In her book Maae Khruaa Huaa Bpaa (MKHP) (ตำราแม่ครัวหัวป่าก์), Lady Plean Passakornrawong presents a fried rice recipe that is similar to mee graawp (หมี่กรอบ). She refers to the dish as “mee fried rice (ข้าวผัดหมี่)” in its seasoning style, and many of the ingredients are also similar. But, rather than mixing the seasoning sauce with crispy rice vermicelli noodles, the rice is fried in flavorful pork lard and includes pork, shrimp, crab, chicken, firm yellow tofu, garlic chives and bean sprouts, which Lady Plean refers to as “thuaa phaw” (ถั่วเพาะ) using an old term. To achieve a well-rounded taste, the dish is seasoned with fermented soybean paste, fish sauce, granulated sugar, and two of the three sour elements – vinegar and lime juice – resulting in a pleasant savoriness with a three-flavor profile. Ground chili is added for heat, and thinly sliced bitter orange peel is added as a topping.
To prepare the dish, Lady Plean Passakornrawong heats up pork lard in a wok and fries garlic and shallots until fragrant. Then, she adds the meats – pork, chicken, and shrimp – and fries them until they are fragrant. When the meats are cooked, she adds cooked rice and mixes all the ingredients well, ensuring there are no lumps in the rice. The ratio of rice to other ingredients is a personal preference but, to achieve a well-proportioned dish, Lady Plean Passakornrawong recommends not adding too much or too little rice.
After cooking the rice, Lady Plean Passakornrawong suggests seasoning the rice to one’s desired flavor profile. She serves it with an omelet, sprinkles ground white pepper on it, and garnishes the dish with thin slices of bitter orange peel, coriander leaves, fresh chilies, and a wedge of lime. This creates a three-flavor fried rice that is reminiscent of mee graawp (หมี่กรอบ).
When frying rice, there is a proven flavor chemistry at play. As the rice fries in the fat along with the other ingredients and seasoning, new flavor compounds emerge among the collective of rice and the other ingredients. However, in certain dishes such as mee graawp (หมี่กรอบ), it is undesirable for the fried flavor to overpower the delicate, nutty nuances of the rice vermicelli and the tangy, light and uplifting citrus aroma of the bitter orange peel. After some contemplation, I decided to mix the rice with the sauce instead of frying them together in the traditional manner. By pre-cooking the sauce and then mixing it with the cooked rice, the delicate flavor of the rice fully absorbs the seasoning, creating a lighter dish that, due to its extravagant display of ingredients, can be part of a larger samrub meal.
I suggest experimenting with both methods of preparing the dish – the traditional method of frying the rice with the sauce in pork lard, or the version (below) of mixing the pre-cooked sauce with the cooked rice (a style of dish known as khaao khlook (ข้าวคลุก)). Each method proposes a unique flavor profile and texture, and the choice ultimately comes down to your personal preference.
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- 3 cups cooked rice (ข้าวสวย)
- 1/2 cup yellow firm soybean tofu (เต้าหู้เหลือง) sliced to thin elongated slices then fried in pork lard.
- 1 duck egg (ไข่เป็ด) boiled
- 1/4 cup pork meat (เนื้อหมู) cooked and cut to thin elongated slices
- 1/4 cup chicken breast (อกไก่) cooked and pulled into threads
- 1/4 cup shrimp (กุ้ง) cooked and sliced into bite-size pieces
- 1/4 cup steamed crab meat (เนื้อปูนึ่ง)
- 1/4 cup bean sprouts (ถั่วงอก)
- 1/4 cup grlic chives (ใบกุยช้าย)
- 1/4 cup bitter orange peel (som.saa)(ผิวนส้มซ่า) thinly sliced
- bitter orange peel (som.saa)(ผิวนส้มซ่า) thinly sliced
- fresh red long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าแดง) sliced into hair-thin juliennes
- pickled garlic (กระเทียมดอง) thinly sliced
- dried shrimp (กุ้งแห้ง) fried
- coriander leaves (ใบผักชี)
- grlic chives (ใบกุยช้าย)
- bean sprouts (ถั่วงอก) ถั่วงอก
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon coriander roots รากผักชี scraped, washed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon Thai garlic กระเทียมไทย
- 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons shallots หอมแดง thinly slices
- 1 tablespoon pork lard น้ำมันหมู
For the sauce Sauce
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (น้ำมะขามเปียก)
- 1/2 tablespoon lime juice (น้ำมะนาว)
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar (น้ำส้มสายชูหมักจากข้าว)
- 1/2 tablespoon bitter orange juice (som.saa)(น้ำส้มซ่า)
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar (น้ำตาลมะพร้าว)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1 tablespoon fermented soybean paste (tao chiao)(เต้าเจี้ยว)
- pinch ground dried chili (พริกป่น) freshly roasted and ground
- pich sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- To make the khao mee sauce: In a bowl, mix together palm sugar, granulated sugar, tamarind paste, lime juice, white vinegar, bitter orange juice, fish sauce, sea salt, and ground dried chili.
- Heat pork lard in a wok over high heat. Fry the saam gluuhr paste (coriander roots, garlic, white peppercorns) until fragrant.
- Add shallots.
- Once the shallots are cooked, add the sauce ingredients to the wok and allow the sauce to thicken.
- Add ground chili.
- Allow the sauce to thicken. Set-aside.
Prepare the ingredients:
- Cook the rice according to the package instructions and set it aside.
- Heat pork lard in a wok over high heat. Add firm yellow soybean tofu and fry until crispy. Remove the tofu and set it aside.
- Boil duck eggs in cold water for 9 minutes; immediately transfer to cold water and peel.
- Cook the pork belly and chicken breast whole. Pull the cooked chicken breast into thin threads and cut the cooked pork belly into thin elongated pieces.
- Peel and devein the shrimp and then cut into bite-size pieces; blanch in hot water until cooked.
- Steam and collect the meat of the crab.
Mix the rice:
- Place the cooked rice in a mixing bowl and break in the soft-boiled duck eggs.
- Add the cooked pork meat.
- Add the cooked and shredded chicken meat.
- Add the cooked shrimp.
- Add the crab meat.
- Season with the khao mee sauce.
- Mix well with the rice.
- Add the bean sprouts and garlic chives. Mix well with the rice and the sauce.
- Add sliced pickled garlic.
- Finally, add the bitter orange peels. Mix well.
- Use a mold to shape the khao mee for a neat presentation. Garnish with the reserved fried tofu, chicken threads, sliced bitter orange peel, fresh red long chili and pickled garlic.