What do you do when you find yourself at a barbecue in Pai, a glorious hippy den in the northernmost part of Thailand, and you’ve got to produce something fabulous for everyone to share? All you’ve got is a frying pan and a single ring on the hob for your veggie self, whilst everyone else is skewering enough meat to keep a big cat sanctuary going for a few weeks. You could just say sod it and buy yourself a polystyrene tray of som tam or phad thai from the local market, or you could hit that market and refuse to be defeated!
What you do is track down some dead easy ingredients:
- About a pound of potatoes,
- Garlic Cloves,
- An Onion,
- 8-10 Tomatoes,
- Hot Sauce,
- Passata (optional – most countries have a version of this),
- Oil of some sort for frying,
- Salt/Pepper/Whatever seasonings are kicking about.
Cheese is harder to track down in Thailand and if I’m honest I’m not entirely sure where I got my hands on a lump. The fabulous thing about this though is that you can put in whatever you find in the local market and make it in a hostel, a house or a trangia on the side of a mountain. It is Spanish Potato Hot-Pot. If you want to try the original Spanish version then you can check it out on my website. What’s great about it is that it is so easy and so versatile!
Here’s what you do once you’ve carried your haul back to your pad:
1. Chop up all your veg and defend yourself against all the snippy comments that your dinner is not going to be as good as everyone else’s. Make sure your potato chunks are pretty small or everyone else will have eaten, drunk too much, sung karaoke, fallen in the pool and gone to bed by the time yours is cooked.
2. Start frying your potatoes in the oil and keep them moving or their bottoms will burn.
3. When they’re looking quite browned, add the onion and garlic and keep them going, giving everything a good stir and flip every minute or so.
4. When those look a bit browned too, add your chopped tomatoes and hot sauce to taste – personally I like it spicy, but even if you don’t, don’t be too tight with it – without hot sauce this is a much blander beastie. If you are using passata then put that in now too, but don’t drown it too much. Let it all get hot and try a few of your taters to check that they’re done all the way through.
5. If they are, then add salt and pepper and turf it all out, covering it in cheese. You might want to melt the cheese in the pan quickly; it should only take 30 seconds or so for it to melt.
7. Wash the dish up when it comes back licked clean.
8. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture of it at the time, but here’s the Spanish version – for a visual image just mentally replace the olives and parsley with cheese.