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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Cooking with Children’

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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A Divine Fruit, Persimmon ลูกพลับ 

Here in Seattle, I have been savoring persimmons during all of November and now into December. Persimmons reached their peak this last week. The abundance of this fruit at peak season provides a low price and high quality sweet fruits and this is when I am inspired to cook with persimmons. This year in my kitchen I found two delicious new ways to cook with them: persimmon-orange butter and persimmon upside-down cake. Today I will share with you my discoveries of this divine fruit which only appears once a year.

Fuyu Persimmon fruit – ลูกพลับ

The yellow-orange color of persimmon and its aromatic sweetness make this fruit special. In the U.S., the season for persimmons is in November and December, and they give us  a special way to celebrate the holiday seasons. Persimmons arrived in the U.S. and Europe over 200 years ago. There are two varieties in Seattle market: Hachiya and Fuyu. The former is recommended to eat when it is fully ripe. The latter, Fuyu, is my favorite and it is the variety most commonly available, so my focus today will be on the Fuyu persimmon.

Fuyu persimmons (Diospyros Kaki L) are native to Northern China. It is an ancient fruit—a fossilized persimmon was found in the tomb of the emperor of the Han Dynasty. Fuyu persimmons first traveled from China to Thailand in 1937, but they did not become widespread until the Royal Project Foundation under Kasetsart University  conducted a study in 1969 that grew various varieties of persimmons in Thailand and led to the successful establishment of persimmon farming in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Phetchabun. These are three persimmon varieties in Thailand: Xichu, Fuyu and Hyakume. (Source: 111 Thai Fruits by Nidda and Thaweethong Hongvivat published by Sangdad). The season for harvesting them is from July till September each year.  The nutritional benefits from persimmons are priceless. It is high in potassium, vitamin C, and much more.

Unripe Fuyu persimmon early in the season

When the hint of green disappears from the skin and is replaced by a yellow-orange color, one can snack on unripe Fuyu persimmon, though the ripe ones are the best. Persimmons can accompany an assorted cheese platter, much like pears or grapes, or combining green salad with bacon. For dessert, last year I found my pleasure by adding persimmons in coconut milk to my pearl tapioca pudding just before serving. This year, in the process of creating a dessert for 70 people, I found myself preparing persimmon-orange butter to serve over sweet sticky rice. Then came persimmon upside-down cake; this was magically created right after baking cranberry upside-down cake for my family. For an impromptu inspiration, all we need is to have plenty of persimmons around while they are in season.

Fuyu Persimmon

Persimmon-Orange Butter

Yield: 2 cups

You can use persimmon-orange butter on just about everything, or you can eat it plain like apple sauce. This is my favorite way:  served with sticky rice, on top of peanut butter and fruit butter for the sandwich.

6 fully ripened Fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped
Zest of one orange
6 oranges, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons triple sec
3 tablespoons butter

Place persimmons, orange zest, orange, salt, sugar, cinnamon stick, triple sec and butter in a large saucepan. Let it cook on medium heat until softened and all juices from the fruit have evaporated, about 30 minutes. Stir often during the cooking. Remove cinnamon stick. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Making of Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

Sliced persimmon, brown sugar, star anise and triple sac

When I was looking for a spice to compliment the flavor of persimmon, I picked up my cinnamon powder from Vietnam and star anise powder from Thailand. After smelling the star anise, I decided it was a sure thing. At that moment my eye glanced over at the star-shaped center of the persimmon and I decided to place a star anise in between the slices of persimmon. The star anise mirrors the pattern of the star-shaped center of the persimmon. Perfect.

Right Side Up

I was also happy that I had some persimmon-orange butter that I had created on another day. This allowed me to add some persimmon flavor in the body of the cake.

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

I used organic brown sugar, but any brown sugar would do the work.

A Perfect Persimmon-Star Anise Upside-Down Cake

The pretty star-shaped centers creates a perfect look for this upside-down cake.

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

Burnt brown sugar with creamy  soft persimmons melt in your mouth, almost like a crème caramel.

Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

เค้กลูกพลับ

I baked Yankee Cranberry Upside-Down Cake many times last week, which is what led me to this project.  I played around with persimmons and spices I had in the kitchen, and by the time the cranberry upside-down cake was finished, my persimmon-star anise upside-down cake was ready to go in. It became totally a different cake with its own flavor profiles, but it was the Yankee Cranberry Upside-Down Cake that inspired me with confidence.

Baking time: 35 to 40 minutes

Serves: 8 to 12

6 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons star anise powder, divided
1 tablespoon triple sec, divided
3 persimmons, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 6 pieces, each about 1/3 inch thick
5 star anises, whole
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons persimmon-orange butter, persimmon pulps or orange marmalade
 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cover a 9-inch spring form pan with 2 tablespoons melted butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar, triple sec and ½ teaspoon star anise powder to cover entire surface. Arrange persimmon slices and star anise as shown in the photo above.

Combine flour, baking powder, remaining star anise powder and salt.

Beat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and the sugar very hard by hand until they are well mixed. Then beat in eggs, one at a time, very hard by hand until the mixture is custardy. Whisk in ½ cup of the flour mixture, mix well, then whisk in ¼ cup buttermilk; continue this method of adding the flour and buttermilk until you finish with ¼ cup flour.  Pour the batter into the center of the springform pan, smoothing it with a spatula to make it evenly cover the persimmon.

Bake on a rack in the center of the oven until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. While the cake is still warm, invert the cake onto a serving platter.

credit: http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/yankee-cranberry-upside-down-cake-687053/

Photos: © 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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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A Cough Remedy

Honey-Lime Tea, a cough remedy

I have had this Honey-Lime Tea recipe written since last year when my son was sick and missed a week of school with a fever and annoying cough. When it comes to home remedies for coughing, my grandma’s honey-lime tea, which I have had countless times for coughs, that stands out in my memory. It was my son’s tired face on a rainy day in September 2011 that took me to the kitchen here in Seattle to prepare some. It had been a long while since I had made it, but there is nothing difficult at all about this simple three-ingredient recipe made from lime, honey and salt. All that’s needed is the right balance of salty, sweet and sour to sooth the aching and irritated throat.

kişisel resim

Honey image via Wikipedia

Lime is a great source of Vitamin C and “Honey has also been used for centuries as a treatment for sore throats and coughs and, according to recent research, may be an effective soothing agent for coughs” (from Wikipedia). The risk for honey is only in children under a year of age because of a rare occurrence of infantile botulism, otherwise it is a well-established natural cough remedy in many cultures.

Lime มะนาว - plenty of lime in Thailand

In my kitchen, with the honey, limes and salt in front of me, I recalled standing side by side with my grandma in her kitchen, watching her stirring, tasting and adjusting the sour, sweet and salty. The sour from lime would make my eyes squint, but adding enough honey to cut the sharp edge of the lime would allow my eyes to open once again with sweet delight and the mixture to comfort my sore throat. Then she would add enough salt to pronounce its existence and make the honey and lime dance together in  harmony. The warmth of the tea also soothed the sore throat. I would sip this tea slowly as if to allow each sip of honey-lime tea to absorb and sooth and melt away all the discomfort. It is not often I get a credit for my home remedies, but my son did find a tremendous comfort from this tea last year. As I tested this recipe one more time, he took part and enjoyed this tea once again, as both of us had mild colds this week. As we sipped, we both agreed that we appreciated this recipe before and now.

Honey-Lime Tea

Honey-Lime Tea

Cha Nam Pung Manao

ชามะนาวน้ำผึ้ง

Don’t judge this recipe by the amount of lime and honey. It is not a tea for daily drinking, but more of a cough remedy for those times that we need all that vitamin C from the lime and the medicinal qualities of the honey. I would recommend that you prepare it according to the recipe and taste it before making any changes or adjustments. Take a good sip and swallow it slowly to allow the warm, well-balanced tea to linger in your throat.

This tea also good for drinking warm just for pleasure, in which case I would reduce the lime juice to 4 tablespoons. I recommend using the full 6 tablespoons of lime juice for use as a cough remedy.

Serves: 1

¼ teaspoon salt plus 2 pinches
2 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons hot water
4 to 6 tablespoons lime juice
 
Put the water on to heat then prepare the ingredients as follows.

Place salt and honey into a tea-cup and pour boiling water or warm water over it, stirring until the salt and honey dissolve. Add lime juice, stir one more time and serve. For use as a cough remedy, use the whole 6 tablespoons of lime juice and sip it slowly. For tea, use just 4 tablespoons lime juice. This is also an ideal summer drink poured over ice. 

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

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

Hami Melon

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

Hami Melon

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

Coconut Melon Smoothie

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

Coconut Melon Smoothie

Nam Kati Taeng Thai Smoothie

น้ำกะทิแตงไทยสมูทตี้

Serves: 2 to 4

Yield: 3 cups

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

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

Pranee’s Note

A 4-pound Hami melon (medium size), seeded, peeled and diced will yield about 2 pounds of diced melon.
 
To make palm sugar simple syrup, place a disc of palm sugar (about 4 tablespoons) and about ¼ cup water in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool and chill. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.   Yield: ¼ cup.
 
© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen  
I Love Thai cooking 
 Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .

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From Las Delicias with Love

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

May 8, 2011, Las Delicias

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

Dinner with Rice, banana and bean

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

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

Banana leaf just right outside

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

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

Thelma wrapped rice, banana and bean with banana leaf

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

Kao Tom Mud

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

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

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

Sweet Rice and Banana Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Kao Tom Mud 

ข้าวต้มมัด

Servings: 8

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

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

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

Pranee’s note:

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

Pulut Lapa

Image by chooyutshing via Flickr

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My Everyday  Asian Vegetable

Choy Sum - Flowering Cabbage

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

Stir-fried Choy Sum as a Side dish

Stir-fried Choy Sum

Phad Pak Gwang Tung

ผัดผักกวางตุ้ง

Servings: 4

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

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

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

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

Stir-fried Phuket Hokkien Mee with Choy Sum

 
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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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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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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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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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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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Thai Basil Seed Drink, a Fun Summer Time Drink   

When the weather was very hot and dry in my Thai village, I used to run to the drink stand for fresh basil seed drinks with ice floating in a pink rose floral flavored drink. It made the summer day bright and special for me and all the Thai kids back then.   

We sometimes harvested our own lemon basil seeds by shaking and rubbing dry flowers over a cloth until all the seeds came out. Then we would blow out the impurities and dust before soaking seeds in water. Then we added simple syrup or honey, rose-water or flower essences and ice. It was a fun drink to make and enjoy. I loved to make this drink with friends. It was fun to see a black seed changing in water to look like a fish egg, dragon fruit or kiwi seeds like in 10 minutes.  It looks strange but it tastes so good, and has natural fiber. This jelly-like seeds can be added to Thai desserts for texture, just like you do with tapioca pearls in bubble tea drinks. It is great with toddy palm seeds and longan drink also. Similar drinks are known to all Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, India.     

Thai Basil Seed Drink -- Nam Mengluck

 

At home in Seattle, I either made this drink with simple syrup and natural flavor extract or honey. You may use  Hale’s, Torani or Grenadine syrup with your choice of  flavor and color. The hard part for you will be to find basil seeds. They comes in a small package under: Sweet Basil Seed (Med Mengluck) [Thai], and Natural Dried Basil Seed (HOT E) [Vietnam]. Good luck (Chok Dee).   

Thai Basil Seed Drink   

Nam Mengluck   

Serves: 2   

1 tablespoon basil seeds, culinary seeds only
6 tablespoons simple syrup, Grenadine, Torani or Hale’s syrup.
2 cups ice-cubes
1 cup cold water
2 basil sprigs or flowers for garnish 

Combine 1 cup water and basil seeds in a pitcher and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then stir in simple syrup, grenadine syrup or Torani, ice-cube and cold water. Pour in two-chill-tall glasses and garnish with basil sprigs or flowers. Serve cold.   

© 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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My Milo  

Most Thai kids grow up with hot milo just like American kids do with hot chocolate. However, growing up in Thailand more than 45 years ago, daily products such as milk, butter and cheese were rare commodities. We grew up with milk powder or UHT milk and of course sweetened condensed milk. There are many ways to make this quick drink for your kids. I have modified the method my mom used to make for us, based on sweetened condensed milk and hot water, to this healthier recipe with a hint of sweetened condensed milk and 2% milk for my kid. Any Thai mom would have done the same back then based on availability and affordability.   

Milo is a chocolate malt beverage mix. It was created by Thomas Mayne, an Australian industrial chemist in 1934. It is marketed in Thailand as an energy food drink. Perhaps that why most parents serve to school children. 

 

 

My Milo

 

This morning, I made some Milo for my son. The sounds I made were not the same as the sounds from when my mom prepared one for me. I remember waiting with anticipation, hearing the sound of a teaspoon whisking around and hitting the side of the glass mug. Here in my kitchen, it was a whisk against a stainless steel sauce pan. But I knew that my son was waiting for his morning drink with an anticipation too.

My Milo Hot Milk 

Khrueng Duam Milo 

1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons milo powder, plus 1/2 teaspoon for garnish
1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk, optional

Heat milk in a medium-size sauce pan on medium heat until the steam appear, about 5 minutes. Stir in milo powder, sweetened condensed milk and whisk for 30 seconds until it well blended and foamy. Pour in a heat proof glass and garnish with 1/2 teaspoon milo powder on the top. Serve warm or cold over ice. 

© 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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Drink for Our Complexion 

I grew up in Phuket, an Island off of Southern Thailand, where I never saw tomatoes until I was a teenager.  We learned to like tomatoes because there was a saying that it was great for our complexion. People from the Northern part of Thailand had the most beautiful complexions due to the fact that they grew and ate a lot of tomatoes. And of course at that time, tomatoes were only known in Northern cuisines such as Nam Prik Ong, Nam Prik Nom and green papaya salad. Howevery, today tomatoes are available at the markets every day in Thailand. And it is a well loved and acquired taste to all Thais.

Tomato-Celery Drink

The Europeans brought tomatoes to Thailand around the 16th century. It is true that ” tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which improves the skins ability to protect against harmful UV rays”

Now seeing fresh sweet tomatoes everywhere including from my garden and at the local farmer market. It is appropriate to blend my childhood smoothie that I used to have from Phuket Smoothie Stand.

Now that so many variety of local tomatoes available in the market, I hope that you will enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Cheers to our complexions!  

Tomato & Chinese Celery Smoothie
Nam Makruatade Punt
 

Serve: 1 

1 cup crushed ice
1 cup tomato, diced–sweet variety
1/4 cup chopped Chinese celery or any celery, plus one stem for garnish
1 tablespoon simple syrup
A pinch of  salt
A pinch of chili powder
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

Place ice, tomato, celery, simple syrup, salt, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in a chilled-tall 12-ounce glass, garnish with a celery stem. Serve cool. 

 © 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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Tamarind Drinks – All Natural Thai Drinks  

During the day, I often open a fridge and look for a drink. My eye was on tamarind concentrate – a leftover from Thai cooking class another day. I spent three minutes making a syrup. Now I have syrup ready for making a tea and soda.

Tamarind syrup is a good recipe to have. I always make one recipe to keep in refrigerator or more if I plan to freeze them. Mostly for the cocktail and soda but in the emergency situation –  it can be a cold remedy – it can be use in Phad Thai or curry. It has a hint of sweet, fruity but not as tart when add sugar. In Thai village we use tamarind and honey as a tea for a cold remedy. It is high in Vitamin C and also good for digestion.      

 

 Tamarind Syrup  

 Nam Chuem Makham

น้ำเชื่อมมะขาม 

 Yield: 3/4 cup

1/2 cup tamarind concentrate, freshly made or from the can 
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey

Combine tamarind concentrate, brown sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil on high heat. Stir and let it cook for 2 minutes. Strain into a clean jar, when it is cool then store in the fridge for a week or keep in the freezer for 3 months.

 Tamarind-Honey Tea 

Cha Nampung Makam 

ชาน้ำผึ้งมะขาม

3 tablespoons tamarind syrup, from recipe above 

To make a tamarind tea,  combine 3 tablespoons tamarind syrup (make syrup with honey instead of brown sugar) with 5 tablespoons boiling water in a tea-cup and serve warm.

Tamarind Soda 

 Nam Kham Soda 

น้ำโซดามะขาม

 Serves: 1

 1 cup ice cube
3/4 cup sparking mineral water
3 tablespoons tamarind syrup, from recipe above
1 mint sprig

Place ice cube in a glass, follow by sparking mineral water and tamarind syrup. Stir lightly and serve. Garnish with mint sprig.  

© 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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A Romance in a Thai Granny’s Garden

Thai Country Style Soup with Lemon Basil    

Gaeng Leang Bai Meng Luck    

Every time I visit a Seattle Farmers’ Markets  and see Hmong-farmer stalls that have fresh lemon basil; I get excited and want to cook Gaeng Leang–a Thai country-style soup. It is our Thai ancestor’s creation and a classic soup that is known in every village in Thailand. Any vegetables that grow together in a Thai granny’s garden seem to go together in a pot with a finish touch of lemon basil — a romance of flavor is in the pot. Thais seem to keep it simple with three to five vegetables. If there are five kinds of vegetable with five-different hues of color then the classic name is “Gaeng Leang Benjarong” and one of the vegetables must be Kabocha pumpkin with its yellow-orange color.

Anchovy, red onion, watermelon rind, lemon basil

Thai food historians believe that the soup base or broth derives from the base of Nam Prik (Thai traditional Chili dip). Making Gaeng Leang Soup base typically it starts with pounding shallot, shrimp paste and chilli in a mortar with pestle to form a paste, and placing it in boiling water, similar to my recipe below. The alternative to a shrimp paste is dried salted shrimp, dried salted anchovy or dried grilled fish–think of it as Dashi, Japanese fish stock.

After making the soup base, the rest is simple. You may use any authentic Asian vegetable of your choice such as luffa, Kabocha pumpkin, young corn, melon, corn kernels or watermelon rind. The final touch is always lemon basil (Bai Maeng Luck).  Lemon basil is inseparable from this soup. In Seattle in the summer I always use lemon basil either from my garden or the farmers’ market.

Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil

I challenge myself to reconstruct a rustic Thai dish in a sophisticated way while keeping the original concept and authenticity. I cut anchovy fillets into small pieces and dice watermelon. The soup is gentle and not as hot and earthy as in Thailand with shrimp paste. Thais generally serve this soup warm. But my recipe is generous with the amount of watermelon rind so it is sweet and sophisticated enough that you can serve either warm or cold.  I love the simplicity of Gaeng Leang — a flavor of fresh seasonal vegetables  in a bowl.

Tomorrow my friend  will drop by for lunch. I want to prepare a summer soup for her, a country-style but elegant for girl lunch. I know she will like it. Our desert will be Yangon Almond Pancake with Berry and honeyed yogurt. All I hope for is a nice sunny day, so we can enjoy in my Thai garden here in Seattle.

Watermelon Rind Soup with Lemon Basil    

Gaeng Leang Pueak Tangmo Kub Bai Meng Luck

Serves: 2

1 tablespoon chopped dried anchovy fillets or dried salted shrimp, pounded
1/4 cup diced purple onion or shallot
1 cup diced watermelon rind or any mixed vegetable (please see list above)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Thai chili powder to taste
2 tablespoons lemon basil leaves,  plus 2 sprigs for garnish

Bring 1 1/2 cups water, anchovy and purple onion to a boil and keep it simmer on medium heat for 15 minute to develop the flavors for the soup.

If you don’t want to eat anchovy, you may strain to remove the anchovy and purple onion at this point.

Combine watermelon rind, salt, black pepper powder and chili powder with the soup and let it cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in lemon basil and serve right away. Garnish with lemon basil sprigs.

Note: When lemon basil is not available, I compromise with Thai purple basil and it will not be lemony flavor that finish the soup but licorice instead.     You may use any vegetables from farmer market or your garden such as zucchini, squash, pea leaf, corn and more.

 © 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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Lovage and Snap Pea Soup

Kaeng Jued Pak

There is no real Thai name for this soup, but I started the process by stir-frying, adding broth and cooking until the vegetables are soft. It’s like a Thai soup that is called Kaeng Jued Pak. I pureed it down like western soup. It is best to enjoy lovage that way. It’s not a typical Thai dish but my grandma would have done the same — a dish from the garden or the nearest farm to the table. The freshness and simplicity were key. I don’t make it a habit to call for take-out or frozen food. I prefer to enjoy real food. When there is nothing else, steamed rice and fried eggs with some soy sauce and cucumber on top is enough. This is a kind of lunch; I enjoy it when I am at home by myself.

Lovage-Snap Pea Soup

Lovage and Snap Pea Soup

This morning while working in the garden, I trimmed overgrown lovage. Some was young and tender; so I decided not to throw it away. Then around lunch break, I made a soup with some snap peas that I got from the farmers market the day before. All I had to do is find the right spice to go with it. I had some freshly ground coriander powder–seeds that I brought from Thailand. I gave it a try, and it was right on. It was a quick and easy summer soup. With a lovage plant, you will receive an annual return every summer with flavorful soup–the best tasting soup that no other restaurants can compete with because you have got the freshest one a few steps from your kitchen. 

Serves: 4

Yield: 2 cups

3 tablespoons canola oil or extra light olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped lovage
1 cup whole snap peas, end trimmed — about 20 snap peas
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground-toasted coriander powder
2 cups chicken brother or 2 cups water plus 2 teaspoons chicken powder

Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat and when it is hot add canola oil. Stir in garlic and onion until fragrant and onion become translucent. Stir in lovage for 30 seconds before adding snap pea, sea salt and coriander. Pour into a large pot and add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lets it cook on medium heat until snap peas is cooked. About 8 minutes. Serve as is or use a blend in the blender. Garnish with chopped lovage or lovage leaf.

Vegetarian option: substitute chicken broth with vegetable or mushroom broth.

© 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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My very  first breakfast in Yangon.

Yangon Almond Pancake

When I was in Yangon last year I spent my first morning looking for a market near the hotel. It was a street that had many stalls and breakfast type food stands. Everything in Yangon was very exciting for me, as a neighbouring country to Thailand. I found that our culture and cuisine are very different in many ways. The thing that catched my eye most was a lady making an almond pancake on the street. I stood in line and signalled for some almond pancake, the same one that she just did for the customer in front of me.  First she poured the pancake batter in the pan, sprinkled generous amount of almond on top, then she placed a charcoal heater on top. Like baking, the cake actually rise after a few minutes. She then gave it to me in a plastic bag. I ate there on the street. I really loved it, as its almond flavor and texture were very pronounced, crispy, and aromatic.

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I asked for permission to take picture and I was glad I did and it is helpful to write this recipe. I still remember the flavors, so here I am trying to duplicate the recipe from the memory– Here in Seattle in my kitchen.

I created Honey-Lime Syrup to go with the pancake. In Southeast Asia, it is typical way of using honey-lime for a syrup in a dessert. Also you can simply add more hot water to melt honey and put over ice as a tonic drink. It is very versatile recipe. I like local pure honey. I use “Twin Peaks”  Mountain Honey from Snoqualmie Valley Honey Farm, located in North Bend, Washington. The bees collect nectar from the local wild flowers the scent of the wild flower is present in the honey. You may use any honey.

I want to tell you that this pancake is beyond breakfast. I popped frozen left-over in the toaster this morning, and the almonds on the pancake were very crunchy and delicious with my Vietnamese coffee. I almost cry, I miss Burma.

Honey-Lime Syrup

 Nam Pueng Ruang Manao

Yield: 1/4 cup

 3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon hot water
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 drop almond extract, optional
 

Combine honey and hot water in a microwave save small bowl. Heat in the microwave for 15 seconds and stir until uniform. Stir in lime juice and almond extract. Stir really well and set a side. Store in refrigerator up for a week.

Yangon Almond Pancake

Yields: 1 1/2 cup pancake batter

Make: 4 to 6 pancakes
 
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup almond meal flour
1 egg
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus 4 tablespoons to cook pancake
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
 

Sift flour, baking powder and salt twice and place into a large bowl along with almond meal flour. Beat eggs, sugar and butter in a medium size bowl for 30 seconds. Combine with milk and almond extract. Then pour in the flour mixture, fold it gently just to mix.

To duplicate the technique shown in the pictures, I use a heated cast iron pan as a hot lid. Cover the pancake while cooking.

Heat a pancake pan with 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat when melt pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup batter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons toasted sliced almond on the surface of the pancake, cover with heated cast iron pan and let’s it cook for 3 minutes. It should rise, when the edge is golden, use spatula to lift the pancake to see if it yellow-brown. If it does, it is ready. Flip with spatula to cook another side. It should take about 30 seconds, more or less. Check the same way if it is done. Don’t let the almond burn, it should take about 3o seconds. Repeat the process to make 3 or 4 more pancakes. Serve right away with Honey-Lime Syrup.

Note: I freeze the uneaten pancake by letting it cool, line with parchment paper and put in the zip lock bag. Freeze. Next time around all you have to do is put in the toaster. 

 © 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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