The Chef: Donny Sirisavath
The Restaurants: Khao Noodle Shop in Dallas
What They’re Known For: Thai and Lao street food and noodle dishes inspired by the foods he grew up on. Spinning a buzzy series of pop-up dinners into an award-winning restaurant.
LONG BEFORE Donny Sirisavath taught himself to cook, decades before he left his day job as an engineer at Hewlett-Packard to open his own restaurant, Khao Noodle Shop, in Dallas, this was his comfort food. “When I was younger, I’d just eat pork patties and rice,” he said. His mother cooked it for his family and other Laotian refugees in their community. “She is at the heart and soul of my cooking,” he said.
In Mr. Sirisavath’s first Slow Food Fast recipe, pork patties get big flavor from minced lemongrass, onion and cilantro—he favors the stems for their bite—as well as oyster sauce, fish sauce and garlic. Served over rice, the petite patties are just right for dunking in a Thai-style chile-vinegar sauce. Sliced cucumber and cilantro leaves provide a fresh contrast.
Sign up for a pork patty cooking class with Donny Sirisavath here.
Knead the ground meat until it’s tacky but avoid overworking, or it will toughen. “I fold the seasonings in, like with dough,” the chef said. “And I mix only until the ingredients are distributed.”
For Mr. Sirisavath, this food is ultimately about something bigger than him: “My mother always said you need to bring joy to others.”
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4-inch lemongrass stalk, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ¾ bunch cilantro
- 2 pounds ground pork
- 2 ¼ tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- Vegetable or other neutral oil, for greasing
- 1 cup vinegar
- 2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, halved
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice
- 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced on the bias
- 1 sheet nori (optional)
- In a food processor, pulse onion, lemongrass and garlic until finely minced. Cut cilantro’s thick stems away from bunch and set leaves aside. Mince stems and transfer to a large mixing bowl along with onion-lemongrass-garlic mixture. Add ground pork, 1 ¼ tablespoons sugar, fish sauce and oyster sauce. With clean hands, knead meat and seasonings together until well combined and mixture feels slightly tacky, 1-2 minutes.
- Set a heavy pan over medium heat and lightly slick with oil. Form pork mixture into patties 1 ½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. Working in batches to avoid crowding, fry patties, undisturbed, until well browned on one side, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on other side and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes.
- Make dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together remaining sugar, vinegar and chiles. Add lime juice to taste.
- Distribute warm rice among 4 bowls. Arrange patties on one side of each bowl, and cilantro leaves and cucumber on the other. Crumble nori, if using, over dish. Serve with sauce on the side.
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