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Archive for the ‘Thai Vegetarian Recipe’ Category

Enjoy the Seasons

Lake Washington, Seattle

When I drove along Lake Washington toward Seward Park to my friend’s house the other day, the beauty of the drive blew me away. It was one of those rare random days of beautiful Seattle weather that exist just to tease you. I decided to stop and capture the pictures in front of me and ended up arriving fifteen minutes late at my friend’s. I asked her for forgiveness, showing her a dozen photos on my camera. She gave me a pardon. I hope you will enjoy the holiday seasons despite how busy your life is. Like the Thai say, “Sanuk.” It means to have fun.

Many Bowls of Soup

I am lucky that many friends have pampered me with many  hearty soups this winter. While savoring these soups, I came up with a plan to create delicious soups to share with you. By playing around with foods during the month of December, I rediscovered some connections among the different Asian cuisines. I enjoyed the process of how this soup came about. I hope you enjoy the story and the process of making Curried Sweet Potato with Curry Leaf Soup. I hope you will be courageous and look for curry leaves in an Asian market then have a successful adventure making this soup. Happy Holidays to you all!

Curry Leaves 

Curry Leaf – Murraya Koenigii -from my freezer

Curry leaf is used in Malaysian, Southern and West Coast Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine. It tastes and smells like curry powder, though more delicate and aromatic. It is available fresh at many Asian markets in the Seattle area. Thai cuisine doesn’t usually incorporate curry leaves; Kaffir lime leaves are usually more dominant. In fact, it was only a few months ago that I actually saw curry leaves being used in cooking. The first time was when I was a guest at a Malaysian cooking lesson given by my girlfriend’s mother in-law. She demonstrated her family’s secret recipe for Malaysian Chicken Curry with Curry Leaf. Then in November I took an Indian cooking class from Raghavan Iyear, an IACP associate and the author of 660 Curries. During the class, Iyear said “Use curry leaf  in anything just like bay leaf, but do use a fresh one, otherwise don’t use it at all. There is nothing left in a dry curry leaf.” He then demonstrated using generous amounts of fresh curry leaves in the recipe Basmati Rice with Yogurt and Mustard Seeds from his cookbook.

Raghavan Iyer’s Basmati Rice with Yogurt and Mustard Seeds – plenty of curry leaves

After those two experiences I was crazy about the flavor of the aromatic curry leaf (Murraya Koenigii). Since then I have had a package of curry leaves in my freezer waiting for its moment. Freezing is another way to preserve the delicate essential oil in the leaf.

Sweet Potato

The other night, when I cooked yellow chicken curry for my family, instead of using a regular potato, I used a sweet potato. At home I often improvise, and this time I was glad I did. It turned out to be a delicious yellow chicken curry. When I was looking for frozen Kaffir lime leaves, I thought of the curry leaves. Though the Thai don’t use curry leaves,  Yellow Curry (or Gaeng Kari in Thai) is in fact a Thai version of Indian curry. Malaysian Chicken Curry also shows the strong influence of Indian Curry. Then I saw the whole connection: Malaysian Chicken Curry itself is similar to Thai yellow curry. Just before serving yellow curry to my family, I imitated my friend’s mother in-law and placed 6 curry leaves in my left palm. Then then with my right, I roughed them back and forth before dropping the leaves into a boiling curry that was about 5 minutes from being ready to serve. (The other way that Iyear incorporated the curry in the cooking class was by adding the leaves to hot oil along with other dry whole spices to intensify the flavor, then allowing the simmering process to extract the delicate perfume and flavor.)

Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Leaf

Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Leaf

Curried Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Leaf Recipe

ซุปแกงมันฝรั่งหวาน

When you have curry paste, curry powder and curry leaves as staple ingredients in your kitchen, this dish is so easy to prepare. A small amount of oil to fry the curry paste, curry powder and curry leaves helps the natural essential oil and the flavors to bloom. Pay attention and put patience to this step – allow the fragrance to develop and the oil to separate. Then the rest is easy. There is no need to use a large amount of coconut milk, use just enough to give a nice flavor to the curry. If the soup is a little too spicy, increase the coconut milk or next time you can reduce the amount of red curry paste. I use just a little coconut milk in this recipe, cutting back further on coconut milk may effect the flavor and the balance of this curry. I consider this a hearty winter soup with big flavor.

Serves: 6 (yields about 5 cups)

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup coconut milk, divided
2 to 3 teaspoons red curry paste 
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
12 curry leaves, divided
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 (32-ounce) box Pacific Natural Food Free Range Chicken Broth
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce

In a large pot, heat canola oil, 1/4 cup coconut milk, red curry paste, Madras curry powder and 6 curry leaves on medium-high heat; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in diced onions until they become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add sweet potato and chicken broth; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, and with the lid on, let it cook until the onion and sweet potato are softened, about 30 to 40 minutes. Stir in fish sauce and 1/4 cup coconut milk, stir for 30 seconds, then remove from the burner. Use an immersion blender or a tabletop blender to puree the soup. Serve in a soup bowl and garnish with curry leaves.

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 My Thai Kitchen

Creating a homemade gift is a wonderful way to express your heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your friends, families or associates. Every year I like to come up with something from my kitchen that will interest the recipients and be easy for them to love, such as curry paste, chutney, chili jam or seasoning salt—there are plenty of ideas.

Thai Yellow Rice Pilaf – A Gift from My Thai Kitchen

This year it works out well for me to choose an old project—making a rice pilaf mix. This is something that I did with my son’s fourth grade classmates as a parent volunteer project, though this time my rice mix recipe is reconstructed from two favorite Thai rice dishes. You may recognize Thai Yellow Curry Fried Rice with Pineapple (Kao Phad Sapparos) and my favorite Southern dish, Phuket Chicken Baryani Rice (Kao Mok Gai). I trust that you will enjoy this versatile recipe often. My plan is to give the rice mix as a gift to friends and family, but it also makes a good side dish combined with leftover turkey. Right after Thanksgiving will be a great time for you to try out the recipe before making up the mix to give as a gift.

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix

The rice dish made from the mix can also be called a rice pilaf, a traditional Persian dish, as I applied the science of baking rice  in the oven instead of using the traditional Thai method of preparing it in a rice cooker or steamer. The recipe below has so much potential that you can add any vegetable you desire, just like in a rice pilaf. Following an American Holiday theme I use craisins instead of pineapple or raisins, which will be fun cooked with leftover turkey or served as a side dish with turkey. So make it fun and be creative with your own accent. I hope you have a chance to create a rice mix for a friend or simply pack a few boxes to take with you to your cabin. Let’s celebrate with a gift from our kitchens!

Jasmine Rice

First start with the uncooked rice, then add the spices, dried fruits and nuts. Keep it simple and creative.

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix

 

How to Make Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix

I purchased large quantities of all of the ingredients below and containers from the packaging specialty store. This recipe makes one gift package which will serve four as a main dish or eight as a side dish.

1 two-cup container or a one-quart ziplock bag
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons jasmine, long grain or basmati rice
2 tablespoons dried chopped onions
1 to 2 tablespoons madras curry powder
½ cup chopped or 20 whole raw cashew nuts or almonds
1 teaspoon salt
3 bay leaves
¼ cup each craisins, cranberries and dried pineapple

Place all ingredients in the container or ziplock bag in this order: jasmine rice, dried chopped onion, curry powder, cashew nuts, salt and bay leaves. Cover the container or ziplock bag and seal well, then add printing cooking directions (see below). Add some gift wrap or a bow and your gift is ready.

                       ≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf with Tomato and Onion

(Cut the instruction-recipe below and insert in the rice pilaf box)

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf

Cooking Instructions

Serves: 4 as a main dish or 8 as a side dish

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 package Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix
1 2/3 cup water or chicken stock
4 cooked chicken thighs with bone in and skin on, or 4 pieces leftover turkey with bone in and skin on
¼ cup sweet chili sauce, as accompaniment
1 English cucumber, sliced  for accompaniment
2 tomatoes, sliced for accompaniment
1 cup cilantro leaves for accompaniment
 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat a Dutch oven or an oven-proof pan that comes with a tight lid on the stove top over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add canola oil and the Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix.  Stir the mixture until it becomes fragrant and the rice grains turn opaque, about 30 seconds, being careful not to let it burn. Stir in water or chicken broth. Place chicken or leftover turkey in with the rice and the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the pan and place it in the center of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes without opening the lid.

Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes without opening the lid at all. Then stir it once to mix cooked rice together and put the lid back on. You can keep it warm in the oven at 100°F until it is ready to serve, but not longer than 30 minutes. Serve with accompaniment on the side.

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Leftover turkey makes an excellent Kao Mok Gai or twice-cooked chicken in rich spices rice pilaf.

© 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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Living the Fantasy

Northwest Comice Pear

I love pear salad and lately I have been seeing local pears everywhere! After enjoying pears prepared many different ways in restaurants and at a potluck dinner, I began fantasizing about creating a Thai pear salad. Then I had dinner two months ago at the Typhoon Thai Restaurant in Redmond and ordered their sumptuous pear salad—a well-balanced combination of palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce dressing with fried dry shrimp and cashew nuts for texture. I loved the crisper textured pear that was used. After seeing the creation designed by Chef Bo, the executive chef and owner of Typhoon, I was determined to come up with my own.

I started with the theme of a pear and walnut salad, but added some interesting flavors. First I decided to use a Comice pear. It is buttery-sweet and has a soft texture that allows the pear juice to mix in well with the salad dressing. Then I thought about the nut part of the salad. Walnuts are a traditional addition to American pear salads, and what came to my mind was coconut milk-palm sugar candied walnuts with a hint of Asian spice. They turned out great, with even greater potential for future cooking. I added these ingredients to my shopping list, but it was only when I was at the market that my salad really took shape. I picked up a 5-ounce box of herb salad mix and one bunch of fresh cilantro to provide the base for a mixed salad with a nice Asian touch. Then I chose an orange bell pepper for color. I would julienne it so thin that it would lace around the pear and no longer taste like bell pepper, but when mixed in with the salad dressing it would provide contrasting color as well as a gentle crunch. Finally I chose some shallots, something which my Thai family and I always put in salads.

Pear Preparation

Palm Sugar Candied Walnuts

Palm Sugar Candied Walnuts

2 tablespoons coconut nut milk
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 pinches cardamom powder
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Lay parchment paper over baking sheet.

To make quick and easy caramel, combine coconut milk, palm sugar and cardamom powder in a small saucepan and stir well. Place on a burner over high heat. When the mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in walnuts until they are well covered with caramel. Pour the walnuts onto the parchment paper and spread them out. Put in the oven and bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Calamansi - ส้มจี๊ด

Calamansi – ส้มจี๊ด

In the U.S. you can grow calamansi, a citrus fruit, as an ornamental house plant. In Seattle, I purchased frozen Golden Calamansi juice from the Philippines in a package of twelve .5-ounce  packets. I was so delighted to learn that calamasi is related to both of my favorite citrus families: kumquats and mandarins, and I thought it would make an excellent emergency substitute for lime juice. And then I discovered by chance that the calamansi juice in my freezer provided the perfect zing for my pear salad. The aromatic, gentle, sweet and sour calamansi citrus juice was my choice for the sour agent for this salad. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, however, so on my second attempt at this pear salad I created a substitute for calamansi juice that will turn out quite divine, though not so heavenly as with calamansi juice. I used 1½ tablespoons lemon juice and 1½ tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice, then I decided to zest the orange peel to get ¼ teaspoon orange zest to add citrus aromatics to the juice.

Now that my fantasy of a pear salad is laid out with all its mouth-watering components, let’s get cooking and living the fantasy! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Pear Salad with Calamansi Salad Dressing and Palm Sugar Candied Walnut

Thai Pear Salad with Goodies

I love pear salad. It is the sweet and fragrance of  the pear that makes it so appealing and it is easy to blend in any citrus sour-sweet dressing. I love to add a little bit of fish sauce in my Thai salad dressing for the depth of the flavor. Combining lemon and orange juice makes a good substitute for calamasi juice and brown sugar is a good substitute for palm sugar in this recipe. Therefore, I hope you can make this recipe work without an extra trip to  an Asian market. I hope you have a chance to create this dish anytime and especially to share with family and friends as a Thanksgiving salad. Cheers!

Serves: 6
 
1 (5-ounce) package fresh herb salad mix
½ cup cilantro leaves
4  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon brown or palm sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons calamansi juice (or 1½ tablespoons lemon juice plus 1½ tablespoons orange juice and ¼ teaspoon orange zest)
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced 
1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
3 comice pears, peeled, halved, cored and sliced
1 cup palm sugar candied walnuts,  from recipe above

Combine fresh herb salad mix and cilantro leaves together in a salad bowl, then pour 1 tablespoon olive oil over the greens, gently combining them by hand until they are well-coasted with olive oil. Place on 6 salad plates.

To make Calamansi salad dressing, whisk together remaining olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, fish sauce and calamansi juice in a large bowl until well-blended. Gently fold in bell pepper, shallots and pears, then place pear salad equally over the greens. Garnish with the candied walnuts.

Pear Salad Ingredients

 
© 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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Fall Wishes

Fall Color in Seattle

Seattle is a beautiful city. When we get some of its rare sunshine, the season becomes memorable. This past week I wished for at least a good week of sunshine and beautiful fall colors and a chance to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest scenery. I got my wish. But there is another wish I make each fall as well: I wish for a good price for chanterelle mushrooms. This year I got both my wishes.

I enjoy cooking with chanterelle mushrooms from the local market and I love to add northwest flavors to my Thai dishes. This year I discovered a sensational new way to achieve both of these ends by adding chanterelle mushrooms to my vegan Thai green curry.

Chanterelle Mushrooms

The flavor of chanterelle mushrooms reminds me of Hed Kone – a wild mushroom  in my village. It has an interesting spicy flavor that goes well with coconut milk or fat. When cooked, the mushroom’s nutty and sweet-fruity flavors combine with its meaty flavor to enrich this meatless green curry dish. This meaty flavor was an added bonus that I didn’t expect but discovered while experimenting last year. I prepared this dish in my series of seven Thai Quick & Easy cooking classes at PCC Cooks.  Although I shared the recipe below with more than 14o students, I can still capture the moment when I savored the dish with them during the classes. The chanterelle mushrooms make for a unique combination. This dish is a great reflection of true Thai flavors achieved by using local ingredients such as chanterelle mushroom and Italian eggplant with Thai ingredients such as bamboo shoots, young corn and water chestnuts.

I love this recipe the way it is and would not want to change anything.  I want to share this recipe with you so that you can enjoy it as much as I do when fresh chanterelle mushrooms are abundant in the fall. My wishes have been fulfilled and I am content.

Thai Green Curry with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Kaffir Lime Leaves

Gaeng Keow Wan Ja

Thai Green curry with chanterelle mushrooms and Kaffir lime leaves

แกงเขียวหวานกับเห็ดมังสวิรัติ

Green curry is delicious. It is distinguished from other curries by its flavor and color which are derived from fresh Thai green chiles. Green curry is as versatile as red curry; it can incorporate many kinds of vegetables and mushrooms. Some vegetables that work well in green curries are zucchini, eggplant, green beans, bamboo shoots, young corn and water chestnuts. Serve with jasmine rice or somen noodles.

Servings: 8

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 jar Thai Kitchen green curry paste, about 5 tablespoons
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon green or black peppercorns, whole
1½ – 2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup water
2 cups chanterelle mushrooms, brushed to remove the dirt and torn into small pieces
2 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and diced (1/2 inch by 1/2 inch)
½ cup baby corn, washed and drained
 ½ cup sliced bamboo shoots
1 cup water chestnuts
1 Italian eggplant, diced or 2 zucchini, diced
½ teaspoon salt, or more as needed
½ to 1 tablespoon sugar, or as needed
4 Kaffir lime leaves, optional
¼ cup basil leaves

 In a saucepan on medium-high heat, combine canola oil, green curry paste, coriander, cumin powder and green or black peppercorns, stirring constantly until fragrant. Stir in ½ cup coconut milk and let the mixture cook until the oil is separated and curry is fragrant.

Stir in chanterelle and portobello mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and water; let cook for 2 minutes. Stir in eggplant and the remaining coconut milk, salt, sugar and lime leaves. Let the mixture cook until the eggplant just softens but still holds its shape well. Stir in  basil. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and serve with jasmine rice.

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai coPranee Khruasanit Halvorsenoking.com .

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Dragon Crystal Ball – แก้วมังกร

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

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

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

Dragon Fruit - Pitaya

Dragon Crystal Ball – แก้วมังกร

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

Dicing Dragon Fruit Flesh

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

Dicing Papaya

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

Som Oh - Thai Grapefruit

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

Dragon fruit, papaya and Thai grapefruit salad

Thai Mixed Fruit Salad with Dragon Fruit 

Som Tum Pollamai Kao Mangkon

ส้มตำผลไม้แก้วมังกร

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Conditional Love

My durian tree

Durian ทุเรียน, Durio Zibethinus Merr., is a native plant to Brunei, Sarawak, Malaysia and Indonesia. Southern Thailand is a part of the Malay Peninsula and it has a tropical climate pattern similar to Malaysia.

One of my memories of growing up in a village on a hilly isle of PhuketSouthern Thailand, is of the beginning of durian season. It would begin after two months of monsoon, around June and July, when the earth was moist and the mountains a lush green. The villagers would gather ripe durians that had fallen to the ground the night before and sell them out in front of my grandmother’s home the next morning. Many piles of 4 to 8 durians in all sizes were auctioned off each morning. Later the winners carried home the thorny fruits which had been tied up with twine or string. Then the whole extended family would luxuriously savor the heavenly durian, a feast of nature. Durian was not a fruit we enjoyed everyday, just as you would not want a rich custard everyday. Eating and sharing durian once or twice a year was an indulgence and a family ritual.

My last visit to Thailand in July 2011 was a memorable and fruitful one. I spent many days working on my plantation with my gardener and it was right at the peak of durian, bamboo shoot, and sator season. Durian (known as stinky fruit) and sator (also known as Petai or stinky beans) are infamous for their unique smells, though their health benefits transcend their strong odors. On my plantation, durian and sator grow side by side, a part of the Southern Thailand hillside landscape. One morning we had durian for breakfast with dark Thai coffee. As those of us who love durian say, “it tastes like heaven, a perfect custard on earth.” I was glad to taste durian again after a long time without it.

Life and culture around Seattle are not the same as in the village of Thailand. Here it is hard to convince friends and students to embrace durian’s infamous stinky side. My rules for eating durian are these: it must be a good durian (for me, this means a Phuket durian), in-season, not too ripe, eaten in small portions once or twice a year, and never mixed with alcohol. I would also recommend not socializing with people who don’t like durian the day you eat it, and don’t carry it around in a small closed space or a home with an air conditioning system. In Thailand, durian is considered contraband if you carry it in a rental car, or in air-conditioned public places such as buses, hotels or airplanes.

Pranee with Phuket cultivar of durian

There are many durian cultivars in Thailand but in Phuket the small, native cultivar is popular with locals as well as tourists from all over Asia. When visiting Thailand during durian season, ask someone who is knowledgeable about durian to introduce it to you. If you try the right one, chances are you, too, will taste the heaven—and the smell won’t put you off too much. And you will have something to talk about for a lifetime!

The best way to enjoy fresh durian is in moderation. Some people experience a fever after eating durian because it contains so many calories. One hundred grams of durian has about 30 grams of sugar, 25 grams of protein and approximately 144 calories (please see source below). Besides eating fresh durian, you may find durian in many desserts: Kao Neow Thurian, sticky rice with coconut milk and durian sauce; Thurian Icecream, durian ice cream; and Thurian Gwan, durian candies.

How to open the durian with a paring knife and cleaver

Opening durian requires some skill. Below are step-by-step pictures on how to open the durian the way a Phuketian does it. You will need two thick towels to protect the counter and your hand, a cleaver and a paring knife.

Look for a split in the durian

First remove the stem, then find the natural split in the hull. Use a paring knife to follow the split and make it wider, then use the cleaver to twist the hull open.

Insert the cleaver into the split line and then use the cleaver to twist the hull open.

Use both hands on each side of the split to pull and force until the hull opens completely

A perfect custard fruit snuggles inside

The custard lumps and seeds are snuggled inside each hollow hull.

Durian with delicious custard and seeds inside

© 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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Under a Tamarind Tree

Tamarind branches provide shade for animal and people

The tamarind tree (Tamarindus Indica L) is a large tree that can grow to be 80 to 100 feet tall. Native to Africa, it was introduced to Southeast Asia and South America where it is now well established. From India to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippine, Malaysia and Indonesia, tamarind trees play a significant role in Southeast Asian cuisine and culture. I have been fortunate to have traveled to Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and have seen how our cultures and cuisines have evolved in almost the same ways around tamarind trees and their fruit.

young tamarind leaves

The tamarind tree bears leaves and flowers that can be cooked like vegetables.

Tamarind pods

When the fruits are green, we snack or pickle them. The mature brown pods are made into a candy or kept for cooking. My grandmother loved adding a young tamarind leaf to her fish soup, and she also cleaned her brass ware with tamarind until it was shiny and pinkish. When I was young I loved playing with tamarind flowers. They were small, but have a beautiful orchid-like flower. The wood from tamarind tree is perfect for making a butcher block or cutting board. And most importantly of all, the large tamarind tree provides shade and a social gathering place during the day.

Shops under tamarind tree, Myanmar

One of the first things you will want to learn about cooking with tamarind is how to turn a dry tamarind fruit paste or fruit pulp into a concentrate form that is ready to use in daily cooking. You won’t have any problem finding tamarind paste to buy;  it is abundant in Asian and Latino markets. In southern Thailand we use tamarind concentrate in dipping sauces, sorbets, salad dressings, chutney, beverages, peanut sauce, stir-fry sauce, curry, soup, and any dish that needs a gentle acidic flavor to heighten it. You can also find new ways of your own to use this fruity, acidic concentrate; below are several photos of dishes from my hometown to give you ideas.Tamarind is one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce, but there is not a perfect substitute for it as the fruity flavor of tamarind is so unique.

Tamarind Fruit is a Heart of Southeast Asian Cooking

Chicken Soup with Tamarind Added for Sour Flavor

Above is my home town spicy soup similar to Tom Kha Gai (chicken sweet and sour soup with galangal and coconut milk). Tamarind gives the soup a nice gentle sour and refreshing taste.

Pomelo Salad with Prawns, Fried Shallots and Tamarind Dressing

Tamarind concentrate is used in salad dressings to add a nice layer of flavors to a fruit salad. When combines with palm sugar, it provides a sophisticated  balance to the flavors.

Grilled Jackfish with Phuket Tamarind Sauce

Phuket’s signature tamarind sauce (Nam Jim Makham) for grilled jackfish over charcoal husks.

Kai Leuk Koey - Son-in-law eggs

The famous Thai Kai Look Keuy, Son-In-Law Eggs, has a well-balanced, gentle and fruity sour taste from tamarind, the sweet of palm sugar, a highlight of fish sauce, and the excitement of a few pinches of chili powder. It also has umami—or savoriness—one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.

Phad Thai with Tamarind Sauce

Tamarind concentrate is an important part of Phad Thai, the renowned dish of Thailand. We can’t call it Phad Thai without tamarind concentrate!

Sour Curry Prawns with Cha-Om Omelette

Sour curry is a non-coconut curry soup.  Tamarind is an important part of the fish broth that gives the sour curry fish or seafood a harmonious balance. It’s flavor profile combines fruity, sour-sweet, and spicy.

Stir-Fried Prawns in Tamarind Sauce

 Stir-fried prawns with tamarind sauce is another signature dish from Phuket.

Tamarind Candy from Thailand

Tamarind Fruit 

Makham มะขาม

Thailand ranks first in the world in the production of Tamarind and has the largest tamarind plantation in the world. Tamarind fruits resemble brown, flat, fava beans. When ripe, the fruit has a long, dark-brown pod with 5 to 8 seeds. Remove the shell, vein and seeds to get the dried and sometimes sticky fruit flesh. It will stay fresh for a year.

Two varieties of tamarind from Thailand are available in the US markets. One of them is the sweet variety, which you seldom see. It comes in a beautiful box with many good looking brown pods that you can crack open and eat like any dried fruit. It has a sweet fruity taste, reminiscent of dried apricots.

Tamarind pods, tamarind concentrate and tamarind paste

The sour variety of tamarind is the most common and the most important for Thai and Southeast Asia cooking. It is available in Asian markets either as a package of dried fruit in a 16-ounce rectangular brick, or ready to use in a plastic jar. The three forms of tamarind are shown in the photo above.  The dried fruit form give a purer sour flavor and doesn’t need refrigeration. The concentrate form must be kept in the refrigerator or freezer until ready for use. There is no best substitute for tamarind.

How to make a ready-to-use tamarind concentrate

Nam Makham

น้ำมะขาม

Yield: 2 cups

8 ounces tamarind flesh, about half of a 16-ounce package
2 1/2 cups boiling water

Place the chunk of tamarind into a large bowl, then pour boiling water over it and let it sit until the water is cool enough to handle. Massage and squeeze the tamarind in the water with both hands so the water and hands rub the tamarind to make a thick concentrate; the pulp and liquid should resemble a thick soup. Strain liquid though a large sieve into a medium pot. Squeeze the tamarind to get out all of the liquid, then discard the solid. Bring the strained liquid to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Store and keep in refrigerator for two weeks, or in the freezer for 6 months.

Pranee’s note: To be safe, I recommend only using Tamarind grown in Thailand in my recipes.

© 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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Are Winter Squash Leaves Edible?

I enjoyed the Seattle sun last Wednesday at the Columbia City Farmers Market along with the delicious food from the stalls. I purchased a few fresh vegetables from various farmers and, like always, a bunch of winter squash leaves from a Hmong farmer’s stall. This time the squash leaves prompted me to cook and share with you a recipe from my Thai kitchen: how to cook winter squash leaves –Yod Namtao – ยอดน้ำเต้า.

Winter squash leaves are edible. In fact, all parts of squash family plants are edible, from leaves to stems, flowers, fruit, skin and seeds. The young leaves and stems are shown in the photos above and below. These edible greens become available when a farmer cuts back the leaves on a plant in order to encourage it to produce fewer but larger fruits. Winter squash leaves are popular in rustic-style cooking in Southeast Asia and they are great sources of fiber and other nutritional benefits.

Winter Squash Leaves and Blossoms - my visit to Hoi An Market 2009

Though they may feel a little rough to the touch, the young leaves from winter squash have amazing flavors when cooked. They have a  spinach-like texture, but are richer and denser with a bite to it in flavor. Like any leafy green vegetable, you can stir-fry, steam or stew them. In my kitchen, I either blanch them in salted coconut milk or saute them with butter, then add water and chicken stock and cook them down until the leaves are softened but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Last year I made a winter melon leaves stew with dried fish and shallots using a Hmong farmer’s verbal recipe. It was similar to my Watermelon Rind Soup and made a delicious vegetable stew.           

Winter squash leaves are only available in the summer and only at the Hmong farmers’ stalls. Because of this limitation, I never fail to purchase a bunch of winter squash leaves each visit to the market. Supporting the Hmong farmers also helps me to ensure that there will be a continuing supply due to the demand. When you get a chance, please pick up some winter squash leaves at a Seattle Farmer Markets near you and give them a try.

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Winter Squash Leaves Boiled in Salted Coconut Milk

Yod Namtao Luak Kati

ยอดน้ำเต้าลวกกะทิ

Winter Squash Leaves in Salted Coconut Milk

One bunch of winter squash leaves weighs about a pound. After removing all of the twine holding them together and the hard stems, the soft edible part weighs about six ounces; the rest goes into a compost. If I have time, I use a peeler to remove the rough skin on the stems then cook the stems down until they are soft, about 8 minutes.

There are many ways to prepare winter squash leaves, but blanching or boiling them in salted coconut milk produces my favorite quick and easy side dish. This same method can also be used with many other leafy green vegetables, which can then be served with Thai Chili Dip. You will be surprised how the flavor of winter squash leaves and leafy green vegetables are complimented by just a little coconut milk and salt.

 
Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
 
6 ounces winter squash leaves (see preparation above)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt

Bring coconut milk, water and salt to a boil on medium-high heat. Then add the squash leaves, using tongs to turn them around to make sure they are all cooked in the liquid—like blanching the leaves in a coconut broth. Cook from 3 to 5 minutes until the greens reach your desired degree of tenderness. Serve with the broth as a side dish, or with warm jasmine rice as a main dish.

© 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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The Sweet is a Faintness and the Bitter is a Medicine

I often hear the old Thai saying  หวานเป็นลม ขมเป็นยา: kwan pen lom kom pen yah. This culinary wisdom literally says “the sweet is a faintness and the bitter is a medicine.” Growing up in a village in Thailand with my grandma and her friends, I acquired a taste for the bitter and exotic vegetables from their gardens and the wilderness around us.

Bitter melon or Bitter Gourd is called มะระ—Mara—in Thai. Its scientific name is Momordica charantia and it is native to Asia and Africa. It is a climbing annual plant that one can grow anytime, anywhere in Southeast Asia and South Asia regardless of the season.

Bitter Melon – Photo from my morning walk in Hoi An, Vietnam

In most Thai or Asian villages, where there is a fence or an arbor there will be a climbing plant next to it. There just needs to be a space large enough for seeds to grow.

Chinese Bitter Melon – the China phenotype is common in Thailand

Bitter melon is best eaten when it is green and young. When the fruit grows older, the taste gets more bitter. It is not common to eat the older fruit when it turns yellow-orange and the seeds become red; at this later stage the plant is mainly used for growing the seeds for future new plants.

Indian variety of bitter melon – photo from my visit to a market in Hue, Vietnam

Bitter melon is widely cooked in many ways in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, I often enjoy it in stir-fried dishes with soy sauce and with or without egg. It is also popular with mara yad sai—stuffed with pork in a soup. Fresh green or boiled bitter melon can be served in a Thai crudites platter with Thai chili dip, or it can accompany pickled cabbage in a pork-bone soup or stewed bitter melon and pork-bone soup. It can also be cooked in a curry dish as well. In Myanmar and Bangladeshi, bitter melon is often stir-fried with garlic and turmeric powder.

How to prepare bitter melon

All parts of the fruit are edible after you remove the seeds and stem. For stir-fries, thin-slice the melon as shown above. Then I often take steps to reduce some of the bitterness. There are two ways to do this: put the sliced melon in boiling water for a few minutes and then strain out the melon and discard the water. Or sprinkle some salt on the melon, mix it in well and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing them in water. You may squeeze to dry. I personally like to use this latter method before making my stir-fries as some of the bitter flavor is left behind.

Why should you eat bitter melon? For much the same reason that you eat broccoli or spinach: for their health benefits. Bitter melon is an aid to diabetes control. It lowers blood sugar and promotes healthy insulin levels; besides that it also has Vitamin C, B1 and B2. While more studies need to be done, it is time to learn about new vegetables like bitter melon or get back to eating them routinely and celebrating the sweet truth about bitter melon. Cheers to a bitter melon!

Stir-fried Bitter Melon with Egg

Stir-fried Bitter Melon with Egg

Phad Mara Kub Khai 

ผัดมะระกับไข่

Serves: 4

Cooking Time: 4 minutes

When one has acquired a taste for bitter melon, stir-fried bitter melon with egg is a delightful dish. Personally, it makes me happy like after eating bitter-sweet chocolate. A bite of sliced bitter melon contrasts with the sweet, cooked egg and the hint of salty-soy flavor,  making this three-flavor combination very memorable and it lingers on my palate. When trying this dish for the first time, don’t be afraid of the bitter that you will taste at first. Wait a little while and you will taste the sweet from the egg, then the salty from the soy sauce. Serve the stir-fried bitter melon as a side with a curry dish and warm steamed jasmine rice.

Serves: 2

3 to 5 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 eggs
1½ cups sliced bitter melon, about 1 large bitter melon
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup water or chicken broth
 
Heat a wok on high heat until it is hot. Pour in 3 tablespoons canola oil and stir in garlic. When garlic is golden, stir in one egg and stir a few times. When the egg is cooked, stir in bitter melon. Stir for 1 minute, then add another egg and stir a few times before adding soy sauce and sugar. Add water or chicken broth and let it cook 1 minute. Depending on one’s liking, the melon should be not too soft or to firm; it should still have some crunch. Serve warm with steamed jasmine rice.
 
© 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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Drink Me

It has been exactly a week since I returned from Thailand and I am still trying to catch up with our Seattle summer. My friends have all assured me that I didn’t miss much during the past month as we are still having the same cold weather we had in June. This July, Seattle hit the record lowest temperature for summer, so all I really need to catch up on is eating the plentiful seasonal fruits and vegetables from the local farmers markets and nearby towns.  

Hami Melon

During my first grocery shopping back here in Seattle, my cart was full with all sorts of berries. And then my eye caught on a good-looking melon that I haven’t tried: Hami melon. It is grown in California and available from mid-May to July and from September to December. I let it ripen at home for a few days and its sweet aroma was inviting me to taste it. The sweet scent reminds me of the Thai long muskmelon that I used to grow a long time ago in my organic garden in Phuket—it grew abundantly despite my lack of knowledge and farming experience.

Hami Melon

Hami melon is a type of muskmelon, a Chinese melon variety. A good one can taste sweeter and have a higher sugar content than most other varieties of melon. I decided to make a smoothie with coconut milk to duplicate Taeng Thai Kati, a famous Thai muskmelon dessert made with coconut milk, but we will drink ours instead of eating it. I kept the flavor profile and the amounts of ingredients the same as in Taeng Thai Kati, but added a generous amount of crushed ice and simple syrup to turn it into a nice cold smoothie. I used only one-third cup coconut milk in my recipe, a perfect amount to make a smoothie, a healthy summer drink. But if you are looking for a nice milkshake-like drink and dessert combo, add a scoop or two of coconut ice cream; it would taste heavenly. When a sweet flavor is needed, honey or palm sugar simple syrup are good choices to add a dimension of sweetness and aroma.

Coconut Melon Smoothie

Stock up on a few cans of coconut milk, then anytime the sweet floral scents of melon invite you, all you have to do is prepare this recipe. Hami melon is hard to resist, especially when it is combined with alluring fresh coconut milk. Drink me.

Coconut Melon Smoothie

Nam Kati Taeng Thai Smoothie

น้ำกะทิแตงไทยสมูทตี้

Serves: 2 to 4

Yield: 3 cups

16 ounces (see note) diced Hami melon, seeded, peeled and diced, or substitute honey-dew melon
⅓ cup coconut milk or coconut ice cream, more as desired
1½ cups crushed ice
2 tablespoons palm sugar simple syrup, optional (see note)
pinch of salt

Place melon, coconut milk, ice, sugar and salt in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve right away with a straw.

Pranee’s Note

A 4-pound Hami melon (medium size), seeded, peeled and diced will yield about 2 pounds of diced melon.
 
To make palm sugar simple syrup, place a disc of palm sugar (about 4 tablespoons) and about ¼ cup water in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool and chill. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.   Yield: ¼ cup.
 
© 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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From Las Delicias with Love

It was Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011, when I arrived as part of a team of eight gracious women in the Nicaraguan village of Las Delicias. The village is situated in the hilly northern area in the Matagalpa region and is surrounded by coffee plantations. We were there with the organization BuildOn to present  the community with a new school on behalf of many generous donors from the United States.

May 8, 2011, Las Delicias

The welcoming and celebrating event was an indescribably heart-warming experience. It took place right on the grounds of the future school. For the next four days, our host families shared their food, their houses and their children with us and our lives were enriched by their culture, foods and hospitality.

Dinner with Rice, banana and bean

Jacqualee, one of my group members, and I were fortunate to have Thelma and Ricardo and their daughter Helene as our host family. A typical day began around 5:30am with the sound of Thelma’s tortilla-making or the rooster’s cock-a-doodle-doo. Then we would have breakfast at 7am before going to work on the building project with local volunteers. A typical meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner was corn tortillas, rice, bananas, and beans, accompanied by either eggs or chicken.

Jacqualee and I were very excited when Thelma and Ricardo asked if we could teach them the cuisine we ate back home. We happily agreed and I cooked up the menu with Jacqualee. I wanted something practical that Thelma would enjoy cooking for her family and that would use ingredients that were available in her backyard or the local market—forget about Tom Yum Goong and fancy Thai dishes. We decided on Son-In-Law Eggs, Mango Salad and Sweet Rice, Bananas & Beans Wrapped in Banana Leaf.

Banana leaf just right outside

We started with Kao Tom Mud. First Ricardo helped with cutting the banana leaf from the tree which was right outside in their yard. I removed the stems and tore the leaves into pieces 8 inches wide, then cleaned them well with a damp cloth to remove dirt. I only had to show Thelma once how to use the banana leaf for wrapping, then she took over the task with confidence. We made enough of them to give some to her neighbor.

While it was in the steamer, we prepared mango salad and son-in-law eggs. While we were cooking, Danilo, our translator, translated our cooking lesson from English into Spanish. Danilo helped me explain the most important part of Thai cooking was the harmonious blend of the four essential flavors of Thai cooking: sweet, sour, salty and spicy. The sweet was the sugar, the sour available to us was mango and two citrus juices, the spicy was Nicaraguan chili and, the salty was salt and the salty peanut that Jacqualee brought from home. I loved listening to Danilo speaking in Spanish explaining to Thelma about sweet, sour, salty and spicy. It was one of the highlights for me personally and professionally, and cooking for Thelma and Ricardo gave us a chance to thank them for their warm welcome to their home.

Thelma wrapped rice, banana and bean with banana leaf

I have used my recipe below countless times in cooking classes. It is basically a two-stage process. In the first stage, the sticky rice cooks until it has a sticky texture but it is still grainy and raw and is ideal for wrapping around a banana. It is pliable like playdough to form or shape and then it gets wrapped by the banana leaf. The second stage is the actual cooking of Kao Tom Mud, which is generally done by steaming. We steamed the rice and banana all the way through, which can take from 30 to 50 minutes. After 30 minutes of steaming, open one up to check if more steaming time is needed.

Kao Tom Mud

In my Seattle kitchen, I love to put the wrap on the grill or in the oven for the second stage, which is how I teach it in my classes. Now that summer is finally here, I hope that you will enjoy preparing this recipe either in a steamer or on your grill. Banana leaves are easy to find in local Asian markets in the freezer section.

I hope that you will enjoy cooking rice, banana, and beans wrapped with banana leaves. You will feel like you are in the tropical countries of Thailand or Nicaragua.

Kao Tom Mud, Steamed Sweet Rice and Banana Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Sweet Rice and Banana Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Kao Tom Mud 

ข้าวต้มมัด

Servings: 8

2 cups Thai sticky rice, soaked for 3 hours or overnight, and drained
¾ cup coconut milk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, optional
1 cup canned black beans, drained, optional
1 teaspoon salt
2 bananas, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and also crosswise to get 4 pieces from each banana
8 (8 X 8-inch) banana leaves or pieces of parchment paper
 
Stir sticky rice, coconut milk, sugar and salt together in a large pan over medium heat. Stir until all the coconut milk is absorbed. Stir in black beans and fold gently to mix.

Divide sticky rice mixture into 8 equal portions. Spread each portion onto a banana leaf, spreading to cover an area 6 by 4 inches, then place a section of the banana in the center. Fold the banana leaf to wrap the sticky rice around the banana.

Then fold the banana leaf into tamale-like envelope and secure both ends with a toothpick that pokes down and then up through the banana leaf. Grill for 5 minutes on each side, or until the sticky rice is translucent and cooked.

Pranee’s note:

If banana leaf is not available, you can use parchment paper. See Pranee’s Grill Sticky Rice in Bamboo Tube Recipe for details.

Pulut Lapa

Image by chooyutshing via Flickr

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My Everyday  Asian Vegetable

Choy Sum - Flowering Cabbage

Choy Sum (also known as flowering cabbage) is a most popular vegetable in Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Brassica family along with Bok Choy and Gai Lan (Chinese kale or broccoli). The most common uses are in stir-fries and soups. My favorite way of preparing this is to stir-fry it as a side dish with salt and pepper or stir-fry with any rice noodles or egg noodles. It takes a short time to cook and is easy to pair with other ingredients. 

Stir-fried Choy Sum as a Side dish

Stir-fried Choy Sum

Phad Pak Gwang Tung

ผัดผักกวางตุ้ง

Servings: 4

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
12 choy sum 0r about 12 ounces, cleaned and cut into 2 inch-lengths
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat canola oil in a wok on high heat and stir in garlic. When garlic is golden, stir in choy sum. Stir in a few drops of water and season with salt and pepper to taste, stirring well. Serve hot as a side dish with steamed jasmine rice.

© 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 .
 

Stir-fried Phuket Hokkien Mee with Choy Sum

 
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A Stir-Fry from the Palm of My Hand

When I was growing up, in the mornings my grandma would often drop a few coins in the palm of my hand and tell me to go purchase Tao Gua (Tofu), Tao Nge (Mung Bean Sprout), and Guiy Chai (garlic chives) from a mobile market—a pick up truck filled with ingredients. I would return with a bag full of three pieces of tofu cake, mung bean sprouts, and a bunch of garlic chives. Together they made the cheapest and best stir-fry and we ate it about once a week. We would usually stir-fry them later for lunch; if it were for dinner, my grandma would soak the bean sprouts in cold water to keep them fresh in the tropical climate. This was back before we had a refrigerator. When I was at the Asian Market yesterday, I purchased these three ingredients in almost the same quantities as I did then and it came up to $ 2.75, only a few dollars and some coins.

Thais call bean sprouts Thua Ngok (ถั่วงอก), but in my hometown of Phuket we call them Tau Nge, a  Phuket Hokkien word. Hokkien is a Chinese dialect spoken by many Chinese throughout Southeast Asia. Tauge, is the word for mung bean sprouts in Chinese Hokkien and in Indonesian and Malaysian languages as well. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Dutch also use taugé for bean sprouts, probably a holdover from the time when they occupied Indonesia.

Mung bean sprouts, tofu and garlic chives are long-time favorite vegetables of Chinese Hokkien cuisine and culture, even though bean sprouts are actually native to Bangladesh.

Firm Tofu, Mung Bean Sprouts and Garlic Chives

Green onions or regular chives are usually a good substitute for garlic chives, but in this case I strongly recommend that you use garlic chives in order to maintain the flavors and authenticity of this dish. Garlic chives are available all year round at the Asian Market and it is a perennial herb in the Northwest. You may find other recipes where you will want to use them as well.

The other day when I was dining with a friend, I was so impressed to find a similar dish served at the Tamarind Tree Restaurant in Seattle. Their dish was almost identical in flavor, but instead of tofu, it used shitake mushrooms. I hope when you are at the Tamarind Tree Restaurant, you will please try Nấm xào giá ~ Bean sprout mushroom.

Phuket Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts and Tofu with Garlic Chives

Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts and Tofu with Garlic Chives

Phad Tao Gua Tao Nge Phuket

ผัดถั่วงอกกับเต้าหู้ภูเก็ต

5 minutes total preparation and cooking time, 3 ingredients and less than $3. It is my all time favorite stir-fry.

Serves: 4
 
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 (16 ounce) package  firm tofu, cut into large pieces about 1/4-inch thick
1 cup garlic chives cut into 1-inch lengths (about 15 garlic chives),
6 cups mung bean sproutss, washed with cold water and strained
2 tablespoons soy sauce, or 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus one tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Heat the wok on high heat, then test it with a few drops of water. If the water evaporates in two seconds, pour in 1 tablespoon canola oil. Cover the surface with oil by using a spatula or other utensil, then spread out tofu in the wok and fry on medium heat until they firm up and turn a golden color. This will take 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the same wok on high heat and add the remaining canola oil and the garlic; stir until golden, about 10 seconds. Stir in bean sprouts and cook on high heat for 45 seconds to 1 minute, stirring constantly. It will sound really interesting and steaming. It is the moisture from the bean sprouts creating the sounds against the hot wok. You will see steam, but not smoke. Then stir in garlic chives to cook lightly, about 45 seconds. Stir in tofu, soy sauce and sugar. Mix together, then serve promptly with hot steamed jasmine rice.

Pranee’s note:

The bean sprouts should not cook longer than 2 minutes, or they will lost their crunch. This dish is very simple and the flavors depend on having the freshest bean sprouts, tofu and chives—and that is enough! I love this dish because it has a clean and simple flavor and texture. The moisture released from the bean sprouts makes a sauce. If that doesn’t happen, add one or two tablespoons of water.

Another variation of this dish that you might see in Thailand substitutes calamari, prawns or pig blood cake for the tofu.

© 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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My Very First Fresh Garbanzo Beans

Fresh Garbanzo Bean or Chickpea

Please don’t think that I always play cat and mouse with my food before eating it. But when I am teaching myself how to cook something new, I often think of it as playing with food. And that is what I did with my very first fresh garbanzo beans.

I had never seen fresh garbanzo beans before. I found them at the store in a 10-ounce package. They were in a plastic container for $2.99 on the shelf among many vegetables. I purchased them thinking they would provide a good opportunity to learn something new.

In my kitchen, I enjoyed opening up the individual beans to see how they looked on the inside. A beautiful rounded bean was snuggling in the pod. Some pods had one large bean and some had two smaller beans. I pressed some beans between my fingers and found that they were pretty airy—less dense and not creamy like edamame or peas. Another night I dropped a few beans in boiling water while cooking spaghetti; 12 minutes was way too long for the beans. Finally I felt I knew enough to make an educated guess about a better cooking time and method. Yes, I steamed the whole package of beans as-is for 10 minutes. Then I placed them in a bowl and sprinkled on generous amounts of sea salt and ate them like edamame. They turned out just perfect for eating warm or cold.

Fresh Garbanzo Beans from Mexico

In Thailand we don’t use garbanzo beans—fresh, dried or canned—in Thai cuisine. But we do use them when cooking Indian or middle eastern dishes. The beans are grown in India, but in Southern Thailand many Indian or Bengal merchants sold a variety of spicy legumes from village to village. When we were kids at a festival or open-air movie, I always loved cracking and eating dried, salted, spicy chickpeas. They were served in a paper bag, just like popcorn, and were good for sharing with friends.

A beautiful bean in a green pod, garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, belong to the legume family. They are full of protein and fiber. Interestingly, the flavor of garbanzo beans is mild and unassertive and they have a soft (not dense) texture that holds it shape well in gentle cooking, like in a rice soup or a salad. It is healthier to snack on steamed garbanzo beans than anything else. So if you happen to see fresh garbanzo beans, don’t hesitate to take some home to try. It is fun and everyone is kept busy opening the pods while they enjoy the conversation.

© 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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Pandanus leaf (Bai Toey), a Thai Culinary Treasure

Something about spring made me want to share my favorite cup of tea recipe with you. Maybe it is the fragrance of fresh pandanus leaf, which is like fresh green grass, or jasmine rice that makes me anticipate more spring. The long narrow leaf looks like a gladiolus leaf however pandanus belongs in the screw pine genus. It is known in Southeast Asia as Pandan. Besides using the leaf for cooking, I grow Bai Toey as a decorative plant and use it in flower arrangements. In my village in the old days, every household grew them near a damp place in their garden. If you are interested in growing Pandan as a house plant, please check with your local nursery. The scientific name for Bai Toey is Pandanus Amaryllifolius.

Pandanus Leaf-Bai Toey

Thai cooking depends on Bai Toey much like Westerners depend on vanilla. That is a simple comparison I often use when I introduce this plant in my cooking classes. But pandanus leaf has so many uses I would need many pages and recipes to show and tell you all of them. But I will try to make it short and just highlight the plant’s significant qualities. Over time I will provide recipes in upcoming posts that highlight the broad uses of Bai Toey.

Below are pictures and short descriptions of how I have used pandanus during the past four months while I was in Thailand and in my classroom and my kitchen here in Seattle.

Roses made from Pandanus leaves for worship or air freshener

Thais use pandanus leaves to make  rose flowers for worship or to use as an air freshener.

Please click the picture to see Pranee’s YouTube video and learn how to make rose flowers from pandan leaves.

Pandanus leaf cups

Thais use Pandanus leaves to make decorative containers.

Adding green color extract from pandanus leaf to pearl tapioca pudding

Thais extract the green color from Pandanus to use as food coloring in Thai desserts.

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A Perfect Thai Herbal Tea

My usual cup of tea is a light tea that I brew from a combination of pandanus leaf and jasmine tea. I grew up with this tea in a village where, in addition to the famous Thai Ice Tea, it seemed to be available everywhere,  rain or shine, in everyone’s kitchen, or to welcome guests at a big gathering. For funerals or other large  functions, this tea is brewed in large quantities, steeped in a pot that can serve up to 100 people. I love this tea both warm and cold. The fragrance and flavors of pandan leaves and jasmine tea seems to be a perfect pair – my favorite combination. Not to mention that my favorite hand lotion from Thailand is a combination of pandan leaf and jasmine—classic Thai aromatherapy. Please click here to learn more about pandan leaves and their medicinal benefits.

Pandan leaf is available fresh or frozen at Asian markets.

Jasmine Pandanus Tea

Cha Mali Toey Horm

ชามะลิใบเตย

Jasmine and pandanus is a classic fragrant infusion for Thai tea and desserts. This tea is very popular,  but it is served mostly at large group functions such as funerals. In my village it is prepared in a large pot three feet in diameter by three feet tall, ready to serve tea for the whole village. It can be served with a snack, dinner or dessert. Serve plain without sugar. The tip is don’t make the tea too strong.

1 to 2 teaspoons loose jasmine tea
1 pandanus leaves, torn lengthwise into narrow strip and tied in a bun, or folded to fit the teapot
2 cups boiling water

Place jasmine tea and pandanus leaf in a teapot. Pour boiling water over all and let it steep for 5 minutes. Serve right away.

© 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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The Mystery Dish of Southern Thailand

Stir-fried Fresh Grated Coconut with Phuket Curry Paste and Chapoo Leaf

I uncovered a mystery about my grandmother’s cooking during my last trip to Phuket. I asked around about Phad Maprow Khub Kruang Gaeng, a stir-fried, fresh grated coconut with Phuket curry paste. During my childhood and adult life, I had never seen it cooked or eaten or even mentioned by anyone except members of my family. And it was only my grandmother who always asked me to assist her with it when I was young. I always wondered if it was served for health or economic reasons, or simply a food that the women of the house put on the table for their large extended family. It was never served alone, but with other main dishes and steamed jasmine rice.

I described the dish to my family to refresh their memories. My mom said that mostly we prepared it with a special kind of coconut (out of a thousand different kinds of coconuts, we used one that has an interesting texture with more like a virgin coconut oil). Then my sister-in-law, who was born in Phang Nga (80 kilometers away from Phuket), recalled eating the dish in her hometown. She said she had prepared it before, but not often. Luckily for me, she was very happy to prepare this for me while I took notes and photographs. She did it exactly the way I remember my grandmother preparing it. Thank you to my sister-in-law Tim, who helped me preserve the history of this lost recipe.

We shared the dish afterwards and more than anything else, more than its just being an interesting dish, it was a moment of rediscovery of the old time flavors of the south. We bonded again with foods. I hope that some of you will try this recipe so it won’t be lost forever.

Curry paste and fresh grated coconut in a mortar mix with pestle

First, Tim pounds the Phuket curry paste. When it became a fine paste she mixed in the freshly grated coconut and pounded to combine all of the ingredients. Then she stir-fried the mixture in a wok.

Coconut and turmeric—the colors and flavors of Southern Thailand

Stir-fried Fresh Grated Coconut Meat with Phuket Curry Paste

Phad Maprow Khub Kruang Gaeng Phuket

ผัดเนื้อมะพร้าวสดขูดกับเครื่องแกงภูเก็ต

Serves: 8 (as a side dish)

Yield: 2 cups

1/2 to 1 recipe Phuket Curry Paste (please click here for the recipe)
2 cups freshly grated coconut meat, or frozen (thaw before cooking)
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
Salt to taste
32 chapoo or wild pepper leaves

Combine curry paste and grated coconut by hand or with a mortar and pestle. Place in a wok (without cooking oil) over medium heat, and stir constantly to allow the coconut and curry mix to become one texture. Continue stirring until the moisture in the coconut dries up and the curry paste is well-incorporated, about 5 to 8 minutes. It should be flaky with a little bit of moisture left, neither too dry nor too oily. Serve at room temperature with wild pepper leaves on the side.

Enjoy this as a tidbit by placing about 1 tablespoon on a wild pepper leaf, then wrapping it up so you can eat it in a single bite. Or simply mix it with warm jasmine rice and enjoy it as an accompaniment to curry and vegetable dishes.

Pranee’s Note:

This recipe has not been tested yet in my kitchen, so pay attention to spicy, salty and sweet when trying this recipe.

Chapoo leaf or wild pepper leaf is also known as la lot leaf (please see Pranee’s Blog Entry on Chapoo leaf)

Pranee’s Video on Youtube: How to Open a Coconut Husk: Thai Style

More Recipes by Pranee on Phuket Curry Paste

© 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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Playing with Food: Cassava

Cassava-Sweet Potato Pancake, a delicious Thai Dessert

I noticed recently that I have told my students to play with food in almost every class. I hope they have. After learning all the essential tips and techniques, the way to become a good cook is by experiencing the ingredients and having fun.

On the weekends, I clean up the fridge and cook creatively.  This weekend I had fresh cassava and sweet potato leftover from my class. While I was holding them in my hand, I heard an echo of Rösti. Rösti is a fried, grated potato dish made in Switzerland. I made a quick decision and at almost the same time my hand reached to turn on the oven to 450°F. I will heat up my well-seasoned 8-inch cast iron pan and make this quick & easy Thai dessert, Rösti style.

Cooking with cassavas is not hard at all. After grating the cassava, Thai simply add enough sugar to sweeten to taste, and some salt to bridge the flavor; a bit of coconut milk can also be added to heighten the flavor. Then the mixture is steamed and grilled until it is cooked and translucent. But something new today that I haven’t tried before is adding grated sweet potato. Why not? It was perfect. I used about 2 parts cassava to 1 part sweet potato. The glutinous property of cassava helps the sweet potato hold up nicely, and the sweet potato gives a nice orange color and sweet compliment to the dish.

Learn something new while playing with food and discover a new excitement and a sweet reward to the lesson. Cassava-Sweet Potato Pancake makes a perfect snack or dessert with light herbal tea.

Cassava - Sweet Potato Pancake

Cassava – Sweet Potato Pancake

Khanom Man Sumpalang Oop

มันสำปะหลังมันเทศแพนเค้ก

Servings: 6-8

2 cups grated cassava, fresh or frozen (if fresh , use a 10-inch-long cassava and remove the skin before grating)
1 cup grated sweet potato, about 1 small or medium
1/2 cup palm sugar or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoon rice flour, optional
1 tablespoon cooking oil
 
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
 
Combine grated cassava, sweet potato, sugar, salt, coconut milk and rice flour in a large bowl; stir until well mixed.
 
Heat 8-inch cast iron pan on medium heat and cover the entire surface with cooking oil. Pour cassava-sweet potato pancake mixture into the pan and spread out evenly. Place uncovered in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the bottom is crusty brown. Then turn the oven to broil and place the pan right underneath. The top of the pancake should be 6 inches below the heat source. Remove when the top is brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it! A nice crusty brown is the most delicious part of the cake. Let the pancake rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or cold.
Cassava (yuca) roots, the Taínos' main crop

Image via Wikipedia

Pranee’s Thai Kitchen note:

Cassava is a root from the Cassava or Tapioca Plant (Manihot esculenta Crantz). It is a bushy plant that grows to about 3 meters tall. It is an annual plant with underground food-storing root-tubers. The tuber is large and long with a dark brown skin and pink underneath to protect and keep the white flesh moist. In Thailand, cassava is usually boiled or roasted and serve with sugar. It also is made into various sweets combined with grated coconut and/or coconut milk and sugar. Raw cassava is poisonous, but when cooked it became a delicious dessert.  Pearl tapioca and tapioca starch and flour are all products of cassava roots.

© 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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Rubber tree plantation in Phuket, Thailand

Image via Wikipedia

My Love for Mushrooms

My love for mushrooms was born when I was in my teen years in my Thai village. The village is surrounded by mountains on one side and rice fields on the other. It was a perfect place for wild foods. I learned to gather wild vegetables such as bamboo shoots and green and ginger family rhizomes, and of course I picked some wild orchids for myself on the way home. There were also many rubber plantations. The dried falling branches from the rubber trees were a source of firewood and rubber tree mushrooms called Hed Kreng. They are a typical mushroom that grows only on the old rubber trees which cover most of the southern peninsula of Thailand.

In Seattle, I enjoy various mushrooms and we are in luck, there are plenty of fresh mushrooms from local mushroom growers.

If you are hesitant to cook this recipe for any reason, I want to reassure you that this dish is packed full with flavors and received a five star rating from an admirer on yelp.com.

Grilled Spicy Phuket Mushroom - Rubber Tree Mushroom

 

 

Grilled Brown Button Mushrooms with Thai Basil Leaf in Banana Leaf

HED MOK PHUKET

Servings: 4 (one parcel per person)

We used to gather Hed Kreng mushrooms from old rubber tree trunks and bring them home for my mom to make my childhood favorite, Hed Mok (Grilled Mushrooms). I recreated this recipe by using brown button mushrooms that have a flavor similar to Hed Kreng. While creating this recipe, I recalled my vivid memories of how my mom prepared them, and the taste and aroma that I used to savor. The intense flavors of basil, chili, and earthy mushrooms come alive. An important part of this recipe is to grill or bake the mushrooms over high heat to intensify the flavor. Also, use coconut cream rather than coconut milk so the mixture won’t get too wet.

1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup coconut cream
¼ cup shallots, sliced
1 pound brown button mushrooms, brushed and sliced
1 cup Thai purple basil leaf
4 Thai chilies, halved
4 parchment papers (12”X16”) or banana leaves

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, mix fish sauce, red curry paste, salt and coconut cream together until blended. Stir in shallots, mushrooms, and basil until mixed.

Divide mixture into four batches, and place each batch in the center of a piece of parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper over to make a bag; try to make it as flat as you can so the heat will distribute equally. Lay the bags of mushrooms on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with warm steamed rice.

Pranee’s note: Oyster, button, or Portobello mushrooms would all be great for this recipe, or you can use a combination of them. Wrapping the mushroom mixture in banana leaves and then grilling them creates another depth of taste and aroma.

© 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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You say Pummelo, I say Pomelo, and Thais say ”Som Oh

One of my goals for the New Year is for my blog readers to learn light and easy Thai cooking and some new exotic ingredients. Thai cuisine has been famous for many centuries and I want people to have a more in-depth knowledge of it.

Pomelo, Thai Grapefruit - The Flower Market in Bangkok

One way that I hope I can deepen your culinary skills is simply by showing you some of the techniques that Thais use to handle their ingredients, methods learned from our families, our communities and our ancestors.  I hope the instructions in my video demonstration will help you to open your pomelo.

Pomelos tastes so great by themselves, you don’t need to cook them. I created this simple fun recipe on New Year’s Eve to provide a zing to welcome the year 2011.

Best wishes to you all.

I love pomelo. It is in season around New Year’s time, but you can enjoy it every week to give a zing to your life. There are so many way to create a wow moment with pomelo. My favorite recipe is from Phuket, Thailand, and is made with shrimp, tamarind sauce and caramelized shallots. It is a great dish for teaching my students about the layer of flavors and textures that can be found in a Thai salad.

Yum Som Oh, Pomelo Salad with Crab

For my blog visitors, I think learning to open a pomelo is challenge enough, so I am keeping this recipe simple (which is also how I cooked during this past week). This recipe is prepared like a crab or shrimp cocktail rather than the traditional pomelo salad from Thailand.

Pomelo Salad with Crab

Yum Som Oh Khup Phu

ยำส้มโอกับปู

Serves: 6

1 pomelo (prepared as shown in the video above), about 2 cups
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus 6 cilantro sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup cooked crab meat or cooked shrimp
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 lime
1 tablespoon fish sauce, or more as needed
1/8 teaspoon chili powder

Place pomelo, shallot, cilantro and crab in a medium size salad bowl. Whisk sugar, tamarind concentrate, lime juice, fish sauce and chili powder until well-blended, then pour over pomelo. Fold all of the ingredients together gently with a salad spoon and serve in a nice glass. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Vegetarian option:

Omit crab and use a few pinches of sea salt instead of fish sauce.

© 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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Sticky Rice in a Bamboo Tube, Kao Lam

I have fond memories of sticky rice in a bamboo tube—it looks so cool! At every festival in my village when I was growing up, there was a man who made and sold this Kao Lam. We would eat some at the festival then bring home a few for family members who couldn’t go. It is a perfect take-home food, since it is already packaged in a bamboo tube.

Sticky Rice in a Bamboo Tube, Cambodia

The sticky rice is cooked in a segment of bamboo, the kind that has a thin wall so the heat can penetrate to cook the rice inside the tube. After it is filled with the sticky rice ingredients, the bamboo is plugged with a piece of coconut husk wrapped with banana leaf to keep in the steam for cooking the rice. Then the bamboo tubes are placed over charcoal. When it is done, the outer skin of bamboo is removed and a thin wall left behind to protect the rice inside. All Southeast Asian countries have some version of this, and they are all cooked in a similar way. The photo below is from Cambodia. In Thailand this dish is called Kao Lam; in Malaysia it’s Lemang.

Thai Sticky Rice in Bamboo Sticks in Cambodia

If you like sticky rice with mango, you will like Kao Lam, too. I love the fact that when you peel the bamboo away (see photo below), the powdery fiber in the bamboo tube leaves a sheen. The rice comes out shaped like a stick and looks like it was wrapped in edible paper. The vendor in my village usually made three varieties: white sticky rice, black sticky rice, and white sticky rice with black beans.

How to open the bamboo tube

In America you can find cooked sticky rice that comes straight from Thailand in the frozen food section in Asian markets. But I would rather you try my sticky rice recipe below. I wrap it up in parchment paper, roll it into a cylinder, and bake it. It is delicious, has a very nice texture, and is as satisfying as the original.

During the summer of 2010, I taught Grilled Sticky Rice with Black Bean and Banana Stuffing in a Banana Leaf (Kao Neow Mad) in my Thai Grill class. Organizing my photos from my recent trip to Cambodia led me to this project, a Kao Lam version baked in the oven. It is not easy to cook sticky rice in a bamboo tube—only a few experts from each Thai village know how. Last August I created this adaptation, wrapping and rolling the sticky rice in pieces of parchment paper and then baking them. The results were good. It was easy, and the flavor and texture were satisfying. Then I made a lot of them in small packages and even put some in the freezer. I microwave them or reheat them in the oven and eat them for a protein snack before teaching my classes. In Thailand, most farmers eat sticky rice before working in the rice field.

Baked Sticky Rice and Black Bean Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Kao Neow Yang

Serveings: 8

2 cups Thai sticky rice, soaked in water for 3 hours or overnight, then drained (see note)
¾ cup coconut milk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned black beans, drained
8 (8×8) inch pieces of banana leaves or parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir sticky rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and salt in a large pan over medium heat. Stir until all coconut milk is absorbed. Stir in black beans and fold gently to mix.

Put equal amounts of the sticky rice mixture onto 8 banana leaves. Form the rice into a cylinder about 6″ long and lay it in the center of the leaf so that you have about 1 inch left on either end. Fold the banana leaf in half around the rice, then roll it around the cylinder; fold in both ends and secure them with a toothpick, poking down and then up, or you can twist the ends and tie them. When you are done, each bundle will make a round tube about 6 inches long and 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Grill for 5 minutes on each side until the sticky rice is translucent and cooked, or bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Pranee’s note:

In Thailand, recipes generally use one of two types of rice: jasmine rice or Thai sticky rice. The starch in rice is made up of two components, amylose and amylopectin. Jasmine rice has more amylose than amylopectin, giving it a puffy appearance, whereas Thai sticky rice has more amylopectin than amylose, creating its sticky texture. Both white and purple Thai sticky rice are long-grain rices with a firm grain and become sticky when cooked. They are tropical rices, and different from Japanese, Chinese or Mediterranean (Arborio and Valencia) rices, which have a medium or short grain and grow in temperate climates.

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

 

 

Outer layer of bamboo tube is removed

 

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