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Archive for the ‘Thai Vegetarian Recipe’ Category

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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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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Thais Like It Hot

ขอพริกป่นคั่วหน่อยค่ะ – Kho Prik Phon Krua Noi Kha, “May I have a little bit of chili powder?” This is a typical question to ask at a food stall if you wish to kick up the heat a notch or two on the food you were served. This is not considered an offense at all to Thai cooks. In general most Thais like it hot, but some like it hotter. Chili powder personalizes the spiciness to suit one’s mood.

Prik Phon Khrua - Roasted Chili powder

                                        Prik Phon Khrua – Roasted Chili powder

Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, tomato and dill

Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, Tomato and Dill

In my Thai village, or any part of Thailand, roasted Thai chili powder – พริกป่นคั่ว- Prik Phon Krua – is a basic ingredient that is always within reach to spice up food. Having a little fish sauce and chili powder at hand is as common to Thai culture as salt and pepper are to Western culture. The most important thing for a cook new to Thai cuisine to understand is that chili pepper, which has a spicy taste, is used to balance and improve the harmony of flavor with sour, salty and sweet. It is not to make foods spicy hot, but rather to enhance their flavor or to create a harmony of flavor with sweet, sour and salty. This is what makes eating Thai food a memorable experience. If you are not a big fan of hot food, just try a little bit each time. A little chili powder goes a long way, and you will learn how the lively spicy taste can bring out the potential of other flavors to make the food taste great at the next level.

In my Thai kitchen, I use Thai chili powder two ways. One is as an ingredient in Thai salads, soups, dipping sauce, etc. The other is as a condiment available on the dining table.

Thai Dinner Table Condiment

Thai Dinner Table Condiments

Chili powder is one of the ingredients used everyday in Thai kitchens. I want to take this opportunity to demystify it. Chili powder is usually made from small dried Thai chilis, simply ground into a chili powder we call – พริกป่น – Prik Phon. But there are other chili powders as well and how the chilis are prepared before grinding—such as roasted in the oven or fried—determines whether it has the fresh flavor of heat or an intensely delicate flavor. A delightful roasted chili powder – พริกป่นคั่ว – is called Prik Phon Krua. It is made from chilis roasted without any oil in a wok or in an oven. Thais often serve fried whole chilis – Prik Tod -พริกทอด- as a condiment or garnish. Or fried chilis can be ground or crushed into a powder called Prik Pon Tod – พริกป่นทอด.

พริกป่นคั่ว -Prik Phon Khua - Roasted Chili Powder

พริกป่นคั่ว – Prik Phon Khua – Roasted Chili Powder

My secret chili powder blend above is a mix of my three favorite chilis for use in Thai cooking

Top left is the Chile de Arbol, also known as bird’s beak chili, which has a heat index between 15,000 and 30,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a measurement of the spicy heat of chili peppers and other spicy foods. Top right is dried Japones Chili pepper, also known as Japanese Chili, with a heat index between 15,000 and 30,000 SHU, or, according to some sources, 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. On the bottom right are Thai Kitchen Thai Bird’s Eye Chilis. They are hot and intense, and a little shorter than the more common Thai Bird’s Eye Chilis which have 50,000 to 100,000 SHUs. Some bird’s eye chilis can be as hot as 100,000–225,000 SHU. Try using one type of chili at a time to get to know each one’s level of taste and aroma and the intensity of the heat it produces.

Roasted Chili Powder – Prik Phon Khua – พริกป่นคั่ว

You may choose one or more type of chilis to make chili powder. The recipe below is one I often prepare for my class. It uses chile de arbol, which has fewer SHU and a beautiful and interesting flavor. One cup of dry Thai chilis is anywhere from 80 to 90 chilis. After roasting and grinding they will yield about 7 tablespoons of dried chili powder. Typically, a teaspoon of chili powder is made from about 4 chilis. Keep the powder in an airtight jar.

Ingredients

1.4 ounces dry Thai, de arbol, or japones chilis

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F. Place one layer of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the chilis out evenly on the paper, and place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven. Turn the range hood fan on high. After 3 minutes, begin opening the oven door every 30 seconds—less often at the end—to prevent the chilis from burning. The color will get deeper red, red-brown, or maroon-red depending on the type of the chili. Remove the chilis from the oven when they change to the deeper colors. When cooled, ground the peppers down to the desired texture: coarse, medium, or powdery. Place in a jar with an airtight lid. It will stay fresh for about 3 months, or you can store the ground powder in the freezer.

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

Related links Pepper and Your Health (webmd.com) Endophine 101 (ivillage.com) Tom Yum Mama Noodle Soup (praneesthaikitchen.com)

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Golden Cup – กระทงทอง

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

Golden Cup - กระทงทอง

Golden Cups – กระทงทอง

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

Pastry Cups

Pastry cups

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

Krathong Tong Filling

IMG_3974

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

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

IMG_3983

Place ground turkey and seasoning in a pan

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

IMG_3986

Ground chicken, celery, sweet pepper and apple

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

IMG_3995

Prepare garnish of sliced sweet petite pepper and cilantro leaf

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

Place the filling in the golden cups

Place the filling in the golden cups

 Before serving, spoon the filling into the cups.

IMG_4010

Garnish with cilantro and sweet pepper

Golden Cup – Kratong Tong – กระทงทอง

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

Yield: 1 1/2  cups

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegetarian Variation:

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

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

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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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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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Oops! Excuse Me – ขอโทษค่ะ

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

Samaui sunset

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

Koh Samui – Green Peppercorn Chili Dip

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

Green peppercorns – piper nigrum – perennial vine

Green Peppercorn พริกไทยสด

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

Fresh Green Peppercorn Dip – Recipe from Samui

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

Green peppercorn, garlic and Thai chili

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

Thai Green Peppercorn Dip

Now the dip is ready for the dining table.

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

Green Peppercorn Chili Dip

Nam Prik Prik Thai Sod

น้ำพริกพริกไทยสด

Yield: 2 tablespoons

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

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

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

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

Grand Sea View Resotel

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

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

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

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

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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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Add Zing to Your Limeade

Ginger Limeade

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

Lime – มะนาว

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

น้ำเชื่อมขิง – Ginger Simple Syrup

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

Ginger Limeade

Nam Manoa Khing

น้ำมะนาวขิง

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

Serves: 6

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

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

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

Pranee’s note: 

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

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

สามสหาย – Saam Saahai

To consider oneself a Thai cook, one should understand the fundamentals of  Kratiem Prik Thai—garlic-black pepper-cilantro root seasoning paste. Like Nam Prik or chili dip, it is a truly Thai invention without any influences from neighboring countries. Like the classic pesto sauce that originated in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy, Kratiem Prik Thai is a classic Thai culinary seasoning that has been around for as long as the existence of Siam.

Garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots

Pounding a mortar and pestle to make a Kratiem Prik Thai paste is a classic Thai culinary technique, and this paste is prepared practically everyday in every Thai kitchen where it serves as a seasoning for any meat or seafood. There is no need for more herbs than just this awesome three: garlic, black pepper and cilantro root. I like to call them the “three best friends” or, in Thai, สามสหาย – Saam Saahai. They often appear together in Thai recipes. Like The Three Musketeers, they are”All for one, one for all.”

Garlic – Black Pepper – Cilantro Root

Kratiem – Prik Thai- Rark Puk Chee

กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

The Kratiem Prik Thai paste is simply made with just the three main ingredients of garlic, black pepper and cilantro. When balanced with salty and sweet from soy sauce and brown sugar, they deepen the flavor of grilled meat, appetizers, meat patties for soup, or marinades for meat before deep-frying. Then sweet chili sauce and Sriracha hot sauce may be served alongside the meat with a vegetable condiment. I hope you have a chance to learn how to make the Kratiem Prik Thai paste below and experiment with it in your cooking at home, from marinating your steak to adding it into a meat patty or simply sauteing it with seafood for a quick and easy main dish.

Garlic – Black Pepper – Cilantro Root Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

Place garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots in a mortar.

Garlic – Black Pepper – Cilantro Root, the three ingredients in  Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

With pestle, pound garlic, black pepper and cilantro root in a medium-size mortar

Garlic – black pepper – cilantro root Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

until it forms a fine paste, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots with brown sugar and soy sauce: Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

Add brown sugar and soy sauce and stir in circular motion with pestle until it is well-blended and smooth.

Thai Basic Seasoning Paste

กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

This recipe makes a large quantity. You can store it in the refrigerator and use it as needed, or freeze it in convenient quantities in an ice cube tray. Use 2 tablespoons of the finished paste per pound of meat or seafood as a marinade before grilling or frying. You can also use it as a basic seasoning paste in ground meats cooked for Thai appetizers. Please click on the photo for a link to a recipe for using the paste with seafood or shrimp.

 
Yield: 1/2 cup
 
1 tablespoon black pepper corns, or more
10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
8 cilantro roots or 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
 
Place garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots in a medium size mortar. With pestle, pound the ingredients until they form a fine paste, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add brown sugar and soy sauce and stir in circular motion with the pestle until it well-blended and smooth. Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze for up to 6 months. Please see suggestion above on how to incorporate this seasoning paste in your cooking.
 
Alternative preparation method: Place garlic, black pepper, cilantro roots, soy sauce and sugar in a blender and blend until it reaches the desired texture. I like the consistency shown above which still maintains a little texture.
 
Note: Please wait to see my next post when I will discuss in depth how to incorporate Kratiem Prik Thai Rark Puk Chee seasoning in your daily cooking.
 
© 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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From a Thai Village to the Big City

I grew up in a world full of lemongrass and could tell you thousands of stories that evolve around this fragrant herb, from planting and cooking it, to all things related. But I will keep this short and sweet so that you can go straight to my recipes and prepare them.

Lemongrass Paste & Lemongrass Tartar Sauce

Here in Seattle, I always have many lemongrass stalks in my refrigerator—not in the backyard like in Thailand, but both methods work for the Thai cook who wants to be able to add lemongrass to a recipe at a moment’s notice. When I do a hands-on class I make sure students learn how to prepare lemongrass three ways (please watch the video). This lesson results in a lot of leftover lemongrass, which I cook, freeze, or make into a powder. A few days ago my friend was visiting me and our discussion of this and that led us to the kitchen. I wanted to make a pesto-like paste for her to add to her marinade sauce. I decided to stop short of making the lemongrass paste and we wandered off to another topic. The idea for us today is to use up the lemongrass in my fridge and turn it into a versatile form ready to be incorporated into many dishes such as a wet rub for a marinade or a lemongrass tartar sauce to go with fried rock fish for a family dinner.

I wish you fun cooking this summer with the lemongrass paste recipe from my kitchen. First you have to start your lesson at home by learning how to prepare lemongrass for Thai cooking.

Lemongrass Cutting 101 – slicing it right

Click picture to view video on slicing lemongrass by Pranee

Slicing lemongrass properly is an important part of Thai cooking. I hope you spend some time learning the right way to do this and get enough experience to develop a solid technique. Don’t try to save time by slicing lemongrass into bigger pieces because you are using a food processor. The grain of this fibrous plant runs lengthwise of the stalk, so slicing it thinly against the grain is essential. Besides, it provides aroma therapy and a mindful moment in the kitchen!


Lemongrass Paste, Lemongrass Tartar Sauce

Lemongrass Paste 

Lemongrass has a citrus aroma that can blend into any dish. I make a lemongrass paste using extra light olive oil that you can use well beyond Thai cuisine. Like lime and lemon, it blends itself into any cuisine. I spread it out on toast like pesto, or add it to rice, curries, marinades, or just about anything. All become so delightfully fresh. Also, to my amazement, the fragrance of lemongrass and olive oil are divine together.

yield: 1/2 cup

5 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and sliced (please watch Pranee’s Demonstration on YouTube)
1/4 cup extra light olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

Place lemongrass, olive oil and salt in the blender or mini food processor and blend. Use spatula to clean the side to make sure it well mixed. Repeat the process repeat the process several times until getting a smooth texture. Store in a jar, keep in the fridge for a week or up to three months in the freezer.

Lemongrass Tartar Sauce with Dill

Lemongrass Tartar Sauce with Dill

The idea of creating a lemongrass tartar sauce came to me randomly. My son loves fish with tartar sauce and I have made tartar sauce for him many times. Many western chefs, such as Christine Keff from the Flying Fish in Seattle, have created an awesome lemongrass aoli, so I thought why not a tartar sauce? I use serrano peppers and dill as they go really well with fish and keep the color palate to just green. I love the results and would use this sauce in many ways, not just for fried fish.
Yield: 1/2 cup
 
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used Best Foods mayonnaise with olive oil)
2 tablespoons lemongrass paste, from recipe above
1/2 -1 whole serrano pepper, grated with a microplane
1 clove garlic, grated with a microplane
1 tablespoon small diced pickled cucumber
3 tablespoons lemon juice (I used calamansi juice)
1 tablespoon dill, chopped
 

In a one-cup bowl, stir together mayonnaise, lemongrass paste, serrano pepper, pickled cucumber and lemon juice until well-mixed. Stir in dill until it is well-combined. For the best results, prepare the night before or at least 30 minutes before serving.

© 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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Discontinued Mango Black Tea Smoothie

Late in the spring last year I went to my regular smoothie place. I stood in line and when it was my turn to order I found out that my favorite mango black tea smoothie was no longer on their menu. It had been discontinued! Disappointed, a few day later I made my own version in my kitchen, just like my mom would do. There is something about food cravings and fulfillment. For food lovers, satisfying a craving is taking care of our soul.

The mango smoothie I made last year was a good one. It was right at the peak of mango season and it tasted great. I call it a Lychee Black Tea Mango Smoothie. I was ready to share the recipe with you then, but the mango season was gone before I could capture a picture of my new drink. Since the recipe depends on just three ingredients—mango, lychee black tea and honey—you’ll want to pick the freshest, best quality mangoes for your smoothie. The other key to this recipe is balancing the deep flavor of the tea with the fruity and sweet flavors of the mango and honey.

I love lychee black tea. It is fun to drink this black tea with its alluring aroma and note of sweet floral lychee. However, this tea may be difficult to find if you do not have an Asian market nearby. There are a few online sources for lychee black tea. The alternative is to use any fruity black tea that you think would work well with mango and honey. Just give it a try!

Honey, lychee black tea, and mango

A fresh honey mango or a Manila mango is ideal for this drink, though any mango will work. Let it sit in a brown paper bag until it fully ripens. (I tested this recipe late last summer with a fully ripened peach and it was amazingly good as well.) Mangoes and peaches are available frozen all year round, so you can enjoy this lychee black tea mango smoothie as often as you wish. All you have to do now is find the perfect lychee tea to add to your tea collection.

Lychee black tea, mango, and honey smoothie

Lychee Black Tea Mango Smoothie

Nahm Lynjee Chadum Mamuang Pun

น้ำลิ้นจี่ชาดำมะม่วงปั่น

I love this smoothie recipe, which came to me effortlessly. I always have lychee tea at home and a supply of honey from my friend’s garden. When mangoes are plenty and I have one that is fully ripe, I simply place all of the ingredients in a blender, blend and pour into two glasses. Cheers to double antioxidants!

Serves: 2

Yield: 3 cups

2 to 3 tablespoons lychee black tea or 2 bags black tea
1 cup boiling water
Steep for 5 to 10 minutes
2 large mangoes, peeled and sliced, about 2 cups
1 tablespoon honey
2 pinches salt
1 cup crushed ice

Steep lychee black tea in 1 cup boiling water, letting it sit for at least 5 minutes, or steep for 8 to 10 minutes to make a deep colored tea. Set tea aside to cool while peeling and cutting the mangoes.

Place cooled tea, mango, honey, salt and crushed ice in the blender. Blend until smooth. Serve right away!

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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Grilled Bok Choy for Minimalist Cooking

Bok Choy – ผักกาดใบ

I want to share with you my tips and techniques for making quick and easy grilled bok choy, something I did last weekend to celebrate the first warm sunny day when I spent a lot of time outdoors gardening. Cooking in the summer is about minimalism, and I like the idea of a few ingredients on the grill at one time.

Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is my favorite Asian vegetable. To me it is like vegetable-candy. I love its crunchy texture and light mustard flavor and the fact that I don’t need to be concerned about calories when I eat it. Even in large portions, I can just enjoy its delightful nutritional benefits. There are many ways to stir-fry bok choy with seasonings in a wok, but my favorite way to cook it is on the grill. This is in part because I don’t like to cut up a beautiful bok choy before I cook it; I would rather do that with a knife as I eat it. With baby bok choy, however, I can avoid cutting it all together and there are many other delicious Asian vegetables that I can cut up and stir-fry—such as choy sum, morning glory, and dozens of other greens. So when summer comes along, bok choy becomes a regular on my grill. It goes with any main dish.

This recipe is a great way to enjoy beautiful, low-fat, crispy, grilled bok choy. I typically cut regular bok choy in half lengthwise. This makes for easy grilling and a very appealing natural pattern. To quote Georgia O’Keeffe: “Colors and line and shape seem for me a more definite statement than words.” Sliced bok choy makes a beautiful pattern indeed. You can appreciate the look while grilling and eating them, and it only takes a little effort. You can dress the bok choy up to accompany any type of cuisine by adding a vinaigrette or sauce after grilling.

Grilled bok choy as a side dish

A perforated grill pan is ideal for grilling vegetables or seafood

Technique

First cut the bok choy in half lengthwise, then soak it under ice cold water for 15 minutes or longer for a crispy texture. Drain well, but do not spin. Drizzle a tablespoon or more of grape seed oil (or any vegetable oil) over the bok choy then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt; using tongs, mix well. (This technique is easier and uses less cooking oil than brushing it with oil.) The water bath, cooking oil and salt will keep the vegetable green, shiny and tasting good. Crushed fresh white or black pepper adds a great accent.

Grilled bok choy, grilled beef and steamed jasmine rice

This is a perfect dinner for a minimalist. Except for the rice cooked in a rice cooker, each dish is cooked with just three ingredients out on the grill. I rub fish sauce over my steak and pierce it with rosemary from my garden. The steaks are 1/2 inch thick, so both the steak and the bok choy cook in less than 15 minutes. The total time to prepare and to cook is about 30 minutes.  Minimalist cooking is a perfect approach for summer to come!

Grilled Bok Choy

ผักกาดใบย่าง

Pak Gard Bai Yang

Serves: 4

 
1 pound bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoons grape seed oil, canola oil or any vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
1/4 cup Thai Chili-lime vinaigrette, optional

Pre-heat the grill to high heat. Place perforated grill pan on top of the grill.

Soak bok choy under cold water for at least 15 minutes, or longer for a crispy texture. Drain well but do not spin. Drizzle on a teaspoon or more of the oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sea salt over the top. Use tongs to mix well.

Place bok choy on perforated grill pan in a single layer and let it grill for 3 to 5 minutes on each side until it is translucent but still firm. Serve as is, or use tongs to mix well with Thai Chili-lime vinaigrette. Serve warm or cold as a side dish.

Pranee’s Note: Measure the first seven ingredients from the Thai Chili-Lime Vinaigrette recipe into an 8-ounce mason jar, close the lid tight and shake well. Pour over grilled bok choy.

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 Old Day & The New Way

When I was in Thailand exactly a year ago, I created this recipe – Spicy Thai Coconut Chips. I wanted to create delicious snacks for upcoming cooking demo. At the same time I wanted the flavor to reflect my Southern Thai cuisine, specifically my grandmother cooking. After receiving a reminder to send in recipe from Seattle office, I went to my mom kitchen and cook with my family. This was a same day I wrote and recorded a mystery dish from Southern Thailand – Stir-fried Fresh Grated Coconut with Phuket  Curry Paste.

Stir-fried fresh grated coconut with Phuket red curry paste

It was a perfect day. I was lucky that my sister in-law – Tim was there. After she prepared the old forgotten dish of stir-fried fresh greated coconut with Phuket curry paste, I created new modern dish to reflect this flavor for the new generation. It is not often that I cooked for my family in Thailand. They were impressed seeing a recipe developer at work. I used my grandmother’s favorite spice, turmeric. I added more spice and other ingredients to create the balance of flavor of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. And my whole Thai family was excited with familiar texture and flavor from the coconut chip that was bake in my sister small oven.

Pranee’s Spicy Thai Coconut Chips

I hope you enjoy the step-by-sttep photos and recipes below taken and created in my mom’s kitchen in Phuket, Thailand. Have a great spicy Thai crunches!

Spicy Thai Coconut Chip

Maprow Krop Rod Ped 

มะพร้าวกรอบรสเผ็ดเปรี้ยวสไตล์ไทย

slice fresh coconut with peeler

First sliced fresh coconut with peeler, you may use dried coconut chips in a package. The cooking time may vary. Dried coconut chip is accessible and easy to prepare and it has longer shelve life.

fresh coconut chips

Place coconut chips in a baking sheet.

mix with spicy, salty, sour and sweet

Combine chili powder, turmeric, salt and lime juice in a large bowl or right on a baking sheet.

Spicy Thai Coconut Chips

The clue is crisp and dry and the coconut is almost brown.

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups dried large coconut chips or sliced fresh coconut chips

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine chili powder, turmeric, salt and lime juice in a large bowl. Mix in coconut chips and combine well.

Spread coconut flakes in a thin layer on the baking sheet. Place in the center of the oven rack and stir every 4 minutes for 8 to 12 minutes, or until crisp and toasted.

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

Recipe by Pranee Halvorsen, PCC Cooks instructor.  Demonstrated on the PCC Cooks stage at Vegfest 2011. You also can see this recipe from PCC Natural Markets website.

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Without a Rice Cooker

You can cook rice for 30 people, anytime, without a rice cooker! Since last November, my son and I have been preparing one meal a month for 60 homeless youth at Seattle’s [James W. Ray] Orion Center. The organization helps homeless youth get off the street and provides them with meals, education and shelter. The meal-calendar is posted and updated to allow members of the public to sign up to prepare a meal for these hungry youth. It has been a rewarding experience to take part in helping to build community. Thank you to a friend who also signed up to help prepare a meal with me. Together—without a rice cooker—we cooked lavender-turmeric scented jasmine rice for 30–6o hungry young people.

Rice can be cooked in a rice cooker, on the stove top, or in the oven. My recipe below is for rice cooked in the oven. I wanted to share the recipe so you would know that you do not need to buy a rice cooker in order to cook large quantities of rice. Instead you can purchase a large hotel pan and cook up to 30 servings of rice in about an hour.

Before putting rice and water in the hotel pan, it is best if all ingredients are hot before they are sealed up and placed in a preheated oven. (Here’s a link for an explanation as to how this method works: “Once water is heated past the 212°F mark, it stops being water and turns into steam. Steaming has an advantage over methods such as boiling or even simmering …..”. Moist Heat Cooking Method by About.com.)

About the recipe

Culinary Lavender

Today, the recipe I want to share with you is Kao Oop Kamin and Dok Lavender, lavender-turmeric scented jasmine rice. It works well served with Thai main dishes such as Thai curry dishes. I came up with the concept of adding lavender to turmeric scented jasmine rice about two years ago after I visited the Lavender Wind Farm on Whidbey Island and purchased a bag full of culinary lavender. After that visit I began adding lavender to everything. My friend, Kathy Gehrt, a local expert on cooking with lavender, says ” you can infuse anything with lavender” just be careful not to over use the lavender. You can learn more about cooking with lavender from Kathy’s book as well as her blog “Discovering Lavender.

One day I simply played with turmeric powder and lavender in a rice cooker. I found it had an alluring and somehow surprising fragrance. After making this dish I forgot about this new flavor and scent combination until sometime later when I heated up the leftovers and experienced the same unexpected delight. The next time I cooked this recipe was at the first dinner I prepared at the Orion Center. My friend was puzzled by the rice’s flavor and fragrance—”What is it in this steamed rice?

Thai jasmine rice, culinary lavender and turmeric

The sweet perfume of lavender complements the pungent turmeric, which is also known as Indian saffron. This amazing blend gives off an alluring aroma and gives the rice a subtle flavor that allows you to serve it with any cuisine. You can find culinary lavender in jars or in the bulk herbs section in a natural food store.

Playing with lavender and turmeric in a rice cooker

Lavender-Turmeric Scented Jasmine Rice

Kao Op Khamin Dok Lavender

ข้าวอบขมิ้นลาเวนเดอร์

Lavender-Turmeric Scented Jasmine Rice

Yield: 30 cups cooked rice

When I cook this at a large event, I measure up the jasmine rice, turmeric, lavender and salt beforehand and store them in a large ziplock bag. Each bag will provide a main course or side dish for 30 servings. You can bake enough in your oven to serve 30 people. In a commercial kitchen, where the ovens are larger, you could double the recipe and bake each in a separate hotel pan—one on the top shelf and another one on the bottom shelf. For smaller portions at home, set the oven temperature at 350°F and bake for 30 minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes. The rice to water ratio is 1 to 1 ½.

1/4 cup canola oil
10 cups jasmine rice
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
3 tablespoons culinary lavender 
2 teaspoons salt
16 cups boiling water
2 sheets 2 ½-foot-long aluminum foil 

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place large pan on high heat on the top of your stove and add canola oil. When the oil is hot, add rice, turmeric, lavender and salt and stir for 1 minute. Pour the rice mixture into a hotel pan and then pour in boiling water. Stir well and cover tightly with foil. Put pan in the preheated oven and let it cook undisturbed (no peeking) for at least 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the foil. Stir and serve.

Summer 2010 at Lavender Wind Farm, Whidbey Island

 
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 Hungry Planet

I attended the Hungry Planet: What the World Eats grand opening at the Burke Museum. I was totally awestruck by the large photographic exhibit and printed information from Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio who show us how the rest of the world eats and feeds their families with one week of purchased food supplies. “A picture said a thousand words” and I hope that you will have a chance to view the exhibition which will be at the museum through June 10.

On Saturdays, PCC Cooks also participates in the exhibition by providing a cooking demonstration of one of eight different cuisines from around the world. I had the honor of representing PCC Cooks one Saturday by preparing Kao Tom Gai, Rice Soup with Chicken. I demonstrated how to prepare this Thai dish and provided samples. When I was growing up in Thailand this particular dish meant so much to me and the rest of the country. It was a time when families had to nourish their families with simple, healthy foods.

I was lucky to grow up in the land of plenty in Phuket, Thailand. My village has a mountain on one side and a rice field on the other. The Srisunthorn Road was on the edge of the mountain and our home was just off this main road. We spent our weekends gathering foods from the forest such as bamboo shoots, mushrooms and other edible plants. Our family also owned a plantation which provided an abundance of fruits such as rambotant, durian, jackfruit and coconut.  At the end of each month, or after each sale of a crop from the plantation, my grandmother made sure to purchase a month’s supply of rice and to stock up on all stable dry ingredients. Mobile markets would came every morning with meats, seafood and fresh vegetables and herbs. The open air market was full of venders of all sorts and once a week villagers could fill up their kitchen cabinets with food. In our family, when my grandmother was the treasurer of the household, she decided what was on the table on a daily basis, through times of abundance and scarcity.

Phuket Open Air Market

My grandma shared many bedtime stories with us about the lives of others or her experiences during economic down times. She taught us that every grain of rice should be eaten. Phuket is rich in tin,  rubber and other natural resources, but when it came to rice production, we depended on supplies from the central part of Thailand–a supply that was affected by the economy, politics, and climate. When the price of rice increased, our regular steamed rice would change to rice porridge to make our supply last as long as possible.

One cup of rice grains yields about 3 cups of steamed rice or 4 cups of thick rice porridge which can be thinned down to make 6 cups of rice soup. Instead of making 3 servings, 1 cup of rice can be stretched to provide 6 servings.

The Hungry Planet exhibit is eye opening. It shows how the rest of the world eats, what is available to them, what they can afford, what they choose, and the limitations. I love the picture from Mali, Africa, which shows the ritual of a family sharing a rice porridge that is cooked with sour milk.

For me, rice porridge is a soul food, comfort food and a health food. It has a healing and nourishing element and it is suitable for everyone and every occasion.

Now that you have heard my stories, what is yours?

Rice Porridge Three Ways

I know three ways to enjoy rice porridge. The first one is as a rice soup base which can then be made into Kao Tom Gai

Kao Tom ~ ข้าวต้ม

(Click photo above for Pranee’s Kao Tom Gai recipe)

A second way to enjoy rice porridge is to make a rice soup buffet for a big crowd or special event.  To do this, take a rice porridge and add a little bit of ground meat. Cook it without adding flavoring, but serve it with condiments as shown in the photo below. The condiments typically consist of ginger, white pepper powder, sugar, soy sauce, chili powder, fried garlic, vinegar with jalapeno peppers and green onions.

Thai rice soup condiments

A third way to eat rice porridge is to serve it the same way as steamed jasmine rice but ideally with Chinese-Thai style main dishes such as stir-fried vegetables with salted soy bean or oyster sauce, salted egg, salted peanut, pickled mustard green, or braised pork in five spices.

Either for stretching a dollar or caring for yourself and your family, rice porridge is my comfort food for every occasion.

Kao Tom (Rice Porridge)

ข้าวต้ม

PREP TIME: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

1 cup jasmine rice
6 cups water

Bring jasmine rice and 2 cups of the water to a boil on high heat. Stir often while cooking for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Let cook on medium heat for 15 minutes more, until it yields 4 cups.

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 the Jungle

Papaya, Carica papaya Linn., is a native to South American and Mexico. From there it spread throughout tropical countries like the Hawaiian islands, Sri Lanka, India and Southeast Asia. In Thailand, we regard papaya as a herbaceous plant. The fruit shape is elongated and has a pointy tip. The green fruit is used in savory dishes such as green papaya salad, Gaeng Som (sour curry), Gaeng Kati (red curry), Gaeng Ohm (pork stew), or it is pickled or candied, stir-fried with egg, or used as a vegetable condiment. In our garden, when we want to have a ripe papaya we allow the green papaya to mature on the tree until a good portion of yellow and orange appears on part of its green skin. Then we pick the papayas and keep them covered with a rice sack until they fully ripen. Because the papain protein enzyme helps the digestive system, green papaya salad is an ideal side dish to accompany the grilled meat dishes common to Thai and Vietnamese cuisines—think of green papaya salad instead of coleslaw.

It is best to buy papaya with a great hint of yellow or orange color. When soft to the touch, peeled and seeded, ripe papaya is great eating fresh or in a smoothie.

Papaya is a great source for Vitamin A, C, folate and potassium. For an in-depth nutrient analysis please visit whfoods.com.

Thais eat fresh ripe papaya with a squeeze of lime and some sea salt. The seeds have a peppery flavor, but I haven’t come across Thais cooking with the seeds. We discard them, but Hawaiian cuisineuses the seeds in salad dressing.

Green Papaya

Papayas at the young and green stage are ideal for Thai, Laotian and Vietnamese cuisines. A few examples include the Thai green papaya salad Som tam which also know as Papaya Pok Pok–a fun name that comes from the sound that is made during preparation when the ingredients are pounded with a mortar and pestle. The Vietnamese movie The Scent of Green Papayaoffers an insight into the relationship of green papaya to Vietnamese cuisine and people. I personally have many stories to share about papayas.

Yield: ½ cup

1 shallot, halved and peeled 
6 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup minced lemongrass, about 1 stalk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry turmeric
½ to 1 tablespoon chili pepper flakes, or 10 to 15 dry Thai red chilies
1 teaspoon shrimp paste or 1 tablespoon miso paste or anchovy paste
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
¼ cup cooking oil

Place everything except the oil in the food processor. While the processor is running, pour in cooking oil as needed. Blend until smooth.

Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya


Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya

Gaeng Pa Malakaw Moo

แกงป่ามะละกอกับหมู

The exotic blend of peppery non-coconut curry with wild vegetables creates the flavor profile inspiration for this dish. I am glad most Thai restaurants carry it on their menus. You may be wary of any spicy Thai curry without coconut milk, but you will be amazed how each vegetable in this curry has it own sweetness when it’s cooked. Individual flavors from each vegetable stand out better than in a coconut curry dish.

Ingredients for Phuket Jungle Curry

Serves 4 to 6           Preparation time: 20 minutes           Cooking time: 10 minutes

3 tablespoons red curry paste or fresh Jungle Curry paste from recipe above
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup water
1 cup diced green papaya, peeled and seeded, about ¼ of a whole small green papaya
1 cup wedged Thai eggplants, about 5 whole Thai eggplants
1 cup yardlong beans or green beans, cut into 1 inch-lengths
1/4 cup sliced pork tenderloin, optional for vegetarian
¼ cup Thai basil or any basil, or 3 nasturtium flowers (optional)
4 Kaffir lime leaves, optional if not available
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
2 dashes fish sauce, or more to taste

Blend red curry paste and canola oil in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add water and green papaya chunks, stir, then cover with a lid and let it cook for 3 minutes or until green papaya starts to look half-cooked. Add eggplant, yardlong beans and pork and stir, cover and cook for 3 more minutes until eggplant is soft but not mushy.

Stir in basil, Kaffir lime leaves, and sugar and cook for 30 seconds more; add fish sauce to taste. Remove from heat and serve with Jasmine rice.

 

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© 2010  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen  
 I Love Thai cooking 
 
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking class in Seattle areas, her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com

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