- Seur Rong Hai (Crying Tiger)
Yield: Makes 6 servings
2 teaspoons dried green peppercorns
1 tablespoon Big Four Paste
10 cloves garlic,
5 unpeeled, lightly crushed
3 to 20 fresh bird chiles or 2 to 15 serrano chiles, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless large chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce (nam pla)
1 tablespoon sugar
Water as needed
2 tablespoons crispy pork rinds, crushed to the consistency of coarse cornmeal
20 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
In a small skillet, dry-roast the green peppercorns over medium
heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool. Put the
Big Four Paste and the minced garlic in a mortar and pound until
blended into a paste. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and pound until
the garlic and peels are blended into the paste. Do not worry if
the membrane is separated from the cloves. (You may want to remove
the peel; I encourage you to try it the authentic Thai way. It may
seem unusual, but the reward is the wonderful texture and added
taste of crispy garlic peel.) Add the chiles and continue pounding.
Add the green peppercorns and, instead of pounding, crush them by
pressing them against the side of the mortar in a circular motion.
Transfer the paste to a small bowl and set aside. The paste will
keep well in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Trim any fat from the chicken breast. Cut the breast in half. Working
with one half breast at a time, slice horizontally almost but not
quite in half. Open the meat up into a butterfly shape. Put your
hand firmly on top of the meat and press down on it to flatten it.
Using a very sharp knife, held at a 75-degree angle to the work
2 to 3 long pieces.
Try to keep the pieces the same size and thickness. Set aside on a
Arrange the ingredients near the stove in the order they will go
into the skillet: oil, chile paste, chicken, fish sauce, sugar, and a small cup of water.
12-inch skillet over high heat for 2 minutes, or until when
you put your hand an inch or so above it, you can feel the heat.
Add the oil, then add the chile paste, stirring it quickly, until
2 to 3 minutes. Add the
chicken, lower the heat to medium, and sprinkle a bit of water into the pan to prevent the paste from burning. Try to keep the chicken
pieces flat as you saute them to ensure even cooking. When the
chicken is browned, push it to one side of the skillet and add the
fish sauce and sugar to the center of the skillet. Stir and blend
until the mixture bubbles, then push the chicken pieces into it
while you continue to stir until the chicken is coated. If needed,
sprinkle a bit more water to prevent sticking. Transfer the chicken
to a serving platter, garnish with the crushed pork rind and cilantro,
and serve hot.