Mr. P and I were inspired to make naam tok because a similar dish we had at a supposedly authentic Thai restaurant in Singapore left us disappointed. The taste was flat and tailored to meet the local palate. And Mr. P, being the real Isaan boy that he is, doesn’t like it that we have to fork out more baht for something that don’t capture the correct flavours. The only way out, we reckon, is to make our own Thai dishes since most ingredients required for Thai cooking are rather easily found in Singapore.
Naam tok is a Isaan-style grilled-beef salad. Juices from the meat (usually beef) will drip during grilling, hence the dish is dubbed naam tok—which means water (noun) and fall (adjective) respectively—and should be translated as ‘falling water’ instead of ‘waterfall’ in English. Similar but different meanings, get it?
We tried our hand at naam tok muu (pork) last weekend as my mum forbade the consumption of beef at home—beef is the traditional meat of choice for this dish. It would have been nice if we had a grill, so we had to pan-fry the meat on a non-stick skillet to emulate the grilling effect. I also roasted a fresh batch of khao khua to add that distinctive texture and smell to the dish. Then I adorned the salad with some puny sprigs of mint leaves plucked from my potted Mint nestling along the corridor.
While we’re far from being experts at Thai cooking, I think our dishes definitely taste better than those pseudo-Thai restaurants out there. Now an ice-cold beer would be a perfect compliment to naamtok muu…