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Archive for the ‘Pranee’s Tips & Techniques’ 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.

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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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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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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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From Pod to Paste

Tamarind Fruit – Makham มะขาม

When I visited my village last year, I took my usual leisurely walk around Dern Len. As I walked past my relative’s home, I saw the large tamarind tree that I played underneath with friends when we were young and used as shelter from the hot sun. The four-stories-high tamarind tree still stands, timeless in their yard. I was lucky to see my relatives as well—we haven’t seen each other for many years. I greeted them and we sat down to catch up, and observed once again the yearly family ritual of preparing tamarind chunks under the tree. With everyone’s permission and kindness, I am able to share stories and photos with you today. This is a real snapshot of the Thai-food-ways that are at the heart of my Thai village where Thai culinary tradition is still practiced sustainably.

IMG_0214

Tamarind Tree More Than 50 Years Old

Tamarind pods dry and mature on the tree, then are removed or shaken to fall on the ground. After collecting many baskets of the dried pods, we gather around the table and with many hands we get enough tamarind chunks to last until the next harvest a year away. Often the surplus is bagged and sold, or given to close family members.

Step-by-Step: How to Prepare Tamarind Pod

Tamarind pods dry and mature on the tree until the owner of the tree can find an expert tree climber. Typically the climber will stand on the branches or hold them and shake them until the pods fall onto the ground which is lined with nets or fabric.

removing tamarind pod, vein and seed

Removing Tamarind Pod, Veins and Seeds

After the tamarind pods are collected, people get together to remove the pods, veins, and seeds and pack the tamarind chunks into a package, ready to use in the kitchen. My cousin will show you step-by-step how to open a tamarind pod.

IMG_0217

First Press with Thumbs to Break the Pod

First she holds it with two hands, then uses both thumbs to press the pod until it cracks.

Then remove the pod

Then Remove the Outer Shell of the Pod…

Second, she removes the outer shell of the pod.

IMG_0228

and the Fibrous Veins

Third, she remove the veins that cover the tamarind flesh.

IMG_0240

Next, Insert a Narrow, Small, Sharp Knife into the Flesh

Fourth, holding the tamarind with one hand, use the other hand poke a paring knife with a sharp point into the bean section.

IMG_0241

Push the Hole Open Wide Enough to Get the Seed Out

Finally, use the knife to widen the hole and squeeze out the seed. Repeat until all the seeds are removed.

Seedless Tamarind Chunk is sundry in the bamboo tray

Sun-dry Seedless Tamarind Chunks on a Bamboo Tray

Seedless tamarind chunks sun-dry on bamboo trays for a few days. This gives them a longer shelf life.

IMG_0252

Tamarind in a 1/2 Kilogram Package

Then it is packed into a half-kilogram bag.

The moisture content in tamarind paste is different from tree to tree, and from season to season. The tamarind above is dryer than most you will find in the grocery store.

Now that you understand step-by-step how tamarind chunks are removed from the pods, read my previous post on how to make ready-to-use tamarind concentrate. It explains and illustrates how to intuitively use tamarind as a sour agent in various dishes.

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

Tamarind Pod, Tamarind Paste and a Jar of Tamarind Concentrate

How to Make Ready-to Use Tamarind Concentrate (praneesthaikitchen.com)

Tamarind Soda

Pranee’s Tamarind Syrup, Tamarind-Honey Tea, Tamarind Soda Recipes (praneesthaikitchen.com)

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Happy Holidays with Aloha

Though I am Thai, and live mostly in Seattle with frequent visits to Thailand, I enjoy visiting Hawaii during the holiday seasons for an escape to warmer weather. In Hawaii, “aloha” is as commonly heard as Sawatdeeสวัสดี is in Thailand. Aloha, however, has many more meanings and today it is appropriate to choose this one: “affection, peace, compassion and mercy.” I would like to take this opportunity to wish you the best of the Holiday Season with Aloha. Happy Holidays to you all. 

Aloha for this Holiday Seasons

Aloha for this Holiday Season

When it comes to Hawaiian fruit, I have a deep love for passion fruit- Saowarod – เสาวรส – or as it is known in the Hawaiian language, Lilikoi. Hopefully this blog will help you learn about passion fruit and how I enjoy them, and give you a chance to share the ways you enjoy passion fruit.

Passion fruit is available in tropical areas such as Hawaii, South America and Southeast Asia. It has a perfect sour and sweet lemony taste similar to the citrus fragrance, and there are seeds and juice in the yellow or purple shell. Its taste and aroma will brighten your day. It brightens every day for me in this land that is abundant with passion fruit.

Kona Farmer Market

Kona Farmers Market, Near Ali’i Road

My first day in Hawaii I always go to the farmers market or fruit stands for fresh local fruits. This time I bought enough fruit to last the entire trip. Fortunately, as a tourist staying in a hotel room with a small refrigerator, I came up with a simple breakfast idea that allowed me to enjoy passion fruit every day. The method is very easy, with no cooking required. 

Passion Fruit at Kona Farmer Market

Passion Fruit at Kona Farmer Market

There are are two types of passion fruit: purple and yellow. The Thai yellow variety is more common here, and you can purchase as many as you would like as it travels well and makes a good instant juice. All you need to eat it is a pocket knife, a plastic spoon, and a napkin.

Step-by-Step How to Open Passion Fruit

IMG_0400

Cutting into the Passion Fruit

Before cutting the top as show above, you can cut off a small part of the bottom to make a platform for the fruit to stand on like shown in the third picture below. Then holding the fruit tight with one hand, cut around the stem end to create an opening large enough for the spoon. I came up with this method for eating fresh passion fruit because it is not as messy as cutting one in half.

IMG_0403

Insert the Spoon and Loosen All Around the Cell Wall a Few Times

Insert the spoon close to the inner shell and loosen the cell wall as you turn the fruit in a circular motion a few times. This technique will break up the fiber, and the inside becomes nice saucy seeds and juice.

IMG_0406

Passion Fruit Waiting for you to Enjoy the Seeds and Juice

Now the fruit can sit waiting for you at the breakfast table. You can enjoy it like a fruit juice, and the seeds are delicious and a great source of fiber and vitamin C.

IMG_0697

Passion Fruit and Greek Yogurt

My favorite way to enjoy passion fruit is to pour it on my Greek yogurt. This make a perfect breakfast or a snack during the day.

I hope you will enjoy passion fruit as much as I do and find different ways to enjoy it. Please share your experiences.

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

Related Photos from Pranee’s Photo Stock

 More photos of passion fruit

Passion Fruit Flower

Passion Fruit Flower in Nicaragua

Passion Fruit and Flowers at different stages

Passion Fruit and Flowers at Different Stages – Nicaragua

Related Link How to Eat Passion Fruit (www.ehow.com)

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A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Gelle, Sri Lanka

Gelle, Sri Lanka

The time machine has been playing tricks on me and preventing me from keeping you posted on where I have been and what I have been cooking since January. During part of that time I was traveling across the South China Sea and Andaman Sea on the MS Amsterdam, a Holland America Line cruise ship  (the 2014 Grand World Voyage), as a guest chef teaching Thai culinary classes. The ship traveled around the world and I joined the ship from Manila to Hong Kong, Singapore, Phuket and Sri Lanka. My full-month culinary experience on board the ship, plus my travels around Southeast and Central Asia, and the opportunity to explore the cuisine and culture of Sri Lanka were wonderful adventures which I will share with you at a later time.

The rest of the time here in Seattle I have been teaching, tasting delicious Thai foods around Seattle,  and keeping busy with my family and Seattle’s Thai community. Please visit my I Love Thai Cooking Facebook page, which I update often with photos and news. For the remainder of this year, I hope to share short recipes and techniques on my Pranee’s Thai Kitchen blog until I finally catch up with everything.

I hope you enjoy my recipe for Thai Egg Salad- ยำไข่ต้ม

Unpretentious

Summer in Seattle for me is about living a carefree life style, exploring nature and enjoying outdoor activities. Dining and entertaining are still important to me, but I try to stick with a nutritious and delicious cooking style that fits my summer style. The recipe I am sharing today reflects my cooking style at this time a year.

Hard-Boiled Eggs Salads - Yum Khai Tom

Hard-Boiled Egg Salad – Yum Khai Tom

When I had a potluck and Thai community gathering to attend one Sunday, I took the simple approach of deciding to prepare an impromptu dish using only those ingredients that I already had in my fridge or freezer, typically staple ingredients that one must have on daily basis. This hard-boiled egg recipe came naturally to mind. Eggs are a soul food for everyone, anywhere and anytime—breakfast, lunch or dinner. For me this week, I have eaten eggs at least one meal each day. I am proud to share this simple dish with friends and I hope you too will find this recipe suitable for your family, or to take to a party with ease. They are a food prepared with heart and nourishing value and the best fresh ingredients possible. Delicious, nutritious and unpretentious.

How to Prepare the Hard-Boiled Eggs – Kai Tom – ไข่ต้ม

Place 13 eggs (one more than you need in order to provide one for testing and tasting) in the bottom of a large pot; add enough water to cover them, plus two inches. Bring to a boil on high heat and then immediately lower heat to medium. Set a timer for 6 to 8 minutes depending how firm you want the egg. After 6 minutes, use one egg as a tester. Rinse the egg with cold water and peel to see how it looks inside. If the center is cooked enough for you, remove the pot from the heat, pour out the hot water, and rinse the eggs with cold water. Let them cool down completely—at least 30 minutes or longer. Once cooled, roll the eggs gently to crack and remove the shell. I learned over time that using older eggs or adding a splash of vinegar to the water makes the shells easier to peel.

The dressing below also works well with fried eggs. See Pranee’s favorite fried egg technique – Thai Fried Egg Kai Dao – ไข่ดาว

Thai Egg Salad

Yum Kai Tom

ยำไข่ต้ม

The hard-boiled eggs, dressing, and garnish can be made ahead of time and kept in separate containers until ready to use. It will only take about 15 minutes to cut the eggs and place them on the tray, randomly sprinkle sauce, and garnish the top. Then wait and see how many people say “Wow.”

12 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 fresh Thai chilis–red or green, optional
2 large shallots, minced
3 tablespoons fish sauce
5 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon roasted red chili paste, aka chili jam
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves
 

Place cut, hard-boiled eggs on a deviled egg platter or a plate.

Make egg salad dressing by combining shallots, fish sauce, lime juice, roasted red chili paste and sugar.

Use a small spoon to spread sauce equally over each egg yolk. Garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
Related Link
 
Thai Fried Egg (praneesthaikitchen.com)
 

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From Jade, to Mantis, to Celadon Green

Pandan Sweet Sticky Rice – ข้าวเหนียวแก้วใบเตย – Kao Neow Kaew Bai Toey

Kao Neow Kaew Bai Toey – Sweet sticky rice, coconut milk and sugar with pandan green color and flavor

Many Southeast Asian cultures have their own stories and culinary love affair with the liquid green of jade, the alluring fragrance of a wild flower, and the sweet, nutty and vanilla taste that comes from pandan leaf or Bai Toey, a member of the screwpine family of plants. I have stories of my own about helping my mom and three aunts prepare dessert each morning in order to supply the villagers’ demands for Thai desserts for breakfast at the local coffee shop. That was a long while ago, but today in Seattle I still practice my culinary heritage by adding this jade green water extract to many foods that I cook. No matter how far people are from their homeland, or how long they have been gone, the Thai culinary tradition of using Bai Toey – ใบเตย – is staying alive among those native to the cuisine. Pandan leaf, or Bai Toey, is known in Vietnam as La Due, and in Malaysia as Kaitha, to mention a few.

Pandan leaves give our kitchens a sweet, alluring fragrance, and the lingering of a sensational taste. Don’t be surprised by its deep green grass aroma when it is in its fresh state. When combined with palm sugar and coconut milk, or when cooked, it leaves behind an amazing taste that can surprise you with the excitement of a new culinary discovery. Fortunately, green pandan leaves are available at a reasonable price, either fresh or frozen, at Asian markets, so there is no need to miss out on this culinary tradition.

Adding green pandan extract to tapioca pearl – coconut pudding

Before you go any further, I hope you have a chance to first read my blog post on  Pandanus leaf – Bai Toey from years ago. It includes a Pandan-Jasmine Tea recipe and will give you an insight into Bai Toey and the ways it imparts its taste, aroma and color into Thai desserts and beyond. For my Thai Street Food series of classes, I prepared enough pandan custard with brioche for myself and the class, and indulged myself for breakfast. But it is not yet time for me to share the pandan custard recipe, nor other uses for the leaves. Today’s post will simply focus on the crucial step of making of green pandan water -น้ำใบเตย – Nam Bai Toey, an essential ingredient in many Thai desserts.

Exotic Green from Southeast Asia

The food photos above and below are from my own collection over the years, mostly from my visits to Thailand. The foods came from street foods venders, coffee shops, or my village market. The green color in all of them is from pandan water. When cooked, the jade green color can change to celadon or mantis green—how deep a green depends on the amount of leaves used.

IMG_0081

Steamed layer rice cake – ขนมชั้น – Khanom Chan

Khanom Chan – Layered steamed rice cake. Its ingredients are rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and green pandan water

pandan custard -สังขยาใบเตย- Sangkaya Bai Toey

Pandan custard -สังขยาใบเตย- Sangkaya Bai Toey

Pandan custard -สังขยาใบเตย- Sangkaya Bai Toey is a traditional custard that is used like a spread or dip.

ปาท่องโก๋ สังขยา

ปาท่องโก๋ สังขยาใบเตย – Chinese Doughnut with Pandan Custard

Pandan custard served for dipping with Chinese doughnuts – pla Tong go – ปาท่องโก๋ – or with cut soft white bread

Pandan Tapioca Pearl Cake - Khanom Saku

Pandan Tapioca Pearl Cake – Khanom Yok Manee – ขนมหยกมณี- Jade Gemstone

Another ancient Thai dessert, Pandan Tapioca Pearl Cake, it’s name is  Jade Gemstone – ขนมหยกมณี  – Khanom Yok Manee

Step by Step: How to Make Pandan Water, น้ำใบเตย – Pandan Extract Recipe

In Seattle, pandan leaf – bai toey – is available fresh or frozen at Asian Markets and comes in a package of six leaves. For green food coloring, I recommend that you use all six leaves and freeze any extra juice—the greener the better. I have been making many Thai desserts the last few months and have been using a lot of pandan leaves. For some desserts, the complete flavor profile is very dependent on the pandan flavor. One of these is sungkaya – Thai custard; I have added my favorite pandan custard – Sungkaya Bai Toey – to my Thai Street Food class.

Clean, dry and trim four pandan leaves. Cut each leaf into three pieces, then layer them in a pile.

pandan leaf

Layer all leaves together and cut into thin shreds

Then thinly slice pandan leaves.

IMG_1603

Place in mortar and pound with pestle

Place shredded pandan leaves into a mortar.

pound until it for a paste

Pound until it form a paste

Pound the pandan leaves for about two minutes, until they form a paste.

green pandan water

Stir in water

Stir in 5 tablespoons water.

pandan water

Green pandan water – น้ำใบเตย – Nam Bai Toey

Yields 1/4 cup green pandan water

The pandan water is ready for any recipe that calls for green pandan extract.

Alternative method: Place shredded pandan leaves and 1/4 cup water into a blender and blend for 30 seconds; strain, then discard the pulp.

Tips & Techniques. For a green pandan water concentrate, let the pandan water sit for 15 minutes. About two tablespoons of green concentrate will sit on the bottom. You may use just this portion.

The best way to make pandan water ahead of time or to preserve pandan leaves is to preserve the shredded pandan leaf in water and freeze the water and leaves together; the second best method is to make the green pandan extract and freeze it. When the whole leaves are frozen by themselves, it is easy for them to get a freezer burn or to dry out too quickly and lose their green color. When that happens I use the leaves for tea instead. Please see link below for my Pandan-Jasmine Tea Recipe.

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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Happy as a Clam in a Lemongrass Broth

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

Tom Takrai Hoy

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

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

Baan Keang Lae Seafood

Baan Keang Lae Seafood

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

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

ต้มตะไคร้ – Tom Takrai  

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

Lemongrass Clam Soup

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

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

Steamer Clam in Lemongrass Broth

Thai-style Steamed Clams with Lemongrass

Thai Steamed Clam with Lemongrass

Hoi Tom Takrai

หอยต้มตะไคร้

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

Serves: 1

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

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

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

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

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Garlic Chives, Herb Essentials

In Seattle, it is the re-sprouting of garlic chives from the ground that tells me every year that spring is here. By April, I am enjoying my first harvest of garlic chives. Growing up with a rich Thai-Chinese heritage, garlic chives were always present in my family kitchen. We call it Gui Chai -กุยช่าย. Also known as Chinese chives, allium tuberosum is native to China and Japan, and widespread throughout Southeast Asia. It is one of the many herbs that I enjoy growing in Seattle. It greets early spring every year around April, and in the fall, around September, the leaves die off. In warm climates like Thailand my family enjoys its long, flat green leaves all year round simply by cutting off a clump of chive stalks with a knife run close to the ground; two weeks later it will have grown up again. I can tell you from experience that garlic chives are easy to grow and delightful to have in your garden. A little bit of fresh garlic chives in your cooking will go a long way to providing an essential flavor of Southeast Asia.

Garlic Chives - Kui Chai-กุยช่าย

Garlic Chive – Kui Chai -กุยช่าย

One of my projects last summer was growing garlic chives from local Ed Hume Seeds for this post

Garlic chives are easy to grow from seeds. They like to grow in a cluster,
so I sowed 10 to 15 seeds next to each other.

I love the fact that growing a few clusters of garlic chives inspired me to cook more with them. While waiting for one plant to re-sprout after cutting, I would cut a second one that had completely re-sprouted. The fresher the garlic chives, the sweeter and less pungent they are. They taste more like garlic than regular chives, and not at all like green onions. Don’t reject the pungent aroma of fresh garlic chives—after cooking they have a sweet and complex flavor with a delightful fragrance.

Garlic chives are essential in Southeast Asian cuisine. In Thailand, they are widely used in stir-fries, dumpling fillings, rice pancakes, added to soups, as one stalk in a fresh noodle roll, and, most importantly, they are inseparable from the renowned Phad Thai noodles. But they are important in other cuisines as well. Recently, at Hue Ky Mi Gai restaurant in Seattle, a simple chicken broth with a few strands of garlic chives caught me by surprise. I was amazed at how much the garlic chives in a simple good broth enhanced the food experience of the Vietnamese cuisine.

Classic Garlic Chives Dishes in Thai Cuisine

For this post I will focus on garlic chives and how we use them in dishes, and not talk about possible substitutions. It is the essential flavor from this long, green, flat-leaved herb that completes the taste and gives some classic dishes the flavor profiles that make them stand out in world cuisine.

Phad Thai

Phad Thai at May's Restaurant

Bean sprouts, lime, banana blossom, garlic chives, ground roasted peanuts and chili powder are classic condiments for Phad Thai

Garlic chives play a more important role in Phad Thai than non-Thais could imagine. It is a common fact in Thailand that we use garlic chives for Phad Thai and have done so since Phad Thai’s inception less than a hundred years ago. In a Phad Thai dish there is a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. The incredible flavors of sweet from palm sugar, sour from tamarind, salty from fish sauce and spicy from chili are combined with one more element—bitter from garlic chives. Together they build a complex and memorable flavor profile.

Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts and Tofu with Garlic Chives

bean sprout, tofu and garlic chive

Bean sprouts, tofu and garlic chives

Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts and Tofu with Garlic Chives – Phad Tao Gua Tao Nge Phuket- ผัดถั่วงอกกับเต้าหู้ภูเก็ต

Mung bean sprouts, tofu and garlic chives are classics for stir-frying. It is amazing to also see these same three ingredients in Phad Thai.

Khanom Gui Chai – ขนมกุยช่าย

garlic chives dumpling

Garlic Chives Dumplings – Khanom Gui Chai – ขนมกุยช่าย

Khanom Gui Chai – ขนมกุยช่าย – is a street food and a snack that is very popular throughout Thailand. My photo above is from the floating market in Thailand where many Thai-Chinese families sells their specialties to locals. Garlic chives are stir-fried with soy sauce for a filling and the dumpling is steamed and fried. Before serving, a little bit of dark and light soy sauce is added as seasoning.

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

Banana Tender Stems

Banana Tender Stems

Banana Stemsหยวกกล้วย – are considered a vegetable in Thai cuisine.  They are available everyday at wet markets and open-air-markets if you don’t have your own banana tree growing in your backyard or can’t get them from the nearby forest. Actually, the banana tree is not a tree at all. It is a giant herbaceous plant, with large leaves that closely roll up one over the other. Together they look like a trunk, but they are leaves from underground stems and they form only an “apparent trunk. Villagers in Thailand and many countries in South and Southeast Asia consider the tender core of the banana stems, the apparent trunk,  a valuable nutritious vegetable. In Thai we call them, หยวกกล้วย – Yuak Kluey – Banana Stems. Each leaf can be peeled off. As you get closed to the center, you will find the most tender leave.

Banana stem cut crosswise

Banana stem cut crosswise

Banana leaves closely rolled up one over the other. This is a cut from a five-month-old banana apparent trunk. Banana trees usually have about 15 to 20 leaves.

Just like corn is used in the United States for both human and animal food, all parts of the banana plant—leaves, banana, banana skin, and roots—have minerals, vitamins, and fat. Thai farmers feed all parts of the banana to their pigs and farm animals. When I was in high school I had a pair of piglets. On the weekends I chopped down banana stems, cooked them with broken rice, and let them stew into a porridge before feeding them to the pigs. Farmers also mix chopped banana stems with other grasses during dry season for cows, goats and cattle—there are plenty of bananas in Southeast Asia. Banana stems are one-third edible vegetation and two-thirds water, but have a good amount of protein and fat plus minerals and vitamins. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, phosphorus, B6 and calcium, as good as the banana fruit itself. The stems are considered food in everyday cooking in Asia and Southeast Asia.

Banana Tree Trunks

Banana Tree Trunks

On Phuket Island, there are two varieties of bananas that have stems considered excellent for cooking. They are Kluey Nam Wah – กล้วยน้ำว้า – which are similar to apple bananas, and  gluey pa – กล้วยป่า – wild bananas that are best for their delicious stems. In Phuket, it is typical for mountain- and hill-sides to be covered with wild bananas. The best time to harvest quality banana stems for cooking is when they are about 3 to 4 months old, before the tree begins to flower and the core is still tender.

Phuket Tom Som - Phuket Sour Soup with Wild Vegetable

Phuket Tom Som – Phuket Sour Soup with Wild Vegetable

After banana stems are cooked, the texture is juicy, crunchy, and squishy, and the taste is sweet, tart, and bitter, plus their air pockets absorb the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish. I can’t compare the flavor of banana stems with anything else, but I can say that the texture and taste give me the same satisfaction as when I bite into Belgian endive. I would like to encourage you to try banana stems when you have a chance. If I were a banana stem, I would say that I am incredible, and that my taste, texture and nutritional value make me stand out with great personality. The dish that presents me is always memorable because of the incredible me!

Banana Stems

Add sliced banana stems to sweet and sour vegetable soup

One morning last month I found my mom, sister, and sister in-law prepping and cooking together in the kitchen. I immediately grasped my camera and, trying not to interrupt everyone in the middle of the process, I took a snapshot of a real life in my Thai family kitchen. This is a typical vegetable soup of Phuket; it has been part of my mom’s new low fat, low sodium diet since she returned from the hospital. For this post, I will just highlight the banana stems themselves without adding a recipe in order to demystify the ingredients and cutting techniques, and help you to understand the amazing beauty of banana stems in Southern Thai cooking. I was lucky that my family prepared banana stems two ways while I was there, one for soup and another for sour curry. I hope you enjoy a real cooking show from my mom’s kitchen.

Step-by-Step How to Prepare Banana Stems for Soup

discard the tough outer layer of banana stem

Discard the tough outer layer of the banana stem

After purchasing the banana stems from the market, my mom removed the tough outer layer to get to the tender part.

Preparing banana stems for making the soup

Preparing banana stems for making soup

Preparing banana stems for making the soup

Preparing banana stems for making soup

Use your  index finger to remove the soft fiber strand or stringing.

soak sliced banana stem in cold salted water or lime water

Soak sliced banana stems in cold salted water or in lime water

Soak sliced banana stem in a cold salted water or lime water for a short or long period of time, then it is ready to incorporate into a soup or stew.

Step-by-Step How to Prepare Banana Stems for Curry

Cut into one a half inch pieces

Cut into one and a half-inch pieces

Cut into pieces about one and a half-inches in length.

Cut Banana Stem in four pieces

Cut banana stem in four pieces

Then cut each piece lengthwise into four pieces as shown in the photo above.

banana stems

Soak cut banana stems in cold salted water or lime water

Keep the stems fresh and prevent browning by putting them in cold water with salt or lime juice, about 1 teaspoon salt or the juice of 1/2 lime for 4 cups water.

Sour Curry with Fish and Banana Stem

Gaeng Som Pla Yuak Kleuy – Sour Curry with Fish and Banana Stems

My sister cooked  Gaeng Som Pla Yuak Kluey, Sour Curry with Fish and Banana Stems.

Tips and Techniques for Cooking with Banana Stems

After you learn how to prepare the banana stems step-by-step, now you need to encourage yourself to incorporate banana stems into these incredible dishes. Here are my favorites: Phuket Tom Som (Phuket Sweet and Sour Vegetable Soup Recipe), Gaeng Som Moo Sam Chan (Surathani Pork Belly Sour Curry), Gaeng Yuak (Northern Thai Curry with Chicken, Gaeng Kati Gai (Thai curry Chicken with Coconut Milk). I would also not hesitate to try them in Tom Kha Gai.

Buying and storing. Buy the freshest banana stems and cook within a day; with exposure to light and air they will keep growing and get tougher. One can store them in the refrigerator for a day or two, but I prefer to cook them as soon as I can to enjoy the best taste. The cooking time for banana stems is about 3 to 5 minutes. Keep them soaked in cold water with salt and lime juice until you are ready to cook.

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

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Quail Eggs, Please

ไข่นกกระทาครับ

Quail Egg - ไข่นกกระทา

Quail Egg – ไข่นกกระทา – Khai Nok Krata

When I was in Phuket last month, on my way to Talad nad – ตลาดนัด – an open air market, my friend’s son asked me to get him some hard-boiled quail eggs please: “Khai Nok Krata Krub” -ไข่นกกระทาครับ. He said it with such expectation, his simple request tickled my fond memory of this petite egg. I loved quail eggs when I was young, just like any Thai kid. On my way back from the Talad Nad, I gave him a bag of a dozen hard-boiled quail eggs. I was glad to find them, afraid that if I had not he might be disappointed. He rolled the egg on the table until its thin shell cracked all around, then pinched the shell to break it and remove it. He popped the whole egg in his mouth with delight. It is a healthy choice for a snack. I could not help but taste one myself when he asked to share with me. I enjoyed the delicious egg with its rich, creamy, mouthful of flavor. Welcome home!

Cook and learn

Cook and learn

Quail eggs are usually served in one of two basic ways: as a 3- to 4-minute hard-boiled egg, or as a sunny side up fried egg. And now you are about to learn to fry quail eggs Thai style. Please enjoy the photos showing a Thai cooking style from a southern Thai fishing village. They are from my trip to Surat Thani in 2011. This technique has a special name: “Khanom Krok Khai Nok Krata” – fried quail eggs in a Khanom Krok Pan, which is similar to a pancake puff or aebleskiver pan. This group of friends was preparing their own healthy snacks on the weekend from chicken eggs and quail eggs in a Khanom Krok pan. They were teaching and learning from each other. I hope this will inspire you to try it at home.

Quail egg cook in Khanom Krok Pan

Quail eggs cook in Khanom Krok Pan

Fried Quail Egg Thai Style

Khanom Krok Khai Nok Krata

ขนมครกไข่นกกระทา

Fried Quai eggs in Khanom Krok pan or ebleskiver

Fried quail eggs in Khanom Krok or aebleskiver pan.

Quail eggs are a delicacy in Western Europe and North America, but in Southeast Asia, quail eggs are abundant and inexpensive. At Talad Nad wet market, you can find fresh quail eggs at the egg vendors, and at the snack vendor you will often find fried or hard-boiled quail eggs ready for you to enjoy. In the Seattle area, fresh quail eggs are available at Asian markets such as Viet Wah or Uwajimaya for $2 a dozen. You can also find them at the Pike Place Market Creamery where a package of 1o eggs from California are $4.75. At University Seafood and Poultry, Washington quail eggs are $6.98 for a pack of 10 eggs.

Yield 10

1 tablespoon cooking oil
10 quail eggs
Maggi sauce and Sriracha sauce

Heat a Khanom Krok pan or Ebleskiver pan on medium-high heat. Use a heat-proof pastry brush to brush the pan with a generous amount of oil. When the pan is hot, crack quail eggs and drop one egg into each hemispherical indentation. Let it cook until the bottom of the egg is crispy, the egg white is cooked, and the egg york is slightly cooked, about 3 minutes. Cook longer if you wish the yolk cooked more. Remove the egg with a metal spoon that fits the size of the indentation. Repeat the cooking until all the eggs are done. Serve with Maggi or Sriracha sauce; use one or two drops of each per egg.

Pranee’s note:  In some cultures, slightly raw quail eggs are preferred. These basic fried quail eggs can be a snack, or incorporated into a fried egg salad, or a side dish to a meal.

© 2013  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
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How to Cook Peeled Split Mung Beans

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

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

split muang bean

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

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

Split mung bean soaking in water

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

Split mung bean in a steamer

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

Steamed split mung beans

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

Steamed Peeled Split Mung Beans

Tua Keow Lawh Puak Nuang

ถั่วเขียวเลาะเปลือกนึ่ง

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

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

1 cup peeled split mung beans

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

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

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

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

© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

I Love Thai cooking

Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.

Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 

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Add Zing to Your Limeade

Ginger Limeade

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

Lime – มะนาว

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

น้ำเชื่อมขิง – Ginger Simple Syrup

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

Ginger Limeade

Nam Manoa Khing

น้ำมะนาวขิง

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

Serves: 6

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

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

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

Pranee’s note: 

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

© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking 
 Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .
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Grilled Bok Choy for Minimalist Cooking

Bok Choy – ผักกาดใบ

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

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

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

Grilled bok choy as a side dish

A perforated grill pan is ideal for grilling vegetables or seafood

Technique

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

Grilled bok choy, grilled beef and steamed jasmine rice

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

Grilled Bok Choy

ผักกาดใบย่าง

Pak Gard Bai Yang

Serves: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Home Sweet Home Cooking

I am happy to be home again. I have been away for two weeks, first to New York City to attend the International Association of Culinary Professionals 34th annual conference. The theme this year was The Fashion of Foods. After the conference, I took a train ride down to Washington DC. It was an incredible trip. I learned so much from the many workshops I attended related to foods, cocktails and writing, and had a chance to reconnect with many colleagues in the culinary world. And, most importantly, I had a chance to check out the local food scenes, including five Thai restaurants in the New York area. I plan to share my restaurant reviews and photos with you soon.

Beautiful spring is finally here

As much as I enjoyed eating out and tasting foods while on my trip, I am so ready for home cooking and something healthier. So I have set aside my fine dining experiences in favor of my down-to-earth, easy, and healthy, with a clean and refreshing flavor, steamed rice, fried organic egg, and stir-fried local vegetable. I am happy and content to just eat these for now.

My every week purchase – Swiss chard from the farmers market

I love fresh vegetables from the farmers market. I love to stir-fry them with garlic and fine sea salt.

Please see my Stir-fried Choy Sum Recipe

My first Saturday back home I visited the University District Farmers Market and stocked up with the freshest vegetables and salad greens. I routinely purchase at least three kinds of vegetables at the market. They are so fresh that they keep well in the fridge and often farmers will  give a discount for buying two bunches of vegetables that cost the same price.

I cook my eggs the way many Thai like their eggs cooked – a crispy egg white with the egg yolk just set, as in the photo below. We say it is like “Yang Matoom” – cooked just enough so that the yolk is “sticky” like the sap from the bael fruit tree. I hope you can enjoy this quick, easy and low-fat fried egg recipe! This is a typical fried egg that I have for lunch almost everyday. With a few drop of fish sauce from prik nam pla and warm steamed jasmine rice, I feel so at home now.

Fried egg Thai style

Thai Fried Egg

Kai Dao

ไข่ดาว

My Thai family never worries about the amount of oil used to prepare fried eggs – Kai Dao. We pour just enough oil into the pan to fry the egg, about 3 tablespoons. Some of the oil will be left in the pan after the egg is cooked. But for myself and my health conscious fans, a tradeoff for this recipe is to use a well-seasoned wok or cast iron pan to get a very crispy texture to the egg. I am happy to have just one side crispy instead of both.

This Kai Dao can be served with steamed jasmine rice, or any Thai fried rice dishes, with just a few drops of fish sauce or soy sauce on the egg, and served along with a stir-fried vegetable.

Serves 1

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 egg
 
Heat a well-seasoned wok or cast iron skillet on high heat. Pour in the oil and tilt the pan to cover the whole surface with oil. Then crack one egg and place it in the center. Fry on high heat until the bottom is crispy and golden brown to your liking, about 30 to 40 seconds. Then reduce the heat to medium and cover with a glass lid; cook until the egg white is cooked and the egg yolk is done to your liking, about 30 to 40 seconds. Remove and serve.
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
 

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The Old Day & The New Way

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

Stir-fried fresh grated coconut with Phuket red curry paste

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

Pranee’s Spicy Thai Coconut Chips

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

Spicy Thai Coconut Chip

Maprow Krop Rod Ped 

มะพร้าวกรอบรสเผ็ดเปรี้ยวสไตล์ไทย

slice fresh coconut with peeler

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

fresh coconut chips

Place coconut chips in a baking sheet.

mix with spicy, salty, sour and sweet

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

Spicy Thai Coconut Chips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Without a Rice Cooker

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

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

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

About the recipe

Culinary Lavender

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

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

Thai jasmine rice, culinary lavender and turmeric

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

Playing with lavender and turmeric in a rice cooker

Lavender-Turmeric Scented Jasmine Rice

Kao Op Khamin Dok Lavender

ข้าวอบขมิ้นลาเวนเดอร์

Lavender-Turmeric Scented Jasmine Rice

Yield: 30 cups cooked rice

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

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

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

Summer 2010 at Lavender Wind Farm, Whidbey Island

 
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
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Not Just for Fine Dining, Golden Trout

Last Saturday I went to the Pike Place Market to get the fresh fish of the day for my family dinner. Golden trout caught my eye. When I visited the market last summer, only City Fish carried it. This time around it seemed that every fish stall had a pile of golden trout, so I thought this would be a perfect time to share my recipe with you for Steamed Golden Trout in Lime-Chili-Garlic-Dill Sauce. The pictures were taken a while ago, but the recipe is timeless. It is based on Phuket Pla Nueng Manao—steamed fish in lime juice—but the way I prepared it reflects my new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Golden trout is a sub-species of rainbow trout, both of which are related to salmon. The pale pink color of the flesh and its texture are a really amazing mixture of both trout and salmon. There are many ways to prepare golden trout, but today my favorite is to steam them. I love cooking fish whole, so using the oven is a quick way to go.

The golden trout I bought was from a farm in Idaho. Golden trout’s natural habitat is the “clear, cold headwaters of creeks and lakes at elevations above 6,890 feet,” but most golden trout come from fish farms. This is because you may fish for them for your personal consumption but not to sell them commercially. Most golden trout in the markets are from the Idaho Trout Company. From my research I learned that fly fishing for rainbow trout and golden trout is a very popular activity.

Fresh Rainbow Trout from Pike Place Market

When it comes to steaming fish, I am my grandma’s grandaughter. I ate many meals of steamed fish with my grandmother, like Clay Pot Lemongrass-Steamed Fish (Pla Nueng Morh Din). I hope you will have a chance to cook a few of her recipes. Several of them are featured in the Asian Grandmothers Cookbook by Pat Tanumihardja. At home here in Seattle, I have adapted my grandmother’s recipe into an easy and fun way to prepare fish for my friends and family. My recipe below reflects my quick and easy method for doing this at home. I will let you decide which way you prefer.

Garlic, Lime, Dill and Purple Chili

PLA NUENG MANAO

ปลานึ่งมะนาว

Steamed Golden Trout with Lime-Chili-Garlic-Dill Sauce

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

If you love fish, this recipe works for all occasions! It is light, fresh and delightful — yet easy to prepare. While steaming the fish, prepare the sauce. When the fish is cooked, just pour the sauce over it and serve with hot, fragrant jasmine rice.

1 whole golden trout, or any fileted fish (cooking time may vary)
4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and smashed
large sheet of parchment paper and foil
10 cloves garlic, peeled
5 Thai red chilis, purple chilis, jalapeno or Serrano peppers
1 cilantro root
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup chopped dill or cilantro
4 lime slices for garnish

Using a mortar and pestle, pound garlic, peppers, cilantro root and salt until smooth. With pestle, blend in sugar, fish sauce and lime juice until sugar dissolves. Stir in dill. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place 1/4 cup water in a 9” x 13” baking pan, then spread the lemongrass out. Place the trout on the bed of lemongrass and sprinkle salt on top of the fish. Cover the dish with parchment paper and then the foil, wrapping it around the edges to form a seal. Bake until the fish is cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes. (The good thing about steaming is you never overcook the fish). To check if the fish is done, insert a knife into the thickest part of the fish and lift the flesh away from the backbone. If it is easy to separate the flesh from the backbone, then it is done. If not, steam a little bit longer.

Place trout on a serving dish along with all of the steaming water. Pour the lime sauce over the top, then garnish with sliced limes and serve with jasmine rice.


Cook’s Note:

~Thai chilies are recommended for this recipe because they have a lingering flavor; you may remove seeds if needed. To control the spiciness of your finished dish, use 2 chilies for mild, 3 or 4 for medium, and 5 or 6 for a full spicy flavor.

~Always add the fish sauce before the lime juice to keep the sauce vibrant and fresh tasting.

~Best of all is to prepare the sauce while the fish is cooking. If you have a steamer, you can steam the fish in a serving size bowl and pour the sauce on top just before serving.

~The sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for any seafood, including mussels, clams and crab meat.

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

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Eat the Jungle

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

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

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

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

Green Papaya

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

Yield: ½ cup

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

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

Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya


Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya

Gaeng Pa Malakaw Moo

แกงป่ามะละกอกับหมู

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

Ingredients for Phuket Jungle Curry

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Thai Kitchen Apprentice

Thai Kaffir Lime – Luk Makrut

Makrut and Bai Makrut (citrus hystrix)

When I was growing up, we used many citrus fruits in our family kitchen: lime, key lime, kaffir lime and calamansi, to name just a few. We use citrus juice in Thai cooking and when it comes to juice we depend largely on lime juice; most other citrus juices are for fun and creative cooking while they are in season. Kaffir lime is an exception. It was never important for its juice but rather for its precious rind.

Kaffir Limes – the rind is an ingredient for curry paste

Kaffir Lime (citrus hystrix), Makrut in Thai, is a bumpy citrus fruit that has a great deal of aromatic essential oil in the rind. In Thailand and Laos, we use the rind in curry paste. My grandmother would cut a kaffir lime in half and rub the lime on her head to massage her scalp and condition her hair.

Kaffir Lime Leaf ~ Bai Makrut is known as kroy saoch in Cambodia. These shiny, dark green, double-lobed leaves are used extensively in Thai, Lao and Cambodian cuisines as well as in the neighboring countries of India, Burma, Malaysian and Indonesia. For Thais, whole kaffir lime leaves have endless possibilities. They are an important ingredient in soups such as Tom Yum and Tom Kha, and are also always in curries. Whole kaffir lime leaves are used like bay leaves. The essential oil in the fresh leaves imparts flavor quickly and easily in boiling liquid, but the leaves themselves are not for eating. We never use dry kaffir lime leaves in Thailand. Letting them dry allows the delicate essential oil to disappear and nothing is left in the dry leaves. Ideally you want to freeze the fresh leaves right away while their moisture helps trap all of the essence.

When I was growing up, each home had one or more large kaffir lime trees in the back yard. The fresh leaves is the price that the trees pay for their alluring fragrance with citrus and floral notes. Besides using whole kaffir lime leaves in Thai soups and curries, another way to use the leaves is as a very fine chiffonade.

Kaffir Lime Leaves

The tender fresh leaves are ideal for cutting into fine chiffonade then adding to fish cakes or salads. There is no substitute nor any other ingredients that can truly imitate the alluring fragrance and flavor of kaffir limes. To avoid frustration, I keep a pound of frozen kaffir limes in my freezer for emergencies and for convenience, but I use fresh ones any time they are available at the store. I seldom chiffonade frozen kaffir lime leaves.

Thai Hua Mok batter wrapped in banana leaves ready for steaming

Thai Kitchen Apprentice

My mom is famous for Hua Mok – steamed fish cake in banana leaves. I was so proud of how people in the village raved about her Hua Mok that I found an opportunity to make her my business partner. I asked her to make Hua Mok and I would sell them right after school, around 4 to 5pm. That way people in the villages could purchase them for a snack or as a main dish for their family. She agreed and I became an apprentice cook at her side. The valuable lesson I learned was to shred the kaffir lime leaves into the finest slivers. A fine chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves is a high point of Thai cuisine, so it is important to be patient and to practice cutting the leaves; there is no compromise. The fine chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves is incorporated into many recipes: Tod Mun (fried fish cake), Hua Mok (steamed fish cake in banana leaves), Kao Yum (rice salad), Pla (spicy Thai herbal salad with meat, poultry or seafood), Phanang curry and Chu Chi curry. These are traditional Thai dishes that are always served with generous amounts of fine chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves on top.

I took the three pictures below when I visited Koh Kred, an island village of ethnic Mon people outside of Bangkok. For me, Koh Kred is a culinary treasure island. It is famous for traditional fried fish cake or steamed fish cake. Both recipes use extreme amounts of fine slivered kaffir lime leaves. In Koh Kred I visited Pha (Thai for Auntie) Mu and savored her steamed fish cake in banana leaves. She also kindly let me take her picture as she spent her time chiffonading kaffir lime leaves while selling her Hua Mok.

Kaffir lime leaves are stacked before being made into a finely shredded chiffonade

To chiffonade, layer three to four kaffir lime leaves and fold, then, holding them tightly, use a sharp knife to thinly slice them (see picture below). I tell my students that I often cut the air seven times to control my knife then I may succeed with three perfect fine slivers. There are two errors you are likely to make while cutting: one is cutting the air instead of the leaves, the other is cutting too big a slice. Cutting the air indicates that you are close to perfection. When the leaves are too old and tough, I would prefer not to chiffonade them at all – eating one will feel like you’ve eaten a fish bone. Only the tender fresh kaffir lime leaves are good for this.

I have posted many photos to give you a good sense of how Thai cuisine depends on the flavor of the kaffir limes and kaffir lime leaves. Today kaffir lime leaves are easy to find in America and around the world. I hope I have inspired you to incorporate this alluring citrusy sense and flavor in your cooking. You can use kaffir lime in practically everything!

Pha Moo is making a chiffonade of Kaffir lime leaves

Pha Moo spends many hours chiffonading her kaffir lime leaves as there is no shortcut for this step. Often, when I make a fine chiffonade in a classroom, students who are across the room will pause as they notice the alluring fragrance. The food’s citrusy taste is easily noticeable and appreciated.

Pha Moo’s famous steamed fish cake

Pha Moo’s steamed fish cakes are so scrumptious. Her regular customers come from the neighborhood and from Bangkok.

Tod Mun Pla and Tod Mun Khai Nok Katha – Fish Cake and Quail Eggs

Koh Kred Tod Mun Pla is packed full of herbs. Besides kaffir lime, Noh Kala, a local rhizome is added to the fish paste.

Pho Noodle Soup with Chicken, with fine fresh shredded chili and kaffir Lime

A famous Pho Noodle stall in Hanoi provides a fine chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves and Thai chili for customers to add to the Pho Ga, Chicken Noodle Soup.

Shredded kaffir lime leaves is one of the ingredients in Amok curry paste

Please click photo for Kroeung Khmer curry paste recipe

In Siem Reap, Cambodia at Le Tigre De Papier cooking class, a member of my tour learned how to add kaffir lime leaves to Khmer curry paste.

Pla Gai, Thai herbal salad in lime juice with fine slivers of kaffir lime leaves

In Phuket, the BoatHouse Cooking School teaches students to make a fine chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves for Pla Salad.

Phuket Spicy Devil Soup – Tom Prade Gai at Palai Seafood Restaurant

Coconut and Turmeric Curry of Blue Swimmer Crab with Southern Lime

Coconut and turmeric curry of blue swimmer crab with southern lime at Nahm Restaurant in Bangkok by David Thompson

Southern Thai Rice Salad with Mixed Herbs

Please click photo to see Pranee’s Southern Thai Rice Salad Recipe

Pranee’s Salmon Fish Cake – Tod Mun Pla Salmon

Please click photo for Pranee’s Salmon Fish Cake Recipe

Kaffir lime leaves are available fresh or frozen in Asian markets, at the PCC Natural Markets, and from online stores. For fun facts and recipes, please also check kaffirlimeleaves.com

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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