Who knew pickled button mushrooms and a fried egg piled atop rice could be so perfect? The balance of floral and grassy aromatics (kaffir lime and lemongrass), spice (fresh and dried chile) and classic Thai flavors, like fish sauce and galangal, hold up to a rich, runny yolk in this humble Laotian Thai dish known as het dong kai dao.
You'll want to have the pickles around to use as a condiment with a variety of dishes: Spoon them onto fish or toss them into salads. Simply store them in the fridge, covered, but let them come to room temperature before eating.
To learn more, read "The Lao Moment."
Thai-Pickled Mushrooms with a Fried Egg and Rice
Recipe adapted from James Syhabout, Commis and Hawker Fare, Oakland, CA
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes, plus cooling and chilling time
For the Pickled Mushrooms:
2 chiles de arbol
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cilantro roots, chopped
2 small shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
16 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
One 1-inch piece galangal, thinly sliced
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup water
⅓ cup fish sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon palm sugar
8 kaffir lime leaves, 6 thinly sliced and 2 whole
2 bird's-eye chiles, thinly sliced
1 lemongrass stalk, ends trimmed and middle thinly sliced into small rings
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
For the Assembly:
Canola oil, for frying
4 large eggs
6 cups cooked jasmine rice
½ cup cilantro leaves (leave a little stem attached)
¼ cup thinly sliced scallion
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, slightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
1. Pickle the mushrooms: In a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat, or over a low open flame, toast the chiles de arbol until the skins start to blister and are aromatic, 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.
2. In a large mortar and pestle, crush the toasted chiles de arbol with the garlic, cilantro roots, shallots and coriander seeds until a chunky paste forms.
3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chile-garlic mixture and cook until the garlic is light golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened but not brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the galangal, vinegar, water, fish sauce and palm sugar, and cook 1 minute more. Add the kaffir leaves, bird's-eye chiles, lemongrass and white pepper. Adjust the seasoning to taste with fish sauce. Increase the heat and cook the mushrooms at a simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill in the fridge at least 1 hour or up to 2 weeks. Makes 4 cups of pickled mushrooms.
4. Fry the eggs: Pour enough oil into a large sauté pan to reach a ¼-inch depth and place over medium-high heat until it's very hot, just below smoking. Crack the eggs into four small bowls, and drop them into the hot oil. Holding the pan's handle, carefully lift and tip the pan away from you and swirl the pan so the oil covers and cooks the eggs until they're blistered and deep golden brown with the centers remaining soft, 2 minutes.
5. To serve, evenly divide the rice among four shallow bowls. Spoon some of the pickled mushrooms, including the pickling liquid, over the rice. Top with a fried egg and garnish with cilantro, scallion and crushed coriander.