Chef Tummy's Thai Food website is http://www.cheftummy.com
I felt like I was in the opening scene of Apocalypse Now! when the flames from the wok engulfed me.
I had been sternly warned by the Thai chef at Miang Pla Seafood Restaurant that I was taking a risk in filming the making of this excellent flaming spinach dish. Did I listen? No! I am on a Thai food mission.
Stir fried water spinach in hot oil is best when the cooking oil is heated until nearly smoking; then the spinach, chilies, garlic and oyster sauce are bravely thrown in to the wok. The flame that erupts is like a brief, intense fire ball that blossoms from the wok and gives the dish it's essential smoky taste.
You can try this at home; just check your fire insurance policy first.
Here is a recipe for Stir Fried Spinach (Phak Bung Fie Daeng or ผักบุ้งไฟแดง), Thai-style.
- 6 cups water spinach or substitute 16 ounces of baby spinach. If using water spinach, remove the roots and cut the stems into 2-inch pieces and tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3-5 Thai red hot chilies, stems removed. If you want full chilie spice, smash open the chilies; otherwise leave intact for a more muted chilie flavor. Red chilies provide a nice contrast with the green spinach.
- 2 tablespoons garlic, roughly cut into small 1/8-inch pieces. Many Thai chefs would cook the dish with the garlic skin included; it adds flavor and aroma and you can discard it after cooking if your guests are finicky about such things
- 3 tablespoons water or vegetable, pork or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon yellow bean paste
INSTRUCTION Place the water or stock, oyster sauce and yellow bean sauce in a medium bowl and stir with conviction so the thick pastes dissolve in the other liquid. Add the spinach to the same bowl and add the chilies and garlic. Place your wok on the stove over medium-high heat and let warm for 30 seconds or until right before the oil starts to smoke. The high heat will allow the sauces to get hot and cover the spinach with their life-giving flavor; the high heat and brief cooking time will allow the spinach to cook yet remain crisp. With care and appropriate caution, briskly pour the entire contents of the ingredients bowl away from you and people you love into the hot wok. After the impressive flame subsides, rapidly use your long-handled ladle to move the spinach and other ingredients in the pan so it all comes in contact with the hot oil. Once the spinach has reduced in volume by half and each leaf looks cooked and glistening with the oil and sauces, immediately remove the wok from the heat and artfully deposit the cooked spinach on a serving plate. Don't let the spinach tarry in the hot wok or it will lose the crispy taste we desire that will win you praise and perhaps cash awards from your guests. You may carefully use a fork, tweezers or chopsticks to arrange the happy red chilies on top of the cooked spinach in an attractive and artful design.
THAI FOOD BY CHEF TUMMY
Chef Tummy's website is http://www.cheftummy.com
Chef Tummy ปุ้มปุ้ย is a cook, author, traveler, travel writer, teacher and expert in making Thai food. He is the "Marco Polo" of Thai food and completed a 6,002-mile Thai food tasting motorcycle tour all over Thailand.
Chef Tummy's books can be seen on Amazon and his website about Thai food, Thai cooking, Thai recipes and Thai travel is http://www.cheftummy.com
His food and travel songs are published by Chef Tummy Omnimedia, Inc.
In Thailand, I'm known my funny Thai nickname of ปุ้มปุ้ยหมูสามชั้น (it roughly translates to "Chubby Pork Belly"). The video title includes this Thai script so Thai chefs can find the videos in which they are featured. All videos are recorded and posted with permission from the participants.