We are very lucky to live close to Buxton where Anonglak ‘Mim’ Somsrimee and Ian Keeling run their fantastic restaurant Simply Thai. Rated among the top 15 Thai restaurants in the country, Simply Thai holds a Select Award from Thailand Ministry of Commerce, and has a spin-off coffee roastery born out of their desire to serve their guests with the best Thai coffee in all of the world.
After an inspiring meal at the restaurant, I was keen to go poking around Thai food. For The Nosey Chef, this throws up a bunch of problems. It is not acceptable for me to go into Tesco, pick up a jar of Thai curry paste, fry some beef in it, chuck it on a pile of rice and call it Thai cooking. I would be needing to make that paste from scratch, and ensure that everything I was using was as close as humanly possible to authentic Thai ingredients. Sadly, in the High Peak, we are not exactly falling over Thai supermarkets. Online suppliers can help (e.g. https://www.thai-food-online.co.uk), but quality can be variable, and quantities awkward.
However, during my reading, I ran across a very simple, classic Thai street food recipe by the name of phat kaphrao, which essentially means ‘fried holy basil leaves.’ In this dish, shallots, garlic and chillis are pounded into a paste before frying, with the addition of protein, which is often minced beef. Holy basil leaves (the only really specific thing in the recipe) are added for transformative aroma, and the dish is served with rice and a frankly baffling fried egg. I had some left over rare beef from a sous vide, so I minced that up, worked out what ought to be in a phat kaphrao, and made it for lunch one day. Some tips: let me tell you that when the recipe says you only need four bird’s eye chillis, you had better heed that; cut holy basil leaves do not keep at all, so you need to be making this dish on the day you buy them.
Simply Thai can be found at 2–3 Cavendish Circus, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6AT, United Kingdom. We went on Friday 25 August 2017 for dinner.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 500g minced beef
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 bird’s eye chillis, finely sliced
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
- 4 tsp Thai fish sauce (fish sauce), or to taste
- 6 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp lime juice
- A large pinch of sugar
- 2 tsp Thai oyster sauce
- A large handful of Thai holy basil leaves
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan. Sauté the onion, garlic, chillis and lime leaf for about half a minute.
Add the mince, fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Stir and taste. Add more flavourings if you think it needs it. Stir fry until the meat is cooked.
Add the basil leaves, toss a little until heated and beginning to wilt.
Serve the with steamed rice and fried egg. Put some more sliced chillis in some fish sauce on the side.