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Archive for the ‘Thai Cooking School: How to series’ Category

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

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

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

บวบหอม

บวบหอม – Smooth Luffa – Luffa aegistiaca

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

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

Angled Luffa on the arbor - Angled luffa - Luffa acutangula

บวบเหลี่ยม – Angled Luffa on the trellis – Luffa acutangula

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

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

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

how to peel angled luffa

How to peel angled luffa

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

IMG_0171

Angled luffa looks like a soft cucumber

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

oblige cut is a cutting style for stir-fried luffa

The oblique cutting style is used for stir-fried luffa

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

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

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

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

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

Stir-fried Angle Luffa with Egg

Buab Phad Khai
บวบผัดไข่
Serves: 4

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

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

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 eggs

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

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water or chicken broth

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

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
For more in-depth in Thai ingredients and Hand-on Cooking Class please check out
Pranee’s One day Asian Market Tour & Cooking Class at Pranee’s Thai Kitchen
 

Related Links

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

How to Grow Your Luffa Sponge

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

Roll-Cutting Video

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

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Thai Twist

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to take this occasion to wish you all a very happy holiday season with joy and cheers. I very much appreciate your support in following Pranee’s Thai Kitchen blog and attending my Thai cooking classes. A heartfelt thank you! I hope I can welcome you all one day to cook together at Pranee’s Thai Cooking Studio. In the meantime, I would like to give you a special list of recipes that will hopefully give you some insight and inspiration on how to cook your old and new holiday recipes with Thai ingredients to add a new twist to them. Please follow along to see how some Thai dishes or Thai ingredients can delight your family and friends—and most importantly, you the cook, who will have a fun time in the kitchen giving your holiday meal a Thai twist.

Thai Herbs: Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal and Turmeric

Thai Herbs: Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal and Turmeric

Tom Yum Flavor, Zesty and Spicy

First, I would like to inspire you to think “Thai” and make it part of your cooking by using zesty Thai herbs and tropical flavors either instead of or in addition to your traditional herbs. Western cooking has so many uses for lemon zest; Thai cooking uses Kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass and lime zest in similar ways. When shredded fine, you can add them to practically everything, including stuffing, soup, or cranberry sauce. And when you want to infuse them in a sweet syrup or soup, their essential oils are water-soluble, making it is easy to impart their flavors in boiling liquid. It takes only about 5 minutes for them to achieve their maximum flavor.

Cranberry Sauce with a Touch of Thai Herbs

Thai Herbs: Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaves, Galangal and Turmeric

A few years back I created two recipes that I prepared and gave to friends as a holiday gifts: Pranee’s Cranberry Sauce with Spiced Rum and Thai Herbs and Pranee’s Thai Lime Green Chili Jam (which is especially tasty served alongside an appetizer such as Pranee’s Crab Wonton). It was fun for me and my friends still remember the unique tastes of these two dishes and mention them often.

Crunch with Spring Roll Wrapper

You should also think Thai when you want to ease your cooking. Asian spring roll sheets or lumpia sheets make it easy to prepare large quantities of appetizers. You can wrap just about anything up in them for a quick appetizer or dessert where texture is needed. I often have spring roll sheets in the freezer as part of my emergency ingredients at home. Last week, while I still had some jet lag after returning from Thailand and had little time to cook, I wrapped cooked chicken curry filling in the sheets, deep-fried them (they can also be baked), then served them with cucumber salad and Thai sweet chili sauce. It was a satisfying quick fix.

IMG_9587

Curried Chicken Spring Roll, Cucumber Salad and Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet and Spicy with Sweet and Hot Chili Sauce

Today, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and Thai Sriracha sauce have become staple Thai ingredients in American kitchens. Adding Thai  Sweet Chili Sauce to sauces in place of sugar or honey adds more complex flavors. And if you want to spice anything up, Sriracha sauce can do the magic by just adding a drop or two to your holiday sauce or dressing. Having these two sauces at home can also provide a nice taste balance in an instant.The Thai flavor profile is sweet, sour, salt, salty and spicy. I often balance the Chili Sauce (sweet) and Sriracha (hot) sauces together with a dash of fish sauce, a splash of lime juice and a touch of cilantro. Soon all of the flavors are harmonized, and provide a perfect dipping sauce for everything—including leftover turkey. Sweet Chile Sauce also makes a great base for a salad dressing. I hope you will enjoy my recipe with a modern twist: Sweet Chili Vinaigrette.

Thai Sweet Chili Vinaigrete

Thai Sweet Chili Vinaigrette

Coconut Love

Finally, try giving some Thai flavor to your desserts. A few years ago I was inspired by Russian Tea Cakes to develop a recipe for Coconut Tea Cakes. The Thai version made a nice surprise for a friend who discovered the coconut texture and flavor after assuming from their looks that she was going to bite into a traditional Russian tea cake cookie. Another dessert to try if you have a surplus of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes is to substitute them for mung beans to make a delectable Thai Coconut Custard.

coconut tea cake

Coconut Tea Cakes and Other Treats

I hope you have a great time preparing meals with a little Thai twist during the holiday season. Warmest wishes from my Thai kitchen.

Pranee

Gift Certificate is Available
Gift Certificate for Thai Cooking Lesson

Gift Certificate for Thai Cooking Lesson

 

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
 

Related Link:

What’s for breakfast?

Banana Pancake Recipe : praneesthaikitchen.com

Vietnamese Coffee Recipe : praneesthaikitchen.com

Rice Soup : praneesthaikitchen.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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Heavenly Dessert

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

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

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

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

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

Kanom Mor Gaeng

Kanom Mor Gaeng Tua

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

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

Steamed Mung Beans

Cooked Split Mung Beans

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

Run egg, sugar batter through a sieve

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

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

cook mung bean custard on low heat for 5 minutes

Cook mung bean custard on low heat for 5 minutes

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

photo 4

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

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

Freshly Baked Khanom Mor Geng - ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Freshly Baked Khanom Mor Geng

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

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans – ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

Khanom Mo Gaeng

ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Serves 8 to 16

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 45 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 1/2 cups evaporated cane sugar

6 eggs, duck eggs preferred

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Pandan leaf

1 1/2 cups coconut cream

2 cups steamed mung beans

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

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

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

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

© 2015  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
Related Links:
How to Cook Peeled Split Mung Bean (praneesthaikitchen.com)
Mung Bean (wikipedia)
Fried Shallots (https://youtu.be/5LTCo3SRWLk)
 
 

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Summery Curry 

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

Phuket Pineapple

Phuket Pineapple

Pineapple has a nickname: “A Thousand Eyes Fruit”

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

Ripe Phuket Pineapple

Ripe Phuket Pineapple

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

Remove Pineapple Eyes in Diagonal Lines

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

Cutting a half of Pineapple into wedges

Cutting a Half of Pineapple into Wedges

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

Summery Thai Curry

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

Gaeng Klue Sapparod

Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple and Cilantro

GEANG KUE SAPPAROD

แกงคั่วสับปะรด

Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple and Cilantro

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

Serves 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons red curry paste

1 cup coconut milk, divided

½ cup water

½ cup fresh or canned crushed pineapple with juice

1/3 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks

1 tablespoon sugar

3 Kaffir lime leaves

16 shrimp, peeled and deveined

¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

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

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

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

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

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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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Young Galangal – Kha Oon – ข่าอ่อน

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

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Tender Stems and Leaves of Young Galangal Plant

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

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

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Young Galangal and Tender Stem – ข่าอ่อน-หน่อข่าอ่อน

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

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

Galangal Plant - ต้นข่า

Galangal Plant – ต้นข่า

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

Young Galangal and Tender Stem

Young Galangal and Tender Stem

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

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

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

My mom removing some hard fibrous leave for young leave

My Mom Removing Some Hard Fibrous Leaves for Young Leaves

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

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

Tender Galangal Stem and Banana Stem Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Farm Young Galangal – Kha Oon 

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