I am a big meat eater, I don’t think I can become a vegetarian but like they say ‘you never know’. Anyway, for now I always have to have some kind of meat in my meal, I don’t like to eat only vegetable but one dish I can just eat it on its own is Stir-Fried Chinese Water Morning Glory or Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng (ผัดผักบุ้งไฟแดง). Uhmm…just give me a plate of hot steamed-rice and I am sorted
ผัด /pàd/ = to stir fry, stir-fried
ผักบุ้ง /pàk bûng/ = Water spinach a.k.a. Morning Glory
ไฟแดง /fai daeng/ refers to a red flame (fai daeng) leaps up from the wok when you throw in the vegetables.
Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng is one of the street food that you can find anywhere in Thailand and it is easy to cook at home. If you have never cooked Thai food before and you want to start with an easy dish, Pak Bung Fai Daeng is a good choice. It’s super easy, quick and the dish costs almost next to nothing to make.
There are two kinds of morning glory AKA water spinach available in Thailand which is Thai morning glory (Pak Bung Tai) and Chinese morning glory (Pak Bung Jiin). I prefer to use Pak Bung Jiin in this dish because 1. the body of Pak Bung Jiin is smaller than the Thai kind, 2. the leaves are also bigger (I always pick only the leaves since I don’t like the crunchy stems)
- Chinese water morning glory, cut it into 3-inch long pieces, shake off the excess water, and place it in a large plate
- 1 tablespoon salted soybean paste [THAI: เต้าเจี้ยว dtâo-jîao]
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce [THAI:น้ำปลา náam-bplaa]
- 1 tablespoon soybean sauce [THAI: ซอสถั่วเหลือง sórd tûa-lŭeang]
- ½ table spoon oyster sauce [THAI: ซอสหอยนางรม sórd hŏy naang rom]
- 1 teaspoon sugar [THAI: น้ำตาล náam dtaan]
- 1/4 cup chicken broth, or water
- smashed 4 large cloves garlic
- 4-5 crushed (not sliced) red bird’s eye chilies
- You should have a wok that is large enough to give you room to move the vegetable around.
- You can use green chilies, but using red chilies helps you to identify the chilies from the green vegetables. (The chilies and the garlic are there to flavor the sauce, not so much to be eaten, but you can eat them if you want)
Here is a technique I got from my mom:
1. After Pak Bung are drained well and placed them in a preparing bowl, add oyster sauce, fresh chilies and sugar.
2. Set the wok over high heat. Once the wok is hot, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, heat it up till you can see a bit of smoke start to come up,
3. Throw in the garlic and all ingredients from the preparing bowl, and stir and toss, right away as they hit the wok, in the speed of F1 racing car, it should take less than a minute and turn the heat off.
4. Put the stir-fry from the wok to serving plate immediately. Do not leave the stir-fry to stay in the wok beyond that point as the residual heat will continue to cook the vegetable beyond the tender-crisp stage thereby killing both the perfect texture and the beautiful, vibrant green color.
Hope you will enjoy this favorite vegetable dish of mine:)