A popular snack, Kaipen is made of freshwater green algae, peppered with sesame seeds and sundried into paper-thin sheets.
These raw Kaipen are stored away in rolls. For consumption, the Kaipen sheets are flash-fried in a pan and usually served with jaew bong (chilli paste).
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped ginger
1/2 cup garlic, peeled and sliced, about 1/2 head
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dried chili flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 tablespoon minced beef jerky, optional
1 sheet kaipen, cut in rectangles 2 by 4 inches
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet. Add ginger, and sauté over low heat until it starts to turn translucent. Add garlic, and stir until golden. Drain well, and spoon ginger and garlic from skillet to mortar. Pound to a paste.
2. Pour off all but thin film of oil from skillet. Add sugar, chili and fish sauce. Cook over very low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and sauce becomes syrupy. Stir in ginger and garlic and jerky, if using, and cook a minute or so longer to form thick sauce. Check seasoning; add more chili or fish sauce if needed, so that dip is quite spicy with a salty tang. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. In clean skillet, heat remaining oil to very hot. Fry kaipen briefly, turning once, until crisp. Fold and place on paper towels to drain. Cool to room temperature, and serve with jaew bong dip.