"I'm not an authenticity goon. I don't do something because it's the authentic way; I do it because it's the best way. Sure, this stuff is super traditional because that's the best way to do it, and if I weren't Thai I'd have a bigger authenticity chip on my shoulder. But Thai people just want to cook the best way they can."
With a fermented shrimp paste and salted egg relish. "Feel free to use that relish for other things," Kris pointed out. The chunks of sweet chalky egg temper the blitz of fermented shellfish.
Shredded mackerel with lots of chili, ginger, and lemongrass to keep the heat at bay. Each dish we tried was hot in its own way; some hit you right away while others lived in the slow burn.
Brown Rice Salad
Kris crisped up the rice in LA and packed it up for his trip to New York. It came with pork and peanuts for added crunch and flavor, along with slivers of ginger for relief.
Palate cleansers, hydration helpers, and utensils to pick up all the spicy salads.
Kris makes all of his own sausages at Night + Market. The little spheres are dense fermented pork studded with rice. The longer sliced links are run through with lime leaves, which have a flavor like lime zest but way more herbaceous, like basil.
"There's lots of ways to make this, but this one's my favorite. It's just catfish, pork fat, and a lot of herbs." The mass is wrapped in a large leaf and steamed.
A larb-style salad of slow-roasted pork shoulder with herbs, lime juice, Thai and bird chilies, and a topping of ground toasted rice powder. "Sometimes at the restaurant we grill the pork shoulder, too."
Tossing the 'Startled Pig'
Seasoned Shrimp Rice
"Once you taste this you just can't stop," one of Kris's cooks told me. "It's like funky crack."
The shrimp paste-flavored rice is topped with shreds of an egg omelet, ginger, cilantro, red onion, and "pork candy." Kris: "We take the little burned bits and scraps from the roasted pork shoulder, toss them with sugar, sauce, and spices, and make them into this candy."