The influence of Chinese cooking can be found in many Thai dishes, and gai pad king—stir-fried chicken with ginger and wood ear mushrooms*—is a prime example of Thai-Chinese cuisine. This dish starts with a paste made from pounding fresh ginger with white peppercorns and aromatics, which is then stir-fried with chicken, more sliced fresh ginger, wood ear mushrooms, and a savory sauce made with ingredients originally introduced to Thai cuisine by Chinese emigrants—soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fermented soy bean paste.
Gai pad king is a popular aahaan dtaam sang (made-to-order) dish at street food stalls, made by vendors who specialize in high-heat wok cooking. Unlike noodle dishes, which are usually eaten as stand-alone street-food meals, gai pad king is also a staple for Thai home cooks, thanks to its pantry-friendly ingredient list of shelf-stable sauces, spices, and dried mushrooms, along with the chicken and a handful of common fresh vegetables and herbs. Investing in Thai pantry ingredients will make it easy for you to pull off simple stir-fries like this one, ones that can be enjoyed as a quick and easy dinner with cooked jasmine rice and prik nam pla, a punchy condiment of fish sauce and Thai chiles. You can also serve it as part of a multi-course Thai meal, with dishes like panang beef curry, galam plee nam pla, and yam khai dao.
* Editor’s Note: On September 24, 2020, all Shirakiku imported dried fungus were recalled due to concerns about salmonella contamination; please check your pantry to be sure the wood ear mushrooms you may have on hand are not a part of the recall.