A delicious omelette with camembert leaf
Guests to Dokmai Garden have frequently remarked that the Seehamongkol omelette is the tastiest they have ever had. Transferring Thai cooking skills, based on experience and ingenious feeling, to an exact recipe with measured amounts, is difficult. I often feel stupid and disturbing when asking Ketsanee and Nived how they cook different dishes. It is like trying to get music lessons from Mozart while he plays the piano. To satisfy our visitors I make an attempt to write down their symphony, but I guess a lot of practice is needed:
1. Take a handful of young shoots of ‘camembert leaf’, called ‘cha om’ in Thai (Acacia pennata ssp. insuavis) and rip them into smaller pieces by hand.
Older and fully developed leaves are spiny and more tough, although beautiful in their fern-like elegance. If your camembert plant has no young leaves, simply cut back all old leaves to stimulate new growth. The plant should be grown in full sun to a desired height. It is drought tolerant but if dormant (no leaves) you can water it to make it sprout again.
You can add shallots or even replace the camembert leaves with shallots if you wish.
2. Take three eggs. At times we use duck eggs when they are available, and they provide a beautiful yellow colour of the omelette.
3. Add two squirts of fish sauce (1 ml), three squirts of soy sauce and squeeze half a lime.
4. Mix the ingredients.
5. Add three Chinese spoons (25 ml) of cooking oil to a wok and wait until the oil is hot before adding the omelette mix. Do not use an ordinary frying pan with a flat bottom.
6. Wait one or two minutes and then turn the omelette. Only turn once!
If you wish to spice your omelette, you may want to make a chili dip: barbecue ten green chili peppers and one tomato. Transfer the barbecued vegetables to a mortar and squeeze half a lime and add 3-4 cloves of garlic (they are small in Thailand). Create a mixture using the pestle and then add 2-3 squirts of fish sauce (1 ml) before serving. In this picture there is a cheese-like garnishment: a cold strip of boiled bamboo shoot from our garden (in this case Thyrsostachys siamensis, Poaceae).
Eric Danell, trying to bridge the skills of Ketsanee and Nived Seehamongkol who are natural born cooks. Brillat-Savarin remarked that someone who creates a new dish has done more for mankind than someone who discovers a new star. I agree, and I do think that the widespread feeling for cooking superb meals out of just a few plain ingredients is a national trait and a key to the success of Thailand as a prominent tourist nation.