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Archive for the ‘Pranee’s Travel Thailand & Beyond’ Category

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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So Passionately

Kamala Beach at Sunset

Kamala Beach at Sunset

Every year I visit home I enjoy my leisurely walk in the early morning at Kamala Beach. This year I also found an excuse to embrace the beauty of sunset while walking in the evening and went off to do an errand when the sun was near setting and the humidity and heat were less intense.

I was working on a breakfast menu for my guests who were arriving that week. On the menu was an egg dish, bread with pineapple jam, juice, yogurt, tropical fruit, coffee and tea. I love having a basket of tropical fruits ready to peel and eat at anytime, so on this walk my destination was a fruit stand to stock up on tropical fruits like Phuket pineapple, pomelo, banana, mango and papaya. At the stand, I was delighted to see passion fruit. It is a common fruit in Thailand, but one that has rarely had a chance to be on the shelf at the food stand. This is because it has not been so poplar until just the last few years as we have become more aware of the health benefits of our own tropical fruits. Let’s embrace this opportunity.

passion fruit juice

Prepare passion fruit with juice by removing pulp and seeds

When I reached the fruit stand on the main road before the last intersection and the steep road to Patong, I filled my basket with Thai fruits and the owner gave me a bag full of 20 overripe passion fruits for 50 Baht (about $1.50). The good looking ones were 15 Baht (50 cents) each, which may help explain some of my excitement and appreciation for the passion fruit. Plus the best time to enjoy Thai passion fruit is when the skin is wrinkly and the juice is at its sweetest. I walked home with excitement—it was time to play with passion fruit again. (Please read my first post on passion fruit – เสาวรส – Saowarod.)

pineapple jam

Pineapple Jam

When I am on vacation I enjoy cooking in any small kitchen with just a few ingredients. The pineapple jam I had on hand prompted me to create a passion fruit-pineapple spread to serve on toast or plain yogurt. My tropical-inspired spread was complete. With its tangy, sour taste, the aroma of passion fruit, and the soft, sweet texture from pineapple jam, I had indeed created a wow moment. After tasting the spread, my sister, niece and guests managed to appreciate every drop on yogurt and on toast. This recipe captures the moment. So passionately.

passion fruit - pineapple spread

Passion Fruit – Pineapple Spread

Passion Fruit-Pineapple Spread

I already had some pineapple jam, and when I extracted the passion fruit juice, this versatile recipe easily came to mind. The bright tartness of passion fruit juice combined with thick and sweet pineapple jam to soften the jam’s thick texture and give the perfect balance of sweet and sour with a lingering fruity aroma. We enjoyed them both on toasts and plain yogurt.

Yield: 1 cup

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1 cup passion fruit juice, freshly-made or ready-made

2/3 cup pineapple jam

Place passion fruit juice in a medium size pot over medium heat; when it come to a boil, stir in pineapple jam and whisk over medium-low heat until well combined, about 5 minutes. Let it cook on low heat for 20 minutes to thicken. Place in a clean mason jar and use as a spread or as a fruit sauce on yogurt or cake. It keeps well in the fridge for 2 weeks, or 6 months in the freezer.
© 2015 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
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, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram 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 Links

Sand Whiting: praneesthaiktchen.com

Passion Fruit: praneesthaikitchen.com

What is the Difference Between Jam, Jelly, Conserves and Marmalade : TheKitchn.com

 

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Young Galangal – Kha Oon – ข่าอ่อน

I have many fond memories of my apprenticeship at a young age to my grandmother in her kitchen. One of the tasks I performed was harvesting the tender stems and rhizomes—the horizontal, underground stem that sends out roots and shoots from its nodes—of the galangal plant.

IMG_0128

Tender Stems and Leaves of Young Galangal Plant

In the old days, we had a few galangal bushes in our garden and when grandma wanted to make her soup – Tom Som Kha Oon (ต้มส้มข่าอ่อน) – from young galangal stems she would ask me to go search for the youngest shoots and stems. Over time, I learned the wrong and right ways to harvest them, and I have some tips to help you with your harvest. As you read my story through to the end you will learn more about how to prepare and cook the young galangal stems as well.

First choose a young plant. It should be about one to three feet tall above the ground. (Older plants are about five feet tall.) A young plant should have no more than three green leaves. Harvesting the shoots is similar to harvesting bamboo shoots. Holding the leaves, I use strong force to snap and pull the stem away from the bush at a 45-degree angle. This should give me the whole stem and, with some luck, part of the young plant with the rhizomes attached as in the photo below. If grandma needed some older rhizomes, I would use a small shovel to remove the soil around the plant and a knife to cut out the clump of rhizomes around the new stems.

IMG_0125

Young Galangal and Tender Stem – ข่าอ่อน-หน่อข่าอ่อน

Galangal typically takes about four months to reach this size and become ready to harvest. Its smell is softer and gentler than the strong pungent smell of older galangal that has stayed in the ground for almost a year. In Thailand, you will typically find young galangal in the market and in the kitchen.

Lemongrass and kaffir lime fruit and leaves are common fresh Thai herbs, but galangal is just as significant—if not more so—to Thai cuisine. We use galangal widely. It is in almost every dish possible except for in the rustic vegetable soup known as yellow sour, or sour curry in Southern Thailand (Gaeng Luang or Gaeng Som – แกงเหลืองหรือแกงส้ม and Gaeng Leangแกงเลียง. The most well-known dishes that use galangal are Tom Kha, Tom Yum, and Thai curry paste.

Galangal Plant - ต้นข่า

Galangal Plant – ต้นข่า

A few years back I visited a lemongrass and galangal plantation. I am happy to share with you the photos I took there. This picture was taken during the dry season. This plant is not as busy as my grandma’s, which were planted closer to the water and given mulch. Galangal plants typically reach four to eight feet in height. When young plants reach about one to three feet tall, their young shoots and rhizomes – Kha Oon – ข่าอ่อน – can be harvested. The older and more pungent rhizome, called Kha Gae – ข่าแก่  is most like the galangal that you find in the U.S.

Young Galangal and Tender Stem

Young Galangal and Tender Stem

This beautiful bouquet of young galangal and shoots is fresh from the farmer’s market in my Thai village. I am glad that the farmers have them available every day. I purchased a few for my mom to make her favorite soup – Tom Som Kha Oon (ต้มส้มข่าอ่อน). It is a sour soup of young galangal stems and banana stems that is common in Phuket cuisine.

I hope you enjoy my mom’s tips and step-by-step techniques for preparing galangal stems. It may be difficult for some of you to find young galangal stems, so I hope that this post will at least increase your knowledge of Thai cuisine in a Thai village.

Step-by-Step: How to Prepare Young Galangal and Tender Stems

My mom removing some hard fibrous leave for young leave

My Mom Removing Some Hard Fibrous Leaves for Young Leaves

The general rule is to remove the hard, fibrous leaves of the galangal plant and to use all of the parts that are tender and can be cooked in 15 minutes. All parts that are tender are edible like just vegetables. Their texture is similar to asparagus, and they have a gentle fragrance that is sweet with a mild pungency that is not as noticeable after cooking in a sweet and sour soup.

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Place tender stems on a cutting board and smash with a cleaver or pestle to soften, then cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch lengths.

Tender Galangal Stem and Banana Stem Soup

Cook until tender in liquid such as soup or curry, about 15 minutes.

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

https://praneesthaikitchen.com/tag/how-to-prepare-banana-stem-for-cooking/

http://www.thekitchn.com/ingredient-spotlight-what-is-g-43841

Cooking Tender Galangal Stems in Green Curry  http://pantip.com/topic/30708280

Galangal VS Ginger http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/921739

How to Farm Young Galangal – Kha Oon 

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The Umami of Thai Cuisine on Stage

shrimp paste and curry pastes

Shrimp paste and curry pastes

After my last blog post on Southern Thai Red Curry Paste, I realized that this would be an appropriate time to introduce you to an ingredient that is important to making an authentic Thai curry: shrimp paste. In Thailand we call it กะปิ –Kapi. It is the hidden ingredient in most Thai curry pastes, as it is there only in small amounts. Most people can’t detect it, but like fish sauce in Thai soup, it makes a dish rich and robust. A small amount of shrimp paste in the country soup Gaeng Leang makes a good base for a soup, just like dashi does in Japanese soup. Perhaps I will write a blog post at a later time giving you an in-depth look at how shrimp paste is used in Thai cuisine, but for now I will focus on how it is made. Please follow me as I share some firsthand knowledge with you.

At Thai markets you will see big mounds of Kapi; in the supermarket it is packed in plastic tubes. It looks like a muddy, purple-gray paste and has a smell like a powerful blue cheese. The smell may make you pause and wonder why it is so significant to Thai cuisine. Shrimp paste is rich in umami—often referred to as the fifth taste after sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It is often described as savoriness, or “a pleasant brothy or meaty taste with a long lasting, mouthwatering and coating sensation over the tongue.” ((source)) The umami taste is created when the tongue detects components of the compound glutamate, which heightens flavors and creates a sensation of savoriness. The glutamate in fish paste is created by fermentation. Another umami-rich ingredient is Thai fish sauce – น้ำปลา – Nam Pla.

Kapi Nam Prik - กะปิน้ำพริก & Kapi Gaeng - กะปิแกง

Kapi Nam Prik – กะปิน้ำพริก & Kapi Gaeng – กะปิแกง

There are two grades of shrimp paste. The finest quality is for making the Thai Chili Dip กะปิน้ำพริก – Kapi Nam Prik and currently sells for about 150 Baht ($4.75) for a kilogram (a little over 2 pounds). The lower grade, which has a deeper flavor, is for incorporating in curries กะปิแกง – Kapi Gaeng. It costs about 90 Baht ($2.85) for a kilogram. My family always uses the premium grade for all dishes calling for shrimp paste.

กะปิ – Shrimp Paste

kapi shrimp

กุ้งเคย- Goong Koey

Shrimp paste is known in Thailand as กะปิ – Kapi. In my home town and many other parts of Thailand it is called เคย – Koey. It is made of กุ้งเคย – goong koey, a crustacean. In some regions, the shrimp paste is made from opossum shrimp which is in the same class as krill, but in a different order of the crustacean family. Shrimp paste is widely made in southeast Asia, but with different methods of fermentation. These result in different looks and they may be called shrimp paste or shrimp sauce. It also has different names in different countries: Hom Ha in Southern China, Belacan in Malaysia, Ngapi in Burma, Bagoong Alamang in the Philippines, and Terasi in Indonesia, to name a few (source). Nevertheless, the use and purpose of shrimp paste in each cuisine is very similar, and it provides a local a source of calcium, phosphorus and iodine.

Pak Nam Kradae Fishing Village

Pak Nam Kradae Fishing Village – ปากน้ำกะแดะ Kadae estuary

I was fortunate to have a chance to learn about making shrimp paste in the Kadae fishing village community directly from a Kadae fisherman and shrimp paste artisan at ปากน้ำกะแดะ  – Kadae estuary, Kanchanadit, Surathani. The majority of the fishermen and villagers in Kadae are descendants of Chinese immigrants from Hainan Island, China. I had a chance to meet with a few elders and hear fascinating stories of their ancestors.

At  the edge of the river, my brother introduced me to Lung Phumipat, a fisherman, and his wife. (Thais call a respectable man whose age is close to their parents’ ages or older uncle – Lung. A woman of the same age is aunt – Pah). Lung and his wife invited us inside their wooden home. I asked them for permission to take photos and notes on making shrimp paste to share with students and blog readers. They showed and taught us as much as they could. We were very appreciative.

dry salted shrimp paste,

Dry salted shrimp paste,

Lung Phumipat’s customers are typically neighbors or people who have heard about him by word of mouth. He never gets a chance to sell his shrimp paste at the market because people come to his home to get it or pre-order it.

He said his version of shrimp paste is very simple, but there are still many steps to make a good shrimp paste that he can’t leave out. He told me that after rinsing the fresh กุ้งเคย – goong koey or krill, he mixes it with salt and lets it ferment about 24 hours or a little longer. Then he drains it and spreads out the salted กุ้งเคย – goong koey on a blue nylon net and lets it dry in the sun for a few days. The next important step is pounding the salted, sun-dried shrimp into a fine paste.

กะปิ

Learning how to pound the shrimp paste

The pounding is to turn the sun-dried shrimps into a fine paste and to get rid of air pockets in order to avoid spoilage and provide a safe environment for the fermentation. He pounded it until it was creamy and sticky and formed a dense paste. It was a hard work because the stickiness caused resistance when pulling the pestle. When I tried to use the wooden pestle, Lung Phumipat made sure that I stood straight, held the pestle correctly and pounded the paste near the edge. Standing properly makes the whole process more efficient and prevents injury.

The final step is to place all of the shrimp paste in a container or fermentation jar by adding a small layer at a time and pressing hard to prevent air pockets, repeating this until the jar is filled. Then it is covered and left to ferment for at least two to six months.

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Packaged to order

This is where Lung Phumipat and his wife have simplified the process. They pack a half kilogram of the paste into a plastic bag, then roll it back and forth to get rid of air pockets, and form the dense shrimp paste into a cylindrical tube. Because the demand for his shrimp paste is so high, he doesn’t get a chance to let his shrimp paste ferment and it is his customer who lets the shrimp paste ferment on the shelf in their kitchen until it is ready to incorporate into a savory Thai dish. The locals know when the shrimp paste is ready. They can identify it by its distinguishing smell at each stage. I simply wrote a note on mine as to its maturity date. There is no expiration date for shrimp paste, but the best way to keep it is to store it in the fridge or freezer in an air-tight jar until it is gone.

Thank you to uncle Phumipat and his wife for their hospitality and the generosity of their time in educating and sharing their culture and their heritage. The time we were with them at Kradae estuary was memorable.

© 2012  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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Happy as a Clam in a Lemongrass Broth

I am as happy as a clam in Seattle, where we have been having the best summer ever and a plentiful harvest from the land and the sea. The freshest of these local harvests bring the best flavors to our table. This recipe is an example of fresh local steamer clams from Washington State cooked in a simple Thai style: steamed clams with lemongrass. Many of you already have your own favorite recipe for cooking clams, but today I hope you can try my family’s favorite recipe. Often when we find fresh clams we prepare Hoi Tom Takrai in large pot so that we can each serve ourselves a bowl full of หอยต้มตะไคร้ – Hoi Tom Takrai – Steamed Clams with Lemongrass Broth.

Tom Takrai Hoy

Hoi Kao Tom Takrai – หอยขาวต้มตะไคร้ at Baan Keang Lay Seafood Restaurant

The photo above is of the หอยขาวต้มตะไคร้ – Hoi Kao Tom Takrai that I enjoyed when I was traveling in Thailand between Samui Island and Phuket. My route was on 4177 via Kanchanadit, Surat Thani. If you make this same trip, I would recommend that you stop for a meal at the Baan Keang Lay Seafood Restaurant. It is located at 124 Moo 7 Tumbol Kadae, Kanchanadit, Surat Thani in a fishing village of Kadae. Locals, as well as visitors from near and far, come here for fresh seafood and especially for Hoi Kao Tom Takrai, a local white clam cooked in a scented lemongrass broth. White clams – Hoi Kao – หอยขาว are only available in the gulf of Thailand and along the Pacific Ocean. (For more pictures, please view my photos from our trip and lunch experience at Baan Keang Lae Seafood.)

Baan Keang Lae Seafood

Baan Keang Lae Seafood

บ้านเคียงเลซีฟู้ด 124 หมู่ 7 ต.กะแดะ จ.สุราษฎร์ธานี, อ.กาญจนดิษฐ์

Baan Keang Lay Seafood Restaurant, 124 Moo 7 Tumbol Kadae, Kanchanadit, Surat Thani

ต้มตะไคร้ – Tom Takrai  

Tom Takrai is a traditional method of cooking fresh seafood in the southern region of Thailand, and it was a daily practice in our village. You may use the same recipe to cook any seafood. It is similar to steaming but uses just a small amount of water. It is a fast method that produces moist and tender meat. The broth is good as a soup, or can be kept to use in a recipe that requires clam juice or fish stock. It is a fresh tasting broth with a lemongrass aroma.

Lemongrass Clam Soup

Clam, lemongrass, Thai chili, garlic and fresh basil or lemon thyme

I made Tom Takrai recently at home. After cleaning the clams, I simply placed the cleaned clams, water, lemongrass, garlic, a lightly smashed chili, and fresh herbs like Thai basil or lemon thyme in the wok or pot. Then I covered and cooked them until almost all the clams were open, and discarded the ones that were not. I squeezed some lime juice over the top, stirred, and they were ready for the table. I didn’t have Thai basil, but I did have plenty of thyme, which was a good substitute in a clam dish.

Steamer Clam in Lemongrass Broth

Thai-style Steamed Clams with Lemongrass

Thai Steamed Clam with Lemongrass

Hoi Tom Takrai

หอยต้มตะไคร้

No salt or fish sauce is needed for this dish, just enough water to balance out the natural saltiness of the clams—about 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup for a pound of clams. I use a glass lid, so I can see when all the clams are open. Serve at once when the scents of the sweet clam juice and the lemongrass are at their highest point. You can slurp up the clam broth or save and bottle it if some is left. It is just the best marriage and the cleanest flavor: clam and lemongrass.

Serves: 1

Cooking time: 2 to 3 minutes after the water comes to a boil

1 pound clams, cleaned, then soaked in cold water for 15 minutes and rinsed
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed (see Pranee’s video for step-by-step how to prepare lemongrass)
1 fresh Thai chili, smashed lightly
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed lightly
1 shallot, peeled, quartered and crushed
6 leaves Thai basil, or 3 kaffir lime leaves and 3 sprigs of lemon thyme
1 tablespoon lime juice, about 1 medium-size lime

Place clams, lemongrass, Thai chili, garlic, shallot, and Thai basil or thyme in a wok or sauté pan. Add 1/4 cup water and cover, using a see-through lid if you have one. Bring to a boil and cook until the clams are completely open, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice and serve immediately.

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.

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© 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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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.

IMG_0293

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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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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Loi…loi Krathong

Loi Kratong Festival in Phuket

Loi Kratong Festival in Phuket

November full moon shine, loi Krathong, loi Krathong… For Thais and visitors alike, once you have experienced the November Full Moon Festival in Thailand, the experience will stay with you forever.

Krathong

I arrived in Phuket just a week ago due to a family emergency. Thankfully, my mom’s health is no longer critical, and I have had a chance to visit places and participate in activities with my family in between each visit to her at the hospital.

I am lucky to have a chance to enjoy Loi Krathong with my family here at our village. Our last Loi Krathong together was 13 years ago. Loi Krathong day is one of joy, fun and hope. It is a ritual in our culture that enables us to celebrate yearly to have fun, make a wish, and to let go.

I hope you will enjoy sharing my day in Thailand on Loi Krathong Day, and knowing a little about how a traditional krathong, a floating decoration or boat, is made. Be sure to check your calendar for the date of the November Full Moon Festival before planning a visit to Thailand. Suksun Wan Loi Krathong – สุขสันต์วันลอยกระทง – Happy Loi Krathong!

using a saw to cut banana tree trunk into small disk-like bases

Using a saw to cut a banana tree trunk

A saw is used to cut the trunk of a banana tree into small, disk-like bases.

cut banana tree trunk into small disk-like bases

Small bases cut from the banana tree trunk

Small slices of banana trunk make a traditional, biodegradable base for a krathong. The banana trunk is full of air pockets, which is perfect for keeping a krathong afloat.

 Kratongl with flowers, candle and three incenses

Krathong with flowers, candle and three incense sticks

Banana bases are covered and decorated with banana leaves and flowers.

My Kratong

My krathong

Floating Decoration

Loi Krathong

ลอยกระทง

The full moon of the 12th Thai lunar month is Loi Krathong

When we were young, we were always excited about this special time. We made our own krathong using banana trunk parts for the floating device and decorated it with folded banana leaves or other green leaves. Then we added any flowers that were in bloom in our or our neighbor’s garden. Finally, we added three incense sticks and a candle. Before letting go of our krathong to the river or lake, we each added a few items to our own krathong, like small clippings of our fingernails or hair—things that were symbolic of letting go—and some coins. When we arrived at the lake we would spend a peaceful moment under the stars and the light of the full moon. After lighting the incense sticks and the candle, we would kneel and thank the Goddess of Water – Phra Mae Khongkha  พระแม่คงคา. Then I would make a wish for my family’s good health and happiness, and all of the things that I wanted to let go. Next I would place my krathong on the water and, with my hand, gently wave the water to push the krathong forward. As the krathong drifted away, we watched it float away and let go of all things needed. As the krathong became small, we headed home with a great sense of renewal!

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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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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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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Applied Thai Culinary Art

Gai Yang Amphawa – ไก่ย่างอัมพวา

Grilled Thai Chicken Gai Yang, shown here from my visit in 2011, is famous Thai street food.

On May 29th—just about two weeks ago—The New York Times published the article “Cuisines Mastered as Acquired Tastes.” It told the story of some cooks that have become stars of authentic cuisines from other than their native countries.

One person mentioned in the article is Superstar Thai chef, Andy Ricker, the James Beard Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest in 2011. The article was fascinating reading and brought to mind my last week’s post on Thai basic seasoning paste.  Andy Ricker uses Kratiem Prik Thai paste – a basic Thai seasoning – in his restaurant kitchens as intensively as a Thai would in his. I have been to Andy’s Pok Pok Restaurant in Portland, Oregon a few times. Several of the dishes on his current menu obviously use this basic Thai seasoning paste, including Kai Yaang: Charcoal, rotisserie-roasted natural game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro), Moo Paa Kham Waan (Boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper glazed with soy and sugar grilled over charcoal) and Kung Op Wun Sen (Wild caught gulf prawns baked in a clay pot over charcoal with pork belly, soy, ginger, cilantro root, black pepper, chinese celery and bean thread noodle.). Andy uses Kratiem Prik Thai as a marinade sauce in the first two dishes and as a seasoning in the third.

Goong Oob Woon Sen – กุ้งอบวุ้นเส้น

Goong Oob Woon Sen, a famous Thai hot pot dish served on a banana leaf. I enjoyed this dish served from a clay pot or on a banana leaf by street vendors in Amphawa. The grass noodles were soaked with the delightful flavors of soy, cilantro root, garlic and black pepper. A short gentle braising brings out all the great flavors.

It is great to see non-Thai become super stars in Thai cuisine because it is important to educate both Thai and non-Thai about our truly amazing cuisine. We would like non-Thai to appreciate and learn about authentic Thai cuisine in restaurants in America and elsewhere. And most importantly, we would like for Thai restaurant owners to work hard to preserve our culinary heritage through menus that don’t just offer dishes laden with sugar and coconut milk. If you are looking for a Thai cookbook, here are some authorities on Thai cuisine whose work I admire: David Thompson, a restauranteur and cookbook author; Nancie McDermott, cookbook author and historian; Robert Carmack and Robert Danhi, cookbook authors and tour leaders to Southeast Asia; and Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, cookbook authors, writers, travelers and photographers.

Fried Thai Garlic and Pepper Fish – Kratiem Prik Thai Pla – ปลากระเทียมพริกไทย

Fried Thai Garlic and Pepper Fish – Kratiem Prik Thai Pla

My friend Kratiem Prik Thai Pla at Kamala Beach village Pavilion Beach Restaurant with its signature garlic-black pepper sauce, topped with a lot of fried garlic.

Now that you have learned about Kratiem Prik Thai paste from this and the previous post, you can have fun learning to be a food detective, reading menus and finding the tastes of garlic, black pepper, and cilantro toots in Thai restaurants.

Cilantro roots alternative. In Seattle, when I see cilantro roots at a farmers market or at PCC Natural Markets, I buy a bunch so I can have a supply on hand in the fridge and the freezer. When  cilantro roots are not available, I use 2 teaspoons of finely chopped cilantro stems as a substitute for 1 cilantro root.

I hope you enjoy my photos from a famous restaurant in Bangkok, street food in Amphawa, and a beach restaurant in Phuket. The creators of these dishes may vary as to their preferences for white pepper or black pepper, soy sauce or fish sauce, palm sugar or white sugar, but they all use the secret ingredients of garlic, black pepper and cilantro root.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for using Thai Basic Seasoning Paste Recipe.

Sun-dried Pork – Moo Daet Deow – หมูแดดเดียว

Amphawa, Thailand
Sun-dried pork on the street at Amphawa, ready to deep fry to order.
Some Thai cooks prefer to use fish sauce rather than soy sauce and white peppercorn powder rather than black pepper corns in making Kratiem Prik Thai Rak Puk Chee paste.

Kratiem Prik Thai Goong – กระเทียมพริกไทยกุ้ง

You will find the nationally famous garlic prawns in many forms and under many names in Thai restaurant menus. The traditional Thai version doesn’t mix in vegetables but has a few fresh sliced cucumbers on the side. This photo of garlic prawns was taken at Harmonique Restaurant, my favorite restaurant in Bangkok.

© 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  
 
Follow Me on Pinterest

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Maui, Upcountry Culinary Getaway

First of all, Happy New Year – Sawasdee Pee Mai – สวัสดีปีใหม่.

Maui, Upcountry

I have just returned from a family vacation to Maui. While I was there I had the chance to take two days off to totally explore Maui as a culinary getaway. For foodies and culinary enthusiasts, the upcountry is a must. No Maui vacation is complete without a full immersion into this land, people, food and culture.

View from Highway 37 between Grandma’s Coffee House and the Maui Winery

First Day – Grandma’s Coffee House, Tedeschi Vineyards, Ali’i Kula and the Hili’imaile General Store

On Friday December 23rd, I left Ka’anapali around 8:30am and drove along Highway 37 to the upcountry area. Upcountry is the high land area near the base of the Haleakala Crater and the Haleakala National Park. (Please see related links below for more information.)

I arrived at 9:30am at Grandma’s Coffee House – a must-visit place for coffee lovers, either on your way to the Maui Winery or afterwards if you are following the area’s bike route. Grandma’s serves breakfast and lunch.

Grandma’s Coffee House

Grandma’s Maui Coffee, Highway 37, Keokea.

grandmascoffee.com

I enjoyed a Grandma’s Americano and a Grandma’s Pineapple and Banana Cream Cake at an outside table. The cake was perfect—not too sweet, but with all the Hawai’i goodies: macadamia nuts, pineapple and bananas. The frosting was light with a swirl of caramel. My palate tasted the heaven.

Maui Winery

Tedeschi Vineyards at the Ulupalakua Ranch

Highway 37, Keokea. mauiwine.com

Around 10am I got back in the car and, continuing on Highway 37, headed to Ulupalakua. I arrived at the Maui Winery 20 minutes later, just in time for the first tour at 10:30am. The free half-hour tour provided extensive information about the winery and its wine, as well as the history, culture, and native land that connect to the spirit of the place. The old large tree and hilly landscape made for a very tranquil atmosphere.

Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Grill

Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Grill, Highway 37

 ulupalakuaranch.com

Then I walked to Ulupalakua General Store and had my picture taken between the sculptures of two Hawaiian cowboys. I could have ordered an elk burger, salad or sandwich for lunch, but the Ali’i Kula lavender Farm was my next destination and I planned to have a late lunch after that at the Hili’imaile General Store.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, 1100 Waipoli Road, Kula.

 aklmaui.com

Twenty minutes later, I arrived at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Admission to the farm was free, but I decided to take the 30-minutes tour at 1pm for $12. This gave me plenty of time to enjoy the gift shop, eat a lavender scone and sip some lavender black tea on the patio. I enjoyed the retreat-like setting in the beautiful garden with its cool air and great view and felt at peace.

Thank you to Kathy Gehrt, my friend and author of the cookbook Discover Cooking with Lavender, who recommended this place to me. If you wish to learn more about cooking with culinary lavender please visit Kathy’s blog: Discover Lavender.

Right after the tour ended, I excused myself and headed out to The Hili’imaile General Store. I arrived at 2 pm, just 30 minutes before the kitchen was to close.

The Hili’imaile General Store Restaurant

The staff was very friendly and I took their recommendations for what to order. I was glad I did. To share my memorable meal with you, I have found Chef Beverly Gannon’s recipes online and placed the links to them right under the pictures of these dishes. The Sashimi Napolean and the six times award-winning Pineapple Upside-Down Cake are not to be missed. The recipes are also in her second cookbook, Family-Style Meals at the Hali’imaile General Store which is published by Ten Speed Press.

Sashimi Napoleon

Sashimi Napoleon Recipe by Chef Beverly Gannon

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-down Cake Recipe by Chef Beverly Gannon

Recipes and information on her second cookbook

with Chef Beverly Gannon

The Hali’imaile General Store

900 Hali’imaile Road, Makawao, HI 96768
Phone: 808.572.2666 | Fax: 808.572.7128

Second Day – Kula Lodge, O’o Farm and Makawao

On Monday, December 26th, the second day of my upcountry culinary getaway, I started my day with breakfast at Kula Lodge, then drove to the O’o Farm which is only 10 minutes away. I arrived at the farm just 10 minutes before a farm tour was to begin.

O’o farm, harvesting Salad Mix for Our Lunch

O’o Farm, 651 Waipoli Road, Kula. Tours and lunches

 oofarm.com

Farm Fresh Lunch Prepared by Chef Caroline Schaub

Chef Caroline Schaub prepared some amazing and inspired farm-fresh dishes.

O’o farm, lunch area

The farm tour and lunch package costs $50; booking in advance is recommended. The tour, which included about 26 people from all across the United States, was guided by the farm manager. It started at 10:30am and we picked our own salad mix at the end. We all enjoyed the tour and were inspired by our farm-to-table experience.

Lunch at O’o Farm Tour

After leaving the farm I spent a pleasant hour in Makawao, a delightful small town for visiting art galleries, eateries and shops. Then I made a leisurely drive back to Ka’anapali and met up with my family in the late afternoon.

Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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Early Bird

A Magical Sunrise Over Angkor Wat

In 2010, I took a short but memorable expedition into Siem Reap, a city and province in northwestern Cambodia. The night before it began I arranged for a motor-tricycle to take two friends and me to Angkor Wat, the temple complex built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. We left our hotel around 5am while it was still pitch black. We arrived at Angkor Wat and with a flashlight found a perfect spot, facing east, with the giant shadow of Angkor Wat in front of us. Hundreds of tourists were there to witness the magical sunrise that arises from behind the complex. All eyes were focused on the silhouette of Angkor Wat where the warm, changing shades of sunrise were at play until the sun was completely up.

Early morning scene around Angkor Wat

Early morning life in the countryside around Angkor Wat and the town of Siem Reap is beautiful and serene. For visitors there is no better way to learn about the country than to watch the locals go about their day. A herd of birds flew out from their nests and the locals accomplished a great deal between dawn and noon. The woman in the picture above had bundled dried branches into brushes which she carried by bicycle to sell at the local market.

A friendly local sells mudfish for Amok Curry and Prahok, both national dishes

A lively place to visit early in the morning is the local market. The Psah Chas (Old Market) is not to be missed by visitors to Siem Reap. I found a place in the market that served coffee and joined the locals for the Khmer national breakfast—a fish curry with fresh herbs and rice noodles. I used sign language and a smile to order the dish. This curried noodle dish is identical to a Thai dish called Khanom Jean, though milder. Giant mudfish are a popular fish for all fish dishes including Amok, Khmer fish curry stew, and prahok, a fermented fish paste. The Psah Chas Old Market is a great place to learn Khmer Cuisine Ingredients 101.

Psah Chas Old Market, Siem Reap

After admiring all the fresh vegetables, fruits and staple ingredients, I purchased many packages of Amok Curry Powder to take home for myself and my foodie friends. The powder is made for tourists, and can be bought at the Psah Chas Old Market or at the Siem Reap Airport. Most of the produce I found at the market was the same as in Thailand.

Pan-fried Sea-bass with Amok Curry Powder

At home in Seattle lately I have been pan-frying all kinds of fish, from salmon to catfish, and they’ve all turned out delicious. Above is the pan-fried sea bass with Amok Curry Powder that I prepared for my family the other day. They loved its instant flavor of Southeast Asia, so I felt it was time to share this recipe and story with you. No matter how much time passes, the flavor of Amok curry and my memories of Siem Reap will always be with me.

Kroeung, Khmer Curry Paste Ingredients

From 12 noon clockwise: lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, shallot, Kaffir lime leaf and galangal. Center: red spur and Thai chilies

Amok Curry Powder

This creation was inspired by my March 2010 trip to Cambodia when I purchased many bottles of Amok Curry Powder. I used the powder on salmon and sea bass and really loved the citrus and lemongrass flavors and the combustion caused by the combination of flavors. I spent over a year trying to come up with my own combination by simply following the structure of Khmer curry paste ingredients shown in the photo above. Now I would say that my Amok Curry Powder is quite good. It can be enjoyed as a spice rub over any fish or seafood for a quick and easy dish. Above is a photograph of my Amok Curry Powder sprinkled over sea bass, which was then pan-fried and served with stir-fried peas. The simplicity of this dish and the good fresh fish let the Siem Reap Amok flavor stand out. Together they go a long way in anyone’s kitchen.

¼ teaspoon black pepper flakes
½ teaspoon Thai chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic granules
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon galangal powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons lemongrass powder
1 teaspoon Kaffir lime leaf powder

Combine black pepper flakes, Thai Chili powder, garlic granules, turmeric powder, galangal powder, sea salt and lemongrass powder in a small bowl. Store in a spice jar for up to 2 weeks. For freshness, keep the mixture in the freezer, or mix just enough spices for a single use. Spices stay fresh longer if they are stored separately rather than combined.

Pranee’s note: To make galangal, Kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass powders, purchase these ingredients in the dry form—or make your own—and grind them n a spice grinder. Please look for Pranee’s future post on how to make dried lemongrass powder.

© 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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Dragon Crystal Ball – แก้วมังกร

Last Tuesday a friend and I prepared a tropical fruit salad together in her kitchen to test a version of my versatile Thai mixed fruit salad recipe. It is a recipe that I have made countless times and the results are always good, though never the same due to seasonal inspirations. This time I focused on just three different kinds of fruit, each high in anti-oxidants and at their peak fresh in the market. Tropical fruits have so many potential healthy benefits, I loved creating a recipe of the moment for you to enjoy. This combination of dragon fruit, papaya and Thai grapefruit is unique; I hope that you enjoy the recipe. It works really well with all fruits, so let’s play with tropical fruits!

Dragon Fruit in a fruit tray at my family's Chinese New Year altar

Dragon Fruit  (Hylocereus undatus) is also known as red Pitaya, or in Thailand we call it Kaeo Mangkon – แก้วมังกร. The most commonly-seen “dragon fruit” in the market is a red-skinned fruit with white flesh. There are two more varieties, one with red skin and red fruit and another with yellow skin and white fruit, but the red skin and white fruit with black seeds is the most common.

Dragon Fruit - Pitaya

Dragon Crystal Ball – แก้วมังกร

Dragon Fruit is native to Central American and its neighboring areas. It came to Southeast Asia about a century ago and is believed to have been brought to Vietnam by French missionaries. It is now very popular throughout Southeast Asia where there is an ideal tropical climate to grow this cactus-like green plant with its abundance of large flowers that become the red fruit. Because of its beautiful looks and auspicious name, dragon fruit is often seen in Thailand and Vietnam on ancestor altars or being presented to a friend as a gift. It is quite dramatic looking both inside and out.

Dicing Dragon Fruit Flesh

Dragon fruit is easy to prepare. After trimming off the top and bottom, cut the fruit in half then use your thumb and pointer finger to press the skin away from the fruit; it will peel off easily. From there cut the fruit into the desired shape. The flavor is not dramatic compared to its appearance. The fruit is similar in someways to a kiwi fruit, but the texture is denser. It has a gentle sweet-sour taste and the seeds, which look like black sesame seeds, provide a fun texture. Dragon fruit’s texture, unique look, and unassertive taste combine to make it a star in this mixed-fruit salad.

Dicing Papaya

This deep rich yellow-orange papaya is so delicious and creamy. I was careful to add it gently into the salad, mixing just enough so that the papaya flavors become well combined with the dragon fruit and Thai grapefruit.

Som Oh - Thai Grapefruit

Pomelo, the third ingredient in my salad, is also known as Asian or Thai grapefruit. It adds a citrusy sweet and sour flavor to the salad. In America, pomelo is available in the markets for many months beginning in September. Please check my blog post on Pomelo Salad with Crab to learn about Thai grapefruit and how to open them.

Dragon fruit, papaya and Thai grapefruit salad

Thai Mixed Fruit Salad with Dragon Fruit 

Som Tum Pollamai Kao Mangkon

ส้มตำผลไม้แก้วมังกร

Servings: 6    Preparation: 15 minutes     Cooking time: 5 minutes

Som Tum Pollamai has become a trendy dish in Thailand over the last few years, even though it has been known for centuries. It is simply a fruit salad with an accent of Thai herbal flavors and aromas. Dragon fruit, papaya and pomelo make a great combination because they give you a great anti-oxidant boost and much more. My friend commented that this would make a great fruit dish for a holiday brunch as well as being fun to serve at a poker party because the cubed dragon fruit look so much like dice. 

6 cups mixed seasonal fruits, peeled and cut into small bite-size cubes
4 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemongrass, thinly sliced (see Pranee’s Youtube video demonstration how to prepare lemongrass)
3 Kaffir lime leaves whole, or 1 tablespoon lime peel
1 cup mint leaves

Mix sugar, lime juice and salt together in a small bowl and stir well. Place the mixed fruits in a large salad bowl, then sprinkle the liquid mixture over the fruit; toss gently but thoroughly until the dressing and fruits are well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a half-hour to let it sit and develop flavor. Before serving, add lemongrass, Kaffir lime or lime peels and mint and mix gently. Garnish with mint leaves or short stalks of lemongrass as desired.

Cook note: Other fruits that go well together include apple, pear, guava, cantaloupe, pineapple, Som Oh (Thai grapefruit) or any citrus fruits, grapes, melon, honeydew melon, banana, strawberry and half grated green mango.

© 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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