I have previously written about pad gaprao (simply another transliteration of pad kaprow), a star of Thai cuisine that is often misrepresented in Thai restaurants outside of Southeast Asia by their use of horapha (Thai basil) in place of kaprow (holy basil). Here I make kaprow with cowslip creepers (and holy basil!) for an unusual variation on a classic.
The Cowslip Creeper is a vine flower, native to China, that is used in East Asian cooking. Other names include tonkin jasmine and Chinese violet, and in Thai it is called dok kajorn (ดอกขจร) and dok saleet (ดอกสลิด). Mildly aromatic, these buds feature a moderate sweetness and an ever so slight earthiness. They are refreshingly simple in soups, like the one I enjoyed in Hong Kong, and willingly soak up flavours in stir-fries while maintaining their shape and texture, which is like a mix between green beans (minus the squeak) and heat-softened butter lettuce leaves.
Dok Kajorn Pad Kaprow with Tofu
Stir-fried Tofu with Cowslip Flowers and Holy Basil
Dok kajorn, also called dok saleet, are creeper flowers utilised more regularly in East Asian cooking than here in the UK. They work well in pad kaprow, even though it’s an uncommon use, because they readily hold the seasoning and do not overwhelm due to their own mild flavour. If you can’t find holy basil, you can use Thai basil but it will make this an entire different dish – pad horapha, not pad kaprow. This will serve one person on its own, or multiple with a traditional family style Thai meal.
- 1 tablespoon vegan oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon black soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 3-4 birds eye chilies, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic (or 2 Thai garlic gloves), smashed
- 100 grams firm tofu, crumbled
- 50 grams dok kajorn (cowslip flower)
- handful kaprow/gaprao (holy basil) leaves
- Prepare the seasoning sauce by mixing the oyster sauce, water, sugar, thin soy sauce, and black soy sauce in a small bowl. Stir to ensure sugar is dissolved.
- Heat a wok to medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil. When the oil smokes, tip in the chilies and garlic, stir-frying until the garlic begins to brown slightly (depending on the heat of your hob this could be seconds or a minute).
- Add the tofu and continue to stir fry for about 30 seconds before tipping in the seasoning sauce. Mix through and then add the dok kajorn flowers. Stir fry for about a minute before turning off the heat and stirring the holy basil leaves through.
- Serve with jasmine rice.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Serves 1-2, with rice
- Cuisine: Thai