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Archive for the ‘Pranee’s Culinary Tales’ Category

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.

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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

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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.

IMG_0166

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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