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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Cooking in Seattle’

Curry Without the Hurry

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

Stuffed Sweet Pepper Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplant

Braised Stuffed Sweet Peppers and Thai Eggplant in Green Curry

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

Stuffed Sweet Pepper

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

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

Thai Eggplant

Thai Eggplant

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

Gaeng Keow Wan Prik Yad Sai  

Stuffed Sweet Pepper Green Curry

แกงเขียวหวานพริกยัดไส้

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

Serves: 4 to 8

8 small, whole mini sweet peppers, or Anaheim peppers

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems

5 black peppercorns

1 pinch of salt

½ pound coarse-ground chicken

1½ cups coconut milk

2 to 3 tablespoons green or red curry paste

4 kaffir lime leaves or lime peel

4 Thai eggplants, please see the preparation above

½ to 1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon fish sauce, as needed

¼ cup basil leaves

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

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

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

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

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

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Love the One You’re With

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

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel

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

Young tamarind leaves

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

Sorrel – ซอรเรล – Rumex acetosa

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

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel

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

Khmer Chicken Curry with Sorrel leaves

แกงไก่เขมรใบซอรเรล

Gaeng Gai Khmer Bai Sorrel

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

Serves: 4–6

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

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

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

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

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

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Farm Dinner At Dog Mountain Farm

Dog Mountain Farm, located in Snoqualmie Vally near Carnation, Washington, offers summer farm dinner events that are a culinary delight. The dinners are prepared by a guest chef and served with wines from a local winery. I attended one of these dinners in  June 2010 and was blessed to experience a half day at the farm of sun-filled summer, a beautiful view of the Cascade mountains, and dining on white tablecloths surrounded by apple orchards. The farm offers various farm and culinary activities year round for all age groups.

View of the Cascade Mountain

September 2012 has provided the rare beauty of a long stretch of sunny days. Saturday, September 15th, the date that I cooked at the Dog Mountain Farm, was one of the most beautiful days among them.

The farm dinner guests arrived at 3pm. Farm owners Cindy and David welcomed everyone with champagne and an hors d’oeuvre, then took them on a farm tour.

Galloping Horse or Mar Hor with savory pork on plum brûlée

I was happy to have the hors d’oeuvre done just in time. The abundance of plums provided a good substitute for pineapple in the Thai hors d’oeuvre called Mar Hor or Galloping Horse, a savory pork mixture atop plum brûlée. I was pleased when I ate one to hear the excitement of taste from far away – like someone galloping a horse.

The Dog Mountain Farm raises French Grimaud Pekin and Muscovy ducks, Embden geese, French guinea fowl, and heritage turkeys.

While the guests toured the farm, I continued cooking—there were four more courses coming.

My Thai Farm dinner included wine pairings from the Wilridge Winery. The wines were served by the winery’s owner and winemaker, Paul Beveridge. Paul selected the wines exclusively for the menu above. They were Viognier Rosebud Vineyard ($11.89), Estate Nebbiolo Wilridge Vineyard ($210), Estate Sangiovese Wilridge Vineyard ($21), and Estate Mélange Noir Wilridge Vineyard ($21). The amazing wines, along with the details and personal stories that Paul shared, enriched the dinner experience.

Kabocha Pumpkin Soup with corn, kale, summer squash and lemon basil

The dinner was served around 4:30pm and I was able to pause at that point for just a minute to take in the sun rays that filled the farm kitchen. Then I ladled the Gaeng Leang – Thai country-style soup – into individual bowls. (Please click here for Gaeng Leang Recipe). Gaeng Leang is often served at Thai dinners to display local abundance. This one had a generous amount of lemon basil from the farm green house and was as authentic as my grandmother’s cooking 40 years ago!

Asian pear is crunchy, juicy, sweet and fragrant.

The third course was an Asian pear salad with mixed herbs and salad greens and a sweet chili vinaigrette. I didn’t have a chance to take a picture of the salad or write down the recipe, so I will have to recreate the recipe one day to share with you. This dish was totally impromptu. I adjusted my chili lime vinaigrette recipe by adding a few more ingredients to compliment the farm’s Asian pears and to echo the flavors of the overall dinner menu.

Braised Duck Curry

The fourth course was a traditional Thai duck curry, Gaeng Phed Ped Yang, made with Dog Mountain Farm’s French Grimaud Pekin. For more information and a recipe for curry dishes please check my future posts.

Thai Duck Egg Custard

Please click the picture above to see Pranee’s custard recipe

Coconut Duck Egg Custard Ice Cream

Please click photo above to see Pranee’s Coconut Duck Egg Custard recipe

Originally I had planned to make just one dessert: coconut duck egg custard ice cream with fried farm apples. But once I began cooking with the very fresh duck eggs, I could not help but make my mom’s Thai duck egg custard over black sticky rice, a traditional Thai dessert.

Once the five-course dinner was served I had a chance to relax, join in the conversation with the dinner guests, and take in the beauty of the double sunset—a beautiful sunset to the West and the reflected light on the Cascade Mountains to the East.

Where to find the Dog Mountain Farm Stand

For those of you who live in the Seattle area, Dog Mountain Farm has a stand at the Broadway Farmers Market on Sundays. Please check their website and then send them an e-mail to have them harvest fresh produce that you can pick up at the market on Sunday between 11am – 3pm.

Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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The Holy Herbs

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

Oregano Buds

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

Oregano Blossoms

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

Oregano Blossoms Fried Rice

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

Oregano Blossoms Fried Rice with Tomato and Garlic

Khao Phad Dok Oregano Makrua Thet Kratiem

ข้าวผัดดอกออริกาโนกับมะเขือเทศและกระเทียม

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

Serves: 2 to 4

3 tablespoons canola oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cayenne pepper, sliced (remove seeds if preferred)
1/2 cup oregano leaves and blossoms, stems removed
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
2 eggs
3 cups cooked rice, cooled or frozen
2 pinches of salt, optional
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 lime wedges
8 sting beans or cucumber or any fresh vegetable condiment, optional
 
Heat canola oil in a skillet or wok on high heat. Add garlic and stir until golden, then add onion, cayenne and oregano leaves and blossoms and blossoms. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Clear the center of the wok and scramble in eggs for two seconds before adding rice. Stir in soy sauce and  fish sauce. Serve with lime wedge, vegetable condiment and spicy fish sauce. (See recipe below).
 
© 2012 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com  
 
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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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A Gift from My Thai Kitchen

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

Thai Yellow Rice Pilaf – A Gift from My Thai Kitchen

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

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix

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

Jasmine Rice

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

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix

 

How to Make Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf Mix

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

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

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

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

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf with Tomato and Onion

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

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf

Cooking Instructions

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

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

Preheat oven to 350°F.

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

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

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

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

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

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Eat Like a Local

Papa Seafood Restaurant, Laem Sing, Phuket, Thailand

Stir-fried Blue Crab with Black Pepper – ผัดปูม้ากับพริกไทยดำ

It was less than a month ago that I was at Laem Sing, Phuket, soaking up the warm sunshine before leaving for Seattle. Laem Sing is my favorite beach for getting away for a half day—or all day—to just hang out on the beach with nature and good Phuket seafood. Typically one should visit early enough to choose the best location among the sun loungers that are lined up along the beach. The sun lounger will cost 50 to 100 baht ($2 to $3), which is paid to the owner of the restaurant in front of which the sun lounger sets. It also means that you should order food and drink from that restaurant as well. That’s how I came to know Papa Seafood Restaurant, as I make sure to visit Laem Sing each year. This is a private beach but it is open to the public. It is located on the northwest coast of Phuket on Millionaire Road between Kamala and Surin Beaches.

Pay for parking (40 baht) near the road, then walk down the hill to this quiet beach.

Laem Sing Beach

At Papa Seafood Restaurant, the seafood is purchased fresh each day and the menu is full of mouth-watering dishes—from local Thai seafood favorites to a few western dishes for those who prefer western comfort food such as sandwiches. The drink menu has a long list of tropical smoothies and other beverages that can keep you hydrated throughout the day.

As my eye glanced over the menu, I began to wonder about the possibility of taping the cooking at the restaurant to share with my students and Thai foods fans. Never afraid to ask, I found that the cook didn’t mind me taking photographs and video. I hope that you will enjoy the video on Stir-fried Blue Crab with Black Pepper recipe and that it will help you to duplicate this dish at home. If you get a chance to visit Phuket, please check out Laem Sing Beach and stop by Papa Seafood Restaurant. From Laem Sing Beach to your kitchen!

Stir-Fried Blue Crab with Black Pepper Recipe

Phad Phu Ma Kub Prik Thai Dum

ผัดปูม้ากับพริกไทยดำ

I grew up in the southern region of Thailand eating two kinds of crab: a rice-field crab (Phu Dum) and blue crab (Phu Ma), which is the most common crab caught in the Indian ocean. My family’s favorite ways to prepare the blue crab are either to steam it and serve it with a lime-garlic dipping sauce, or to stir-fry the crab with black pepper and green onion. Blue crab is so sweet and delicate in flavor, the cooking is best when it is simple with few ingredients. I love stir-fried blue crab with black pepper and the contrast of the sweet, juicy, fresh crab and the excitement of crushed black pepper. Kin Hai Aroy! Bon Appetite!

Serves: 2

Cooking Time: 5 to 7 minutes

3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons garlic 
1/2 onion, sliced
4 Thai chilies, cut in half
2 blue crabs, cleaned and cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup water or more as needed
1/2 tomato, sliced
1/2 cup Chinese celery and green onions cut into one inch length 
 
Heat the wok on high heat and stir in onion and chili; stir back and forth until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then stir in blue crab and let it cook for 2 minutes. Stir in black pepper, oyster sauce, sugar and soy sauce. Stir well, then add water and let it cook until the crab is completely pink in color and the crab meat is opaque, not translucent. It takes about  3 to 5 minutes for the crab meat to cook.  Add more water in between to make a good amount of sauce but not too watery. Last, stir in tomato, Chinese celery and green onion and continue stirring for 30 seconds. Serve right away with steamed jasmine rice.

Credit: Papa Seafood Restaurant

Laem Sing, Phuket, Thailand

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

I love having a stew cooking on my stove top while I am catching up with a pile of work. I have had a frozen pork belly in my freezer for a month now, waiting for the time when it will become Moo Palo, or Stewed Pork Belly with Cinnamon and Star Anise in Soy Sauce, a delightful dish of Thailand. I could no longer make excuses that I was too busy too cook—I can accomplish both working and cooking: Just let it stew.

I worked at my home office all last week to meet my deadline for editing recipes and writing a proposal. When I saw the frozen pork belly in my freezer I pulled it out to thaw so that I could cook it the next day.  The rest was simple. I cut the pork belly into pieces, placed them in a Dutch oven and sprinkled the remaining ingredients randomly on top. Then I let the stove top (or you can use the oven) do the work of cooking. I took a break from work from time to time to check on the stew. While it cooked itself on the stove top for 2 hours, in my office I enjoyed the aroma of soy and cinnamon and star anise interacting with each other.

Stewed Pork Belly with Cinnamon and Star Anise in Soy Sauce, Moo Palo

This dish is similar to Thai Moo Palo but I omitted the hard-boiled eggs and instead of using five spice powder, I used Vietnamese cinnamon and star anise.  What I was looking for was a sweeter and more delicate flavor than from the Vietnamese version with cinnamon and dark soy sauce. It was surprising good and sophisticated. When I checked with my family they had no idea that there was a tablespoon of black pepper in it. It had just a hint of black pepper deepening the sauce.

In Phuket, this dish is called by its Phuket Hokkien name: Moo Hong – หมูฮ้องสูตรภูเก็ต. I cooked it the same way my mother would, with the fat and skin attached to the pork belly to keep it sweet and moist. The important ingredients that give  Moo Palo or Moo Hong Phuket its unique flavor are dark soy, crushed garlic cloves, black pepper, cinnamon powder, cinnamon sticks and star anise.

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Stewed Pork Belly with Vietnamese Cinnamon and Star Anise in Soy Sauce

Moo Palo

หมูพะโล้

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Stewing time: 2 hours on medium heat on stove top

2 pounds pork belly (aka side pork) with fat and skin attached, cut into 1½-inch thick pieces
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (Bengal)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce, more as needed
2 tablespoons Vietnamese cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon whole black peppers, crushed
8 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled (don’t chop, keep them whole)
3 star anise, whole
5 cloves, whole
2 cilantro stems, see Pranee’s explanation on cilantro root
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Place cut up pork belly in a dish and stir in the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Vietnamese cinnamon powder and black pepper; mix well. Marinate overnight or for several hours.

Place the pork belly and marinade in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add garlic, star anise, cloves and brown sugar on top of pork. Brown the meat a little, then add water to cover the top of pork by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium or medium low (depending on the burner) to create a nice gentle boil. Let it cook for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and add water if needed.

After an hour and a half, cover the Dutch oven with a lid and let the pork simmer for about a half hour, or until tender. (It is tender when you can cut it with a fork and it breaks up nicely without an effort.) Reduce the sauce to 1 cup, about ¼ cup per serving.

Serve warm with steamed jasmine rice.

 Pranee’s note:

Vietnamese Cinnamon or Saigon Cinnamon has more essential oils and 25 percent more Cinnamaldehyde  than other kinds of cinnamon.

You may add 4 shelled hard boil eggs during the last 1 hour of stewing time. It is also delicious served with cooked thin rice noodles.

An alternative cooking method is to braise the stew in the oven at 300°F for 3½ hours.

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

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Celebrating New Year with Thai Sticky Rice and Alms Giving

Alms Giving with Jasmine Rice or Sticky Rice

Yesterday, April 17, 2011, I celebrated Thai New Year’s Day~ Songkran~ with Thai and American friends at the Songkran Festival at the Washington Buddhavanaram (Buddhist temple in Auburn, Washington ) It was so much fun, Sanuk.

First, we started with the alms-giving ritual. We gave offerings to the monks of steamed jasmine rice and steamed sticky rice, and for the first time I offered Chicken Biryani Rice (Kao Mok Gai) instead of the two other kinds of cooked rice.

Som Tum ~ Green Papaya Salad

Outside in the yard there were tents with prepared street foods of Thailand, just like at festivals in Thai villages. I sampled almost everything including grilled Thai sausage (Sai Grok Isan), sticky rice (Khoa Neow), green papaya salad (Som Tum), and noodle soup (Kuey Tiow Nahm), to name a few.

A majority of the guests at the festival were from Laos, northeastern Thailand and Cambodia. Steamed Sticky Rice (Khao Neow) is an important part of the day at many Thai gatherings, and Khao Neow and Som Tum are well-loved dishes for Thais who live abroad. As I have mentioned before, these two dishes are a good cure for homesickness for Thais.

Thai Chili Dip ~ Nam Prik

We walked around, enjoying the sunny day and buying street food like Thai Chili Dip (Nam Prik) to take home. I got three different versions of this red-hot chili paste to season my steamed jasmine rice: Red Eye Chili Dip (Nam Prik Ta Daeng), Tilapia Chili Dip (Nam Prik Pla Nill) and Crunchy Pork Chili Dip (Nam Prik Moo Grob). Now these three Nam Prik are in my freezer for days when spicy hot food will comfort my mood.

Bathing and Placing Gold Leaves On the Buddha Image

In Burma, Laos, Thailand, Southern China and Cambodia, a part of celebrating Solar New Year is bathing and cleaning an image of Buddha. I celebrated this ritual here in Washington with many people from these countries.

Flags on Sand Mount

Building a sand hillock and decorating it with flags is also a common practice. 

Dancing to the Laotian Music

Eating a lot of sticky rice and dancing  to Laotian live music was a perfect “sanuk” day to welcome the new year.


Steamed Sticky rice

Khao Neow Nueng

ข้าวเหนียวหนึ่ง

Serves 6 to 8

Sticky rice is a long-grain rice with a sticky and soft texture. There are several names for sticky rice, including sweet rice and glutinous rice. Sticky rice is ideal for desserts as well as for serving with Northeastern dishes such Som Tum (green papaya salad) and Laab Neua (beef mint salad). There are also main dishes on my blog that are great to serve with steamed sticky rice, such as Green Papaya Salad with Smoked SalmonGrilled Fish Sauce Chicken Wings (Peek Gai Nam Pla Yang), and Green Papaya Salad with Salted Crab and Rice Noodle (Som Tum Sua). This last recipe includes a video of my sister-in-law preparing the salad.

After 30 minutes, flip the sticky rice over

I hope you have a chance to learn how to cook steamed sticky rice. You may use a double boiler/steamer or purchase a bamboo steamer.

2 cups sticky rice

Cover sticky rice with room temperature water at least 3 inches above the rice. Let rice sit for 2 hours or overnight, then drain off any excess water.

Steam sticky rice in a steamer with a lid over high heat for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is soft. Flip the rice over so that the sticky rice on the top will go on the bottom and steam with the lid on for 5 more minutes. You can keep the rice warm for a few more minutes with the steamer on simmer, or remove it and keep it in a thermal-controlled container.

The steamed sticky rice is ready to serve with main dishes or to use in a dessert that requires steamed sticky rice.

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

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Pandanus leaf (Bai Toey), a Thai Culinary Treasure

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

Pandanus Leaf-Bai Toey

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

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

Roses made from Pandanus leaves for worship or air freshener

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

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

Pandanus leaf cups

Thais use Pandanus leaves to make decorative containers.

Adding green color extract from pandanus leaf to pearl tapioca pudding

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

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A Perfect Thai Herbal Tea

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

Pandan leaf is available fresh or frozen at Asian markets.

Jasmine Pandanus Tea

Cha Mali Toey Horm

ชามะลิใบเตย

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

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

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

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

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Playing with Food: Cassava

Cassava-Sweet Potato Pancake, a delicious Thai Dessert

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

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

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

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

Cassava - Sweet Potato Pancake

Cassava – Sweet Potato Pancake

Khanom Man Sumpalang Oop

มันสำปะหลังมันเทศแพนเค้ก

Servings: 6-8

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

Image via Wikipedia

Pranee’s Thai Kitchen note:

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

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

I Love Thai cooking

Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.

Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .




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Rubber tree plantation in Phuket, Thailand

Image via Wikipedia

My Love for Mushrooms

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

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

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

Grilled Spicy Phuket Mushroom - Rubber Tree Mushroom

 

 

Grilled Brown Button Mushrooms with Thai Basil Leaf in Banana Leaf

HED MOK PHUKET

Servings: 4 (one parcel per person)

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

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

Preheat oven to 400°F.

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

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

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

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

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Spiced Up Cranberry Sauce with Thai Herbs

Cranberry Sauce with a Touch of Thai Herbs

Spiced Up Cranberry Sauce with Thai Herbs

Many years ago, when I cooked my very first cranberry sauce, I just followed the recipe on the back of the cranberry package. Now that I have lived in America for almost twenty years, I know the ingredients in the sauce quite well and have done some experimenting. For the past few years, I have enjoyed adding Thai flavors to the sauce, but now I have settled on this flavor profile. The sweet from the evaporated cane juice organic sugar (Wholesome Sweeteners Brand) goes well with the hint of caramel from the rum. Thai herbs and a unique sea salt balance out the flavors. This recipe has the sweet, sour, salty and spicy elements that add the Thai accent to my family’s Thanksgiving traditions. I hope you will enjoy cooking this recipe. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Pranee's Cranberry Sauce with Spiced Rum and Thai Herbs

Pranee’s Cranberry Sauce with Spiced Rum and Thai Herbs

Yield: 4½ cups

2 (12 ounce) packages fresh cranberries, washed and drained
2 cups organic evaporated cane sugar, or regular white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Hawaiian Kine Seasoning Salt – Lemon Grass, or regular sea salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
2 tablespoons Triple Sec orange-flavored liqueur
3 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 lime
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed (cut off the lower bulb and remove tough, outer leaves) and smashed
1 to 2 fresh Thai chilies, smashed
3 Kaffir lime leaves
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro roots or stems

Place cranberries, sugar, salt, water, rum, triple sec, lime juice, chilies, shallot and cilantro root in a large pot, stir well and bring to a boil. Then stir as needed while cooking on medium heat until it reaches a jam-like texture, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove lemongrass, chilies, and Kaffir lime leaves. Pour cooked cranberry sauce into sterilized jars. Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freeze.

Pranee’s note:

Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum is a Caribbean rum with spice, caramel and other natural flavors.

Hawaiian Kine Seasoning Salt – Lemongrass is made from rock salt, pepper, garlic, ginger and lemongrass. You may use any sea salt.

Cilantro roots (rahk pak chee) are an important Thai flavoring ingredient. Unfortunately, cilantro usually comes with its roots already cut off. Look for whole cilantro plants with roots at farmer’s markets, grow your own, or substitute the bottom stems. If you do find cilantro with roots, rinse them well and use the roots along with about an inch of the bottom stems to which they are attached. You may also find frozen cilantro root in Asian markets.

© 2010  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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Pranee’s Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam   

 

Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam

I have three different kinds of chili jam in my kitchen cabinet: Plum-Ginger Thai Pepper Jelly, Mango Madness, and Sweet Pepper Jalapeño Jam. These were precious gifts from good friends and they inspired me to create my own jam recipes. When my friend Ron gave me a bag of fresh green Star Fire Chilies from his favorite farm, “Krueger Family Peppers and Produce, Inc.” in Wapato, Washington, a journey began.

I wanted to create a Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam with a fun flavor from Kaffir lime leaf. First I explored the jam-making process and daydreamed about the flavor combinations, then I got a hands-on lesson on canning from my friend Kaia. She recommended a few books, and I purchased one, the “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.” A week later, I found the best price for canning jars, and in the past few weeks, I have created three combinations of chili jam. Honestly, I love all of them: Sweet Red, Lime-Green and Pineapple-Orange.

I have also learned my lessons on the do’s and don’ts of using powdered pectin. If the jam doesn’t set, follow the Sure-Jell instructions on how to remake the jam. After a few experiences, I became comfortable with the process. The most important part was that I had so much fun making close to one hundred jars of jam, and so did my friends. All I have to do now is to listen to their creative ways of using the chili jam.

I would like to share my Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam with you. It would be fun to serve side-by-side with cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. You can learn to use it creatively during the holidays, and it makes a great gift for families and friends.

Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam with Citrus Flavors

Like green curry paste, the green color in this jam comes from fresh Thai green chilies. I also use green-colored peppers, herbs, lime juice, and all the Thai herbs to give it a real Thai flavor.

Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam  

Yam Prik Keow  

Yield: 5 1/2 cups or 14 (4-ounce) jars or 6 (8-ounce) jars

4 green bell peppers, cored and diced
30-40 fresh Thai green chilies, stems removed (I used Star Fire chilies)
1/2 cup diced red onion, about 1/2 medium-size onion
1 package Sure-Jell fruit pectin
2 cups cane vinegar (a vinegar made from cane sugar, available in most Asian markets)
2 to 4 tablespoons lime juice
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 Kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed
1 tablespoon butter
1 drop green food coloring, optional

Place bell pepper, fresh Thai green chilies, and onion in a food processor;  pulse to make a fine chunk (about 3 cups). Combine the  mixture with Sure-Jell, vinegar, lime juice and salt in a large, deep, stainless steel saucepan. Mix well until the pectin is dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in Kaffir lime, lemongrass and butter. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil; stir constantly for 4 minutes. 

Remove from heat and ladle into jars filling to within 1/8 inch of the top. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator.

Note:  If you want a jam that can be stored (unopened) at room temperature, visit the Sure Jell website for instructions on how to process the jars.

 © 2010  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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Northern Thai Cuisine with the Kantok Diner

When planning a trip to Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand, one must see all of the cultural aspects that Northern Thai culture or Lanna culture has to offer. That is why I took my tour members to the Old Chiangmai Cultural Center. It is my favorite place for eating Northern Thai cuisine, listening to Thai music, and watching the dances. This may seem like a tourist trap, but for a short visit to Chang Mail, I recommend this experience before returning home. My visits with tour members in February 2007 and 2008 were memorable. We sat under the moonlight in a courtyard surrounded by old Thai teak buildings, ate, and watched the dance show. And of course the visitors had a chance to dance at the end.

Kantok Dinner at the Old Chiangmai Cultural Center

A typical Kontok dinner menu consists of Pork-Tomato Chili Dip (Nam Prik Ong), Green Chili Pepper Dip (Nam Prik Num), Fried Chicken (Gai Tod ), Chaingmai Curry Pork (Geang Hungley), Fried Banana (Kleuy Tod) and all of the vegetable condiments that go with chili dip, plus steamed sticky rice and steamed jasmine rice. All of these dishes were placed in bowls (kan) and set on a small round teak or rattan table (tok) that was only about 10 inches tall. We sat around the table and ate the food with our fingers, or with forks and spoons.

Tomato-Pork Chili Dip, Nam Prk Ong

Inspired Recipe from Our Chiang Mai Kantok Dinner

Nam Prik Ong

Tomato-Pork Chili Dip

Nam Prk Ong

น้ำพริกอ่อง

This dish is easy to make, and among Thai chili dips, pork-tomato chili dip is easy to love. It has a tomato base and is spicy hot with chili pepper, but does not have too strong a taste of shrimp paste. The secret is to use the ripest, reddest and sweetest tomatoes you can find. I recommend multiplying the recipe so you will have enough to keep some in the freezer. In Seattle I keep some Nam Prik Ong in the fridge to use as a condiment when I serve a meal with one main protein dish. I also love to use it as a condiment with steamed jasmine rice or to accompany other savory dishes or an array of fresh vegetables.

Yield: 1 cup

2 cilantro roots, or 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and sliced, about 3 tablespoons
3 Chile Guajillo, or New Mexico chili pods, sliced and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
5 whole dried Thai chilies, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
10 cloves garlic, peeled
5 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons shrimp paste placed on a piece of parchment paper and roasted in a 350BF oven for 10 minutes, (or substitute 1 tablespoon Napoleon anchovy paste)
1 teaspoon salt, or more as needed
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
¼ cup ground pork
1 cup sweet cherry tomatoes or any sweet tomato variety, chopped
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
¼ cup chopped cilantro to garnish

Make a curry paste by placing the cilantro roots, lemongrass, chili Guajillo, Thai chilies, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and salt in the food processor. Turn on the machine and while it runs, pour cooking oil into the spout in a stream (like making pesto). Let the processor run for 3 minutes, stopping it occasionally to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the machine.

Place the curry paste in a frying pan with the pork and cook over medium heat until the pork is no longer pink. Stir in tomato, palm sugar, and fish sauce and let it simmer until the tomato is softened. Nam Prik Ong should have the consistency of tomato sauce (not watery). When it is done, stir in chopped cilantro and serve with jasmine rice and vegetable condiments, or serve it Kantok Dinner Style with sticky rice and other traditional dishes.

Vegetable Condiments: Sliced cucumbers, long beans, wing beans, Thai eggplants, banana blossoms, steamed Kabocha pumpkin.

© 2010  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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Amazing Thai & Vietnamese Flavors with Local Organic Farm Produce from Orting

Last Saturday, October 1st, was my first visit to the town of Orting, which is only one hour from Seattle. It was a beautiful fall day and I had a beautiful drive. I love the town. I was doing a cooking demo for PCC Cooks and PCC Farmland Trust at the Orting Valley Farms. It is PCC Culinary Trust’s latest preserved farm to save local organic farmland forever! It was also Pierce Country Harvest Fest and there were many people visiting, including young kids who decided on the spot that they love Thai and Vietnamese flavors.

At Tahoma Farms, Dan, the owner of the farm, grilled corn and served warm apple cider, while I cooked and  handed out samples of my Northwest Salad with Thai Chili-Lime Vinaigrette and Vietnamese Lemongrass-Scented Eggplant Stew. Groups of visitors came by either before or after taking a hayride,  and live country music was playing in the barn.

It was fun to meet so many people, including many families with young kids. It was great to learn that they all enjoyed my cooking. Therefore, I would like to share one of the recipes with you: Northwest Salad with Thai Chili-Lime Vinaigrette. At the farm I used dinosaur kale, sweet basil, Johnny Nardello peppers, and heirloom tomatoes for the salad. A Roy Dee Kha!

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Northwest Salad with Thai Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Yum Pak

Northwest salad with Thai chili-Lime vinaigrette Recipe, Yum Pak

I created this simple recipe this summer using fresh Northwest produce. The Thai-flavored vinaigrette uses olive oil, chili, lime and fish sauce. It makes a bright salad with interesting flavors.
 
 Serves 8 
 
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or garlic oil
1 teaspoon sea salt or 4 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons lime juice or lemon juice
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
24 cherry tomatoes, whole, or  2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1 cup sweet basil leaves, washed and drained
1 cup kale, washed and chopped
1 cup mixed sweet pepper varieties, julienned
1 cup dill or cilantro leaves (or any Asian herbs such as basil, lemon basil)
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Whisk olive oil, sea salt or fish sauce, sugar, pepper, chili powder and lime or lemon juice until well mixed. Fold in shallots, tomatoes, arugula, kale, sweet peppers, dill or cilantro and mix gently. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve immediately.

© 2010  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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Phuket Red Curry Paste, My Aunt’s Recipe

I have five women in my life that I am thankful everyday for their talents, strength and kindness. I grew up with my grandmother, mom and my three aunts. It was quite an experience.  When it came to culinary skills, my three aunts each had their own specialty. My aunt Pan specializes in curry paste making and her curry paste is well known among family and friends. It was the year I left Phuket to go to Seattle that I visited my Aunt Pan to pick up a kilo of her homemade curry paste to bring with me. I kept it in the freezer for a year. But when I visited her a year later, I felt a little guilty asking her to make some more for me because it takes a week of pounding by hand. Instead, I asked her for her secret. She taught me to feel the ingredients in my left palm before putting them in the mortar. I was not sure if I got it at the time, but I was glad that I had also taken note of the amount in standard American measuring spoons. Now I even teach my aunt’s recipes in my cooking class on Southern Thai curry dishes.

Then the other day, I gave myself a final exam. I was in the kitchen preparing a curry paste, conducting every step from memory. I recalled the lesson with my aunt from over 15 years ago. She said that for four servings, start with about 1 teaspoon of salt and about 1 tablespoon of black pepper. For turmeric, she said that if I wanted to use fresh turmeric I should use about 1 inch, and she bent her index finger. If I used dry turmeric, use about 1 teaspoon. The amount for the dry red chili pepper I remember really well. She used 40 dried Thai chilies.  I used 20 for my cooking class and everyone thought that it was too hot, so generally I use 15 chilies for American 3 stars and 20 for 5 stars.

Phuket Red Curry Paste--Recipe from Phuket Village

My grandmother, mom, and three aunts prepared this curry paste with a  mortar and pestle countless times in their lives. About 30 years ago, when our village had access to electricity for the first time, I remember that the most important modern kitchen appliances that we purchased right away were a rice cooker and a blender.

My mom’s favorite way to make curry paste was with a mortar and pestle, but often she blended them in the blender. For this recipe I decided to prepare it in a blender, which only takes 5 minutes. I hope you enjoy my family recipe.

The Color of Phuket Red Curry Paste

Phuket red curry paste is so versatile. You may use it in any red curry recipe that calls for red curry paste. However, the color is yellow because our family omits dried large red spur chili pods. You may add 3 dried New Mexico Chili Pods to this recipe to add a deep red-orange color.

Phuket Red Curry Paste

Kruange Gaeng Phed Phuket

Yield: 1/2 cup

1 shallot, halved and peeled
6 cloves garlic
1 lemongrass, trimmed and thinly sliced, about 2 tablespoons
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Place all ingredients in the blender with 1/2 cup water; blend until smooth, about 5 minutes.

© 2010  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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Thai Cooking with Mussels

Steamed Mediterranean Mussels with Sweet Chili Sauce

I love mussels, and Thai cuisine has so many great mussel recipes. Unfortunately, cooking classes with mussels don’t sell well in Seattle. But you can enjoy my recipe without being in my class. This delightful, easy recipe uses fresh Mediterranean mussels that are at their peak season right now. The Taylor Shellfish Farm stall at many Seattle Farmers Markets is a good place to get them.

Cooking Tips from the Expert, Jon Rowley

The Mediterranean mussels, which are just now coming into season and will be very plump, aren’t done when they open. They need to continue cooking after they open until you see the meat contract. This makes a BIG difference in the flavor. If the mussels are not cooked enough, they have an unpleasant, fleshy taste. If cooked properly they are gloriously sweet. These mussels are so fat, you don’t have to worry about overcooking.

Also if some mussels don’t open and the others are done, the ones that are closed will also be done, they just need to be pried open. Bum mussels will be open before cooking and should be discarded. Mediterranean mussels that are still closed after cooking (if you have any) are fine.

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Steamed Mediterranean Mussels with Lemon Basil and Shallot, and Homemade Chili Sauce

Hoy Nueng Bai Meang Luck

Servings: 8 as appetizer
 
 
 
30 Mediterranean mussels, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 cup lemon basil leaves, or any type of basil
1 Serrano pepper, halved
1 cup sweet chili sauce (see recipe below)

De-beard mussels and clean under running water to remove sand and grit. Discard any mussels that open before cooking.

Heat canola oil in a pan and stir in shallots and basil for 30 seconds on high heat. Add mussels, cover the pan, and shake it back and forth without opening the lid until the mussels start to open, about 2 minutes. Keep cooking until the mussels contract and look plump and round, about 1 more minute.

Serve with sweet chili sauce as a dipping sauce or place ½ teaspoon sweet chili sauce on each mussel. Garnish with lemon basil leaves.

Wine Pairing: Washington Pinot Gris

© 2010  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen
I Love Thai cooking
 
 
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com

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Three Kinds of Pepper Leaves in Southeast Asia

There are three kinds of pepper leaves in the black pepper (Piperaceae) family. They can be easily confused by the inexperienced. This is how I explain the three types to my students when the lesson comes to the use of wild pepper leaf.

Wild Pepper Leaf - Chapoo - La Lot

A wild pepper leaf, or Piper Sarmentosum Roxb, is a common name for cha plu in Thai, Kaduk in Malaysian and la lot in Vietnamese. It is a ground cover in my garden in Phuket. Thais use it in Hua Mok, Miang Kam and tidbits. My favorite of all is when it is put in a stink ray curry.

Black Pepper Plant

A black pepper plant, Piper Nigrum, is in the same family as chapoo and la lot but it is a climbing plant. Only the fruit is edible. Thais love to cook green peppercorns with hot pungent curry dishes. When the pepper corn matures and is sun dried, it can be used to make black peppercorn.

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Last in the family are betel leaves, or Piper Betle. When I was young, I always picked a fresh betel leaf for my grandmother, who enjoyed chewing the leaf when it was painted with pink limestone and wrapped around a sliced betel nut. Afterwards she would enjoy her afternoon siesta. Betel leaves and betel nut are also used for worship and are special symbols in ritual events.

Curried Scallop with Wild Pepper Leaf — Gaeng Hoy Shell Bai Chapoo

I cook professionally during the week but at home on the weekend I cook like any home cook. Sunday is an iron chef day – I use whatever is in my refrigerator. I had some wild pepper leaf, a leftover from a Miang Kam dish during the week, and some Alaskan scallops in the freezer. I like to cook chapoo leaf in a curry with a strong flavored fish or meat; a hint of black pepper from the leaf gives a very interesting flavor to the dish, and coconut milk sweetens the bitter edge. This recipe is very quick. All you have to do is write down the word “la lot” and go to a Vietnamese market.

Curried Scallop with Wild Pepper Leaf

Gaeng Hoy Shell Bai Chapoo

Serves: 2

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup water
6 large scallops
30 wild pepper leaves, AKA chapoo in Thai and La Lot in Vietnamese
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons fried shallots

Heat canola oil in a medium-size pot on medium-high heat. Stir in red curry paste and fried until fragrant. Stir in 1/3 cup coconut milk and let it cook until oil is separated and fragrant; add the rest of the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Stir in scallops and wild pepper leaves and cook until scallops are opaque in color, about 5 minutes. Season with sugar and fish sauce and serve hot. Garnish with fried shallots. Serve warm with steamed jasmine rice.

© 2010  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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Ramadan 2010

Follow the Tradition of Thai Muslim Cooking on Phuket Island during the Ramadan

Now

Phuket Chicken Biryani Rice, also known as Kao Mok Gai, is a well known Thai-Muslim rice dish. Southern Thai cuisine gets its distinguished flavor from the neighboring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia. Growing up in Phuket I loved the diversity of our local cuisines. Our family cooked Thai and Chinese cuisines and at the market I enjoyed Thai Muslim cooking. After Persian Muslims settled in Phuket, their descendants took their traditional Biryani Rice and created a Thai variation, Koa Mok Gai. It is cooked for special occasions like weddings or during Ramadan. It is not a common dish to cook at home but most of the time we can purchase it from Kao Mok Gai vendors. If you want to try it when you visit Phuket, stop by an open air market in Bangtao or Kamala.

Phuket Chicken Biryani Rice—Kao Mok Gai Phuket

Over the past 10 years I have stayed in contact with a few chefs from Bangtao and Kamala Village. I learned to cook Kao Mok Gai from Varunee, my Thai chef for the culinary tour in Phuket. Her mom is a renowned caterer among the Muslim population in the Bangtao area. Over the years, I have written down many versions of her Kao Mok Gai.

Kao Mok Gai with Fresh Vegetable, Chile Sauce and Chicken Soup

The other day I wanted an easy lunch, which led to the creation of a quick and easy version of Kao Mok Gai. It took me 10 minutes to make, since I already had the ingredients in the house. It may take you 15 to 20 minutes to prepare the ingredients.

If you have an old-style rice cooker that is easy to clean, I recommend using that. Otherwise place everything in a Pyrex 9″x13″ pan and cover neatly with foil, bake in an oven at 350F for 25 minutes and let rest for 10 minutes before removing the foil and serving.

Phuket Chicken Baryani Rice

Kao Mok Gai

Serves: 4 to 6

Active Time: 10 minutes

2 cups jasmine rice, basmati rice, or any long grain rice
2 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
1 tablespoon fried garlic or shallot, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 tablespoon canola oil, garlic oil or shallot oil
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 tablespoon lemongrass powder
1/2 teaspoon galangal or ginger powder, optional
1 bay leaf
6 pieces fried or baked chicken
 
Rinse the rice and drain, put in a rice cooker with water, fried garlic, canola oil, curry powder, lemongrass powder, galangal powder and bay leaf. Mix well and place cooked chicken in the center of the rice cooker, cover, turn on rice cooker. It takes about 30 minutes to cook and then let it sit for 15 more minutes before serving.
 
Serving suggestions:

Buffet Style: Place rice and chicken on a nice platter and garnish the top with fried garlic or shallot. Served with condiments suggested below (please also see photo).

Individual serving: One cup rice, 1 piece chicken, garnish with fried garlic served with condiment and sauce.

Condiments: Sweet chili sauce, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, cilantro and green onion.

Thai Vegetarian Option: Saute shiitake mushroom, fried firm tofu, raisin and cashew nut. Thai Cooking for Kids Gluten-Free Recipe

  

Then

Here is a famous Kao Mok Gai prepared by Varunee’s mom for 250 children. I hosted this event for school children at the Kamala Beach School 6 month after the Tsunami. We served the food at the temporary kitchen in July 2005.

 

Pranee with Mama Boo, July 2005

 

Kao Mok Gai, Lunch for Kamala School Students July 2005

© 2010  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking

Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle, Edmonds, Redmond, Issaquah, Lynwood and Olympia areas. Her website is:  I Love Thai cooking.com 
 
To learn more on the history of Biryani Rice: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biryani

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