Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng (English: stir fried morning glory or stir fried water spinach) is one of the most popular vegetable dishes in Thailand. It’s probably most commonly eaten as a side dish, though it can definitely suffice as a meal on its own, especially if served with rice and some stir fried meat or mushrooms are mixed in. The ingredients are cooked over extremely high heat to give the greens a nice, crisp texture and bring out their full flavor. This recipe is quite healthy, really quick and simple to prepare, and you can substitute almost any vegetable for the morning glory if you want to change things up!
**This dish is very easy to make vegetarian by using vegetarian oyster sauce instead of regular oyster sauce. There are a few different brands of vegetarian oyster sauce, made from mushrooms instead of oysters. Sometimes the label says ‘vegetarian stir fry sauce’.
2 tablespoons smashed whole garlic cloves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-5 red smashed medium-sized thai chilies
1 teaspoon salted bean paste
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
20 stems of water spinach
1 tablespoon water
Lightly smash the chilies. Smash the garlic and remove the skin. Set aside. Wash the water spinach and shake it dry. Prepare the vegetable by breaking off the leaves at the base, and then breaking the stems with your hands at about 1.5″ intervals. Leave the top last part of stem intact with the top 2 leaves on. See picture to the right for an example.
Heat your wok to HIGH HIGH HIGH. If your pan is not hot, the vegetables will die a slow death and taste terrible. If you’re using an electric stove, leave the stove on high for about 3-5 minutes with the pan full of oil sitting on top. This should get it as hot as it’s supposed to be. You want almost smoking oil, where the oil is dancing around in the pan.
Throw the garlic in, stir quickly until it just starts to turn light brown. If your pan is hot enough, this should be less than 10 seconds. Then throw the vegetable in with the chilies. It should sizzle like crazy. Flip the vegetables and spread out a few times to make sure they evenly cook. Then add the water, bean sauce & oyster sauce, and stir for maybe 1 more minute, until the vegetable is finished. They’re done when the leaves are dark green and wilted and the stem is medium green. Don’t overcook, or they’ll taste bad.
Serve with rice and eat while hot and crisp. Enjoy!
Thanks to RealThaiRecipes.com for this week’s recipe!