Who knew an in-flight meal could be this good?
I never thought that a dish I was served on a plane would be so delicious that I'd want to make it at home, until I had khao tom moo sap for breakfast on a Thai Airways flight. The Thai rice soup - more like the Chiu Chow Chinese version of congee, with the rice grains distinct, instead of the Cantonese style where the rice is simmered so long it dissolves into the broth - was hot, flavourful and soothing to the stomach, just what you need on a long flight. And it's easy to make at home.
If you don’t eat pork, substitute minced chicken (in which case, the dish is called khao tom gai sap). Ideally, it would be skinless dark meat chicken (thigh or leg) but that is hard to find. Use breast if only that is available.
Make the shallot oil. Thinly slice the shallots then put them in a small saucepan with the oil. Bring to a simmer over a medium flame, then lower the heat so the ingredients are cooking at a slight sizzle. Cook until the shallots are pale golden, stirring frequently. Turn off the flame and cool to room temperature.
Mince three of the spring onions and roughly chop the fresh coriander. Put the pork or chicken into a bowl and add the minced spring onion, the coriander, 5ml (1 tsp) of fish sauce, the sugar, a pinch of white pepper and 5ml (1 tsp) cooking oil. Mix thoroughly, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil, then add the cooked rice and simmer for about five minutes.
Make the meat mixture into roughly shaped meatballs and drop them into the simmering broth. Stir occasionally and let them poach for about five minutes, or until cooked. Taste the broth for seasonings (it will be flavourful because of the meatballs) and add some salt or fish sauce, if necessary.
While the rice soup is simmering, mince the fourth spring onion.
When the soup is ready, ladle it into two bowls, sprinkle lightly with white pepper, then scatter some spring onion on top. Spoon some of the cooked shallots on top and drizzle with a little of the shallot oil. Serve with Thai omelettes, if you want a heartier meal. The remaining shallots and shallot oil can be stored at room temperature for at least two weeks, or in the fridge for longer storage.