Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spaghetti "Pad Grathiem"

The pollution here in Chiang Mai can wreak havoc on your body. Right now, at the height of the dry season with everyone burning the stubble off their rice fields, the air quality is wretched. Visibility is about 500 meters, and breathing the air is the equivalent of smoking 5 packs a day. Back when it started getting bad J began getting a rash on her legs. We asked around and a lot of people said it might be related to the pollution, but no one knew of anything that might help other than antihistamines. After getting the rash every night for a week, there was one night of relief, and then another. J realized that both days she'd eaten mu pad grathiem (pork with fried garlic, charmingly referred to as "murinated pork" on the menu) for lunch. Somehow the garlic neutralizes the toxins, allowing her to get an itch free night's sleep. Thus began the garlic fest, mu pad grathiem for lunch, roasted garlic on toast in the afternoon, spaghetti with garlic for dinner.

Jokingly we call this dish spaghetti "pad grathiem." Jami says that she originally got the idea from Nigella Lawson, which makes my heart sink. Most of her recipes are tasteless and bland, and after being betrayed by her ham in Coke and hopeless black beans, I no longer trust her. Every once in a while J will try to sneak one past me, and invariably I ask why a tasty key ingredient seems to be missing. However, according to J this one almost got left out of Nigella's cookbook on the grounds that it was too simple, and probably too tasty. Naturally my version has mutated somewhat, and is no longer a mere descendant of the original.

  • enough spaghetti for 2 people
  • a handful of sea salt of kosher salt
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 6-9 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 dried peppers, crushed
  • salt to taste
1. Bring the water to a boil and pour some over the sun-dried tomatoes (they should be in a bowl).
2. Throw a handful of salt into the boiling water, add the pasta and cook it al dente.
3. Chop your garlic and crush your peppers.
4. Drain and rinse your pasta.
5. By now (about 10 minutes) your tomatoes should be soft. Chop them up, and reserve their liquid for stock.
6. Heat the oil in a skillet over low heat, and fry your garlic and peppers until the garlic is golden.
7. Add your tomatoes, coat them in oil, then add the pasta and coat it in oil.
8. Add salt if the pasta didn't absorb enough while you cooked it.

Options: This is an easy base to build on. You could add some finely chopped onions with the garlic and peppers, then add 1/3 cup of tomate frito, or two tablespoons of tomate frito and some cream. Maybe a little basil?

Nigella, non ti voglio bene.

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to try this recipe.
    I'll toss in some basil too.
    The sweet basil you planted for us is over 3 feet tall now. It emits a fresh fragrance in the air as we walk up the path to our house. We invite all our guests to pinch off a handle of herbs to take home with them.