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Vermicelli with Chili Jam

The best part of running Thai Fresh, apart from working with the best employees, chatting about nothing and everything with customers, receiving deliveries from local farmers, is being able to change our menu everyday all day long. It's more challenging and fun to always have to think what to make for our small rotating menu of about 14 items. I spend a lot of my time reading old Thai cookbooks, and I mean old, 20 to 30 years old, that my parents brought from Thailand when they came visit.

Creating dishes from what's around us is part of our family tradition. My mom and I were always coming up with new recipes that we could use with whatever we had in our garden, our fridge and our pantry. Many times, we would make a commitment not to leave the house and come up with a meal from what we have.

I saw this recipe and it sounds so simple and delicious. You can make your own chili jam from the recipe below or you can buy it in jars from Asian grocery stores. Homemade chili jam is hard to beat. They make perfect presents in little jars tied with ribbons. This recipe is the new comfort food for me.

To serve, I put some fresh beansprouts on top with Thai chili flakes and a little of pickled jalapenos (sliced jalapenos in white vinegar, pickle for at least one day.)To make Thai chili flakes, buy dry Thai chilies and dry roast them in a pan on the stove for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or toast them in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Put the chilies in a food processor and pulse until they become flakes.

Vermicelli w/ Chili Jam

Chili Jam Recipe adapted from Thai Food by David Thomson

oil for deep frying

4 cups shallots, sliced lengthwise

2 cups garlic, sliced length wise

1/2 cup dried shrimp, rinsed

1 cu p dried long red chillies, deseeded and chopped (if you can't find the ones from Thailand, the dried ones from New Mexico will be a good substitute.)

10 slices galanga

1 tsp shrimp paste, roasted (I usually just take the amount and sit it over flame on a spoon or David Thomson suggested you can wrap it with foil or banana leaf and sit that in a pan over flame or in the oven)

1 cup palm sugar

1/2 cup thick tamarind water (to make thick tamarind water, take a ping pong ball size deseeded tamarind paste and soak in cold or slightly warm water, squeeze out the liquid and strain. Add more water to the leftover if it doesn't make 1/2 cup)

3 tbsp salt or 1/2 cup fish sauce

Heat oil in a wok or a large dutch oven, deep fry shallots, garlic, dried shrimp, chillies and galangal separately until golden. Blend them all in a food processor with shrimp paste, add a little bit of fry oil up to one cup to moisten the mixture.

In a pan, bring the mixture to the boil and season with palm sugar, tamarind water and salt or fish sauce. Simmer until quite thick, stirring regularly to prevent the paste from burning. The jam should be sweet, sour and salty with a little bit of heat. If you would like it to be hotter, you can add fried dried small Thai Chillies along with the dried big chillies.

Vermicelli w/ Chili Jam (Sen Mee Pad Nam Prik Pao)

4 oz soaked vermicelli (I prefer Wai Wai brand from Thailand. Soak the noodles in cold water for about 15 minutes)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tbsp minced garlic

1 cup chicken breast, sliced into bite size, marinade with 1 tbsp soy sauce for 15 mintues)

6 tbsp Chili Jam of your choice

2-3 tbsp white vinegar

1-2 tbsp light soy sauce (make sure you use Thai soy sauce)

1-2 tbsp fish sauce to taste

1-2 tbsp sugar

2 cups beansprouts

1 cup chopped green onions

Heat the wok or a dutch oven up. Add oil, after 10 seconds, add garlic. Fry garlic until fragrant and golden, add chicken and fry until chicken is cooked. Add chili jam and stir fry until fragrant. Pour in the noodles and the rest of the ingredients except beansprouts and green onion. Stir fry until incorporated, taste and adjust. Add beansprouts and green onions, fold in the vegetable until wilted. Serve w/ pickled jalapenos, roasted dried chilies and some fresh beansprout.

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