I’ve finally got a bit of free time and have been investigating the restaurants and stalls recommended in a handful of Thai-language food guides I bought months ago. Most recently, Kin Rob Krung 2 (‘Eating Around Bangkok 2’) led me Somsak Pu Op, a streetside stall in Thonburi, across the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok.
Somsak specialises in pu op wun sen, crab ‘baked’ with wun sen (glass jelly noodles). In fact, they essentially only do this dish, if you don’t count a variant using prawn, as well as a couple steamed shellfish dishes. On my visit, the crab was cashed, so we went with the prawns.
As is the norm with this dish, the seafood is put on a bed that includes a liberal chunk of pork fat, lots of garlic, black peppercorns and Szechuan pepper:
These ingredients are then ‘baked’ (the op in the name) in a lidded clay or heavy metal pan, with the noodles and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.
Somsak does this in stages, cooking the prawns first:
before seasoning (with Maggi and a bit of water) and adding the noodles, followed by a final topping of green onions. The downside with this method is that the prawns tended to be a bit overcooked, and the noodles undercooked – ideally the latter should be slightly dry (even a bit crispy at the edges, if you ask me) and seasoned by the pork fat, garlic and pepper. This isn’t the case here, but any any lack of seasoning is made up for by Somsak’s delicious Thai seafood-style dipping sauce, which was intensely tart and spicy.
Probably not the most balanced version of the dish, but satisfyingly rich, and at 200B, relatively cheap.
Somsak Pu Op
Cnr Soi 1, Th Lad Ya & Th Charoen Rat
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