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Archive for the ‘Pranee’s Culinary Tales’ Category

For Richer or For Poorer

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In Thailand, fish sauce is called nam pla. It is made of anchovies and salt which are fermented for 6 to 12 months under the tropical sun. The process of fermentation leaves behind an elixir laden with flavor and concentrated glutamic acid. This elixir creates a mouthful of flavor when added to salads, soups, curries, stir-fries, dipping sauces, rice and noodle dishes, or served simply as an everyday condiment – Nam Pla Prik. It is is a medium-brown liquid  that is available in bottles of various sizes ready to use for seasoning and cooking.

When it comes to Thai cuisine and culture, one can’t live without fish sauce. It is important to get the best quality fish sauce, so I have some recommendations for buying it outside of Thailand.  My favorite fish sauce brands, which I use interchangeably, are Thai KitchenTiparos and Three Crabs. Once the bottle has been opened, you can leave it out at room temperature if you cook with fish sauce often, otherwise you can keep it in the fridge for up to 6 months. When it gets too salty or stale, replace it with a new bottle.

Nam Pla Prik as a condiment

Thai people from all walks of life always have fish sauce in their kitchens and typically use it every day, either in their cooking or as a condiment. Thais value its significant flavor and Nam pla is part of Thai people’s lives, regardless of whether they are from rural villages, big towns or the capital city of Bangkok. In fact, it is a Thai’s best friend in all life situations, but especially in economic down times, or for newly married couples starting their lives together. When Thais face financial struggles, one often says “a fish sauce and warm rice is simply enough” (in Thai: มีข้าวกับน้ำปลาเพียงพอแล้ว).  When we go through a tough time and have just  enough money to buy rice and fish sauce, life is still good, still filled with hopes and dreams, and we still have each other, for richer or for poorer.

Nam Pla Prik

 

Spicy Fish Sauce

Nam Pla Prik 

น้ำปลาพริก  

Yield: 1/4 cup

Nam pla prik is no secret to Thai dining;  Thais use  it the way Americans use salt and pepper. This liquid of chili and garlic-infused fish sauce is delicious over warm steamed jasmine rice or just about any Thai food you are about to savor. The fresh layer of fish sauce enhances the food and adds another dimension to each mouthful, heightening the experience on your palate. My favorite way to use it is over a fried egg and steamed hot jasmine rice, with fresh sliced cucumber and tomatoes alongside. Any time you are dining at a Thai restaurant, you may ask for nam pla prik the same way that you would ask for salt and pepper.

¼ cup fish sauce
2 Thai chiles or a jalapeno pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon lime juice, optional

Stir fish sauce, Thai chiles, garlic, sugar and lime juice together in a small bowl. Use this spicy fish sauce for seasoning. You may keep it in an airtight jar up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

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Thai Condiment Set – with Nam Pla Prik

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .
 
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Thai Ceremony & Culinary Traditions

One year, remembrance.

I arrived in Phuket in late March 2015 amid the stunning beauty of the hot season. All my favorite flowers from large trees were in full bloom, and the sky had a beautiful blue hue. The heat and humidity greeted me and welcomed me home. I love Thailand at this time of year. However, this visit was unlike any other. It was an urgent one to visit my mom whose health had worsened since my visit just a month before.

The golden shower tree - Rachapruek - ราชพฤกษ์

The golden shower tree – Rachapruek – ราชพฤกษ์

I only had a chance to admire the season’s beauty from the car window because I had come to spend whatever precious moments I could with my mom. I had my blessing, as we were able to give each other hugs and say our farewells just two days before her passing.

In accordance with the tradition in our region, a celebration of her life followed immediately afterwards. Her funeral was held for six days; the last day was the cremation day. These events all took place on the grounds of our village monastery in a special section where there was a large hall, praying chamber and a kitchen. Over 3,000 friends, relatives and family paid tribute, and on the cremation day, over 145 monks and novice monks and hundreds of people came to honor my mom’s life. She is missed and loved by her family and community.

Thai Temple

Early Morning Sunlight at the Thai Temple

Thai-ness

In honor of Thai culture and Thai-ness, I am sharing these stories and pictures with you. I hope you can read with your open heart and mind and that you learn something of a different people and culture.

In February 2013 I wrote the post Thai Monastery Kitchen about Thai culture and the cuisine at a Thai funeral or celebration of life. I hope you had a chance to read it and see how Thai culinary traditions and culture revolve around the Thai monastery kitchen and event hall where we share food, mourn, laugh, and mingle.

Just two years after that post, my four brothers and my sister and I were suddenly very busy organizing all the details for my mom’s celebration of life. Because the system for doing this event is already in place and the ritual is the same for everyone, there is nothing to reinvent but from 5:30 am till 10 pm each day we were busy shopping for foods and serving them.

Serving Tea and Water

Getting Tea and Water Ready for Our Guests

My mom’s funeral was held in our village monastery hall which was attached to a large kitchen. More than 25 dining tables were set up so that when friends and relatives visited and gave their condolences, the foods and drinks could be promptly served. We steeped tea in a large pot and always had two types of tea: a Thai tea with a hint of sweet and a fragrant Pandan Jasmine Tea. As guests arrived, we welcomed them to sit and promptly served them tea.

My brothers, sister, and all of the in-laws wore black and white and greeted and served with care the friends and relatives from near and far. About 500 people visited each day and the kitchen was always busy with commotion during lunch and dinner time. Generous donations from everyone helped us to keep this tradition alive. It is a big part of helping us mourn the loss of a loved one and I had good visits with many relatives that I hadn’t seen for over 25 years.

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At the funeral, a 10-foot-long table was covered with symbolic and auspicious foods, then groups of related kinship in a clan were called to pay homage, group by group. The first group was the deceased’s children and their spouses. The photo above is of my sister and brothers and their spouses. The next group called is the deceased’s brother and sister, and so on. We added this step to our Thai buddhist ceremony before the cremation to honor my mom and our family’s Phuket Baba culture.

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At the crematorium everyone lined up to pay their respects and say farewell.

Because I was so busy most of the time I only had a chance to take a few pictures on the second day of mourning, but I hope you enjoy the photo log below and the chance to see what it was like in a Thai monastery kitchen during my mom’s celebration of life. If you wish to see more, please check out my photo album “My Mom’s Cerebration of Life.

Thai Ceremony Cooking in a Monastery Kitchen

Thai Village Chef

Jee Lah spoons Hua Mok batter onto a banana leaf

My mom had always admired Jee Lah, the head chef and caterer for most events in the village. Jee Lah was about to go on vacation when my brother asked her to be the cook for the six days of my mom’s celebration of life. Jee Lah agreed to honor my mom’s wish to have her cater her celebration of life. We were so fortunate to have her. Jee Lah specializes in Phuket cuisine and local popular dishes. She created the menu for each day. The foods was real local cuisine expertly prepared with the best taste and quality and she appreciated how all our brothers and sisters made her job easier.

My sister, Rudee prepared mixed fruit plate

My sister Rudee prepared mixed fruit plate

Above, my sister Rudee is preparing fruit platters for snacks or after-meal palate cleansers. In this photo she is preparing sliced green mango and rose apple with nam play wan – น้ำปลาหวาน – a fruit dipping sauce.

Thai Coconut Ice Cream

Thai Coconut Ice Cream

We served my mom’s favorite ice cream to our guests.

Thai Vegetable Accompaniment to Nam Prik and Curry Dish

Thai Vegetable Accompaniments to Nam Prik and Curry Dish

Above is a Thai vegetable accompaniment to Nam Prik – น้ำพริก – hot sauce. There are cucumbers, young corn, cauliflower, and Thai eggplant.

Slicing Technique for Snake Bean for Thai Salad

How to Slice a Snake Bean for Thai Salad

Technique is so important and cooking for 300 guests each meal means there are many helping hands for the long hours of patient and hard work. The snake beans here are sliced thin like paper in an oblong. This preparation is for Thai Southern bean salad.

How to Slice Shallot for Thai Chili Dip and Fried Shallot

Slicing Shallots for Thai Chili Dip and Fried Shallots

In Thai cuisine we use a lot of shallots. Slicing them very thinly, like paper, is always important to allow them to combine well in a salad, chili dipping sauce or making fried shallots.

How to Slice the Green Mango for Thai Salad for Thai Chili Dip

Slicing the Green Mango for Thai Salad or Thai Chili Dip

Green mango is shredded into thin strips for green mango salad. One could use a julienne peeler to accomplish the work but for the beautiful looks and best quality, hand shredding is preferred.

Barracudas - ปลาสาก For Hua Mok, Thai Fish Cake

Barracudas – ปลาสาก For Hua Mok, Thai Fish Cake

The meat from these large fish was for a Hua Mok – a fish cake steamed in banana leaf. The yellow batter that Jee Lah was spooning from the large pot into a banana leaf in the earlier photo was 90% fish meat and the rest is spices and herbs.

How to minced the pork with Clever

How to Mince the Pork with a Cleaver

To make minced meat for soup or meat balls, first slice the meat and then chop it repeatedly with a cleaver until the pork is minced into small pieces.

The Real Thai Local Cuisine

Real Local Thai Cuisine

Everyone worked hard to make everything well to honor our mom. All of the hard work serving the mourners was helping us with the mourning as well.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
For more in-depth in Thai ingredients and Hand-on Cooking Class please check out
Pranee’s One day Asian Market Tour & Cooking Class at Pranee’s Thai Kitchen
 
Related Link
 
What to expect if you are invited to a Thai Funeral.
http://www.thaibuddhist.com/what-to-expect-if-you-are-invited-to-a-thai-funeral/
Thai Monastery Kitchen
https://praneesthaikitchen.com/2013/02/25/thai-monastery-kitchen/
 
 

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Almost, My Thai Herb Garden

Harvesting Lemongrass

Harvesting Lemongrass

Lemongrass – Takrai – ตะไคร้

I always try to enjoy my hometown of Phuket as a tourist would do, but my favorite part is visiting, catching up and dining with my family and relatives in the village. One of my fun days at home in Phuket was following my brother-in-law and admiring his Thai herb garden. We harvested some herbs for my sister Rudee and some for me. The Thai herb garden, with its scents of fresh citrus, wild lemongrass leaves, pungent cumin leaves, and the so-sweet anise aroma of Thai basil, is close to heaven. It has a timeless quality like that of a dream of a childhood day of wonder.

I took many pictures of the herbs from his garden; please check them out. The herbs that we cut with a knife are cumin leaves (Bai Yeerah – Tree Basil plants – Ocimum gratissimum), Thai Basil (Bai Horapa – Ocimum basilicum) and holy basil (Bai Kraprow – Ocimum tenuiflorum).

Thai Ginger, Lesser Ginger and White Turmeric

Thai Ginger, Lesser Ginger and White Turmeric

The Thai herbs that we dug up for the rhizomes were galangal (also known as Thai ginger), lesser ginger and white turmeric.

The lemongrass stalks can be easily removed at ground level, just above the root, with a sharp knife, but my brother-in-law removed the whole cluster and gave me all the trimmed lemongrass stalks.

Lemongrass - Takrai - ตะไคร้

Lemongrass – Takrai – ตะไคร้

As I headed back to my apartment kitchen in Phuket, accompanied by the scent of lemongrass from 30 lemongrass stalks, I knew what would I do with them: make Lemongrass Tea – Nam Takrai – ชาตะไคร้

Lemongrass - Takrai - ตะไคร้

Lemongrass – Takrai – ตะไคร้

You can use any part of the lemongrass plant to make lemongrass tea, from roots to leaves. I often save the leftovers pieces of lemongrass trimmed from my cooking and freeze them until I have a enough to make a tea. In Thailand lemongrass is inexpensive and freshly available everyday. Use the cleanest and freshest lemongrass you can get.

Lemongrass Tea – Cha Takrai – ชาตะไคร้

Lemongrass Tea - Nam Takrai - ชาตะไคร้

Lemongrass Tea – Cha Takrai – ชาตะไคร้

Lemongrass Tea – ชาตะไคร้ – Cha Takrai 

Yield 12 cups

Whenever I give students a demonstration on how to prepare lemongrass for Thai cooking, I always recommend that they save the trimmings and freeze them for making fresh lemongrass tea or a lemongrass simple syrup. Today, my lemongrass tea recipe is made in a large quantity, but you can scale it down to make smaller amount or to adjust the concentration to your desired taste.

12 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and smashed 

1/2 cup sugar, optional

Wash and prepare lemongrass stalk as shown on Pranee’s video

Bring 13 cups of water to a boil in a large pot on high heat. Add lemongrass and let boil for 10 minutes. Strain. If sugar is to be added, bring the tea back to a boil and stir in the sugar until it is dissolved.

Serve hot as a tea, or chill in the fridge and serve as cold drink.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
 
Related Links from Pranee’s Thai Kitchen
 
Lemongrass Paste and Lemongrass Tartar Sauce Recipe
 
Grandma’s Steamed Fish with Lemongrass Recipe
 
Lemongrass Vinaigrette Recipe
 
Thai Steamed Clams with Lemongrass Recipe
 
And much more by using key word “lemongrass” on this blog
 
How to Prepare Lemongrass for Thai Cooking
 
https://youtu.be/58rSRxb_BMU 
 
 

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Kin Khao Kan – กินข้าวกัน – Let’s Eat Together

Thai Omellet, Sour Fish with Taro Stem, Guava and Steamed Jasmine Rice

Lunch at Baan Kamala School

Kin Khao Rue Yangกินข้าวหรือยัง – Have you eaten yet? This is the warmest greeting in Thai culture. It is used like “how are you?” in other cultures and is an everyday practice for greeting family members, friends, neighbors or a visitor who happens to walk by or to your kitchen door. Thais bond strongly over food and a shared community-rich hospitality. When I visited home last November I hardly ate alone. One day I visited Khun Taeng, the head chef at the Kamala School in Phuket, a primary and secondary school that was destroyed by the 2004 tsunami,o but has since been rebuilt. She greeted me in just this way to welcome me back after a long absence. It has been since 2011 that I had spent time in her kitchen savoring Thai Spicy Stir-fried Seafood with Yard Long Bean. First she said, “When did you return home?” then “Kin Khao Kan – กินข้าวกัน – Let’s Eat Together.”

Stir-fried Catfish with Red Curry Paste and Basil served with Jasmine Rice and a clear soup with noodles, mushroom and loofa.

Stir-fried Catfish with Red Curry Paste and Basil served with jasmine rice and a clear soup with noodles, mushroom and loofah.

Home sweet home! This time at the Kamala School, I joined a few teachers that I have known over the past 11 years. Kin Khao Kan – กินข้าวกัน – Let’s eat together! I was very happy to do this. Khan Taeng is an amazing head cook. She cooks for hundred of students, providing authentic dishes that are true to the original flavors of mom’s home cooking. I learned a long time ago that everyone at the school loved spicy foods, and one dish always has many spices. The lunch menu was my favorite famous Thai dish: Stir-fried Catfish with Red Curry Paste and Basil served with jasmine rice and a clear soup with noodles, mushroom and loofah.

While sharing lunch,  I was glad to learn that many students from the past 11 years had moved on, continuing in higher education, and having such adventures. It had been long since I had been there, cooking with friends and family; perhaps, it seemed, this was a time for me to bond with the new students who live at the school. Currently there were almost 200 of them. By the end of our lunch and conversation, I was glad that I would able to spend more time with the students for lunch the coming Sunday. Because the number of students had outgrown my ability to organize such a feast, I would not actually be cooking, just hosting and serving a meal instead. I was also hoping that my soon-to-arrive guests from the United States would also be able to join me.

Sour Curry Fish with Taro Stems served with Thai Omellette

Sour Curry Fish with Taro Stems served with Thai omelet

My guests arrived and two days later they joined me in contributing to and serving lunch to Kamala School’s resident students. Before enjoying each meal, students pay appreciation for foods and thank you to the farmer, caretaker, the cooks and everyone who is a part of contributing to the meal. After serving, we spread out and sat down among the students and ate together. Food-sharing and bonding is a way to build our community and to learn the culture up close and personal. It is simple cycle of eat, love and give. This time we spread the love across the globe at the school dining table. I cannot wait to see everyone again in March 2016. Kin Khao Kan Eek – กินข้าวกันอีก – let’s eat together again.

Thank you to my many students from Seattle, tour members and friends that have given your support to the school. As a result, the school has been able to accept more students and to meet their larger needs for education and a home.

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Thank you!

If you visit Phuket and would like to contribute towards education or food, your group is welcome to create and share a culinary experience with the students. Please contact Kamala School.

Baan Kamala School a.k.a 36th Rajachaprachcanogroh School Phuket

Kamala Beach Road, Kathu District, Phuket 83120, Thailand

Telephone (076) 279 293

Website: http://www.rpg36.ac.th

 

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
 

Related Link

Give Back to Phuket: http://www.phukethasbeengoodtous.org

Below are Pranee’s Recipes of the dishes mentioned above and some that has been served and enjoyed at Kamala School.

Stir-fried Catfish with Red Curry Paste and Thai Basil Recipe

Fish Head Sour Curry with Bilimbi Recipe

Thai Omelet Recipe

Phuket Banana Pancake Recipe

Dragon Fruit Salad with Papaya and Grapefruit Recipe

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Thai Twist

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to take this occasion to wish you all a very happy holiday season with joy and cheers. I very much appreciate your support in following Pranee’s Thai Kitchen blog and attending my Thai cooking classes. A heartfelt thank you! I hope I can welcome you all one day to cook together at Pranee’s Thai Cooking Studio. In the meantime, I would like to give you a special list of recipes that will hopefully give you some insight and inspiration on how to cook your old and new holiday recipes with Thai ingredients to add a new twist to them. Please follow along to see how some Thai dishes or Thai ingredients can delight your family and friends—and most importantly, you the cook, who will have a fun time in the kitchen giving your holiday meal a Thai twist.

Thai Herbs: Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal and Turmeric

Thai Herbs: Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal and Turmeric

Tom Yum Flavor, Zesty and Spicy

First, I would like to inspire you to think “Thai” and make it part of your cooking by using zesty Thai herbs and tropical flavors either instead of or in addition to your traditional herbs. Western cooking has so many uses for lemon zest; Thai cooking uses Kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass and lime zest in similar ways. When shredded fine, you can add them to practically everything, including stuffing, soup, or cranberry sauce. And when you want to infuse them in a sweet syrup or soup, their essential oils are water-soluble, making it is easy to impart their flavors in boiling liquid. It takes only about 5 minutes for them to achieve their maximum flavor.

Cranberry Sauce with a Touch of Thai Herbs

Thai Herbs: Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal and Turmeric

A few years back I created two recipes that I prepared and gave to friends as a holiday gifts: Pranee’s Cranberry Sauce with Spiced Rum and Thai Herbs and Pranee’s Thai Lime Green Chili Jam (which is especially tasty served alongside an appetizer such as Pranee’s Crab Wonton). It was fun for me and my friends still remember the unique tastes of these two dishes and mention them often.

Crunch with Spring Roll Wrapper

You should also think Thai when you want to ease your cooking. Asian spring roll sheets or lumpia sheets make it easy to prepare large quantities of appetizers. You can wrap just about anything up in them for a quick appetizer or dessert where texture is needed. I often have spring roll sheets in the freezer as part of my emergency ingredients at home. Last week, while I still had some jet lag after returning from Thailand and had little time to cook, I wrapped cooked chicken curry filling in the sheets, deep-fried them (they can also be baked), then served them with cucumber salad and Thai sweet chili sauce. It was a satisfying quick fix.

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Curried Chicken Spring Roll, Cucumber Salad and Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet and Spicy with Sweet and Hot Chili Sauce

Today, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and Thai Sriracha sauce have become staple Thai ingredients in American kitchens. Adding Thai  Sweet Chili Sauce to sauces in place of sugar or honey adds more complex flavors. And if you want to spice anything up, Sriracha sauce can do the magic by just adding a drop or two to your holiday sauce or dressing. Having these two sauces at home can also provide a nice taste balance in an instant.The Thai flavor profile is sweet, sour, salt, salty and spicy. I often balance the Chili Sauce (sweet) and Sriracha (hot) sauces together with a dash of fish sauce, a splash of lime juice and a touch of cilantro. Soon all of the flavors are harmonized, and provide a perfect dipping sauce for everything—including leftover turkey. Sweet Chile Sauce also makes a great base for a salad dressing. I hope you will enjoy my recipe with a modern twist: Sweet Chili Vinaigrette.

Thai Sweet Chili Vinaigrete

Thai Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

Coconut Love

Finally, try giving some Thai flavor to your desserts. A few years ago I was inspired by Russian Tea Cakes to develop a recipe for Coconut Tea Cakes. The Thai version made a nice surprise for a friend who discovered the coconut texture and flavor after assuming from their looks that she was going to bite into a traditional Russian tea cake cookie. Another dessert to try if you have a surplus of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes is to substitute them for mung beans to make a delectable Thai Coconut Custard.

coconut tea cake

Coconut Tea Cakes and Other Treats

I hope you have a great time preparing meals with a little Thai twist during the holiday season. Warmest wishes from my Thai kitchen.

Pranee

Gift Certificate is Available
Gift Certificate for Thai Cooking Lesson

Gift Certificate for Thai Cooking Lesson

 

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
 

Related Link:

What’s for breakfast?

Banana Pancake Recipe : praneesthaikitchen.com

Vietnamese Coffee Recipe : praneesthaikitchen.com

Rice Soup : praneesthaikitchen.com

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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)

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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)
 

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Embrace Bitter

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Pak Wan Pah – ผักหวานป่า

Pak Wah Pah – ผักหวานป่า –  Melientha Suavis Pierre

My favorite vegetable from the wild—Pak Wah Pah—is high in antioxidants and Thai research shows that it has amazing health benefits. I used to enjoy harvesting them with my three aunts.

I was home in Phuket again in August and September this year. It was like taking a culinary vacation for real Thai food. At almost every meal with family and friends in my Thai village we ate authentic Thai food just like my grandma and our ancestors used to eat. Thai cuisine is famous for its harmonious balance of pungent hot, sweet, sour and salty. However, only native Thais embrace the bitter side of Thai food.  What I learned from my grandmother is that the bitter is medicine.

Before leaving for Thailand, I was lucky to receive a precious book, “Eating on the Wild Side,” by Jo Robinson. Jo encourages people to “eat on the wild side,” by which she means finding the modern-day fruits and vegetables that come closest to matching the nutritional values of our original wild plants. I was delighted to find that Jo recognizes the fundamentals of Thai food ways and understands how Thai cuisine embraces bitter tastes. Please read more in Jo’s book about the link between the bitter taste of some foods and the health benefits one can get from them.

I am my grandma’s grand-daughter and I love to eat Thai on the wild side and all thing bitter in Thai cuisine. I either eat on the wild side, or as wild as I can. Without a doubt I have become a fan of Jo Robinson and her work and I have been following Jo on the news and through her talks. I am excited to continue to follow Jo’s work and find out more about her study of fruits and vegetables and their health benefits. I hope you learn a lot from this short interview video.

I hope you will also enjoy these photos from my previous visits to Thailand. They highlight some of the practices that still exist in my hometown. Most of these photos are from the Thalang Open Air MarketTalad Nud Thalang – in Phuket.

If asked what is the most authentic Thai dish, I think most Thais would say,  Nam Prik – chili dip. It is the number one most-served dish, and a must-have, along with soup, stir-fry and curry dishes, for a real Thai family table. There are many kinds of chili dip throughout  the four regions of Thailand. Nam Prik is never served alone, it is usually accompanied by Pak Kred – ผักเกร็ดi – fresh wide leaves or a vegetable accompaniment. The dip and its accompaniment are equally important; both embrace each other. I never think of Nam Prik as a peasant food. Our ancestors wittingly created this as a health food. Nam Prik is just one example of how Thais include fresh healthy choices with our meals. Thank you to the many villagers who still preserve, domesticate and grow this edible plant that is so close to the wild, despite the threat of lifestyle changes that locals in Phuket are facing.

bookcover-lg

Now that I am back to Seattle, I can’t wait to continue reading the rest of “Eating on the Wild Side.” I hope you too will have a chance to read it and check out all of the reference articles and videos regarding Jo’s works and books at  Eat Wild. You won’t need to travel with me to Thailand to find wild vegetables, “Eating on the Wild Side” will help you choose vegetables from your grocery store that are as close to wild as you can get (Huffingtonpost) in order to enjoy optimal health.

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Assortment of nam prik – น้ำพริก – Thai chili dip

In Thailand, the wet market, open air market, and even the mall supermarket will have a variety of fresh nam prik ready to order.

Nam Prik

Nam Prik – น้ำพริก – Chili Dip

Choose your bitter green and pair it with your nam prik. This is a daily option for my family and Thai villagers or even large city dwellers.

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Bua Bok – บัวบก – Centella asiatica

Bua Bok – บัวบก – Centella asiatica is widely used in southeast Asian cuisine and Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. The American Cancer Society is exploring its potential.

ดอกแค

ดอกแค

   Sesbania_grandiflora

lotus and lotus stems - ดอกบัว และ สายบัว

Lotus and lotus stem – ดอกบัว และ สายบัว

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ใบตำลึง – Coccinia grandis

ใบตำลึง – Coccinia grandis

ดอกสะเดา

ดอกสะเดา – Flowers and leaves from neem tree

ดอกสะเดา – flowers and leaves from neem tree

ผักกระเฉด

ผักกระเฉด – Water mimosa

ผักกระเฉด – water mimosa

ใบย่านาง

ใบย่านาง – Yanang Leaves – Tiliacora triandra

Tiliacora triandra

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

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A Gift from a Thai village, Durian Paste Candy – ทุเรียนกวน – Thurian Guan

When I visit home I love hanging around the open air market in my village. It is common for each village in Thailand to have an open air market in the late afternoon till the evening from 1 to 3 times a week. We call it ตลาดนัด – Talad Nad – and it is the best way to get fresh and dry ingredients for cooking when traveling to the wet market in town in the early morning is not an option. It is similar to the Seattle Farmers Market, but the stalls are a mix of merchants and farmers. I often enjoy snacks from the food stands, take pictures, and pick up a few things for myself and my family. You can find everything from fresh ingredients to cooked food and seasonal fruits. One durian season I had a chance to reconnect with an old friend, the durian farmer shown below. He had loaded his freshly picked durian fruits—that had dropped from the tree that day—into the back of his motorcycle basket. The durian flesh stays good in the fruit for a few days. He sold his durian at the Talad Nad and around the village. What was left was likely to become durian paste candy.

Phuket durian farmer

Phuket durian farmer

A good grade durian sells for a good price

The peak season for durian is in June and July. During that time, farm families will turn their large surplus of durian into durian candy. In Kamala village, durian plantation owners are famous for their durian candy, a rare specialty commodity. When durian season comes, make sure you ask to be on the list for freshly made durian paste candy, a gift of pride from the village.

Kamala Village Durian Paste Candy

Mangosteen, durian and durian candy

Durian, mangosteen and durian paste candy are in season during the monsoon season

Photo is a courtesy from Old Phuket Town Community and was taken on July 6, 2013 on Kamala Agricultural Day.

Please click photo to see the event

In the above photo, the durian paste candy is wrapped in plastic and rolled into a tube. Last year, due to a drought, no durian paste candy was available.

Durian flesh or durian custard

My first post on durian was written in 2011. It was called  “What is the durian and how to open it?” It showed, in detail, how to open durian. Now you are going to learn how to remove the flesh from the stone after you open the fruit. The pulp from 5 durian fruits roughly this size will yield about a kilogram of candy.

remove and discard seed from durian flesh by hand

Remove seeds by hand from durian flesh and discard

The best and easiest to remove the pulp from the seed is to use both hands to squeeze out the seeds, discard them, and leave the durian pulp in the container.

The making of durian paste candy in Kamala Village, Phuket Thailand

The making of durian candy

Making durian paste candy

In July 2006, I asked around during one of my visits to Kamala village, Phuket, Thailand and learned that my friend’s family was making durian paste candy. I was able to take pictures and videotape the process. Following is the recipe from my notes and video interview. The durian plantation owner—her name is Pranee as well—said there is no secret to making durian paste candy. It simply requires patience, time, and strong arms to stir the durian constantly. It usually takes her a whole day in preparation. The candy can be 100% durian, or it can call for adding 100 grams of sugar for every kilogram of durian pulp. It is cooked over a low, simmering heat and stirred until the flesh turns into a sticky brown candy. It takes about 6 hours, from morning to late afternoon, until the pulp becomes a shiny lump and it can be rolled into a ball and rolled like a marble. After it cools down, it is wrapped in plastic and rolled into a tube. It is made to order for sale in a half kilo or smaller. The price varies from year to year. This year’s price right now in Phuket is around 200 baht, which is about $7.

The making of durian paste candy, Phuket, Thailand

Pranee’s tip for small plantation owners is that she saves durian pulp in the refrigerator each day until there is enough pulp to fill the pan. This way it becomes worth her while to prepare the candy with a full pan of durian pulp while she takes care of her granddaughter at the same time. While I was learning from her, I enjoyed watching villagers going by. I had a chance to taste the durian candy shown above. There wasn’t any durian candy last year because the dry and short monsoon season limited flower productivity, but this year there is a great surplus of durian, which predicts that there will be a lot of durian paste candy going around in the village. I can’t wait to taste it again this year.

ทุเรียนกวน

Durian Paste Candy –  ทุเรียนกวน – Thurian Guan

This is a typical durian paste candy – ทุเรียนกวน – Thurian Guan found in American Asian markets for a short period of time each year.

It is also known as Thurian Guan, Durian Guan, Durian Paste, Durian Fruit Roll, Durian Cake and Durian Jam.

It is available at online market such as Amazon , Temple of Thai and Import Foods under durian paste.

Love Thai Cooking

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 

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Good Time & Bad Time

เวลาที่ยากลำบากและเวลาที่สบาย

I had Tom Yum Mama Noodle Soup for lunch today, instant ramen noodles made from the Mama brand with Tom Yum Goong favor. I took a short break from working in the garden and went into my kitchen, but there weren’t any leftovers and I had a craving for the flavors of Tom Yum Mama Noodle Soup. It is common—but not often—that I reach into my kitchen cabinet where a few emergency instant noodles are hidden. It is an honest confession that I take pleasure in eating instant Tom Yum Mama noodles once in a while. I am not alone. One of the photos below was taken a few years back when I visited my friend Varuunee one hot and humid afternoon at her food stand in Bangtao Village, Phuket, Thailand.

Tom Yum Mama Ramen Noodle Soup

Varunee prepared our lunch –Tom Yum Mama with egg and Chinese celery – for her neighbor and me. The neighbor happened to be the head chef for the Thai restaurant at a famous resort hotel nearby. There we were, two cooks, leisurely slurping the simplest dish prepared from instant noodles – just for good time’s sake!

Oriental Style Instant Noodles Shrimp Flavour (TOM YUM)

Mama and Wai Wai are two famous brands among instant noodles

Above is my favorite, Mama Shrimp Tom Yum flavor

In Fall 2011, I was in line at the cashier’s stand in an Asian market in Seattle when I saw a food stamp shopper demand to know when Thai instant noodles would be back on the shelves. The cashier simply could not give a precise answer due to the huge domestic demand in Thailand and the shortage due to the extreme flood crisis during the late monsoon season that September. The flood effected many families; some were living on instant noodles and other foods in their emergency food supply. Instant noodles can be kept for extended periods and by adding just a small amount of warm water they can become a good emergency food source. In fact, a hike in sales of instant noodles can be use as an index for indicating bad economic events in Thailand. In general the sale of the noodles is high at the end of the month, during economic crises, and when there are extreme weather conditions—times when when every Baht (Thai currency)- ทุกบาททุกสตางค์  – is stretched -เวลาที่ยากลำบาก

Raining Season in Phuket

Raining season in Kamala, Phuket, Thailand

May 26th, 2013

Photo above is a courtesy of Niruj Kamala News

Lately my family and friends have mentioned a lot on Facebook about power shortages and heavy rain in Phuket, Thailand. Monsoons start at the beginning of May and end around September, though the weather varies from year to year as does when a storm will hit. The posts on Facebook reminded me of the story that I want to share with you from the year 2011. That year, Thailand was faced with some of the most extreme floods in its history. Perhaps you still remember the news of the difficulties people experienced who lived in the flooded areas in central Thailand. For some people it was more than two months before the water receded.

Tom Yum Mama with Egg

Instant noodles can be a fun dish that is quick and easy for students, or for the many Thais who experience a random craving for a familiar taste during good times or bad!

It tastes like tom yom soup. Ingredients: wheat flour, palm oil, salt, sugar and CMC, soup base ingredients, kaffir lime leaf powder, lemongrass powder, sugar, MSG, chili paste, chili powder, palm oil and artificial shrimp flavor. Net Weight 2.10 oz. Product of Thailand.

Tom Yum Mama with Egg and Celery

I don’t recommend instant noodles as an everyday food for anyone. I am sharing them with you today because they tell a story about how what we eat is affected by economics, politics and environment factors. Instant noodles often serve as temporary foods to alleviate hunger. For many people, sometimes hunger is real. There are proteins that you can add to your noodle soup such as ground pork or beef, shrimp, and egg. For vegetables, the options are choy sum, bok choy and bean sprouts. For the herbs, Kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, cilantro and chives.

Tom Yum Mama Noodles

ต้มยำบะหมี่มาม่า

Tom Yum Bamee Mama

Serve: 1

Cooking Time: 7 minutes

1 package Mama Noodles Tom Yum Flavor
1 egg
1 rib or stalk Chinese celery or celery heart, chopped (use both leaf and stalk)
1/2 lime, cut into two wedges
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
 

While bringing 1 cup water to a boil in small pot on high heat, open a package of instant noodles and the seasoning packet, and chop the celery. When the water comes to a boil, add seasonings and stir, then add the noodles. Cover, and let cook for 2 minutes. Stir the noodles to loosen them and make a well in the center. Crack the egg and drop it into the center. Cover and let the egg poach in the liquid for 1 minute. Stir in half of the celery and the juice from one lime wedge. Garnish with remaining celery, lime wedge, and chili power if desired. Enjoy immediately.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 

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Incredible Me

Banana Tender Stems

Banana Tender Stems

Banana Stemsหยวกกล้วย – are considered a vegetable in Thai cuisine.  They are available everyday at wet markets and open-air-markets if you don’t have your own banana tree growing in your backyard or can’t get them from the nearby forest. Actually, the banana tree is not a tree at all. It is a giant herbaceous plant, with large leaves that closely roll up one over the other. Together they look like a trunk, but they are leaves from underground stems and they form only an “apparent trunk. Villagers in Thailand and many countries in South and Southeast Asia consider the tender core of the banana stems, the apparent trunk,  a valuable nutritious vegetable. In Thai we call them, หยวกกล้วย – Yuak Kluey – Banana Stems. Each leaf can be peeled off. As you get closed to the center, you will find the most tender leave.

Banana stem cut crosswise

Banana stem cut crosswise

Banana leaves closely rolled up one over the other. This is a cut from a five-month-old banana apparent trunk. Banana trees usually have about 15 to 20 leaves.

Just like corn is used in the United States for both human and animal food, all parts of the banana plant—leaves, banana, banana skin, and roots—have minerals, vitamins, and fat. Thai farmers feed all parts of the banana to their pigs and farm animals. When I was in high school I had a pair of piglets. On the weekends I chopped down banana stems, cooked them with broken rice, and let them stew into a porridge before feeding them to the pigs. Farmers also mix chopped banana stems with other grasses during dry season for cows, goats and cattle—there are plenty of bananas in Southeast Asia. Banana stems are one-third edible vegetation and two-thirds water, but have a good amount of protein and fat plus minerals and vitamins. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, phosphorus, B6 and calcium, as good as the banana fruit itself. The stems are considered food in everyday cooking in Asia and Southeast Asia.

Banana Tree Trunks

Banana Tree Trunks

On Phuket Island, there are two varieties of bananas that have stems considered excellent for cooking. They are Kluey Nam Wah – กล้วยน้ำว้า – which are similar to apple bananas, and  gluey pa – กล้วยป่า – wild bananas that are best for their delicious stems. In Phuket, it is typical for mountain- and hill-sides to be covered with wild bananas. The best time to harvest quality banana stems for cooking is when they are about 3 to 4 months old, before the tree begins to flower and the core is still tender.

Phuket Tom Som - Phuket Sour Soup with Wild Vegetable

Phuket Tom Som – Phuket Sour Soup with Wild Vegetable

After banana stems are cooked, the texture is juicy, crunchy, and squishy, and the taste is sweet, tart, and bitter, plus their air pockets absorb the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish. I can’t compare the flavor of banana stems with anything else, but I can say that the texture and taste give me the same satisfaction as when I bite into Belgian endive. I would like to encourage you to try banana stems when you have a chance. If I were a banana stem, I would say that I am incredible, and that my taste, texture and nutritional value make me stand out with great personality. The dish that presents me is always memorable because of the incredible me!

Banana Stems

Add sliced banana stems to sweet and sour vegetable soup

One morning last month I found my mom, sister, and sister in-law prepping and cooking together in the kitchen. I immediately grasped my camera and, trying not to interrupt everyone in the middle of the process, I took a snapshot of a real life in my Thai family kitchen. This is a typical vegetable soup of Phuket; it has been part of my mom’s new low fat, low sodium diet since she returned from the hospital. For this post, I will just highlight the banana stems themselves without adding a recipe in order to demystify the ingredients and cutting techniques, and help you to understand the amazing beauty of banana stems in Southern Thai cooking. I was lucky that my family prepared banana stems two ways while I was there, one for soup and another for sour curry. I hope you enjoy a real cooking show from my mom’s kitchen.

Step-by-Step How to Prepare Banana Stems for Soup

discard the tough outer layer of banana stem

Discard the tough outer layer of the banana stem

After purchasing the banana stems from the market, my mom removed the tough outer layer to get to the tender part.

Preparing banana stems for making the soup

Preparing banana stems for making soup

Preparing banana stems for making the soup

Preparing banana stems for making soup

Use your  index finger to remove the soft fiber strand or stringing.

soak sliced banana stem in cold salted water or lime water

Soak sliced banana stems in cold salted water or in lime water

Soak sliced banana stem in a cold salted water or lime water for a short or long period of time, then it is ready to incorporate into a soup or stew.

Step-by-Step How to Prepare Banana Stems for Curry

Cut into one a half inch pieces

Cut into one and a half-inch pieces

Cut into pieces about one and a half-inches in length.

Cut Banana Stem in four pieces

Cut banana stem in four pieces

Then cut each piece lengthwise into four pieces as shown in the photo above.

banana stems

Soak cut banana stems in cold salted water or lime water

Keep the stems fresh and prevent browning by putting them in cold water with salt or lime juice, about 1 teaspoon salt or the juice of 1/2 lime for 4 cups water.

Sour Curry with Fish and Banana Stem

Gaeng Som Pla Yuak Kleuy – Sour Curry with Fish and Banana Stems

My sister cooked  Gaeng Som Pla Yuak Kluey, Sour Curry with Fish and Banana Stems.

Tips and Techniques for Cooking with Banana Stems

After you learn how to prepare the banana stems step-by-step, now you need to encourage yourself to incorporate banana stems into these incredible dishes. Here are my favorites: Phuket Tom Som (Phuket Sweet and Sour Vegetable Soup Recipe), Gaeng Som Moo Sam Chan (Surathani Pork Belly Sour Curry), Gaeng Yuak (Northern Thai Curry with Chicken, Gaeng Kati Gai (Thai curry Chicken with Coconut Milk). I would also not hesitate to try them in Tom Kha Gai.

Buying and storing. Buy the freshest banana stems and cook within a day; with exposure to light and air they will keep growing and get tougher. One can store them in the refrigerator for a day or two, but I prefer to cook them as soon as I can to enjoy the best taste. The cooking time for banana stems is about 3 to 5 minutes. Keep them soaked in cold water with salt and lime juice until you are ready to cook.

 
© 2012  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 

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Thai Monastery Kitchen

Buddha Sculpture

Buddha Sculpture

Thai Culture

As soon as I arrived at the Phuket Airport, my brother broke the news to me that my friend’s mother had passed away—the grandmother of the boy who asked for the quail eggs. Looking back, I treasure the time I had spent with her in December 2012. She had talked of my childhood and we talked about the many things that came to our minds. In Thai culture, elders are living treasures of our community; we always pay respect to elders. For instance, on Thai New Year’s Day (สงกรานต์ – Songkran) and on wedding days, a blessing  from the elders is a village custom. Her funeral was held in our village monastery hall. More than 25 dining tables were set up so that when friends and relatives from near and far visited and gave their condolences, the foods and drinks could be promptly served. I spent a few hours each of my first two days in Phuket at the funeral.

I

ดอกไม้จันทน์ – Dok Mai Jan – A sandalwood flower is used to say a final farewell

The funeral ended with the cremation at a crematorium nearby in the monastery. ดอกไม้จันทน์ – Dok Mai Jan – a sandalwood flower, is placed next to the coffin near the crematorium, a chance for all to pay respect and say their final farewell. That day, people stopped to pay their respects in order of status and seniority. First there were monks, then the vice governor of Phuket, the woman’s children, and all relatives, friends, and all neighbors. I placed a Dok Mai Jan and thanked her for her contribution to my childhood and our community. And like other Thais, I asked for her pardon for any physical or verbal act I might have done against her—intentionally or unintentionally—and that all be forever forgiven.

Thai Cuisine and Culture

In Thailand, a funeral typically lasts for three to seven days and takes place either at the person’s home or at the monastery. Nowadays, it is often most convenient to have the funeral at the monastery. In my village, the monastery is equipped with everything that the community needs to cater a successful event, from cooking utensils to serving dishes, and dining tables and chairs enough for 800 guests.

Dishes and tableware for serving

Dishes and tableware for serving

Thirty years or more ago, all cooks and servers were volunteers from the community, and kids would learn culinary skills, dish cleaning, and serving skills at such a function. With today’s lifestyles, however, local caterers are depended upon to buy ingredients and prepare two meals each day. Close friends and families provide additional help dishing up and serving.

Phuket Cuisine

Phuket Cuisine

The Phuket cuisine served at the funeral and the flavors of my hometown gave me a complete feeling of homecoming. After the cremation, I found the lead cook resting in the kitchen, her long hours of intensive cooking done. I was delighted to get a chance to interview Pee Yoiy -พี่่ย้อย บ้านดอน, a caterer and a head chef for the event. Pee Yoiy and her team did amazing work providing two large meals a day for five days. During a funeral, food is typically prepared for 300 people for lunch, and 500 people at dinner time. About 600 people came for a full meal for lunch before the cremation. They came to eat and eat well, to connect, to rebond and to celebrate the life of the deceased. A donation to the host is expected, but the amount is for making a merit -ทำบุญ – Tum Boon – to share the expense of the funeral with the family. The Thai culture is a food culture, and providing a meal at a funeral is very important.

Pee Yoiy - พี่่ย้อย บ้านดอน - Top Chef on her last day of duty

Pee Yoiy – พี่่ย้อย บ้านดอน – Top chef on her last day of duty

In the Thalang district, on the Island of Phuket, Pee Yoiy and her team caters large events such as weddings at private homes or rental places. Funerals and the ordinations of new monks are typically held in the temple kitchen. You can reach Pee Yoiy at พี่่ย้อย บ้านดอน 084 8487228.

What are local favorites in Phuket cuisine?

pork stuffed bitter mellon soup - แกงจืดมะระยัดไส้หมู

Pork stuffed bitter melon soup – แกงจืดมะระยัดไส้หมู

Southeast Asian delight: Pork-stuffed Bitter Melon Soup – แกงจืดมะระยัดไส้หมู – Gaeng Jued Mara Yudsai Moo

IMG_0240

Gaeng Tai Pla – แกงไตปลา – Southern Hot and Spicy Vegetable Curry

Gaeng Tai Pla –  แกงไตปลา – Southern Hot and Spicy Vegetable Curry is a southern Thai dish that uses fermented fish stomach as a base for curry. The dish is then enjoyed with fermented rice noodles or steamed jasmine rice.

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Moo Hong Phuket – หมูฮ้องภูเก็ต – Braised Five-Spice Pork Phuket Style

Moo Hong Phuket – หมูฮ้องภูเก็ต – Braised Five-Spice Pork Phuket Style in soy sauce. Pork belly or pork shoulder is braised with hard-boiled eggs in a five-spice powder with a dominant cinnamon flavor.

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Stir-fried Phuket Hokkien Mee – ผัดหมี่ฮกเกี้ยนภูเก็ต

Phuket favorite all-occasion noodles.

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Phuket Nam Prik – น้ำพริกภูเก็ต

Nam Prik – น้ำพริก – a traditional Thai dip to accompany vegetables (ผัก
เก็ด)

vegetable accompaniment - ผัก เก็ด)

Vegetable accompaniment – ผัก เก็ด)

A vegetable accompaniment— ผัก เก็ด – Pak Kred— is the most important complement to the main dish in southern Thailand. It is ideal to graze on Pak Kred during a meal that has one or more spicy dishes served with rice or fermented rice noodles – ขนมจีน  – Khamon Jean. It can be made of any vegetables or fresh herbs. The photo above shows cucumber, blanched wing beans, sliced white turmeric, bean sprouts, and young leaves from the cashew-nut tree.

Gaeng Som Pla - แกงส้มปลา -  Sour Curry Fish

Gaeng Som Pla – แกงส้มปลา – Sour Curry Fish

Gaeng Som Pla – แกงส้มปลา – Sour Curry Fish is a typical curry of southern Thailand.

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ข้าวเหนียวตัดหน้าสังขยา – Sticky rice with Thai custard topping

Plenty of dessert is available throughout the function.

Pa Tong Ko - ปาท่องโก๋

Pa Tong Ko – ปาท่องโก๋

Pa Tong Ko – ปาท่องโก๋ – Deep-fried dough sticks with pandanus-infused custard is served as a snack or dessert.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
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Eat Like a Local (continued)

A fish stand on Rawai beach at sea gypsy village

A fish stand on Rawai beach at sea gypsy village

I grew up on Phuket Island at a time when seafood was three-times cheaper than meat. I remember my grandmother giving me two baht to buy a kilogram of the fish of my choice. Today seafood costs much more due to the high demand and limited resources. In restaurants in tourist areas you might see it on the menu for 300 baht (about ten U.S. dollars at today’s rate) per kilogram, with your choice of preparation. Before you order, be sure to check on the price because the market price changes on a day-to-day basis.

What you see below are typical dishes that you can order at any seafood restaurant in Phuket, and especially those around the southern tip of Phuket Island and the Rawai Beach and Chalong Bay areas. I hope you enjoy photos of foods from our family reunion at Talay-Zep Restaurant. For seafood lovers, I recommend that you include lunch or dinner on your itinerary when you visit the beautiful area of southern Phuket. Afterwards, take a leisurely walk to Rawai pier, the sea gypsy village, and the sea shell museum. Like the locals do, dine on seafood and appreciate the source and the scenery.

The feast from the sea at Talay-Zep Seafood Restaurant.

Talay-Zep's chef prepared Som Tum

Talay-Zep’s chef prepares Som Tum

Som Tum green papaya salad is prepared in a large wooden mortar.

Green Papaya Salad with Anchovy and Blue Crab

Som Tum Phoo Sod – Green Papaya Salad with Anchovy and Blue Crab

Phuket Som Tum Civeche: the owner designed this Som Tum to please locals with a touch of raw blue crab and fried anchovy.

Grilled Butterflied Fish with Seafood Dipping Sauce

Grilled Butterflied Fish with Seafood Dipping Sauce

Grilled fish over charcoal or coconut husk is simply delicious served with Phuket garlic-lime dipping sauce.

Pla Nuang Manao ~ Steamed Fish in Lime Juice

Pla Nuang Manao ~ Steamed Fish in Lime Juice -ปลานึ่งมะนาว

Steaming fish is the healthiest way to cook it, and the flavor is supreme when a delicious garlic, lime, and cilantro sauce is poured on top. The sweetness comes from steaming the whole fish with a salty, spicy and sour sauce. The sour is from lime – manao – มะนาว, and gives this dish its name.

Blanched Wing Shell - หอยชักตีน

Blanched Wing Shells – หอยชักตีน

Blanched wing shells with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.

Wing shell is a common shellfish found on Phuket Island and the nearby province. Its scientific name is Strombus camarium.

Wing Shell - หอยชักตีน - Strombus camarium

Wing Shell – หอยชักตีน – Strombus camarium

To eat wing shells, pull the nail—Thais call it ตีน – the foot—to remove  the flesh from the shell (or insert a toothpick to make it easier to remove) and dip it in the seafood dipping sauce.

Wing shell - หอยชักตีน

Wing shell – หอยชักตีน

Blanched cockles - หอยแครงลวก

Blanched cockles – หอยแครงลวก

Blanched cockles - หอยแครงลวก

Blanched cockles and Phuket seafood dipping sauce

Phuket seafood dipping sauce is the accompaniment to all seafood dishes.

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My family: sister, sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews

After our seafood feast, we had our photo taken with Kularb, my friend who owns the restaurant.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
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Eat Like a Local

Everyone in my Thai family was born and lives in Phuket, as we have for many generations. This is also true for many of Phuket’s over 200,000 natives, though there are about one million people living on Phuket Island today. Despite all of the changes, one place remains almost timeless. This is Rawai Beach, where the pace of change is slow compared to other parts of Phuket. So where do Phuket natives escape to on the weekend? Rawai Beach – หาดราไวย์.

Rawai Beach – Thailand

There we dine on seafood as we did for many generations before there were so many foreign influences, enjoying a typical menu of grill seafood or blanched cockers with Phuket seafood dipping sauce. In my next post I will show you exactly what we ordered the last time I was at Rawai Beach with my family, and how we ate it. This may help you understand our cuisine and culture. I hope you will enjoy my personal story of how my family eats and travels. When you get a chance to visit Phuket, I hope that you, too, will have a chance to eat like a local.

Talay-Zep Seafood & Wine Restaurant

ร้านอาหารทะเลแซ่บ ชายหาดราไวย์

Rawai Beach Phuket Thailand

Each visit I make to Phuket provides fun reunion time with my family. Almost every weekend during my short visits we bond over food, whether it is fresh home cooking, or take-out from Talad nad – ตลาดนัด  or nearby restaurants. Sometimes my family and I will take a little adventure travel to another end of the island or to the nearby province of Phang Nga. This trip my sister-in-law and I had a desire for seafood Phuket style. As always, we visited Talay-Zep restaurant, the scene of countless of our reunion dinners.

Talay-Zep Seafood Restaurant in Rawai, Phuket Island

ร้านอาหารทะเลแซ่บ ชายหาดราไวย์

My friend Kularb -กุหลาบ – and her husband Pho – โปั – own Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine Restaurant, which is on Rawai Beach Road among 15 other Phuket seafood restaurants. We enjoyed a big seafood feast, which I will share with you in my next post. Today, however, I will share just my family’s favorite dish: Horseshoe Crab Salad with Mango. Just like Anthony Bourdain, most of my family consider this a delicacy dish—though I myself was not convinced to eat these eggs, which are the only edible part of the crab. In fact, the horseshoe crab is not a crab at all, and it does not have edible flesh like other crabs. It is more closely related to spiders and scorpions, a living fossil that has remained virtually unchanged for millions of years. But now, after doing some research, I have learned more about the risks involved in eating horseshoe crab eggs, and how to avoid them, so I may take one bite the next time around.

Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine on Rawai Beach

Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine on Rawai Beach

Kularb, Pranee and Pho

Nevertheless, I asked Kularb to share her knowledge of horseshoe crab eggs and her verbal recipe with you. Today I am not encouraging you to cook, but to read and learn about something you may never have heard of before: Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad – Yum Khai Mengda Talay – ไข่แมงดาทะเล.

Horseshoe Crab – แมงดาทะเล

Kularb’s notes on how to prepare horseshoe crab for its eggs

Horseshoe crab is not difficult to cook, but  the person who removes the eggs—or roe—from the horseshoe crab must know the correct procedures to do this to prevent the other inedible parts of the crab from contaminating the eggs. If the eggs get contaminated, you can fall sick with dizziness or the symptoms of food poisoning and complications of the digestive system. Kularb suggests that you only harvest the eggs from cooked horseshoe crabs. The eggs, which are found in the belly area, can be green or orange-colored, about the same size as salmon roe but with a firmer, crunchy texture and an interesting flavor.

There are two ways to prepare horseshoe crabs before removing the eggs. One way is to place the whole horseshoe crab in boiling water and cook it until the eggs are just cooked. Another way is to place the horseshoe crab on the grill until the eggs have cooked, about 5 minutes. Kularb notes that it is a very difficult task to remove the eggs from the shell and that it requires a skilled cook to prepare the eggs. She or her husband prepares the horseshoe crab eggs for her restaurant.

Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad

Yum Kai Meng Da

ยำไข่แมงดาทะเล

Yum Kai Meng Da is the only way that Thais usually prepare horseshoe crab eggs. Kularb’s verbal recipe is the same as my green mango salad recipe so I hope you enjoy this recipe even beyond the horseshoe crab egg salad. For everyone to enjoy this salad without the risk, I have created a Mock Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad, which can be prepared substituting Israeli couscous cooked al dente with a touch of fish sauce in place of the crab eggs. With the mock salad recipe there is nothing to worry about—just enjoy the delicious salad! You may use horseshoe crab eggs if desired, but do so at your own risk and with an awareness of the risks involved.

Horseshoe Crab Eggs Salad

Serves: 4

 1/2 cup cooked horseshoe crab eggs (see Kularb’s note), or Isreali couscous cooked al dente
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 large lime
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar
2  fresh Thai chillies, chopped, or 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons sliced shallot
1 cup shredded green mango, from about 1/2 green mango (or substitute a granny smith apple for the green mango)
1/4 cup Chinese celery, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/4 cup cashew nuts, chopped
2 lettuce leaves

Cook horseshoe crab eggs according to Kularb’s instruction and set aside.

To make the salad dressing, stir fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and chili powder together in a large bowl. Stir well until the palm sugar is dissolved. Then stir in Israel couscous or horseshoe crab eggs, shallot, green mango, Chinese celery, and cashew nuts until well combined.

Place lettuce leaves on the serving plate and top with salad mixture. Serve right away.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 

Should You Eat Horseshoe Crab Egg? 

“Although many experts and doctors would suggest staying clear of consuming horseshoe crab it is quite possible to eat them on a regular basis. It is important to ensure that the person preparing the delicacy is familiar with the correct procedure as otherwise it is possible to fall sick if you were to consume the wrong parts or organs. Today it is a species that is becoming more common in seafood restaurants tanks not just in south Asia but around the world.” from Crableghowtocook.com

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Quail Eggs, Please

ไข่นกกระทาครับ

Quail Egg - ไข่นกกระทา

Quail Egg – ไข่นกกระทา – Khai Nok Krata

When I was in Phuket last month, on my way to Talad nad – ตลาดนัด – an open air market, my friend’s son asked me to get him some hard-boiled quail eggs please: “Khai Nok Krata Krub” -ไข่นกกระทาครับ. He said it with such expectation, his simple request tickled my fond memory of this petite egg. I loved quail eggs when I was young, just like any Thai kid. On my way back from the Talad Nad, I gave him a bag of a dozen hard-boiled quail eggs. I was glad to find them, afraid that if I had not he might be disappointed. He rolled the egg on the table until its thin shell cracked all around, then pinched the shell to break it and remove it. He popped the whole egg in his mouth with delight. It is a healthy choice for a snack. I could not help but taste one myself when he asked to share with me. I enjoyed the delicious egg with its rich, creamy, mouthful of flavor. Welcome home!

Cook and learn

Cook and learn

Quail eggs are usually served in one of two basic ways: as a 3- to 4-minute hard-boiled egg, or as a sunny side up fried egg. And now you are about to learn to fry quail eggs Thai style. Please enjoy the photos showing a Thai cooking style from a southern Thai fishing village. They are from my trip to Surat Thani in 2011. This technique has a special name: “Khanom Krok Khai Nok Krata” – fried quail eggs in a Khanom Krok Pan, which is similar to a pancake puff or aebleskiver pan. This group of friends was preparing their own healthy snacks on the weekend from chicken eggs and quail eggs in a Khanom Krok pan. They were teaching and learning from each other. I hope this will inspire you to try it at home.

Quail egg cook in Khanom Krok Pan

Quail eggs cook in Khanom Krok Pan

Fried Quail Egg Thai Style

Khanom Krok Khai Nok Krata

ขนมครกไข่นกกระทา

Fried Quai eggs in Khanom Krok pan or ebleskiver

Fried quail eggs in Khanom Krok or aebleskiver pan.

Quail eggs are a delicacy in Western Europe and North America, but in Southeast Asia, quail eggs are abundant and inexpensive. At Talad Nad wet market, you can find fresh quail eggs at the egg vendors, and at the snack vendor you will often find fried or hard-boiled quail eggs ready for you to enjoy. In the Seattle area, fresh quail eggs are available at Asian markets such as Viet Wah or Uwajimaya for $2 a dozen. You can also find them at the Pike Place Market Creamery where a package of 1o eggs from California are $4.75. At University Seafood and Poultry, Washington quail eggs are $6.98 for a pack of 10 eggs.

Yield 10

1 tablespoon cooking oil
10 quail eggs
Maggi sauce and Sriracha sauce

Heat a Khanom Krok pan or Ebleskiver pan on medium-high heat. Use a heat-proof pastry brush to brush the pan with a generous amount of oil. When the pan is hot, crack quail eggs and drop one egg into each hemispherical indentation. Let it cook until the bottom of the egg is crispy, the egg white is cooked, and the egg york is slightly cooked, about 3 minutes. Cook longer if you wish the yolk cooked more. Remove the egg with a metal spoon that fits the size of the indentation. Repeat the cooking until all the eggs are done. Serve with Maggi or Sriracha sauce; use one or two drops of each per egg.

Pranee’s note:  In some cultures, slightly raw quail eggs are preferred. These basic fried quail eggs can be a snack, or incorporated into a fried egg salad, or a side dish to a meal.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
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Gone Fishing – ไปตกปลา

Kamala beach early morning

Kamala Beach early morning

Once again I found myself along Kamala Beach taking a leisurely walk—Dern Kin Lom—เดินกินลม—in Thai this means “walk to eat the wind.” I loved watching what was happening on the beach and wasn’t sure if I was walking slower, or the beach was getting longer, or I was simply spending so much time talking to people along the way. I knew for sure that I took quite some time taking pictures and talking to the villagers who were fishing leisurely for a type of fish called sand whiting. At early morning, the whole family together, gone fishing – ไปตกปลา.

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Families enjoy the rays of sunrise and fishing for sand whiting.

While mom fishes and enjoys her solitude, the children are at play with the sand and the waves.

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A white sand beach makes a great playground.

Shrimp are used for bait for sand whiting fishing.

Sand Whiting

Andaman Ocean Sand Whiting – ปลาทราย

Sand Whiting -ปลาทราย – pla sai

Sand whiting – ปลาทราย – live in shallow areas along the coast in both the Pacific and Indian oceans. Kamala Beach has a nice sandy beach, a perfect habitat for sand whiting, which live on bugs and small shrimp. A full-grown sand whiting is about 6 to 8 inches long, with a thin, narrow body about 1-inch wide. It has a delightful sweet flavor and a firm texture. Kamala villagers have a passion for sand whiting fishing. It is a tradition as old as the village itself.

Pla Sai Kratiem Prik Thai

Pla Sai Kratiem Prik Thai

For a Thai culinary delight, look for fresh sand whiting on local restaurant menus. The most popular dishes are Kratiem Prik Thai (with garlic and pepper), tom som (sour soup), tod khamin (fried with salt and turmeric), gaeng som (sour curry) and my grandma’s  favorite, tod tao jeow (fried with salted soy bean). The photo above is of Kratiem Prik Thai Pla Sai from Tha Maprow Restaurant in Phuket.

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Phuket sand whiting fish soup – Tom Som Pla Sai

At Kan Eng Restaurant at Chalong Pier, our family ordered Tom Som Pla Sai – Sand Whiting Fish Soup – a simple soup to savor the freshest sand whiting.

I hope you will enjoy our family recipe. It is typical of the recipes that you will find in Phuket and other Southern Thai kitchens.

Phuket Sand Whiting Fish Soup

Tom Som Pla Sai

ต้มส้มปลาทราย

Tom Som is a basic sour soup with a hint of sweet from the freshest fish. It is a typical sour soup in the Southern region of Thailand where sour fruit is used to give the dish its sour flavor. Each province has it owns preference among the sour fruits, such as som khaek or Asam fruit,  salak, hibiscus or young leaves, and tamarind or young leaf.

The word “som” has two meanings: one is “orange,” or “sour taste.” We also use som to call or identify sour tastes such as som khaek or asam fruit for example. Most sour fruits contains citric acid; when they are added to soup or curry dishes there is no need for vinegar or lime juice. An important part of learning the art of Thai cooking is understanding the sophisticated use of sour fruits to balance the sour flavor in Thai soups and curries. In America, substitutions for the sour fruits include sorrel leaves, tamarind, and Jamaican hibiscus.

Yield: 3 cups broth

Serves: 4

2 cups water
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
3 pieces dried Asam fruit- Garcinia Atroviridis –ส้มแขก , or 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed, and cut into 3 inch-pieces
2 shallots, peeled, smashed, and cut in half
8 sand whiting, or 2/3 pound halibut cut into chunks
¼ teaspoon salt

To make lemongrass and shrimp paste broth, bring water to a boil in a medium size pot on medium high heat. Add shrimp paste and Asam fruit or tamarind concentrate. Stir until shrimp paste is dissolved. Add lemongrass and shallots and let mixture boil for 5 minutes. Place fish in the boiling broth, which should be slightly covering the fish. Cook until the fish changes color and becomes opaque and the size is a bit smaller—about 3 minutes. Stir in salt. Remove from heat and serve.

© 2012  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
Sand Whiting Fishing Competition 2012

Sand Whiting Fishing Competition 2012

Kamala women love fishing.

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Oops! Excuse Me – ขอโทษค่ะ

What is considered good or bad manners can change when you take cultural differences into consideration. A slurping sound, for example, is acceptable in Southeast Asia when you are enjoying a food moment with your soup. My sister and I encountered an awkward experience at the dining table when we visited Kho Samui, an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus in Thailand. Later, though, it all made sense to us. Since November is a national peppercorn month, please let me tell you a story of my Thai family trip to Koh Samui and our discovery of Thai Green Peppercorn Dip – Nam Prik Prik Thai Sod – น้ำพริกพริกไทยสด

Samaui sunset

In 2011, on the day after Chinese New Year, my brother drove his pick-up truck with three passengers – my sister, sister-in-law and I — to Samui Island, or Koh Samui. We left Phuket before the sunrise around 5am and arrived at Koh Samui at sunset. We went to Nathon, the island’s main town, and stayed at the  Grand Sea View Resortel. A friendly staff person who was native to the island recommended that we dine at the hotel restaurant, which had a set menu of local Koh Samui cuisine. While we enjoyed the sun setting right in front of us, we feasted on six dishes that highlighted Koh Samuicuisine: Pork & Mackerel with Pickled Mustard Green Soup, Green Peppercorn Chili Dip, Stir Fried Sweet Pork with Soy Sauce, Grilled Tuna in Red Curry with Cumin Leaves, and Stir Fried Glass Noodle with Green Papaya and Minced Pork. Though we are southerners from the other side of the peninsula, we discovered that our southern cuisines are prepared in much the same ways, though with a different combination of ingredients.

Koh Samui – Green Peppercorn Chili Dip

We lingered over our dinners. The sunset was beautiful, though the air was still with a high humidity we could feel. Half way into the meal, while my sister and I talked about the unique green peppercorns chili dip, we both began to experience many light small burps that continued randomly throughout the rest of the meal. Finally we looked at each other and laughed. Suddenly I could not feel the humidity any more, just a refreshing cool air conditioning on my skin where there was sweat. It felt like a little fan was blowing air near my skin. We realized that the chili dip was total genius! This may be the answer to why people eat such spicy foods in hot and humid climates—spicy foods provide an instant remedy. They help you acclimate to the weather, they aid digestion, and they act as a diuretic. I think this will be a good recipe to share with you during the holiday seasons because black or green peppercorns are a natural food that you can use instead of Pepto Bismol to help your digestion. Oops! Excuse me. –  ขอโทษค่ะ

Green peppercorns – piper nigrum – perennial vine

Green Peppercorn พริกไทยสด

Green peppercorns are widely used in Thai, French and Western European cuisines. In Thailand, you can find fresh green peppercorn everyday in wet markets and as a staple ingredient in Thai restaurants. They are very aromatic, fresh tasting, and have a mild flavor of black pepper. Though you can use green peppercorns in the place of black peppercorns in Western cooking, that is not a practice in Thai cuisine, where green peppercorns have their own place and they define such dishes such as Phad Cha, Klue GlingPhad Ped, Green Curry, and any stir-fry that has curry paste or pungent herbs as a component. Green peppercorns create a playful flavor in all of these dishes, which generally have a rustic Thai style of cooking. In-depth Thai cuisine  is a healthy cuisine. Our ancestors cleverly disguised spices and herbs in our foods to accentuate and distinguish the flavors, but as we eat and enjoy the tastes, we are also taking in a healthy  benefit for our bodies. As for green peppercorns, the instant benefit is to promote appetite and aid digestion, and to serve as a diuretic to promote body sweat.

Fresh Green Peppercorn Dip – Recipe from Samui

The executive chef at Grand Sea View Resotel gave us a lesson on Samui local cuisine the following day. If you visit Koh Samui, please call ahead to arrange a time. The restaurant doesn’t have a regular schedule, but is available on request.

Green peppercorn, garlic and Thai chili

 I improvised with what we have here in Seattle: dry green peppercorns, garlic and Thai chili.

Thai Green Peppercorn Dip

Now the dip is ready for the dining table.

I use it as a condiment to add extra flavor to Thai and non-Thai dishes or to aid digestion.

Green Peppercorn Chili Dip

Nam Prik Prik Thai Sod

น้ำพริกพริกไทยสด

Yield: 2 tablespoons

This recipe is inspired by Samui green peppercorn chili dip – Grand Sea View Resotel, Kho Samui, Thailand

Since I remade this dish at home, I enjoy it often. Not always as a chili dip like in Thailand, but often as a condiment like salt and pepper. When I prepare a Thai meal, I use shrimp paste in place of the sea salt I would use in a western dish. Simply treat this green peppercorn chili dip as a new way you can use anytime to serve salt and pepper to your family and friends—especially during the holiday season when a seasoning can be a home remedy to aid the digestion of a large meal. No need for Pepto Bismol!

1 tablespoon fresh, dry or frozen green peppercorns
1 fresh Thai chili
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or shrimp paste

In a mortar with pestle, pound green peppercorns until they form a fine paste. Then add Thai chili, garlic and sea salt or shrimp paste and pound until the mixture blends into a paste. Place in a small bowl and set on the table with a small spoon to use it as a condiment to rice or a main dish.

Grand Sea View Resotel

175/4 Moo 3, Angthong, Koh Samui,
Surathani 84140, Thailand

Website: http://www.grandseaviewbeachresotel.com/

Tel. +66 (0) 77 421481, 426152-3, 426058-9
Fax : +66 (0) 77 426061

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

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Blue & Purple 

Dok Anchan – Butterfly Pea – Clitoria ternatea

What is that flower behind your ear? นั้นดอกอะไรอยู่หลังใบหูของคุณ. In a Thai village, the answer might be that it is a jasmine, hibiscus or butterfly pea flower. You often see women or men in Thai villages wearing flowers behind their ears on special occasions. For me personally, my answer would be that it is a blue butterfly pea flower.

In addition to wearing a blue butterfly pea flower – ดอกอัญชัน (dok anchan) or Clitoria ternatea – behind my ear while working in my garden, I would like to introduce you to its properties as a Thai culinary flower. Butterfly pea is an annual vine that is native to the land in southeast Asia near the equator. Thais love dok anchan for it beautiful unique looks and for its culinary uses as a food coloring and as an edible flower. My friend Somrak uses dok anchan in her Thai cooking at home, shredding it into a fine ribbon and adding it to rice salad, or for making a tea, or adding blue color extract to steamed jasmine rice. Many hotels in Thailand greet guests with a welcome drink made from dok anchan. But above and beyond all of these uses, our ancestors recognized it for its medicinal benefits, which include its anti-depression, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. The blue concentrate added to hair products also promotes healthy hair growth (please see related links below).

In Thailand I grew butterfly pea plants on a trellis, but often enjoyed the harvest from friends’ gardens. In the Thai village lifestyle in the old days we shared or exchanged our surpluses with one another. The vines can produce many flowers a day, so often they went unused. This meant that at any  moment there were always flowers waiting for you in someone’s garden and we helped ourselves when needed. The pigment in the flowers comes from anthocyanins, and has long been widely used in Thai and Malaysian cuisines for blue or purple food coloring for butterfly pea sticky rice. In Thailand, any foods prepared with shades of blue, purple or pink come from dok anchan. In addition, southeast Asia uses the flowers in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

Double pedals butterfly pea flower

Where can you get dried butterfly pea flowers? In the U.S. you can mail-order homegrown organic air-dried butterfly pea flowers from Etsy.com and Alibaba.com. If you wish to plant them next summer for your backyard vine, this may be the right time to purchase them. Check online for a few sources where you can purchase butterfly pea seedsThompson & Morgan has the seeds for Butterfly Pea Fabaceae

Thai desert with dok anchan blue color

Khanom Chan – ขนมชั้น – Thai one-layer cake with anchan flower food coloring gets pale purple when cooked.

Thai snack, a dumpling with purple rice flour dough

Chaw Muang – ช่อม่วง, steamed dumpling, a famous Thai appetizer ใช้สีทำขนมช่อม่วง, ขนมดอกอัญชัญ


Chaw Mueng – purple dough and filling

Chaw Muang is a traditional Thai snack that can have a sweet or savory filling. After preparing a butterfly pea purple water infusion, the water is added to the dough according to the amount required in the recipe.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Making Blue and Purple Butterfly Pea Color Extracts

ขั้นตอนการทำน้ำดอกอัญชัญผสีฟ้าและสีม่วง

Blue color from dried butterfly pea flowers

Nam dok anchan (น้ำดอกอัญชัน)

First, steep 12 dried or fresh butterfly flowers in 1 cup boiling water.

Dried butterfly peas after 15 minutes of soaking in boiling water

Fifteen minutes later, or when no color is left in the petal, strain the liquid and discard the flowers. You will get deep blue water.

Fifteen minutes later, deep blue color is ready to use as blue food coloring.

Add a little lime juice to get a purple-red color

Add a few drops of lime juice. This will change the ph level and you will get purple water.

Pranee’s Tom Yum Martini with Butterfly Pea Coloring

I made butterfly pea simple syrup a day before my dinner party in order to make my signature Tom Yum Martini. A friend requests that I make them each year when I visit home.

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

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Farm Dinner At Dog Mountain Farm

Dog Mountain Farm, located in Snoqualmie Vally near Carnation, Washington, offers summer farm dinner events that are a culinary delight. The dinners are prepared by a guest chef and served with wines from a local winery. I attended one of these dinners in  June 2010 and was blessed to experience a half day at the farm of sun-filled summer, a beautiful view of the Cascade mountains, and dining on white tablecloths surrounded by apple orchards. The farm offers various farm and culinary activities year round for all age groups.

View of the Cascade Mountain

September 2012 has provided the rare beauty of a long stretch of sunny days. Saturday, September 15th, the date that I cooked at the Dog Mountain Farm, was one of the most beautiful days among them.

The farm dinner guests arrived at 3pm. Farm owners Cindy and David welcomed everyone with champagne and an hors d’oeuvre, then took them on a farm tour.

Galloping Horse or Mar Hor with savory pork on plum brûlée

I was happy to have the hors d’oeuvre done just in time. The abundance of plums provided a good substitute for pineapple in the Thai hors d’oeuvre called Mar Hor or Galloping Horse, a savory pork mixture atop plum brûlée. I was pleased when I ate one to hear the excitement of taste from far away – like someone galloping a horse.

The Dog Mountain Farm raises French Grimaud Pekin and Muscovy ducks, Embden geese, French guinea fowl, and heritage turkeys.

While the guests toured the farm, I continued cooking—there were four more courses coming.

My Thai Farm dinner included wine pairings from the Wilridge Winery. The wines were served by the winery’s owner and winemaker, Paul Beveridge. Paul selected the wines exclusively for the menu above. They were Viognier Rosebud Vineyard ($11.89), Estate Nebbiolo Wilridge Vineyard ($210), Estate Sangiovese Wilridge Vineyard ($21), and Estate Mélange Noir Wilridge Vineyard ($21). The amazing wines, along with the details and personal stories that Paul shared, enriched the dinner experience.

Kabocha Pumpkin Soup with corn, kale, summer squash and lemon basil

The dinner was served around 4:30pm and I was able to pause at that point for just a minute to take in the sun rays that filled the farm kitchen. Then I ladled the Gaeng Leang – Thai country-style soup – into individual bowls. (Please click here for Gaeng Leang Recipe). Gaeng Leang is often served at Thai dinners to display local abundance. This one had a generous amount of lemon basil from the farm green house and was as authentic as my grandmother’s cooking 40 years ago!

Asian pear is crunchy, juicy, sweet and fragrant.

The third course was an Asian pear salad with mixed herbs and salad greens and a sweet chili vinaigrette. I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of the salad or write down the recipe, so I will have to recreate the recipe one day to share with you. This dish was totally impromptu. I adjusted my chili lime vinaigrette recipe by adding a few more ingredients to compliment the farm’s Asian pears and to echo the flavors of the overall dinner menu.

Braised Duck Curry

The fourth course was a traditional Thai duck curry, Gaeng Phed Ped Yang, made with Dog Mountain Farm’s French Grimaud Pekin. For more information and a recipe for curry dishes please check my future posts.

Thai Duck Egg Custard

Please click the picture above to see Pranee’s custard recipe

Coconut Duck Egg Custard Ice Cream

Please click photo above to see Pranee’s Coconut Duck Egg Custard recipe

Originally I had planned to make just one dessert: coconut duck egg custard ice cream with fried farm apples. But once I began cooking with the very fresh duck eggs, I could not help but make my mom’s Thai duck egg custard over black sticky rice, a traditional Thai dessert.

Once the five-course dinner was served I had a chance to relax, join in the conversation with the dinner guests, and take in the beauty of the double sunset—a beautiful sunset to the West and the reflected light on the Cascade Mountains to the East.

Where to find the Dog Mountain Farm Stand

For those of you who live in the Seattle area, Dog Mountain Farm has a stand at the Broadway Farmers Market on Sundays. Please check their website and then send them an e-mail to have them harvest fresh produce that you can pick up at the market on Sunday between 11am – 3pm.

Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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Add Zing to Your Limeade

Ginger Limeade

During August I try to slow down my summer activities and I enjoy staying home and working in the garden. After a hard-working day in the yard, I reward myself with a homemade ginger limeade. This recipe is used often in summer cooking classes for kids. This week it worked out perfectly for me to test the recipe one more time before sharing it with you and savor the results at the end my gardening day. I planned ahead to have the  freshest limes and ginger on hand, then I made the limeade in the morning so all the flavors would have a chance to blend and chill to the highest delight.

Lime – มะนาว

Thai cuisine depends on lime flavor. It is in almost in every dish. One should always have at least half a dozen limes on hand.

น้ำเชื่อมขิง – Ginger Simple Syrup

Crush the ginger until juicy and softened before adding it to the pot of sugar and water.

Ginger Limeade

Nam Manoa Khing

น้ำมะนาวขิง

Before you put together the ingredients to make ginger limeade, I would like you to follow closely my culinary insight on how to make ginger infused simple syrup. I didn’t make this technique up, it has been in my family for a long time. Infused fresh ginger provides a different flavor than dry powdered ginger or the fried ginger used in savory dishes. Crushing the ginger until the juice comes out helps break down the ginger’s cell walls. Thais use smashed ginger in a simple syrup for many dessert dishes. The aroma and taste of fresh ginger syrup is the first entry to sweet dishes such as Bua Loi Nam Khing (glutinous rice ball in sweet ginger syrup). I add ginger syrup to my limeade for a refreshing drink to enjoy in the hot summer or with a Thai meal.

Serves: 6

4 cups hot water
6 (1-inch) ginger pieces, peeled and smashed, about 3 ounces or 86 gram
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 to 1 cup lime juice, from 4 to 6  limes
10  slices of  limes, from one lime, for garnish
6 cups ice cubes

To make the brown sugar-ginger syrup, bring water, ginger and sugar to a boil in a medium-size pot. Let it boil on medium heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove ginger and strain. After it has cooled to room temperature, stir in lime juice.

Set aside enough lime slices for six glasses of limeade, then add remaining lime slices to a nice pitcher and pour in the limeade mix. Chill overnight, or for at least 6 hours. Before serving, add 2 cups ice cubes to the pitcher and stir. Fill six tall glasses with ice cubes and garnish each with a lime slice before adding the limeade.

Pranee’s note: 

To peel or not to peel? Peeling ginger is a personal option. I prefer to just peel off any tough skin or bruised parts. Ginger is abundant in Thailand. It is reasonably priced and I always had some at home, fresh and in the freezer.

© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking 
 Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .
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