smooth and the shrimp paste and garlic aromas have mellowed down.
- Add the dried shrimp powder.
- Season to a sour-sweet-salty flavor profile. Start by seasoning the salty element using fish sauce.
- When you are satisfied with the saltiness, add palm sugar at the ratio indicated.
- Add lime juice at the ratio indicated.
- Add green bird’s eye chilies and bruise them lightly.
- Mix these ingredients together and thin with more water/stock as necessary. Set aside.
- Optional – add sour fruits such as madan (มะดัน) or hairy-fruited eggplant (มะอึก)
Prepare the sweet minced pork:
- Mix all the seasoning ingredients and set them aside.
- In a wok over medium-high heat, fry the minced pork with pork lard; using the ladle, break down any lumps.
- Continue stir-frying the meat until all the liquids have completely evaporated, and the meat dries up and starts to brown.
- Add the seasoning
- Stir-fry until the liquids reduce and the pork acquires a transparent brown shine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Mix the rice:
- In a large glass or steel bowl, mix the cooked rice with the sweet pork.
- Add the fermented shrimp paste relish and mix.
- Taste and adjust seasoning to a salty-sweet lightly sour flavor profile using the relish, the sweet pork, or the fish sauce.
- Add the crispy fried Thai garlic.
- Mix in the duck egg.
- Place two pieces of banana leaf on top of each other, keeping the waxy-shiny side facing out. Next, scoop out the mixed rice and place it on the banana leaves.
- Wrap the rice in banana leaves into equal-size parcels.
- You can make these parcels as large or small as you wish.
- Grill the banana leaf wraps over low heat on a charcoal grill until adequately cooked.