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From Pod to Paste

Tamarind Fruit – Makham - มะขาม

When I visited my village last year, I took my usual leisurely walk around Dern Len. As I walked past my relative’s home, I saw the large tamarind tree that I played underneath with friends when we were young and used as shelter from the hot sun. The four-stories-high tamarind tree still stands, timeless in their yard. I was lucky to see my relatives as well—we haven’t seen each other for many years. I greeted them and we sat down to catch up, and observed once again the yearly family ritual of preparing tamarind chunks under the tree. With everyone’s permission and kindness, I am able to share stories and photos with you today. This is a real snapshot of the Thai-food-ways that are at the heart of my Thai village where Thai culinary tradition is still practiced sustainably.

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Tamarind Tree More Than 50 Years Old

Tamarind pods dry and mature on the tree, then are removed or shaken to fall on the ground. After collecting many baskets of the dried pods, we gather around the table and with many hands we get enough tamarind chunks to last until the next harvest a year away. Often the surplus is bagged and sold, or given to close family members.

Step-by-Step: How to Prepare Tamarind Pod

Tamarind pods dry and mature on the tree until the owner of the tree can find an expert tree climber. Typically the climber will stand on the branches or hold them and shake them until the pods fall onto the ground which is lined with nets or fabric.

removing tamarind pod, vein and seed

Removing Tamarind Pod, Veins and Seeds

After the tamarind pods are collected, people get together to remove the pods, veins, and seeds and pack the tamarind chunks into a package, ready to use in the kitchen. My cousin will show you step-by-step how to open a tamarind pod.

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First Press with Thumbs to Break the Pod

First she holds it with two hands, then uses both thumbs to press the pod until it cracks.

Then remove the pod

Then Remove the Outer Shell of the Pod…

Second, she removes the outer shell of the pod.

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and the Fibrous Veins

Third, she remove the veins that cover the tamarind flesh.

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Next, Insert a Narrow, Small, Sharp Knife into the Flesh

Fourth, holding the tamarind with one hand, use the other hand poke a paring knife with a sharp point into the bean section.

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Push the Hole Open Wide Enough to Get the Seed Out

Finally, use the knife to widen the hole and squeeze out the seed. Repeat until all the seeds are removed.

Seedless Tamarind Chunk is sundry in the bamboo tray

Sun-dry Seedless Tamarind Chunks on a Bamboo Tray

Seedless tamarind chunks sun-dry on bamboo trays for a few days. This gives them a longer shelf life.

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Tamarind in a 1/2 Kilogram Package

Then it is packed into a half-kilogram bag.

The moisture content in tamarind paste is different from tree to tree, and from season to season. The tamarind above is dryer than most you will find in the grocery store.

Now that you understand step-by-step how tamarind chunks are removed from the pods, read my previous post on how to make ready-to-use tamarind concentrate. It explains and illustrates how to intuitively use tamarind as a sour agent in various dishes.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
Related Link

Tamarind Pod, Tamarind Paste and a Jar of Tamarind Concentrate

How to Make Ready-to Use Tamarind Concentrate (praneesthaikitchen.com)

Tamarind Soda

Pranee’s Tamarind Syrup, Tamarind-Honey Tea, Tamarind Soda Recipes (praneesthaikitchen.com)

Golden Cup – กระทงทอง

Golden cup – Krathong Tong – is a classic Thai dish served as an appetizer or snack. I learned how to make golden cups when I had my first kitchen and was taking professional culinary classes. Making the filling is quite easy. The hard part is making the golden cup. It requires a perfect dough recipe, a flower mold and deep-frying. When I saw a few ready-made pastry cups, I decided to use them to make a quick and easy appetizer for a new year’s party. After all I was looking for some auspicious dishes to share with my Thai friends at our new year’s day gathering to wish for a prosperous and healthy year – Sawasdee Pee mai สวัสดีปีใหม่.

Golden Cup - กระทงทอง

Golden Cups – กระทงทอง

Before you start to prepare this appetizer, you will have to decide what to use for the golden cup. The traditional Thai method would be to prepare the cup from scratch by deep-frying the dough, but today there are many options that can be easier and healthier as well. I happened to find these golden pastry cups at Pasta & Co. during the pre-holiday season.

Pastry Cups

Pastry cups

If these pastry cups are not available, I typically use a wonton sheet, brushing it well with cooking oil and then placing it in a small muffin pan, arranging the sheets to fit in the pan in cup-like shape. Then I bake it until it becomes golden and crispy. If you wish to make a traditional golden cup, give this video a try.

Krathong Tong Filling

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I give a local twist to a traditional filling for Krathong Tong

Starting at 6 o’clock and moving clockwise, add ground turkey, diced sweet petite pepper, diced celery, diced apple, black pepper and garlic, and cilantro. Place soy sauce in the center.

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Place ground turkey and seasoning in a pan

Heat a wok on a high heat and pour in a high-heat cooking oil such as peanut oil or canola oil. Stir-fry ground meat with Thai basic seasoning paste – Kratiem Prik Thai – until it is fragrant almost cooked through, about one minute.

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Ground chicken, celery, sweet pepper and apple

Stir in diced celery, sweet pepper and apple, and cook until the pork is no longer pink, about three minutes. After this is done, set it aside.

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Prepare garnish of sliced sweet petite pepper and cilantro leaf

While waiting for the filling to cool down, prepare the garnish. To prepare the garnish we will use 24 mini bell pepper rings and 24 cilantro leaves with about an inch and a half of the stem attached.

Place the filling in the golden cups

Place the filling in the golden cups

 Before serving, spoon the filling into the cups.

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Garnish with cilantro and sweet pepper

Golden Cup – Kratong Tong – กระทงทอง

There are many options for the types of vegetables to cook in the filling; peas and corn kernels is one combination. For the meat, you can use pork and prawns or any minced meat combined with minced prawns. The most important part of this recipe is the Thai basic seasoning paste which is fundamental to all Thai appetizers and an authentic flavor profile.

Yield: 1 1/2  cups

24 golden cups
1 tablespoon sliced garlic
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 cilantro root or 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup ground turkey, chicken or pork
1/4 cup diced sweet pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced apple
Optional: 24 mini bell pepper ring and 24 cilantro leaves for garnish

To make basic Thai basic seasoning paste – Kratiem Prik Thai, place garlic, black pepper and cilantro root or stem in a mortar with pestle and pound until it becomes a fine paste. Gently stir in soy sauce and salt.

Heat a wok on a high heat and pour in a high-heat cooking oil such as peanut oil or canola oil. Stir-fry ground meat with Thai basic seasoning paste until it is fragrant and almost cooked through—about one minute.

Stir in diced celery, sweet pepper and apple and continue until the pork is cooked—about three minutes. Set aside.

While waiting for the filling to cool down, prepare garnish with 24 mini bell pepper rings and 24 cilantro leaves with some stem attached.

Before serving, spoon the filling into the cups and garnish with cilantro and sweet pepper.

Vegetarian Variation:

Substitute 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms for 1 cup ground turkey.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 

Happy Holidays with Aloha

Though I am Thai, and live mostly in Seattle with frequent visits to Thailand, I enjoy visiting Hawaii during the holiday seasons for an escape to warmer weather. In Hawaii, “aloha” is as commonly heard as Sawatdee -สวัสดี is in Thailand. Aloha, however, has many more meanings and today it is appropriate to choose this one: “affection, peace, compassion and mercy.” I would like to take this opportunity to wish you the best of the Holiday Season with Aloha. Happy Holidays to you all. 

Aloha for this Holiday Seasons

Aloha for this Holiday Season

When it comes to Hawaiian fruit, I have a deep love for passion fruit- Saowarod – เสาวรส – or as it is known in the Hawaiian language, Lilikoi. Hopefully this blog will help you learn about passion fruit and how I enjoy them, and give you a chance to share the ways you enjoy passion fruit.

Passion fruit is available in tropical areas such as Hawaii, South America and Southeast Asia. It has a perfect sour and sweet lemony taste similar to the citrus fragrance, and there are seeds and juice in the yellow or purple shell. Its taste and aroma will brighten your day. It brightens every day for me in this land that is abundant with passion fruit.

Kona Farmer Market

Kona Farmers Market, Near Ali’i Road

My first day in Hawaii I always go to the farmers market or fruit stands for fresh local fruits. This time I bought enough fruit to last the entire trip. Fortunately, as a tourist staying in a hotel room with a small refrigerator, I came up with a simple breakfast idea that allowed me to enjoy passion fruit every day. The method is very easy, with no cooking required. 

Passion Fruit at Kona Farmer Market

Passion Fruit at Kona Farmer Market

There are are two types of passion fruit: purple and yellow. The Thai yellow variety is more common here, and you can purchase as many as you would like as it travels well and makes a good instant juice. All you need to eat it is a pocket knife, a plastic spoon, and a napkin.

Step-by-Step How to Open Passion Fruit

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Cutting into the Passion Fruit

Before cutting the top as show above, you can cut off a small part of the bottom to make a platform for the fruit to stand on like shown in the third picture below. Then holding the fruit tight with one hand, cut around the stem end to create an opening large enough for the spoon. I came up with this method for eating fresh passion fruit because it is not as messy as cutting one in half.

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Insert the Spoon and Loosen All Around the Cell Wall a Few Times

Insert the spoon close to the inner shell and loosen the cell wall as you turn the fruit in a circular motion a few times. This technique will break up the fiber, and the inside becomes nice saucy seeds and juice.

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Passion Fruit Waiting for you to Enjoy the Seeds and Juice

Now the fruit can sit waiting for you at the breakfast table. You can enjoy it like a fruit juice, and the seeds are delicious and a great source of fiber and vitamin C.

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Passion Fruit and Greek Yogurt

My favorite way to enjoy passion fruit is to pour it on my Greek yogurt. This make a perfect breakfast or a snack during the day.

I hope you will enjoy passion fruit as much as I do and find different ways to enjoy it. Please share your experiences.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 

Related Photos from Pranee’s Photo Stock

 More photos of passion fruit

Passion Fruit Flower

Passion Fruit Flower in Nicaragua

Passion Fruit and Flowers at different stages

Passion Fruit and Flowers at Different Stages – Nicaragua

Related Link How to Eat Passion Fruit (www.ehow.com)

Amazing Fruit

Bael Fruit Tea-

Bael Fruit Tea-ชามะตูม

Bael fruit is not as mysterious as you might think. If you are one of the many people who have never heard of it, this recipe will provide you with a sweet and fragrant opportunity to learn about it. Its history is ancient, having been used long before the advent of Hinduism, and it carries religious significance. The bael fruit trees grow abundantly throughout the Indian subcontinent and southeastern Asia. In Thailand, we know bael fruit – matoom – มะตูม – both as a component of a popular cold drink during the summer, and for its leaves, which are used in religious ceremonies.

The Drink

Dry Bael Fruit มะตูม

มะตูม – Matoom – Bael Fruit aka Bengal Quince

For most Thais, bael fruit is a favorite that is instantly recognizable by its unique, sweet and aromatic flavor. It is also believed to be good for the digestion. Thais use the expression หอมเย็น ชื่นใจ to convey that the cold tea is fragrant, cool and refreshing. To my students it was a pleasantly delightful drink. They were even more surprised when they learned about the bael fruit. Now you can learn how to make hot or cold fruit drink from matoom.

Dry-Sliced Bael Fruit

Dry-Sliced Bael Fruit

Dry sliced bael fruit can be found at the Asian Market or an online grocery store. In a Thailand supermarket you can find matoom drink in a plastic bottle, or as an instant tea powder to which you simply add hot water. But there is nothing like making your own matoom drink.

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8 Pieces Dry Sliced Gael Fruit

In Thailand, a dry sliced matoom is heated over charcoal before making it into a drink. You may also put it in the toaster or place over a gas burner or gas grill. The direct heat will set off its sweet fragrance. In my kitchen in Seattle, I simply place 8 slices of sliced dry bael fruit on a baking sheet and put it under a preheated broiler for 1 minute or more on each side. You will smell a sweet, delightful fragrance.

Add 6 cups water and bring to a boil

Add 6 Cups Water and Bring to a Boil

Then place the slices in a medium sized pot, add 6 cups water, and bring it to a boil. Let it boil on medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. The sliced bael fruits that remain in the pot will look pale and soft after all their essence is released into the tea.

Bael Fruit Tea - ชา

Bael Fruit Tea – ชามะตูม

Delightful Beverages

During the winter months in Seattle I serve it warm from the teapot just like any other tea. In the summer months in Seattle and Thailand, I love to serve it over ice as a cold drink just like iced tea. It is a very satisfying drink either way. The taste is less sweet than it smells, but it does the trick – I often don’t add any sugar. Serve it at any time and for any occasion. I received a lot of admiration from my students and Thai friends for introducing and reintroducing this drink to them.

Bael Fruit Tea – Cha Matoom – ชามะตูม 

Yield: 4 cups

8 to 10 pieces dry sliced bael fruit

6 cups water

Sugar to taste

Pre-heat the oven on  broil.

Place 8 slices of sliced dry bael fruit on the baking sheet and put under the preheated broiler for 1 minute on each side, until it is fragrant but not burnt. Place the heated bael fruit in a medium size pot and add 6 cups water. Cover.

Bring to a boil then, then continue to cook on medium heat until the tea is a nice brown color, about 15 to 20 minutes. The remaining dry fruit should be pale and soft after all the tea is extracted.

Discard the bael fruit and strain the tea through the fine sieve or cheese cloth. Serve warm like a tea; stir in sugar as desired. For a cold drink, simply pour over ice before serving.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 

Related Link

http://matoomherb.blogspot.com/

Bilva or Bael Fruit and Hinduism (astropeep.com)

 

My Dream Kitchen

Last summer I had an amazing journey and discovery. It was not an actual trip in that I never left Seattle, but nonetheless it was a journey of many miles of driving, all to find my dream kitchen. I loved my old kitchen in its forest setting, a small and snuggled place on the hillside with a view of the bamboo plants—a place where I connect with Thailand. I have written over a thousand recipes there and have made memories with friends and family I will always cherish. But on the 15th anniversary of my Thai culinary profession, I realized that I had outgrown it. For the past few years, I had dreamed of a bigger kitchen, one where I could work on bigger projects and that would provide easy access for my friends and students. With commitment, persistence, hard-work, and good support from friends and family, my real estate agent and I found my dream kitchen by the end of August – Pranee’s Thai Kitchen.

I slowly moved into the new kitchen in September. I now treasure the memory of the stunning Seattle weather in the summer of 2014 when I found My Dream Kitchen.

Pranee's Thai Kitchen Studio

Pranee’s Thai Kitchen Studio

The brand new modern kitchen is in my favorite colors—all shades of blue and white with orange-gold accents—and it is perfect for a test kitchen, a cooking party kitchen, a kitchen studio, and most importantly, for my own down-time with a culinary escape.

The Table

The Table

My first experience with decorating it has been a joy as I sought to create a modern theme that is in harmony with and embraces my Thai village and its culinary culture. My dining table, from Tirto Furniture, illustrates this theme. It is made from the wall of a torn down house in Indonesia, and sets just the right mood for a Thai village and Thai street food. Many thanks to my friend Jennifer. She and I agreed on the spot that this was the table I was looking for.

The Drink

Matoom, Bael Fruit

I have recreated many drinks from my Thai village that I will soon serve on regular basis at Pranee’s Thai Kitchen. The picture above shows dried bael fruit from Thailand. I steep it into a delicious, fragrant tea—a favorite drink served cold or warm in Thai villages. I will soon write this recipe to share with you.

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Phad Thai Goong and Bael Fruit Tea

For a while now, the pursuit of my dream kitchen had been taking all my time, energy, frustration and joy. Looking back, I value the process and the result of finding my dream kitchen, and now Pranee’s Thai Kitchen is ready to welcome friends and students.

And for my blog fans from near and far, I am excited to share my Bael Fruit Tea recipe in my next post for us to celebrate together from your kitchen.

Prob Khan Mai — see you soon.

Pranee

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Gelle, Sri Lanka

Gelle, Sri Lanka

The time machine has been playing tricks on me and preventing me from keeping you posted on where I have been and what I have been cooking since January. During part of that time I was traveling across the South China Sea and Andaman Sea on the MS Amsterdam, a Holland America Line cruise ship  (the 2014 Grand World Voyage), as a guest chef teaching Thai culinary classes. The ship traveled around the world and I joined the ship from Manila to Hong Kong, Singapore, Phuket and Sri Lanka. My full-month culinary experience on board the ship, plus my travels around Southeast and Central Asia, and the opportunity to explore the cuisine and culture of Sri Lanka were wonderful adventures which I will share with you at a later time.

The rest of the time here in Seattle I have been teaching, tasting delicious Thai foods around Seattle,  and keeping busy with my family and Seattle’s Thai community. Please visit my I Love Thai Cooking Facebook page, which I update often with photos and news. For the remainder of this year, I hope to share short recipes and techniques on my Pranee’s Thai Kitchen blog until I finally catch up with everything.

I hope you enjoy my recipe for Thai Egg Salad- ยำไข่ต้ม

Unpretentious

Summer in Seattle for me is about living a carefree life style, exploring nature and enjoying outdoor activities. Dining and entertaining are still important to me, but I try to stick with a nutritious and delicious cooking style that fits my summer style. The recipe I am sharing today reflects my cooking style at this time a year.

Hard-Boiled Eggs Salads - Yum Khai Tom

Hard-Boiled Egg Salad – Yum Khai Tom

When I had a potluck and Thai community gathering to attend one Sunday, I took the simple approach of deciding to prepare an impromptu dish using only those ingredients that I already had in my fridge or freezer, typically staple ingredients that one must have on daily basis. This hard-boiled egg recipe came naturally to mind. Eggs are a soul food for everyone, anywhere and anytime—breakfast, lunch or dinner. For me this week, I have eaten eggs at least one meal each day. I am proud to share this simple dish with friends and I hope you too will find this recipe suitable for your family, or to take to a party with ease. They are a food prepared with heart and nourishing value and the best fresh ingredients possible. Delicious, nutritious and unpretentious.

How to Prepare the Hard-Boiled Eggs – Kai Tom – ไข่ต้ม

Place 13 eggs (one more than you need in order to provide one for testing and tasting) in the bottom of a large pot; add enough water to cover them, plus two inches. Bring to a boil on high heat and then immediately lower heat to medium. Set a timer for 6 to 8 minutes depending how firm you want the egg. After 6 minutes, use one egg as a tester. Rinse the egg with cold water and peel to see how it looks inside. If the center is cooked enough for you, remove the pot from the heat, pour out the hot water, and rinse the eggs with cold water. Let them cool down completely—at least 30 minutes or longer. Once cooled, roll the eggs gently to crack and remove the shell. I learned over time that using older eggs or adding a splash of vinegar to the water makes the shells easier to peel.

The dressing below also works well with fried eggs. See Pranee’s favorite fried egg technique – Thai Fried Egg - Kai Dao – ไข่ดาว

Thai Egg Salad

Yum Kai Tom

ยำไข่ต้ม

The hard-boiled eggs, dressing, and garnish can be made ahead of time and kept in separate containers until ready to use. It will only take about 15 minutes to cut the eggs and place them on the tray, randomly sprinkle sauce, and garnish the top. Then wait and see how many people say “Wow.”

12 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 fresh Thai chilis–red or green, optional
2 large shallots, minced
3 tablespoons fish sauce
5 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon roasted red chili paste, aka chili jam
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
 

Place cut, hard-boiled eggs on a deviled egg platter or a plate.

Make egg salad dressing by combining shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, roasted red chili paste and sugar.

Use a small spoon to spread sauce equally over each egg yolk. Garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
Related Link
 
Thai Fried Egg (praneesthaikitchen.com)
 

ilovethaicooking:

In Seattle, it is the re-sprouting of garlic chives from the ground that tells me every year that spring is here. Enjoy the first harvest of garlic chives.

Happy Spring !
Pranee

Originally posted on Pranee's Thai Kitchen:

Garlic Chives, Herb Essentials

In Seattle, it is the re-sprouting of garlic chives from the ground that tells me every year that spring is here. By April, I am enjoying my first harvest of garlic chives. Growing up with a rich Thai-Chinese heritage, garlic chives were always present in my family kitchen. We call it Gui Chai -กุยช่าย. Also known as Chinese chives, allium tuberosum is native to China and Japan, and widespread throughout Southeast Asia. It is one of the many herbs that I enjoy growing in Seattle. It greets early spring every year around April, and in the fall, around September, the leaves die off. In warm climates like Thailand my family enjoys its long, flat green leaves all year round simply by cutting off a clump of chive stalks with a knife run close to the ground; two weeks later it will have grown up again…

View original 610 more words

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