Galam plee pad nam pla—Thai stir-fried cabbage with fish sauce—is a vegetable dish that can easily fit in as a component to a multi-dish Thai meal, playing the perfect foil to a rich curry. Or it can stand on its own as light lunch, served with jasmine rice. With just a few pantry-friendly ingredients, galam plee pad nam pla comes together in less than 10 minutes thanks to high-heat wok cooking, a technique that illustrates the influence of Chinese cooking in Thai cuisine.
We begin by stir-frying bite-sized pieces of green cabbage with oil and chopped garlic in a ripping hot wok. Constant stirring and tossing prevents the garlic from burning, and helps lightly coat the cabbage leaves with oil, keeping them separate so they don’t clump and turn soggy as they cook. Then we add drops of water around the sides of the wok, allowing the cabbage to lightly steam and soften without losing its refreshing crunch. A splash of fish sauce, also added around the sides of the hot wok, gives the cabbage a salty-savory punch. A finishing pinch of ground white pepper balances the sweet-bitter garlic and cabbage.