When asked what my favorite type of food is I used to say that I enjoyed Italian the most, but ate Mexican more frequently. Lately I’ve noticed that isn’t the case. I enjoy a lot of Asian food – specifically Thai. I am a fan of spicy food, but more than that I love the fresh herbs and spices in Thai food. Cilantro, basil, mint, green onions, lime, and chili pepper all hit my palate’s pleasure center. I’ve noticed that the only problem with this is that I tend to get carried away. A simple stir fry dish ends up practically overfilling my wok, and before I know it I’m also making fresh spring rolls.
Part of my attraction to this particular dish (Yum Woon Sen) was the simplicity and limited number of ingredients. Of course I caved and ended up adding bamboo chutes and shitake mushrooms to the recipe that I found on The Kitchn, but next time I’ll keep the bamboo chutes out. There are a few other modifications I made that are worth noting. I tried to caramelize the pork a bit by putting some simple syrup in my skillet. You could also use sugar, but I figured that the moisture in the simple syrup would aid in cooking the mushrooms. Also, Instead of using canola oil I actually used peanut oil to impart some of those flavors that are often found in Asian dishes. Some versions of this recipe have you garnish with peanuts, but I’m not particularly a fan of peanuts in my food.
I wanted to find a good cocktail to pair with this dish and after some research I came across a Dave Arnold recipe. If you’re not familiar with Dave Arnold, he is the Walter White of cocktail making. He is the owner of Booker and Dax, a food and drink lab with an exceptional cocktail bar. His book, Liquid Intelligence, is a great read for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of cocktails. It reads like a chemistry book, so don’t expect to breeze through it or even be able to replicate all the drinks he features – unless you have liquid nitrogen. That said, it’s a fascinating read that I highly recommend.
The cocktail recipe I made actually calls for liquid nitrogen, but he presents an alternative make-at-home method that is still delicious. No name was given for the cocktail, but it was created for the Lucky Rice Festival, so I will refer to it as the Lucky Rice. This cocktail not only features fresh flavors of lime and mint that are often found in Asian food, but also uses Bombay’s Sapphire East Gin. This gin is a standard gin until it is finished off with an infusion of Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns.
I hope you enjoy these two recipes. Both are packed full of flavor and are ones that I will continue to make and modify. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on these and what you would add to the Yum Woon Sen to make it your own.
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 package glass noodles (6 ounces)
- 3 green onions (sliced)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
- ½ teaspoon dried chili pepper
- 8 ounces shitake mushrooms (sliced into strips)
- 1 can bamboo chutes (8 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground pork and cook until it is crumbled and begins to brown and become crispy.
- Reduce heat and add garlic, dried chili flakes, mushrooms, and bamboo chutes.
- While the pork is cooking, prepare the fresh ingredients (green onions and cilantro) and set aside.
- Pre-soak the glass noodles in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes to let them soften. Once softened, add them to a pot of salted boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Glass noodles are delicate, so be sure not to over cook. Once cooked, strain and rinse under cold water.
- Mix together the sauce by combining the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently fold the ingredients into each other.
- Plate and garnish with a dried chili and lime wedges.
- 2½ ounces Bombay Sapphire East gin
- 1½ ounces Yellow Chartreuse
- 1½ ounces fresh lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 18-20 leaves fresh mint
- 1 pinch salt
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until leaves are super fine and drink is bright green.
- Pour mixture into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
- Pour through a strainer into a chilled martini glass.
- Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve.