It’s funny how much your tastes can change over time. When I was growing up, I absolutely hated eggs. I wouldn’t touch them, no matter how many times they were presented to me. Now, not only do I eat eggs, I eat them with a distinctive Thai vegetable/herb known as cha om mixed in! To understand what a big deal this is, you have to know a little bit about this plant…
Cha om is one of the tropical varieties of acacia plants. It grows as a small shrub, with delicate mimosa-like leaves extending from branches that are covered in sharp thorns. In addition to its prickly exterior, cha om has a distinctive odor that is best described as the smell that hits you when you walk into a waste water treatment plant. Yes, this plant has devised some serious defense mechanisms to deter animals from eating it!
However, despite its thorns and pungent odor, the leaves of the cha om plant are actually pretty mild in flavor. And once cooked, the odor dissipates and you’re left with a delicious, somewhat earthy tasting vegetable.
The leaves of cha om are often mixed with eggs to form an omelet in Thai cooking. This omelet can be eaten on its own, as an accompaniment to dips such as nam prik gapi, or even in curries such as gang som. Next week, I’ll post a recipe for nam prik gapi. In the meantime, I’m just relishing the fact that I not only can eat this omelet with cha om, but that I actually enjoy it!