Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Yam Tua Plu (Thai Winged Bean Salad)

he says:

The other day I was googling winged beans (not sure why?) and discovered a Thai dish that I hadn't heard of before, Yam Tua Plu which is a Thai Winged Bean Salad. I happened to have some Winged beans leftover from when I cooked Adam D'Sylva's CODA Stir Fried Prawns with Winged Beans which is probably why I was googling winged beans come to think of it...

I found a great and really quite cute YouTube video recipe that looked great, check it out here. I thought the husband testimonial was a nice touch. As usual I decided to cook a bit of a hybrid interpretation using another recipe from David Thompson's Thai Food cookbook. I have mentioned previously that David Thompson's recipes are often very authentic and perhaps sometimes too authentic for my liking so I like to get a second opinion and take the best of both recipes and see what happens. In this instance I think the result was pretty good, if I do say so myself. As a side note, Yam in Thai means salad and Tua Plu means winged bean so its pretty straight forward really.

So here is my interpretation of Yam Tua Plu.

For the sauce:

3 tbs Thai Chilli Paste (Nahm Prik Pao)
3 tbs Fish Sauce
2 to 3 tbs Palm Sugar (very finely shaved)
2 tbs Lime Juice

Mix these together to form a smooth zesty paste and set aside.

From here I am pretty much going with the YouTube recipe which is:

Heat about 1 cup of chicken stock in a largish saucepan and add about 200g of pork mince and cook for 2 minutes, then add about 200g of peeled prawns and cook a further minute or so until the prawns have changed colour. Leave this to cool.

While this is cooling, toast about half a cup of desiccated coconut in a wok over low heat. Be very careful as this will burn very easily so make sure you move it around as you are heating it.

Blanch a good pile of sliced winged beans (about 2cm) for a minute and then drain. As recommended in the video put these in cold water to cool. Once cooled, strain off the water and add the beans to the pork and prawn mix. Set it all aside to cool, or put it in the fridge covered with cling wrap.

Check that you don't have too much liquid in the mix and then add about a half cup (or maybe a bit more) of coconut milk or cream then add a handful of sliced spring onion (mostly the green part), one or two sliced shallots, a pile of coriander leaves, about a quarter of a cup of chopped peanuts and a few sliced scud chillies for some heat.

Then add the sauce and mix it into the coconut stock liquid, you should see it turn a lovely pinkish colour. Give it a good mix to make sure everything is coated with the sauce then plate it into bowls. To finish, sprinkle each bowl with the toasted coconut and some fried shallots, simple!

This is another one of those delicious dishes that for some reason is not very often available at Western Thai restaurants. I am so often very confused as to why these kinds of dishes aren't offered more widely, it just doesn't make sense. What really makes this dish so special for me is the superb combination of the coconut milk and the Thai chilli paste balanced with the palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. I find myself craving this dressing and it is very quickly becoming one of my favourites.

For those who live in Melbourne and are wondering where to buy winged beans, they are a bit difficult to find and I have only ever seen them sold at a little asian grocer a few doors down from Nathan Thai in Footscray although I suspect that you could probably also find them in Springvale too. I believe that they are actually grown in the Northern Territory which explains their scarcity. They are well worth searching out for this dish. If you can't find them and want to give this recipe a go anyway I have cooked it successfully with snake beans (just blanch them a little longer) and I'm sure snow peas or green beans would also work well too. I hope you enjoy it, I certainly have a number of times!


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