Fried Mixed Vegetables or
Pàt P̄hak Ruam Mit
By B. S.
Every now and then it’s probably not a bad idea to do your stomach (and your body) a favor by putting something inside it that wasn’t handed to you in a grease stained bag at the neighborhood golden arches … or delivered to your doorstep in thirty minutes or less by the speediest pizza delivery service … or by scarfing down handful after handful of that orangy, crispy cheesy snack that’s a must while watching the big game that you found in a jumbo sized cellophane sack at the local convenience store … or … okay, okay! I think you get the picture.
If you really want to do your bit to make our planet a better and greener place to live, why not start with your very own body, i.e. take better care of it. It’s one thing to recycle, to conserve water, and to save energy in every manner possible. But think about all of the harmful carbon emissions that will be released into the atmosphere each time you’re hooked up to a dialysis machine because you’ve blown your kidneys from years of alcohol abuse. And what about all of the toxins released by the carbon or fossil based fuels that must be burned whilst you’re undergoing the weekly bout of radiation therapy to mitigate the tumor residing in your colon that is the result of ingesting too many handfuls of that artificially colored and flavored cheese snacks since you were six years old.
If you must eat colorful foods forget about orange Cheetos Cheese Puffs, Amber Ales, Green Gummy Bears, and Red Fanta, instead think about the healthy hues
that comprise the colors of fresh vegetables. If you just can’t envision yourself munching on a carrot stick like Bugs Bunny, there’s a local delicacy that once you’ve gotten past the fact that it’s composed almost entirely of farm fresh vegetables, you’ll find that it’s totally tasty. The Thais call it Pàt P̄hạk Ruam Mit, which literally means “fried vegetables all mixed up”, but you can just call it Fried Mixed Vegetables.
Like so many other Thai dishes fried or otherwise, vegetables all mixed up likely originated closer to the border of China than Siam. But vegetable being a global victual to which no one nation can claim ownership, there’s really no way to know for sure if the idea of mixing up veggies was homegrown or imported from elsewhere or merely an accident. Nevertheless, ordering up a plate of Pàt P̄hạk Ruam Mit is a wise choice because it’s low in both cost and calories. It’s fresh, flavorful, and flexible as the veggies are purchased daily and it can be tailored to each eater’s pallet in regard to its vegetable content, and in respect to a source of protein if one’s desired. It can be served as a side dish along with a main of your choice or it can be the centerpiece of your mid-day or evening repast. Plus, it’s way more healthy than devouring that the triple decker ‘Cardiac Arrest Burger’ with extra bacon and cheese you’ve been craving. You may even find that it’s as flavorful as the aforementioned burger, if not more so.
In general, most street vendors don’t have a fixed recipe for fried mixed vegetables. However, they do seem to have a few fixed rules by which they abide. For example, the dish is always comprised of whatever fresh vegetable that particular vendor has on hand at any given moment. The most common being: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, snow peas, green onions, baby corn, bak choy, carrots, white onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and even asparagus. The dish is always quickly flash fried in a hot wok along with fresh garlic, crushed red chilies, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. It’s also always served on a bed of steamed white jasmine rice.
In terms of versatility, you do have some say in which veggies are or are not incorporated into your stir fry. You also have the option of adding a protein in the form of chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, and squid, or tofu if it happens to be meatless Monday or if you’re going vegan for the day or forever. If you are a died in the wool vegan be sure to substitute soy sauce for fish sauce so as not to taint your feast with an unwanted animal byproduct. In addition Pàt P̄hạk Ruam Mit can be enhanced with a sprinkling of black pepper, a squeeze of fresh lime juice or by topping the whole with a fried egg by uttering the Thai words “kai dow”, which means fried egg, when you place your order. No matter how you order fried mixed vegetables it always turns out great.