Tom Hibbert is the chef and co-owner of my neighbourhood cafe Good As Gold, in Brockley, south-east London, where I often write this column. We regularly chat about reducing food and packaging waste, and, as Tom says, “I’m trying really hard to reduce waste in the kitchen, and it’s so hard, but we’re slowly making a difference, saving money and inventing new dishes.”
Every Friday, he puts on a special both to flex his culinary muscles, and to use up surplus produce. Last week, it was one of his favourite Thai dishes, pad kra pao. As well as a traditional version made with minced pork, he also makes one with the offcuts from the mushrooms for Tom’s fabulous fry-up, because he believes that mushrooms roast better when skinned.
Mushroom skin and stalk pad kra pao
Pad kra pao is a traditional Thai stir-fry made with aromatic holy basil. If you can’t get hold of any, it’s also delicious made with Thai basil or even regular basil, at a push. Whatever you use, make sure you use a lot so the dish has a powerful aniseed flavour throughout.
At Good As Gold, Tom Hibbert makes it by mincing the kitchen’s mushroom trimmings, then frying them with aromatics before stuffing them into a huge sub roll with crisp leaves, cucumber, carrot and sesame seeds, then topping those with a crisp fried egg for extra authenticity.
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2-3 birds eye chillies, to taste
170g mushroom stalks and skins (and/or whole mushrooms and other leftover vegetable such as peppers, green beans and spring onions), minced
½ tsp unrefined sugar
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce (regular or vegan)
1 tsp rice, white-wine or cider vinegar
3 large sprigs Thai holy basil (or Thai basil or regular basil)
To serve (optional)
Rice or a brioche roll, chopped baby gem lettuce, cucumber ribbons, carrot matchsticks, sesame, sriracha and a crisp fried egg
Put the oil in a wok or frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the sliced shallot, garlic and bird’s eye chillies, and stir-fry for three minutes.
Turn up the heat and add the minced mushroom stalks and skins and stir-fry for three to five minutes until caramelised.
Add the unrefined sugar, soy and fish sauces, and the vinegar, then stir-fry until absorbed.
Deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of water, scraping all the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan, then take off the heat and stir in the whole holy basil leaves and finely chopped stalks, and season to taste.
Serve with rice or in a brioche roll topped with chopped little gem, cucumber, carrots, sesame seeds, crispy shallots, coriander, sriracha and a crispy fried egg.