It was 45 years ago that my dad finished high school. He was the oldest of 6 children. It was America in the 70s. A time of free love, feminism, experimentation and lots of orange. But my dad didn't get to see it. He graduated and was promptly rewarded with hearing he won the lottery and was being shipped off to Vietnam. He wasn't a soldier, he was a kid.
Last month marks 40 years since the end of the Vietnam war and I had been meaning to write a post on this and took advantage of the Historical Food Fortnightly opportunity to do so.
My dad was shifted around but ended up stationed in Thailand. He bought kao pad from the street vendors there. They served it wrapped up in crinkly old magazines or newspapers for a meal on the go. My dad learned to make it while there and as a kid, this was a staple of my diet. I didn't have a clue that this wasn't a normal American dish or where my dad had learned to make it: It was just one of the 5 meals my dad knew how to make and we ate it often.
Always affectionately called "cowpot" in my family growing up, Kao Pad is Thai fried rice. When I was little, I remember asking my dad why it was called "cow pot" if it was made with pork and he said that he had no idea. It turns out my dad prefered "Kao Pad Moo" which is fried rice with pork but he could also get Kao Pad Goong (with shrimp) or Kao Pad Gai (with chicken.)
The war was tough on everyone but especially on the men stationed worlds away from their families. My dad was only overseas a few months before hearing the shocking and ironic news that his father had been killed back home in a grizzly hit and run for which they never found the perpetrator. To make the transition easier for American GIs, vendors created "Kao Pad Amerikan" or American Fried Rice which was intended to appeal to the American palate. This type of fried rice was seasoned with ketchup instead of soy sauce and meats included bacon, fried chicken, and hotdogs. It is strangely popular in Thailand today.
Kao Pad Goong
- 3 Cups Jasmine Rice, cooked and cooled
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, minced
- 1/2 of a Tomato, diced
- 15-20 pieces of precooked shrimp, defrosted
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 of an Onion, diced
- 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce ( Light Soy Sauce if you can find it)
- 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- 1 Cucumber, peeled and sliced
- Scallions, white and light green parts
Prepare all vegetables ahead of time. Marinade the shrimp in soy sauce for 1/2 hour. You can remove the tails or not. The rice is best when cooked the night before and refrigerated, but fresh rice can work as long as you let it cool before your fry it.
Pour vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok on medium to high heat. Add garlic and fry for about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and fry for 30 seconds, push shrimp to the side of the pan. Add 1/2 the rice and pan fry in the juices for about a minute. Push the rice to the side of the pan and add your eggs. Mix the eggs until scrambled and fully cooked. Add the rest of the rice, the fish sauce and the soy sauce and mix thoroughly. (I add the marinade juice as well.) Add the tomato, onion, and scallions. Pan fry until the vegetables are cooked but not soft. Remove from heat and serve with sliced cucumbers, scallion pieces lime wedges and hot pepper oil.
The nice thing about this recipe is you can pretty much add whatever meats and veggies you prefer. Hope you enjoy! P.S. I typically don't like when sites play their own music as I typically am listening to my own but felt this post needed a little ambiance. I'll take it off in a few days. :)