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Archive for the ‘Thai Gluten Free Recipe’ Category

For Richer or For Poorer

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

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

Nam Pla Prik as a condiment

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

Nam Pla Prik

 

Spicy Fish Sauce

Nam Pla Prik 

น้ำปลาพริก  

Yield: 1/4 cup

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

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

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

img_0054.jpg

Thai Condiment Set – with Nam Pla Prik

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .
 
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Curry Without the Hurry

Sometimes we can add a little creativity and time to an ordinary Thai curry dish and a magic spell happens. When you bring the food to the table it produces a touch to the heart as well as a gastronomic experience. When I returned home for a visit, my mom’s kitchen invoked a fond memory of her preparing stuffed southern style eggplant in Phuket red curry sauce — her specialty. The Thai people often speak the language of the heart with food, and I remembered well those days of a warm welcome home. My version of stuffed sweet peppers in green curry sauce was prepared and served at my family table here in Seattle. I took a few photos, knowing that one day I would share this curry recipe so that you could try this curry without the hurry: Braised Stuffed Sweet Peppers in Thai Green Curry.

Stuffed Sweet Pepper Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant

Braised Stuffed Sweet Peppers and Thai Eggplant in Green Curry

With only a little effort you can surprise someone with a memorable result when you prepare Braised Stuffed Sweet Peppers in Green Curry Sauce. I chose to make this dish with the mini bell peppers that are available in the market all year round so you can enjoy this recipe at any time. My favorite times for preparing this dish is in the fall when local varieties of sweet peppers are available, or in the winter when the weather is cold, but the kitchen is cozy and warm. You can cook without the hurry—just let the peppers simmer away without the worry and enjoy the fragrance throughout your kitchen.

Stuffed Sweet Pepper

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Use a paring knife, slit the peppers on one side and open them with one straight line the length of pepper. Using your thumb, press at the bottom and with your index finger press at the top, squeezing the pepper to make it open up. Remove the seeds then stuff in the meat mixture. If desired, you can complete this step ahead of time and keep the stuffed peppers in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

Thai Eggplant

Thai Eggplant

Thai eggplant is a typical vegetable to add to green or red curries. You can make this recipe with or without them. Simply remove the stems and cut each of them into 6 wedges. Soak the wedges in salted cold water to prevent the eggplant from turning brown. Drain them just before adding to the curry.

Gaeng Keow Wan Prik Yad Sai  

Stuffed Sweet Pepper Green Curry

แกงเขียวหวานพริกยัดไส้

I love to prepare this dish and once taught it to my Seattle area students during the winter months. The best part is letting the stuffed sweet peppers braise away in the green curry sauce. Don’t worry about the time, the curry has a way of telling you when it is ready when the fragrance of the sweet coconut milk, spices and herbs reach their highest level.

Serves: 4 to 8

8 small, whole mini sweet peppers, or Anaheim peppers

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems

5 black peppercorns

1 pinch of salt

½ pound coarse-ground chicken

1½ cups coconut milk

2 to 3 tablespoons green or red curry paste

4 kaffir lime leaves or lime peel

4 Thai eggplants, please see the preparation above

½ to 1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon fish sauce, as needed

¼ cup basil leaves

Use a paring knife to slit open peppers on one side with one straight line the length of pepper. Then use your thumb at the bottom of the pepper, and your index finger at the top to squeeze them open; remove the seeds.

Place garlic, cilantro stems, black peppercorns and salt in a mortar. Pound with a pestle until they become a paste. Place into a medium-size bowl with the ground chicken and mix well. Stuff the meat mixture into the peppers and set aside. (This step can be done ahead of time and the stuffed peppers kept in the fridge until ready to cook.)

In a saucepan on medium-high heat, bring ½ cup of coconut milk and green or red curry paste to boil; stir well. Let the mixture cook until the oil separates and curry is fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add kaffir lime leaves or lime peel and stuffed peppers to the mixture. Add the remaining 1 cup coconut milk to cover all ingredients; bring to a boil. Let cook on medium-low heat for 8 minutes, then stir in Thai eggplant and keep cooking until the chicken filling is cooked and the peppers are soft, about 7 minutes. Check the center of the stuffed pepper to make sure chicken is done, then stir in sugar, fish sauce and basil leaves. Bring mixture to a boil and remove from heat.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

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

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What is a Fruit, Eaten as a Vegetable, and Used as a Sponge?

Wait—you are eating luffa? Yes, in Thailand luffa fruit is eaten at a young stage as a vegetable. It is soft, sweet and aromatic after cooking, either in a stir-fry or a soup dish. We eat the whole fruit except for the skin.

When I have a craving for luffa as a vegetable, I only choose the youngest luffa available. As the fruit gets older, the fibrous veins becomes more visible and tough and the flesh gets more airy and dries out to become a sponge. Farmers leave many healthy-looking luffa fruit longer on the trellis in order to harvest seeds and sponges as the annual vine grows old, dies, and dries up. The last harvest for the plant is healthy seeds and luffa sponges for bathing or cleaning pots and pans.

บวบหอม

บวบหอม – Smooth Luffa – Luffa aegistiaca

We enjoy two species of luffa as a vegetable in tropical and subtropical countries. The above luffa is บวบหอม – buap homSponge Luffa or Smooth Luffa. Below is the บวบเหลี่ยม – bump liam –  Ridged Luffa or Angled Luffa.

Growing up in Thailand I felt that what makes a Thai village scene beautiful is walking around and seeing both kinds of luffa growing in and around granny’s home, either on the fences or the chicken penthouse or on a tree. And one doesn’t need a fancy vegetable garden to grow them, just two square feet of fertile ground, routine watering, then a bit of training to get the vine to climb up a twig or fence as it grows. After that it can take care of itself and all you have to do is admire the yellow flowers, harvest the luffa, collect seeds for the next season and enjoy a supply of sponges.

Angled Luffa on the arbor - Angled luffa - Luffa acutangula

บวบเหลี่ยม – Angled Luffa on the trellis – Luffa acutangula

This picture was taken a few years back when I visited my mom and uncle and we walked around my village in a circle. The angled luffa is young, long, and round with ridges. This one is a perfect size for harvesting. It could be from 1 to 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter and 8 to 12 inches long. The yellow flowers were bright against the dark green guard hanging on the chicken coop to provide shade for chickens. I trust that the yield of luffas from this single plant provided many meals, stir-fried, in a country-style soup, or served with Nam Prik – Thai Chili Dip

Step-by-Step: How to Peel and Cut Luffa 

One year when I visited mom I found her in the kitchen just about to prepare stir-fried luffa with egg for lunch. Because I wanted to share the technique and recipe with you and all my blog followers, I asked her if she could do this in slow motion and let me interrupt her so I could take photos of her peeling and cutting luffa the way everyone from our Thai village always did. I want to share with you this treasured culinary moment in my mom’s kitchen.

how to peel angled luffa

How to peel angled luffa

The luffa is actually related to the cucumber family. They are alike in many ways but the luffa is softer. We use a cucumber peeler to peel the ridged skin.

IMG_0171

Angled luffa looks like a soft cucumber

After peeling and rinsing, we do the oblique cutting or roll-cutting.

oblige cut is a cutting style for stir-fried luffa

The oblique cutting style is used for stir-fried luffa

Please click here to see a video and the explanation from Simply Ming about how and why oblique and roll cutting is used in Asian Cuisine.

The reason we love luffa so much is that it is succulent, moist, sweet and tender. Therefore we don’t need many ingredients in this stir-fried dish. We often enhance the flavor with some protein like egg, prawn or pork, then a little fish sauce or soy sauce for salt. The taste has a hint of zucchini and cucumber. It has a delightful silky smooth texture that is soft, but firmer than a marshmallow.

Mom's style stir-fried angled luffa with egg served with steamed jasmine rice

Mom’s style stir-fried angled luffa with egg, served with steamed jasmine rice

Both species of luffa can be cooked in the same way. There is not a big difference between the two, but I prefer angled luffa over smooth luffa as it is more succulent and sweet. This recipe, and the photographs were recorded many years ago in my mom’s kitchen in Phuket. It captured our fine day visiting and savoring real Thai home cooking.

Stir-fried Angle Luffa with Egg

Buab Phad Khai
บวบผัดไข่
Serves: 4

Like any Thai stir-frying dish, cooking on high heat is the key. Shrimp or pork are popular proteins used in stir-fried angled luffa, and almost always with egg, some soy and fish sauces and a pinch of sugar. It can be served as a side dish or a main dish with steamed jasmine rice.

3 tablespoons high heat cooking oil such as canola, peanut or soy bean oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 eggs

3 large or 4 medium-size angled luffa, peeled and oblique-cut, about 1 and 1/2 pounds

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water or chicken broth

Heat a wok on high heat until it is hot. Pour in cooking oil and stir in garlic. When garlic is golden, stir in eggs and stir a few times. When the egg is cooked, stir in luffa. Stir for 1 minute and add fish and soy sauces and sugar. Add water or chicken broth and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes with the lid on. It should have a soft texture and some sauce like the recipe above. Serve warm.

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 Links

http://www.kitazawaseed.com/seeds_luffa_angled.html

How to Grow Your Luffa Sponge

http://www.luffa.info/luffagrowing.htm

Roll-Cutting Video

http://www.howtocookmeat.com/techniques/howtorollcut.htm

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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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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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Two Sisters Cook

About 26 years ago, my sister, Rudee and I dreamed that one day we would own a restaurant together. As the many different pursuits in our lives evolved, it turned out that my sister pursued the dream on her own, but our passions are still related to Thai food and cooking. She opened a restaurant in front of her house the same year that I founded I Love Thai Cooking in Seattle. My sister has specialized in Aharn Jaan Deowอาหารจานเดียว – a one dish meal also known as Aharn Tam Sungอาหารตามสั่ง– made to order. Like a small restaurant on a tiny lot or street corner, my sister shops early in the morning then preps in time for the lunch crowd. In the afternoon she does some more prepping for either sit down or take home dinners. The menu is posted on the restaurant wall. It has about 20 dishes for you to choose from, from Phad Kraprow Gai (stir-fried chicken with holy basil) to Tom Yum Goong (sweet and sour soup with prawns).

With my mom and my sister at Rudee’s Restaurant

Today I am sharing with you a recipe from my sister’s restaurant: Thai Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage – Kao Phad Kunchiang – – ข้าวผัดกุนเชียง. I want to express my gratitude to my sister for her hard work running her small businesses while caring for her family and our mom. For this recipe, she was kind enough to duplicate it one more time during the restaurant’s non-busy hours so I could make the video and take the photos which I am sharing with you today. Please make an effort to watch them. Prep the ingredients below, then watch the video to boost your confidence by learning tips, techniques and timing for preparing the dish. You can learn more about my sister’s cooking by watching videos on my I Love Thai Cooking YouTube channel. 

Chinese Sausage - กุนเชียง

Chinese Sausage – กุนเชียง

As I look at this picture, I feel as I did when I was young and walking behind my mom on a market trip. I would tug on her shirt to let her know that I would like her to buy some of the Kunchiang – dry Chinese sausage – for dinner. As young kids growing up, my sister and I loved Kunchiang. My sister’s Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage Recipe is very much like my mom’s version. In Seattle I purchase my Chinese sausage and keep them in the fridge where they can be kept for a long time, and I can cook this dish anytime I have leftover rice.

Chinese Sausage in Thai Cuisine

Kun Chiang – กุนเชียง aka Lap cheong in Southern China, is made in Thailand by Thais of Chinese descent. It is simply dry sausage with salt and sugar added that has been smoked and dried. Its flavor is unique, however, and it is hard for me to recommend a substitution. It is made in China and California and available in Asian markets here in Seattle. My favorite sausage is from California. It is lower in fat and has a perfect smoky note, not too intense. Common ingredients in the sausage are pork butt, fat, sugar, salt, corn starch, five spice powder and Chinese white rice wine. My favorite way to prepare these Chinese sausages is in fried rice. I hope you have a chance to try this easy recipe from my sister.

green onion, onion, Chinese sausage, and tomato, กุนเชียง

Green onion, onion, Chinese sausage, and tomato

Even just a few ingredients can produce a delightful taste. I love these brilliant combinations. If you want to add one or two more kinds of vegetables, try Chinese kale and young corn.

Kao Phad Kunchiang - ข้าวผัดกุนเชียง - Thai Frid Rice with Chinese Sausage

Kao Phad Kunchiang – ข้าวผัดกุนเชียง – Thai Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage

A pungent bite of fresh green onion in the middle of the savory Kao Phad Kunchiang can be rewarding to the taste buds. The pungent taste will add a dimension and highlight the taste in every ingredient in the fried rice.

Step-By-Step Pranee’s Thai Cooking Video

Thai Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage

Kao Phad Kunchiang

ข้าวผัดกุนเชียง

Serves 1

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 link Chinese sausage, sliced

1 egg

1/4 cup sliced onion

1 medium tomato, diced

1 cup steamed jasmine rice, room temperature

2 – 3 teaspoons Roza tomato ketchup or tomato paste

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 green onion, sliced

1 cilantro, to garnish

3 slices cucumber, to garnish

1 whole green onion, to garnish

Heat the wok on low heat and add cooking oil and sliced Chinese sausage. Stir back and forth to fry the sausage and also to render the fat at the same time. Cook the sausage until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add one egg, stir once and spread the egg out on the surface of the wok.

Adjust the burner to high heat. Add onion and tomato and stir back and forth, then add in the jasmine rice, tomato ketchup and soy sauce. Keep stirring until the rice has softened, about 1 minute. Stir in green onion until well combined. Garnish with cilantro on top, and cucumber slices and one whole green onion on the side.

© 2015 Rudee Piboon with 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,  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
Roza Tomato Ketchup

Roza Tomato Ketchup

Roza Tomato Ketchup is similar to tomato paste in taste and texture. American ketchup my not work well for this recipe. You may use a smaller amount of tomato paste or Sriracha sauce instead.
 
 

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The Best is on the Top and in the Middle

Like custard, caramel grated coconut has a goodness that has many uses and places in dessert creations. I have a place in my heart for this sweet coconut delight. I chose an English name for this coconut dessert topping and filling – Caramel Grated Coconut – Sai Maprow -ไส้มะพร้าว – Nah Maprow – หน้ามะพร้าว. Its caramel taste, either as a topping or as a filling, heightens other desserts. I hope you enjoy reading on to discover the uses of this delightful sweet caramel grated coconut in many Thai and Southeast Asian desserts. The recipe follows. It has carefree steps and just two ingredients: grated coconut and sugar (plus a little salt).

Stella's Caramel Coconut - Sri Lanka

Stella’s Caramel Grated Coconut – Sri Lanka

Last week I set aside a day to create just one dessert dish – Khanom Sod Sai – ขนมสอดไส้ – Steamed Coconut Cream Pudding with Caramel Grated Coconut Filling. This dessert involved many steps. The preparation, note taking, photographing, and final cleaning took over 6 hours. I love special days like this when recreating a dish reconnects me with my early learning experiences in my family’s kitchen.

มะพร้าว

In the middle. Sai Maprow -ไส้มะพร้าว Caramel Coconut ball is placed inside a sticky rice dough for Khanom Sod Sai and Khanom Tom

However, today I will share with you just one part of the recipe for Khanom Sod Sai, that is the Thai caramel grated coconut. It is a quintessential part of Thai desserts and for other Southeast Asian cuisines as well. There are many intriguing steps, but demystifying them will help you find ways to incorporate this treat in your cooking. Please share your experiences in the comment box below.

Caramel Coconut – Sai Maprow (filling) -ไส้มะพร้าว – Nah Maprow (topping) – หน้ามะพร้าว

Caramel Coconut Stuffing

In the middle. Caramel coconut ball with a purple sticky rice dough and coconut cream in Khanom Sod Sai

The above picture is of Khanom Sod Sai. The caramel coconut ball is placed in the middle of a sticky rice dough, which is then wrapped around it before being steamed with coconut cream pudding in a banana leaf. This is similar to Khanom Tom Khao, where the caramel coconut ball is placed in the middle of the dough, which is then boiled and rolled in coconut flakes.

Caramel Coconut is ready for spreading before rolling together with sticky rice before enjoying

On the top. Nah Maprow – หน้ามะพร้าว The caramel coconut is placed on top of sticky rice.

In Nah Maprow, the caramel coconut is placed on top of a small piece of banana leaf, which is then lifted up and used to spread the caramel coconut on top of sticky rice before savoring the combination. In Phuket, this dessert is called Khao Neow Nah Cheek – ข้าวเหนียวหน้าฉีก. I typically enjoy this for breakfast when visiting home.

Caramel Coconut as a filling for Sri Lanka Pancake

Caramel Coconut as a filling for Sri Lanka Pancake

In 2014, I visited the cities of Colombo and Galle in Sri Lanka and traveled to many beautiful places with a friend. Near Ratnapura we learned about Sri Lanka cuisine from Stella, our personal tour guide’s sister. We spent a half day with her family in their kitchen. For dessert, Stella showed us how to make caramel coconut to use as a filling for Sri Lanka crepe. I would like to express my gratitude to Stella for teaching and inspiring me and for sharing her techniques for creating this recipe again with ease.

Step-by-Step: How to Make Thai Caramel Coconut

There are two ways to make caramel grated coconut for Thai desserts. The first way is to mix—either by hand or with a utensil—brown sugar, fresh grated coconut and a touch of salt until they are well incorporated, then pan fry them until the sugar is caramelized and absorbed into the coconut. A second method is to add a little water to the sugar and heat it until it melts. Continue cooking until the sugar burns slightly and has a hint of caramel color, then add fresh or frozen grated coconut. Stir well until the sugar and coconut are well combined and the coconut is coated with the brown caramelized sugar.

My family and most home cooks in Thailand use the first method, whereas culinary professionals and merchant use the second one. The latter has a more intense caramel flavor, depending on how much you let the sugar burn, and it also has more affect on the color of the coconut. Personally I love the second version, show below, which is also the fastest and easiest.

หน้ามะพร้าว or

The final result of Caramel Grated Coconut – Sai Maprow -ไส้มะพร้าว – Nah Maprow – หน้ามะพร้าว~

What kind of sugar should you use? Both recipes work with all sugars. In many countries, cooks use white or brown jaggery, which is a more complex type of sugar. In Thailand, some prefer palm sugar, however, in Southern Thailand we are more flexible. My family uses brown sugar, whereas the rest of the Thai community uses palm sugar. Stella preferred white sugar. Combining two kinds of sugar should work as well.

photo 2-7

Stir brown sugar, water and salt together in a large pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat. Allow mixture to cook without stirring until it is foamy, thick, and almost burnt, about 5 minutes.

Stella's Technique of making a caramel from the sugar first before adding coconut

Stella’s Ttechnique of making a caramel from the sugar first before adding coconut

The sugar should take on a thin caramel-like texture like the picture above, with a hint of caramel taste or more if desired, before stirring in the grated coconut.

มะพร้าว

มะพร้าว – Thawed Frozen Coconut

Young coconut – Marrow Num – มะพร้าวหนุ่ม (coconuts that are six to nine months old and lack the husk of the more well-known mature coconut) is preferred in Thailand, but in America my first choice would be frozen grated coconut, followed by shredded coconut from the bakery section.

หน้ามะพร้าว

Caramel Grated Coconut – Sai Maprow -ไส้มะพร้าว – Nah Maprow – หน้ามะพร้าว

Let it cook on medium-high heat, stirring often until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low.

หน้ามะพร้าว

Caramel Grated Coconut for Sai Maprow -ไส้มะพร้าว – Nah Maprow – หน้ามะพร้าว

Continue cooking until you can pull the caramel coconut to the side of the pan and no liquid remains, about 3 minutes.

Caramel Grated Coconut Filling – ขนมสอดไส้

Caramel Grated Coconut

Sai Maprow-ไส้มะพร้าว

Nah Maprow – หน้ามะพร้าว

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 50 fillings or topping balls

3 cups brown sugar

1/3 cup water

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups frozen grated coconut, thawed (see note below)

Stir brown sugar, water and salt together in a large pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Allow sugar mixture to cook without stirring until it is foamy, thick, and almost burnt, about 5 minutes. The sugar should turn into a thin caramel like the picture above with a hint of caramel taste. Now stir in grated fresh or frozen (thawed) coconut.

Let the coconut mixture cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Adjust the heat to low and continue cooking until you can pull the caramel coconut to the side of the pan and there is no liquid left, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and let the mixture set until it is cool enough to handle. With cold water by your side, moisten both of your hands. Drop one tablespoon of the caramel coconut into one hand, press it into a dense ball with your other hand, then place it on a plate. If the mixture is too hot, moisten your hands again with cold water to prevent burning. Repeat the process until all of the coconut has been rolled into balls. Makes 50 balls.

Cook’s Note: Fresh, frozen, or dried grated coconut can be used in this recipe but the cooking time may vary depending on the moisture in the coconut. Pay attention to following the steps after adding the grated coconut.

photo 3-7

Khanom Sod Sai – ขนมสอดไส้ – Steamed Coconut Cream Pudding with Caramel Coconut Filling

© 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 

Related Link: Cooking with Grated Coconut Recipes

~ Stir-fried Grated Coconut with Phuket Red Curry Paste (praneesthaikitchen.com)

~ Spicy Thai Coconut Chip (praneesthaikitchen.com)

~ Pinterest: Pranee’s Coconut Love Pin (Lovethaicooking)

~ Khanom Tom Khao (http://tankitchen-dessert.blogspot.com/)

Talking of coconut, Thai love all forms, all types. I put all my favorite links on my LoveThaiCooking Pinterest under Coconut Love.

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Heavenly Dessert

When I was young I could not resist eating Khanom Mo Gang – ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว – Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans. One small parcel in a banana leaf was not enough for my hungry soul.

In Thai cuisine there are many kinds of Mo Gang Thai custard but two types dominate: one with egg, palm sugar and coconut milk, and another that includes cooked split mung beans or cooked taro. What makes this Thai custard so special is the coconut milk and fried shallot oil. These two ingredients set Thai Mo Gang apart from other custards.

One event that I have never forgotten was when my aunt purchased a little parcel of Mo Gaeng for everyone for breakfast and my brothers and sister woke to discover that their shares were gone. They have long ago forgiven me and forgotten this, but I still have lingering memories of the taste and my mischief. 

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

In Thailand an individual serving of this Thai dessert is wrapped in a banana leaf and secured with a little wood stick like a toothpick.

Kanom Mor Gaeng

Kanom Mor Gaeng Tua

Thais commonly open up the little parcel and use a small spoon to leisurely take one small bite at a time. The banana leaf is not only used as a wrapper, but as a disposable plate as well.

Step-by-Step: How to Make Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

Steamed Mung Beans

Cooked Split Mung Beans

The first step is to steam split mung beans ahead of time using Pranee’s Step-by Step instructions from an earlier post for preparing Steamed Peeled Split Mung Beans. The second step is to make fried shallots and shallot oil following the recipe on this youTube video: https://youtu.be/5LTCo3SRWLk. Then the rest of the preparation is very simple.

Run egg, sugar batter through a sieve

Prepare the steamed split mung beans and fried shallot ahead of time and the rest is simple.

Place sugar, eggs, salt and Pandan leaf in a medium size bowl. Using a whisk or an egg beater, whip until foamy and the sugar and salt are dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in coconut cream and repeat the mixing process until well blended, about 30 seconds. Run the egg and sugar mixture through a sieve into food processor, removing the Pandan leaf. Add steamed mung beans to the food processor or blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

cook mung bean custard on low heat for 5 minutes

Cook mung bean custard on low heat for 5 minutes

Heat the mixture in a deep pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 portion of fried shallots and all of the shallot oil and stir constantly  until the texture changes to a thick soup, about 5 minutes.

photo 4

Pour thick Mung Bean Custard from the mixer onto a greased 8″ by 8″ baking pan

Pour the thick batter into a greased 8″ by 8″  baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining half of the fried shallots on the top (see picture below) before baking.

Freshly Baked Khanom Mor Geng - ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Freshly Baked Khanom Mor Geng

Bake at 375°F in a preheated oven until the top is golden and the edge of the custard pulls away from the edge a little, about 45 minutes.

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans – ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

Khanom Mo Gaeng

ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Serves 8 to 16

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 45 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 1/2 cups evaporated cane sugar

6 eggs, duck eggs preferred

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Pandan leaf

1 1/2 cups coconut cream

2 cups steamed mung beans

Heat a small skillet over medium heat and stir in canola oil and shallots. Stir back and forth until the shallots are golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove fried shallots and divided into two portion, and let them cool. Save the oil for later.

Place sugar, eggs, salt and Pandan leaf in a medium-size bowl, and using a hand whisk or egg beater, beat until foamy and sugar and salt are dissolved, about 1 minute. Then stir in coconut cream, and repeat the mixing process until well blended, about 30 seconds. Strain into food processor to remove Pandan leaf. Add steamed mung beans to the food processor or blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

Heat the mixture in a deep pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 portion of fried shallots and all of the shallot oil into the pan. Stir constantly until the texture changes to a thick soup, about 5 minutes.

Pour the thick batter into a greased 8″ by 8″  baking pan. Sprinkle 1/2 portion of fried shallots on surface (see picture above) before baking. Bake at 375°F in a preheated oven until the top is golden and the edge of the custard begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes.

© 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 
 
Related Links:
How to Cook Peeled Split Mung Bean (praneesthaikitchen.com)
Mung Bean (wikipedia)
Fried Shallots (https://youtu.be/5LTCo3SRWLk)
 
 

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Summery Curry 

For Thai curry lovers like myself, I cannot think of any Thai curry better on a hot summer day than Phuket Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple – Gang Kue Sapparod – แกงคั่วสับปะรด. Your Seattle summer will become a tropical paradise escape when you savor this summery curry.

Phuket Pineapple

Phuket Pineapple

Pineapple has a nickname: “A Thousand Eyes Fruit”

Pineapple is native to South America, but it finds itself at home throughout tropical climates such as Hawaii and the countries of Southeast Asia. Growing up in a village in Phuket, Thailand, I believed that it was native to Phuket because I saw it everyday on the plantation, on the mountain side, at the roadside stand, and at the market. My family served a few kinds of pineapple dishes every week. In a later post I will share with you more stories and pictures of Phuket pineapple.

Ripe Phuket Pineapple

Ripe Phuket Pineapple

A juicy fresh pineapple is ideal, but when fresh ones cannot be found, canned pineapple is a good substitute. If you use fresh pineapple and want to learn how to peel it, here are a few pictures from my past travels. Please give it a try. Many countries in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand, practice this same preparation technique. We leave the stem to hold onto, remove the peel and the eyes, then remove the stems. The photo below is from my trip to Vietnam.

Remove Pineapple Eyes in Diagonal Lines

After peeling, remove the eyes using diagonal cuts, and then cut off the stem. Next cut the fruit into wedges, removing the core, and cut them into chunks the preferred size. The photo below was taken in my village during the preparations for my uncle’s birthday party.

Cutting a half of Pineapple into wedges

Cutting a Half of Pineapple into Wedges

I recommend you visit Simply Recipes for more pictures of the cutting technique

Summery Thai Curry

What makes this curry summery is the addition of the pineapple. It adds a fruity flavor that is both sweet and sour, which cools down the spiciness without cutting out the delicious spices and herbs. This recipe is for my childhood dish—my hometown Phuket Shrimp Curry with Pineapple.

Gaeng Klue Sapparod

Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple and Cilantro

GEANG KUE SAPPAROD

แกงคั่วสับปะรด

Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple and Cilantro

Pineapple—fresh or canned—adds a delicious fruity sweet and sour balance to this dish. The marriage of the fresh Kaffir lime and cilantro leaves make the dish so perfect on its own. Coconut milk is there to add flavor and balance and a hint of spice. If you have time, I recommend you use my aunt’s Phuket Red Curry Paste Recipe for the best results. For a local or seasonal touch, local mussels would do really well instead of shrimp. And if you want to give it a try, a firm ripe peach at the end of the season creates a nice farewell to the summer as well.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons red curry paste

1 cup coconut milk, divided

½ cup water

½ cup fresh or canned crushed pineapple with juice

1/3 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks

1 tablespoon sugar

3 Kaffir lime leaves

16 shrimp, peeled and deveined

¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a medium size pot, on medium-high heat, stir canola oil and red curry paste together until fragrant. Stir in ½ cup coconut milk and cook until oil separates from the curry paste. The color of the oil should be red. Stir in the remaining ½ cup coconut milk and the water and bring to a boil. Add crushed pineapple with juice, pineapple chunks, sugar and Kaffir lime leaves and let cook for 2 minutes on high heat. Then stir in shrimp and let cook until the shrimp are pink, curled, and opaque in color. Garnish with cilantro. Serve right away with steamed jasmine rice.

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

~ Phuket Red Curry Paste, My Aunt’s Recipe (Pranee’s Thai Kitchen)

Social History of the Pineapple: (http://levins.com/pineapple.html) Super food: (http://greatist.com/health/superfood-pineapple) How to Cut a Pineapple (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cut_a_pineapple/) Pineapple: (http://www.food.com/library/pineapple-278)

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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.

Love Thai Cooking

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

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Love the One You’re With

When you want to cook Thai food outside of Thailand and rare ingredients are missing or their availability is limited, we learn how to make substitutions for critical ingredients. Thus it often transpires that some ingredients in traditional dishes change over time. Green papaya salad – Som Tum – is not acceptable without green papaya, so how do you create this traditional dish when the freshest texture and flavor are important and all you can find is an aging and bitter green papaya? My friend in Switzerland and some Hmong farmers in the Pacific Northwest use sweet, fresh local carrots from their gardens in place of the hard-to-find green papaya. The homesickness for this traditional dish can be cured by the sound of the mortar and pestle and the pungent authenticity of the rest of the ingredients. I never forgot the taste of the Som Tum I ate in Switzerland after being away from Thailand for two months for the first time. Love the one you’re with!

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel

The best and freshest ingredients from our garden can also replace the absent or impossible to find tamarind leaves. This is perhaps what led me to this next local Pacific Northwest ingredient—sorrel—and the discovery of a pattern of substitutions: the similarity of the texture of carrots to that of green papayas, the similarity of the flavor of sorrel leaves to young tamarind leaves, and the similarity of the flavor and texture of green apples to green mangoes. I am not here to change Thai cuisine. These new dishes arenot the same as the old, but the substitution of nostalgia for a traditional culinary love affair.
young tamarind leaves

Young tamarind leaves

My photos from a fresh market in Surathani
Young Tamarind Leaves 
ยอดใบมะขามอ่อน
Yod Bai MaKham Oon
Young tamarind leaves have been used as food in Southeast Asia for a long time. My family and other Thais in my village cook them in vegetable stews like Tom Som and use them to add a sour flavor to coconut milk and non-coconut milk based curry dishes. In addition to having a delightful tangy sour taste, tamarind leaves have a medicinal benefit: they are packed full of vitamin A.
Sorrel

Sorrel – ซอรเรล – Rumex acetosa

Sorrel– ซอรเรล- Rumex acetosa is native to Europe and northern Asia. Only 15 years ago, I discovered cooking with sorrel for the first time. It was at a Thai community kitchen when some elders from Lao and Cambodia brought a fresh sorrel and vegetable condiment. Then my friend Ruth Huffman showed me the sorrel  in her garden. Ruth uses it as a leaf vegetable and culinary herb. Now I have three vegetables in my garden from the Polygonaceae (buck wheat) family: regular sorrel, sorrel ‘raspberry dressing’, and rhubarb. Sorrel is recommended for eating in small quantities because of its oxalic acid content. High levels of oxalic acid, like in the green in rhubarb leaves, can be a poison. In the recipe below,  you can use more Swiss chard if you do not have sorrel and simply add more lime juice as desired. I am staying in town this summer and you will find me posting more Thai recipes made with wholesome local sustainable foods. My summer lifestyle is big on gardening, grilling, and entertaining outdoors.
Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel

From left to right, I combine regular sorrel, sorrel ‘raspberry dressing,’ and baby Swiss chard from my garden in this curry.
You can find sorrel and Swiss chard all year long in the Pacific Northwest.

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel leaves

แกงไก่เขมรใบซอรเรล

Gaeng Gai Khmer Bai Sorrel

The delightful taste of Khmer chicken curry with sorrel leaves can make it hard to make the recipe stretch to six servings. This curry is more of a comfort food, reminiscent of vegetable stew, with a hint of citrus curry—rice porridge with a wonderful aroma. It is packed with health benefits from fresh turmeric, galangal, and tamarind or sorrel leaves. The curry is flavorful, but not hot, and the coconut milk is only required to taste. The toasted rice makes the soup rich in texture but light in taste. I enjoy this as a one-dish curry meal with a bit of steamed rice on the side. This recipe tastes best made with fresh Khmer Curry Paste or Phuket Curry Paste.

Serves: 4–6

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 chicken breast or 4 chicken thighs, sliced
5 tablespoons Khmer curry paste 0r 3 tablespoons Phuket Red Curry Paste or 3 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4  cup to 1/2 cup coconut milk
3 to 5 tablespoons toasted rice powder
2 cups sorrel leaves
2 cups Swiss chard leaves
½ tablespoon lime or tamarind concentrate
1 tablespoon palm sugar, optional
 

Heat a pot with a heavy bottom on medium-high heat, then stir in canola oil, chicken, and Khmer curry paste; cook until fragrant and you see the oil separate out from the remainder of the ingredients. Pour in 1 cup water and let cook on medium heat with the lid on until the chicken is tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in coconut milk and toasted rice powder and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in sorrel, Swiss chard leaves, and lime juice and cook for 30 seconds. Serve right away with warm steamed jasmine rice.

 
© 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 
 
I grow my sorrel in a pot

I grow sorrel, sorrel “raspberry dressing” and Swiss chard in the same pot

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East Meets West Salad Dressing

I have been gone from regularly writing in my blog and would like to thank you for your patience. I haven’t forgotten it. In fact, there are many posts with photos and recipes waiting in line! Finding time to focus on writing has been most challenging as I am thinking in two languages but must write it in only one. Here is the Sweet Chili Vinaigrette Recipe that I promised to recreate after the Thai Dinner at Dog Mountain Farm last fall. Finally last month I had a scrap of paper in my hand with my notes on the ingredients and quantities and all of the necessary ingredients in my kitchen. With a little fine tuning, Sweet Chili Vinaigrette is now ready to share with you to help you welcome summer. This delicious dressing has been enjoyed by my friends and family. It is good for easy entertaining as well as for an every day salad dressing. It is a Western dish with an Eastern twist!

Thai Flavor - Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

Mixed Salad with Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

Just two weeks ago I was lucky to have Sylvie, a French chef, caterer and the owner of Sylvie Cooks for lunch. While I prepared Asparagus & Lovage Soup, Sylvie helped me prepare the salad and sweet chili vinaigrette. Thirty minutes later we were enjoying the soup and salad in the warm sunlight on the deck. Thank you to Sylvie for a great presentation on plating the salad. In the photo I use an organic mixed green salad with a few fresh red sorrel leaves from my garden, a hard-boiled egg and a mandarin orange.

 
Mixed Salad Green, Hard-Boil Egg and Mandarin Orange with Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

Mixed Salad Green, Hard-Boil Egg and Mandarin Orange with Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

Having friends over for lunch should be fun and casual. In my case it is often spontaneous in time and cooking style as well.

Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

My Thai take on a vinaigrette when cooking for friends and family is not constrained to just one tradition. In fact, this is not a traditional Thai recipe but a study of the tastes of Thai ingredients co-existing with Western cuisine. It illustrates for students and blog followers that often we can take one ingredient beyond where we usually find it. In this recipe I use the Thai sweet chili sauce, fish sauce and lime juice that I would use in traditional Thai salad dressing (nahm yum) and combine them with the ingredients for a classic vinaigrette such as olive oil, vinegar and mustard.

The forecast for Seattle promises a long week of sunshine and warm weather, so I will prepare hard-boiled eggs and sweet chili vinaigrette again tonight and keep them in the fridge. For dessert, I will prepare Yangon Almond Pancake to serve with strawberries and whipped cream.

Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

น้ำสลัด

Sweet Chili Vinaigrette is easy to love and easy to adapt. The flavor is great—you will hardly recognize the fish sauce or sweet chili flavor, just a nice balance of sweet and salty. The fish sauce is used here in much the same way as a French vinaigrette uses anchovy. The sweet chili sauce has complex ingredients like garlic and chili, but is also just a plain sweet contribution. I love the tangy flavors of the vinaigrette. I recommend adding toasted sesame seeds to the dressing or to the salad itself to bring out more flavors of sesame oil and an essential oriental flavor and texture.

Yield: 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon coconut vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white or black pepper powder
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Whisk sweet chili sauce, lime juice, coconut vinegar, fish sauce, sea salt, white pepper powder, mustard in a medium size bowl until well blended, about 30 seconds. While whisking rapidly with one hand, use the other hand to pour in the sesame oil and olive oil. Continue whisking for 1 more minute to emulsify the dressing. An alternative method is to place all of the ingredients in a salad dressing bottle and shake well, then shake well again before serving with your choice of salad.

 
© 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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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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How to Cook Peeled Split Mung Beans

Any time you come across Thai or Asian recipes that require cooked peeled split mung beans, you will find that you need to stop and learn about mung beans before you can proceed any further. Therefore I decided to do this blog post with step-by-step instructions that will simplify and demystify the process. This will make rest of the recipe less daunting and you will be able to make it with ease.

This is a technique that my mom and villagers use to prepare split mung beans before cooking them into sweet and savory dishes. Please prepare more than you need so you can keep some in the freezer for your convenience the next time you need them.

split muang bean

Peeled split mung beans are available in plastic bags at Asian grocery stores or online stores. They keep for a long time on the shelf, so I always make sure to have at least one bag on hand. They are made from mung beans that have been hulled, or peeled and split. Thai cooks always purchase them in the peeled and split form. Peeled split mung beans are one of the staple ingredients of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asian, and neighboring countries, and they are available in all Asian markets.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Cooking Peeled Split Mung Beans

Split mung bean soaking in water

Remove any dirt, sticks or debris that may come in the package, then place the split mung beans in a large bowl. Add water to cover at least 3 inches above the top of the beans. Let stand for at least 2 hours, or for the best results, overnight.

Split mung bean in a steamer

Strain the water from the beans then place them in the steamer with 2 inches of water in the bottom of the pot.

Steamed split mung beans

Cover the steamer and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and steam on medium-high heat for at least 30 minutes. Check the texture of the beans. They should hold their shape, but when squeezed between the fingers they should have a soft texture. They can be creamy, but not grainy. If needed, steam longer until you get the fine result. When the beans are cool they are ready to place in a freezer bag and freeze, or prepare them according to your recipe.

Steamed Peeled Split Mung Beans

Tua Keow Lawh Puak Nuang

ถั่วเขียวเลาะเปลือกนึ่ง

Here is the first step for you to learn to prepare steamed, peeled, split neans, the basis of many sweet and savory recipes. You will be able to refer back to this recipe often. My favorite recipes with peeled split mung beans that I cooked often when I was in Thailand include Met Khanon (mock jackfruit dessert), Tao Suan (mung bean pudding), and Tua Pap (mock bean pods). There are many more ways to enjoy cooking with cooked split mung beans as well.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

1 cup peeled split mung beans

Remove any dirt, sticks or debris from your package of mung beans, then place them in a large bowl. Add water to cover to at least 3 inches above the top of the beans. Let soak for at least 2 hours, or for the best results, let the beans and water sit overnight.

Strain. After soaking, 1 cup peeled split mung bean yields 1½ cups. Place mung beans on the steamer with 2 inches of water in the bottom of the pot.

Cover the steamer and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and steam on medium-high for 30 to 60 minutes. Check the texture of the peeled split mung beans. They should hold their shape, but have a soft texture when squeezed between your fingers. They should be creamy, but not grainy. If needed,steam longer until the beans have the desired fine texture. Remove from heat.

When the beans are cool, they are ready to be placed in a freezer bag and frozen, or to use to prepare your intended recipe. After steaming, this recipe yields 2 ½ cups cooked mung beans.

© 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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My Candy

This is not a Halloween Pumpkin Candy, but it is the Thai kabocha candy I enjoyed when I was growing up in my village in Thailand. Kabocha pumpkin is a squash that Thais cook to make a variety of dishes, sweet or savory. It is my tradition for the blog to share a new kabocha recipe with you every year. (Past years’ recipes include Kabocha Pumpkin Soup, Thai Kabocha Pumpkin Custard, Spiced Rum Kabocha Pumpkin Mousse, Pumpkin Curry and my mom’s Stir-Fried Kabocha with Pork.) This year, many aspects led me to choose a recipe for Thai Kabocha Pumpkin Candy-น้ำเต้าเชื่อม–Namtao Chuam. It is easier than a pumpkin pie, with more pumpkin satisfaction as there are not many ingredients involved—just kabocha pumpkin and brown sugar. Thais are fond of cooking fruit or root vegetables such as bananas, kabocha, and sweet potatoes in brown sugar. The results comes out well-covered with caramelized sugar and taste like candy. This technique is called -Chuam – เชื่อม in Thai.

Thai Kabocha Pumpkin Candy

Another reason that I chose this recipe is that in Seattle, fall is the beginning of kabocha pumpkin season. My friend Pee Som Sawan brought Thai kabocha pumpkin candy to the potluck for the first time this year, as she has done every Sunday for the past 10 years. Then another day at a dinner party, I reconstructed my kabocha pumpkin custard with kabocha candy and the custard instead of following the regular recipe. This was because it can be hard to find the small kabocha pumpkin needed for that recipe and the timing was complicated. But most of all, I chose the Kabocha Pumplin Candy recipe for this year because it can be hard to compete with the many food bloggers out there to come with an exotic recipe and I thought what could be better than my Thai grandma’s recipe? So I hope you enjoy this old time, easy and simple recipe that you can prepare at home.

Kabocha Pumpkin Candy

I want to thank to my friend Pee Som Sawan who shared her easy tips for simplifying the cooking technique. She suggested that I cut and lay the kabocha pumpkin slices in a pan that has a glass lid, sprinkle them with brown sugar or any type of sugar, then add enough water to the bottom of the pan to create steam when they cook. My only tip to add is how to find the right kabocha pumpkin for the best results. (Please see Pranee’s tips on selecting a kabocha pumpkin.)

Kabocha Pumpkin Candy

Cover the pan with the glass lid and cook on medium heat until the kabocha is soft and tender when tested with a fork, but still holds its shape. Remove the lid. If there is too much water left, let it cook without the lid until the syrup has thickened. Serve for dessert or as a snack.

Thai Kabocha Pumpkin Candy

Namtao Chuam

น้ำเต้าเชื่อม

Serves: 4

The total time for this dish, including cutting and cleaning and cooking should be about 3o minutes. The cooking itself is about 20 minutes. It is delicious warm or cold, with whatever syrup is left behind in the pan or with salted coconut milk. It tastes so heavenly! Skin and flesh are all good together. It is like a cheesecake with a natural crust. This recipe has sugar to just the right amount. For a more decadent dessert, please add more sugar. Enjoy this any time of day!

3 to 4 wedges of Kabocha pumpkin (see instructions)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 pinches salt
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons coconut milk plus 2 pinches of salt, optional
 

Remove any bad skin from the kabocha squash but keep all of the green skin; wash and dry. Cut into wedges about 2 inches wide, then cut each wedge in half across the middle to get two pieces from each wedge. Lay the pumpkin in the bottom of the pan and add the water. Cover with a glass lid and cook on medium heat until the kabocha is soft and tender when tested with a fork, but still holds it shape—about 15 minutes. Remove the lid. If there is too much water left, let it cook some more until the syrup has thickened. Remove the kabocha pumpkin candy to a serving plate and pour the syrup on top. If desired, stir the salt into the coconut milk until combined, then pour it on the top of each kabocha candy as a garnish before serving.

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

Dok Anchan – Butterfly Pea – Clitoria ternatea

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

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

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

Double pedals butterfly pea flower

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

Thai desert with dok anchan blue color

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

Thai snack, a dumpling with purple rice flour dough

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


Chaw Mueng – purple dough and filling

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

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

ขั้นตอนการทำน้ำดอกอัญชัญผสีฟ้าและสีม่วง

Blue color from dried butterfly pea flowers

Nam dok anchan (น้ำดอกอัญชัน)

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

Dried butterfly peas after 15 minutes of soaking in boiling water

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

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

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

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

Pranee’s Tom Yum Martini with Butterfly Pea Coloring

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

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

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Loner

When I left East Wenatchee, my Thai friend, Suprattra Pornprasit gave me a bag of fully ripe apricots from her tree. When I returned home, I immediately cooked them with sugar until it looked almost like jam. I chilled the mixture overnight and prepared the apricot ice cream the next days. Frozen dessert is great to have around. I didn’t add any spices as apricot flavor really shines by itself at the frozen stage. I tried serving the apricot ice cream in many different ways to accompany other desserts, but its flavor seemed pale and uninteresting by comparison. The best way, I learned, is to enjoy apricot ice cream by itself; the flavor is so bright and lively and right after a Thai meal. I would do exactly the same ice cream with local apricots next summer.

Apricot Ice Cream – ไอศครีมแอพริคอท

Apricot Ice Cream

ไอศครีมแอพริคอท

Serves: 12

3 cups apricot puree from fully ripe apricot flesh, skin and stones removed
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk

Place apricot puree and sugar in a medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the fruit is translucent and has a jam-like texture, about 20 minutes. Chill or keep in the fridge overnight.

Place heavy whipping cream and milk in another medium saucepan and cook until it begins to steam, then let it cook on low for 2 minutes. Bring to room temperature and chill. Place in an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to make ice cream. Remove and keep in a freezer-proof container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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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The Holy Herbs

It has been a busy summer for me so far. This has kept me away from writing, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t cook up a delicious dish for my Thai Kitchen blog. I have a lot of photos and notes and testings that have been done but that are waiting for me to write them up. While waiting for those posts from my food experiences in July, I have a delicious, unpretentious and impromptu dish to share with you. From my garden and Thai kitchen to yours!

Oregano Buds

Why oregano? Ten years ago, oregano was widespread via self-sown seeds in my Seattle garden near Thai spirit house. That year, my niece was visiting from Thailand and I used oregano in place of Thai holy basil when I prepared Phad Kraprow Gai (stir-fried minced chicken with Thai holy basil). I didn’t tell her that I’d used oregano and she didn’t notice the difference. Later on, when I told her it was not Thai holy basil, but Greek holy oregano we laughed! Fresh oregano has a peppery and pungent taste that I love and which is similar to Thai holy basil. Try using oregano in place of Thai holy basil when oregano leaves and blossoms are abundant in your garden.

Oregano Blossoms

Yesterday was my day off from traveling on the road and I was hanging around home and working in my garden. My girlfriend and I were immersing ourselves in the sun, surrounded by flowers, herbs and weeds. All of a sudden I realized that most of my oregano plants were blossoming. As it got close to lunch time, I began to think about what I could cook with those blossoms. I decided to make Oregano Blossoms Fried Rice for lunch. I cut the stems down to six inches long so there were some leaves attached to yield more leaves until the end of the summer.

Oregano Blossoms Fried Rice

Does frozen cooked rice work for this dish? This is the first time that I have experimented with previously frozen rice from my fridge. I thawed the rice before using it to loosen up the cooked rice grains and it worked perfectly well for fried rice. Off course my passion is to share what is happening in my Thai Kitchen with you, so here is my recipe for oregano blossoms.

Oregano Blossoms Fried Rice with Tomato and Garlic

Khao Phad Dok Oregano Makrua Thet Kratiem

ข้าวผัดดอกออริกาโนกับมะเขือเทศและกระเทียม

Oregano is not a Thai herb, but it has long been a substitute ingredient for me in the absence of my beloved Thai holy basil. Both belong to the mint, or Lamiaceae, family. The flavor undertones of both herbs are alike, and as a gardener I love herbs that can grow wide and are easy to take care of. Now that I have discovered how great oregano blossoms taste in this recipe, I will enjoy the same dish often this summer! Cheers to the holy herbs!

Serves: 2 to 4

3 tablespoons canola oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cayenne pepper, sliced (remove seeds if preferred)
1/2 cup oregano leaves and blossoms, stems removed
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
2 eggs
3 cups cooked rice, cooled or frozen
2 pinches of salt, optional
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 lime wedges
8 sting beans or cucumber or any fresh vegetable condiment, optional
 
Heat canola oil in a skillet or wok on high heat. Add garlic and stir until golden, then add onion, cayenne and oregano leaves and blossoms and blossoms. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Clear the center of the wok and scramble in eggs for two seconds before adding rice. Stir in soy sauce and  fish sauce. Serve with lime wedge, vegetable condiment and spicy fish sauce. (See recipe below).
 
© 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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