Preserved radish is an underrated and underused ingredient. Even when it’s used sparingly—almost like a condiment—as in pad thai, its absence would be acutely felt by anyone familiar with how pad thai is traditionally made in the city. But preserved radish can be so much more than a sideshow. For example, it goes famously well with eggs, as this dish demonstrates. The omelet, which is studded with soft, chewy preserved radish slivers, is pan-fried, but the basil leaves are deep-fried—a perfect interplay of flavors and textures. Preserved radishes are sold both salted and sweet. Be sure to get the latter for this dish.
- Pour the oil to a depth of 1/2 inch into a wok or Dutch oven and heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and set near the stove. While the oil is heating, rinse the basil leaves, shake off any excess water, and then use a kitchen towel to pat them as dry as possible without bruising them. When the oil is hot, drop in the basil and step back right away. There will be some splattering, but it will subside in just a few seconds. Stir the leaves around until the bubbling subsides and the leaves look somewhat translucent. Using a mesh skimmer, transfer the leaves to the prepared pan. (To minimize the splattering, you can skip the rinsing, but the fried leaves will turn dark green and brown rather than be a beautiful bright green.)
- Rinse the preserved radishes under cold running water for just a few seconds, then squeeze bone-dry. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the fish sauce, and beat with a fork until frothy. Stir in the radishes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the lard in a 10-inch frying pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. When the lard is hot, pour in the egg mixture, spreading it evenly over the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook until the bottom of the omelet is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, lift up the omelet just enough to allow you to slip the remaining 1 tablespoon lard underneath it. Then, instead of lowering the omelet back into the pan, flip it over and cook the other side, pressing down lightly along the way, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Slide the omelet onto a serving platter, top with the crispy basil, and serve immediately with Sriracha and rice. Another popular way to serve this omelet is to incorporate it into a set meal with plain rice porridge.