August 12 is a very important day in Thailand: it's Mother's Day and the 83rd birthday of Queen Sirikit. Having assumed the throne in 1950 just shy of her 18th birthday, Queen Sirikit is the world's longest-reigning monarch.
In celebration of their beloved queen (who, incidentally, is also a wonderful writer and composer), the Thai people each August 12 bestow flowers and money, gifts symbolic of long life, on maternal figures. The chefs and owners of Khun Kay Thai Cafe, Kay Soodjai and Supatra Yooto, are paying homage to the Queen here in Texas with a special birthday dish called "Long Live the Queen."
In this entrée, soft-shell crab, considered a delicacy in Thailand and available only when older crabs shed their shells as they grow new ones, is battered and pan-fried and served with orange rice noodles. What results is a lovely amalgam of sweet and briny, crunchy and supple as the crisp crustacean provides a lovely contrast to the soft, starchy noodle bed. The mild, light oceanic flavors make for a perfect summer seafood dish.
In addition to "Long Live the Queen," Khun Kay Thai Cafe will mark the Queen's birthday with the reintroduction of its Summer Wrap ($11.95), with fried cod, mango and a spicy pepper sauce with a side of lettuce leaves for wrapping. The vibrant components are so beautiful that it almost seems like a shame to hide them in a lettuce leaf, or, for that matter, in your gullet. Eh, get over it. A thing of beauty can be a joy forever in your stomach.
"Long Live the Queen" is $13.95 and will be available through August 31.