If Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand, ต้มยำกุ้ง Tom Yum Goong must surely be the mother of all Thai soups. Being sour and spicy at the same time, it is perfect to whet one’s appetite, be it under the gruelling summer heat, or against a drab and grey rainy day. Like many dishes in Thai cuisine, a good Tom Yum is characterised by the liberal use of herbs and aromatics, not to mention those fiery bird’s eye chili, much loved and hated at the same time, as the melange of flavours explode in our mouths with each sip.
This dish is actually not intended, not this version at least. I’d wanted to cook ผัดกระเพรา Phad Kra-Prao Thai Holy Basil and Pork Stir Fry actually but I’d gotten the wrong basil! The real McCoy calls for holy basil, which is known as Bai Kra-Prao in Thai, and hence the name of the dish Phad Kra-Prao, with “Phad” to mean “stir fry” in Thai. And to add to the confusion, the latter is sometimes anglicised as “Pad” or even “Pat” or “Phat“. But I’d used Thai purple basil (sweet basil) instead! It is known as ใบโหระพา Bai Horapha in Thai and thus the “bastardised” version “Phad Horapha“. A quick search over the internet and I found that not the only one who’d made this “mistake”. Not sure if the creations by the others are accidental or intentional but whichever the case, it actually tastes really good with thai sweet basil as well! So it seems like ผัดโหระพา Phad Horapha is here to stay afterall!
I’m usually not a big fan of fusion food. Call me archaic but I prefer to keep the flavours of the dishes I prepare “clean” and true to their roots and origins. French is kept as French as possible while Chinese remains distinctively Chinese. Save for a few exceptions in pastry making, crossovers ain’t exactly my thing. That said, the devil’s advocate in me would sprout the occasional what ifs, curious what the dish would be like when it is totally taken out of context or juxtapose with another cooking genre. And of late, these previously occasional episodes of what ifs are beginning to haunt me more frequently.