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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Cuisine’

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 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
For more in-depth in Thai ingredients and Hand-on Cooking Class please check out
Pranee’s One day Asian Market Tour & Cooking Class at Pranee’s Thai Kitchen

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

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

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

บวบหอม

บวบหอม – Smooth Luffa – Luffa aegistiaca

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

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

Angled Luffa on the arbor - Angled luffa - Luffa acutangula

บวบเหลี่ยม – Angled Luffa on the trellis – Luffa acutangula

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

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

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

how to peel angled luffa

How to peel angled luffa

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

IMG_0171

Angled luffa looks like a soft cucumber

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

oblige cut is a cutting style for stir-fried luffa

The oblique cutting style is used for stir-fried luffa

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

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

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

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

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

Stir-fried Angle Luffa with Egg

Buab Phad Khai
บวบผัดไข่
Serves: 4

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

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

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 eggs

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

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water or chicken broth

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

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

Related Links

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

How to Grow Your Luffa Sponge

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

Roll-Cutting Video

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

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Thai Ceremony & Culinary Traditions

One year, remembrance.

I arrived in Phuket in late March 2015 amid the stunning beauty of the hot season. All my favorite flowers from large trees were in full bloom, and the sky had a beautiful blue hue. The heat and humidity greeted me and welcomed me home. I love Thailand at this time of year. However, this visit was unlike any other. It was an urgent one to visit my mom whose health had worsened since my visit just a month before.

The golden shower tree - Rachapruek - ราชพฤกษ์

The golden shower tree – Rachapruek – ราชพฤกษ์

I only had a chance to admire the season’s beauty from the car window because I had come to spend whatever precious moments I could with my mom. I had my blessing, as we were able to give each other hugs and say our farewells just two days before her passing.

In accordance with the tradition in our region, a celebration of her life followed immediately afterwards. Her funeral was held for six days; the last day was the cremation day. These events all took place on the grounds of our village monastery in a special section where there was a large hall, praying chamber and a kitchen. Over 3,000 friends, relatives and family paid tribute, and on the cremation day, over 145 monks and novice monks and hundreds of people came to honor my mom’s life. She is missed and loved by her family and community.

Thai Temple

Early Morning Sunlight at the Thai Temple

Thai-ness

In honor of Thai culture and Thai-ness, I am sharing these stories and pictures with you. I hope you can read with your open heart and mind and that you learn something of a different people and culture.

In February 2013 I wrote the post Thai Monastery Kitchen about Thai culture and the cuisine at a Thai funeral or celebration of life. I hope you had a chance to read it and see how Thai culinary traditions and culture revolve around the Thai monastery kitchen and event hall where we share food, mourn, laugh, and mingle.

Just two years after that post, my four brothers and my sister and I were suddenly very busy organizing all the details for my mom’s celebration of life. Because the system for doing this event is already in place and the ritual is the same for everyone, there is nothing to reinvent but from 5:30 am till 10 pm each day we were busy shopping for foods and serving them.

Serving Tea and Water

Getting Tea and Water Ready for Our Guests

My mom’s funeral was held in our village monastery hall which was attached to a large kitchen. More than 25 dining tables were set up so that when friends and relatives visited and gave their condolences, the foods and drinks could be promptly served. We steeped tea in a large pot and always had two types of tea: a Thai tea with a hint of sweet and a fragrant Pandan Jasmine Tea. As guests arrived, we welcomed them to sit and promptly served them tea.

My brothers, sister, and all of the in-laws wore black and white and greeted and served with care the friends and relatives from near and far. About 500 people visited each day and the kitchen was always busy with commotion during lunch and dinner time. Generous donations from everyone helped us to keep this tradition alive. It is a big part of helping us mourn the loss of a loved one and I had good visits with many relatives that I hadn’t seen for over 25 years.

IMG_5308

At the funeral, a 10-foot-long table was covered with symbolic and auspicious foods, then groups of related kinship in a clan were called to pay homage, group by group. The first group was the deceased’s children and their spouses. The photo above is of my sister and brothers and their spouses. The next group called is the deceased’s brother and sister, and so on. We added this step to our Thai buddhist ceremony before the cremation to honor my mom and our family’s Phuket Baba culture.

IMG_5340.

At the crematorium everyone lined up to pay their respects and say farewell.

Because I was so busy most of the time I only had a chance to take a few pictures on the second day of mourning, but I hope you enjoy the photo log below and the chance to see what it was like in a Thai monastery kitchen during my mom’s celebration of life. If you wish to see more, please check out my photo album “My Mom’s Cerebration of Life.

Thai Ceremony Cooking in a Monastery Kitchen

Thai Village Chef

Jee Lah spoons Hua Mok batter onto a banana leaf

My mom had always admired Jee Lah, the head chef and caterer for most events in the village. Jee Lah was about to go on vacation when my brother asked her to be the cook for the six days of my mom’s celebration of life. Jee Lah agreed to honor my mom’s wish to have her cater her celebration of life. We were so fortunate to have her. Jee Lah specializes in Phuket cuisine and local popular dishes. She created the menu for each day. The foods was real local cuisine expertly prepared with the best taste and quality and she appreciated how all our brothers and sisters made her job easier.

My sister, Rudee prepared mixed fruit plate

My sister Rudee prepared mixed fruit plate

Above, my sister Rudee is preparing fruit platters for snacks or after-meal palate cleansers. In this photo she is preparing sliced green mango and rose apple with nam play wan – น้ำปลาหวาน – a fruit dipping sauce.

Thai Coconut Ice Cream

Thai Coconut Ice Cream

We served my mom’s favorite ice cream to our guests.

Thai Vegetable Accompaniment to Nam Prik and Curry Dish

Thai Vegetable Accompaniments to Nam Prik and Curry Dish

Above is a Thai vegetable accompaniment to Nam Prik – น้ำพริก – hot sauce. There are cucumbers, young corn, cauliflower, and Thai eggplant.

Slicing Technique for Snake Bean for Thai Salad

How to Slice a Snake Bean for Thai Salad

Technique is so important and cooking for 300 guests each meal means there are many helping hands for the long hours of patient and hard work. The snake beans here are sliced thin like paper in an oblong. This preparation is for Thai Southern bean salad.

How to Slice Shallot for Thai Chili Dip and Fried Shallot

Slicing Shallots for Thai Chili Dip and Fried Shallots

In Thai cuisine we use a lot of shallots. Slicing them very thinly, like paper, is always important to allow them to combine well in a salad, chili dipping sauce or making fried shallots.

How to Slice the Green Mango for Thai Salad for Thai Chili Dip

Slicing the Green Mango for Thai Salad or Thai Chili Dip

Green mango is shredded into thin strips for green mango salad. One could use a julienne peeler to accomplish the work but for the beautiful looks and best quality, hand shredding is preferred.

Barracudas - ปลาสาก For Hua Mok, Thai Fish Cake

Barracudas – ปลาสาก For Hua Mok, Thai Fish Cake

The meat from these large fish was for a Hua Mok – a fish cake steamed in banana leaf. The yellow batter that Jee Lah was spooning from the large pot into a banana leaf in the earlier photo was 90% fish meat and the rest is spices and herbs.

How to minced the pork with Clever

How to Mince the Pork with a Cleaver

To make minced meat for soup or meat balls, first slice the meat and then chop it repeatedly with a cleaver until the pork is minced into small pieces.

The Real Thai Local Cuisine

Real Local Thai Cuisine

Everyone worked hard to make everything well to honor our mom. All of the hard work serving the mourners was helping us with the mourning as well.

I Love Thai cooking
Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.
Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com 
Lets connect on  Twitter,  FacebookYoutubeInstagram and Pinterest
For more in-depth in Thai ingredients and Hand-on Cooking Class please check out
Pranee’s One day Asian Market Tour & Cooking Class at Pranee’s Thai Kitchen
 
Related Link
 
What to expect if you are invited to a Thai Funeral.
http://www.thaibuddhist.com/what-to-expect-if-you-are-invited-to-a-thai-funeral/
Thai Monastery Kitchen
https://praneesthaikitchen.com/2013/02/25/thai-monastery-kitchen/
 
 

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Heavenly Dessert

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

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

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

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

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

Kanom Mor Gaeng

Kanom Mor Gaeng Tua

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

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

Steamed Mung Beans

Cooked Split Mung Beans

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

Run egg, sugar batter through a sieve

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

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

cook mung bean custard on low heat for 5 minutes

Cook mung bean custard on low heat for 5 minutes

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

photo 4

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

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

Freshly Baked Khanom Mor Geng - ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Freshly Baked Khanom Mor Geng

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

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans – ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Thai Coconut Custard with Mung Beans

Khanom Mo Gaeng

ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว

Serves 8 to 16

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 45 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 1/2 cups evaporated cane sugar

6 eggs, duck eggs preferred

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Pandan leaf

1 1/2 cups coconut cream

2 cups steamed mung beans

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

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

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

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

© 2015  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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

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Summery Curry 

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

Phuket Pineapple

Phuket Pineapple

Pineapple has a nickname: “A Thousand Eyes Fruit”

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

Ripe Phuket Pineapple

Ripe Phuket Pineapple

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

Remove Pineapple Eyes in Diagonal Lines

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

Cutting a half of Pineapple into wedges

Cutting a Half of Pineapple into Wedges

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

Summery Thai Curry

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

Gaeng Klue Sapparod

Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple and Cilantro

GEANG KUE SAPPAROD

แกงคั่วสับปะรด

Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple and Cilantro

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

Serves 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons red curry paste

1 cup coconut milk, divided

½ cup water

½ cup fresh or canned crushed pineapple with juice

1/3 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks

1 tablespoon sugar

3 Kaffir lime leaves

16 shrimp, peeled and deveined

¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

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

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

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

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

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Eat Like a Local

Everyone in my Thai family was born and lives in Phuket, as we have for many generations. This is also true for many of Phuket’s over 200,000 natives, though there are about one million people living on Phuket Island today. Despite all of the changes, one place remains almost timeless. This is Rawai Beach, where the pace of change is slow compared to other parts of Phuket. So where do Phuket natives escape to on the weekend? Rawai Beach – หาดราไวย์.

Rawai Beach – Thailand

There we dine on seafood as we did for many generations before there were so many foreign influences, enjoying a typical menu of grill seafood or blanched cockers with Phuket seafood dipping sauce. In my next post I will show you exactly what we ordered the last time I was at Rawai Beach with my family, and how we ate it. This may help you understand our cuisine and culture. I hope you will enjoy my personal story of how my family eats and travels. When you get a chance to visit Phuket, I hope that you, too, will have a chance to eat like a local.

Talay-Zep Seafood & Wine Restaurant

ร้านอาหารทะเลแซ่บ ชายหาดราไวย์

Rawai Beach Phuket Thailand

Each visit I make to Phuket provides fun reunion time with my family. Almost every weekend during my short visits we bond over food, whether it is fresh home cooking, or take-out from Talad nad – ตลาดนัด  or nearby restaurants. Sometimes my family and I will take a little adventure travel to another end of the island or to the nearby province of Phang Nga. This trip my sister-in-law and I had a desire for seafood Phuket style. As always, we visited Talay-Zep restaurant, the scene of countless of our reunion dinners.

Talay-Zep Seafood Restaurant in Rawai, Phuket Island

ร้านอาหารทะเลแซ่บ ชายหาดราไวย์

My friend Kularb -กุหลาบ – and her husband Pho – โปั – own Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine Restaurant, which is on Rawai Beach Road among 15 other Phuket seafood restaurants. We enjoyed a big seafood feast, which I will share with you in my next post. Today, however, I will share just my family’s favorite dish: Horseshoe Crab Salad with Mango. Just like Anthony Bourdain, most of my family consider this a delicacy dish—though I myself was not convinced to eat these eggs, which are the only edible part of the crab. In fact, the horseshoe crab is not a crab at all, and it does not have edible flesh like other crabs. It is more closely related to spiders and scorpions, a living fossil that has remained virtually unchanged for millions of years. But now, after doing some research, I have learned more about the risks involved in eating horseshoe crab eggs, and how to avoid them, so I may take one bite the next time around.

Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine on Rawai Beach

Talay-Zep Seafood and Wine on Rawai Beach

Kularb, Pranee and Pho

Nevertheless, I asked Kularb to share her knowledge of horseshoe crab eggs and her verbal recipe with you. Today I am not encouraging you to cook, but to read and learn about something you may never have heard of before: Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad – Yum Khai Mengda Talay – ไข่แมงดาทะเล.

Horseshoe Crab – แมงดาทะเล

Kularb’s notes on how to prepare horseshoe crab for its eggs

Horseshoe crab is not difficult to cook, but  the person who removes the eggs—or roe—from the horseshoe crab must know the correct procedures to do this to prevent the other inedible parts of the crab from contaminating the eggs. If the eggs get contaminated, you can fall sick with dizziness or the symptoms of food poisoning and complications of the digestive system. Kularb suggests that you only harvest the eggs from cooked horseshoe crabs. The eggs, which are found in the belly area, can be green or orange-colored, about the same size as salmon roe but with a firmer, crunchy texture and an interesting flavor.

There are two ways to prepare horseshoe crabs before removing the eggs. One way is to place the whole horseshoe crab in boiling water and cook it until the eggs are just cooked. Another way is to place the horseshoe crab on the grill until the eggs have cooked, about 5 minutes. Kularb notes that it is a very difficult task to remove the eggs from the shell and that it requires a skilled cook to prepare the eggs. She or her husband prepares the horseshoe crab eggs for her restaurant.

Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad

Yum Kai Meng Da

ยำไข่แมงดาทะเล

Yum Kai Meng Da is the only way that Thais usually prepare horseshoe crab eggs. Kularb’s verbal recipe is the same as my green mango salad recipe so I hope you enjoy this recipe even beyond the horseshoe crab egg salad. For everyone to enjoy this salad without the risk, I have created a Mock Horseshoe Crab Egg Salad, which can be prepared substituting Israeli couscous cooked al dente with a touch of fish sauce in place of the crab eggs. With the mock salad recipe there is nothing to worry about—just enjoy the delicious salad! You may use horseshoe crab eggs if desired, but do so at your own risk and with an awareness of the risks involved.

Horseshoe Crab Eggs Salad

Serves: 4

 1/2 cup cooked horseshoe crab eggs (see Kularb’s note), or Isreali couscous cooked al dente
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 large lime
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar
2  fresh Thai chillies, chopped, or 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons sliced shallot
1 cup shredded green mango, from about 1/2 green mango (or substitute a granny smith apple for the green mango)
1/4 cup Chinese celery, cut into 1 inch lengths
1/4 cup cashew nuts, chopped
2 lettuce leaves

Cook horseshoe crab eggs according to Kularb’s instruction and set aside.

To make the salad dressing, stir fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and chili powder together in a large bowl. Stir well until the palm sugar is dissolved. Then stir in Israel couscous or horseshoe crab eggs, shallot, green mango, Chinese celery, and cashew nuts until well combined.

Place lettuce leaves on the serving plate and top with salad mixture. Serve right away.

© 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 
 

Should You Eat Horseshoe Crab Egg? 

“Although many experts and doctors would suggest staying clear of consuming horseshoe crab it is quite possible to eat them on a regular basis. It is important to ensure that the person preparing the delicacy is familiar with the correct procedure as otherwise it is possible to fall sick if you were to consume the wrong parts or organs. Today it is a species that is becoming more common in seafood restaurants tanks not just in south Asia but around the world.” from Crableghowtocook.com

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Gone Fishing – ไปตกปลา

Kamala beach early morning

Kamala Beach early morning

Once again I found myself along Kamala Beach taking a leisurely walk—Dern Kin Lom—เดินกินลม—in Thai this means “walk to eat the wind.” I loved watching what was happening on the beach and wasn’t sure if I was walking slower, or the beach was getting longer, or I was simply spending so much time talking to people along the way. I knew for sure that I took quite some time taking pictures and talking to the villagers who were fishing leisurely for a type of fish called sand whiting. At early morning, the whole family together, gone fishing – ไปตกปลา.

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Families enjoy the rays of sunrise and fishing for sand whiting.

While mom fishes and enjoys her solitude, the children are at play with the sand and the waves.

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A white sand beach makes a great playground.

Shrimp are used for bait for sand whiting fishing.

Sand Whiting

Andaman Ocean Sand Whiting – ปลาทราย

Sand Whiting -ปลาทราย – pla sai

Sand whiting – ปลาทราย – live in shallow areas along the coast in both the Pacific and Indian oceans. Kamala Beach has a nice sandy beach, a perfect habitat for sand whiting, which live on bugs and small shrimp. A full-grown sand whiting is about 6 to 8 inches long, with a thin, narrow body about 1-inch wide. It has a delightful sweet flavor and a firm texture. Kamala villagers have a passion for sand whiting fishing. It is a tradition as old as the village itself.

Pla Sai Kratiem Prik Thai

Pla Sai Kratiem Prik Thai

For a Thai culinary delight, look for fresh sand whiting on local restaurant menus. The most popular dishes are Kratiem Prik Thai (with garlic and pepper), tom som (sour soup), tod khamin (fried with salt and turmeric), gaeng som (sour curry) and my grandma’s  favorite, tod tao jeow (fried with salted soy bean). The photo above is of Kratiem Prik Thai Pla Sai from Tha Maprow Restaurant in Phuket.

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Phuket sand whiting fish soup – Tom Som Pla Sai

At Kan Eng Restaurant at Chalong Pier, our family ordered Tom Som Pla Sai – Sand Whiting Fish Soup – a simple soup to savor the freshest sand whiting.

I hope you will enjoy our family recipe. It is typical of the recipes that you will find in Phuket and other Southern Thai kitchens.

Phuket Sand Whiting Fish Soup

Tom Som Pla Sai

ต้มส้มปลาทราย

Tom Som is a basic sour soup with a hint of sweet from the freshest fish. It is a typical sour soup in the Southern region of Thailand where sour fruit is used to give the dish its sour flavor. Each province has it owns preference among the sour fruits, such as som khaek or Asam fruit,  salak, hibiscus or young leaves, and tamarind or young leaf.

The word “som” has two meanings: one is “orange,” or “sour taste.” We also use som to call or identify sour tastes such as som khaek or asam fruit for example. Most sour fruits contains citric acid; when they are added to soup or curry dishes there is no need for vinegar or lime juice. An important part of learning the art of Thai cooking is understanding the sophisticated use of sour fruits to balance the sour flavor in Thai soups and curries. In America, substitutions for the sour fruits include sorrel leaves, tamarind, and Jamaican hibiscus.

Yield: 3 cups broth

Serves: 4

2 cups water
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
3 pieces dried Asam fruit- Garcinia Atroviridis –ส้มแขก , or 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
3 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, smashed, and cut into 3 inch-pieces
2 shallots, peeled, smashed, and cut in half
8 sand whiting, or 2/3 pound halibut cut into chunks
¼ teaspoon salt

To make lemongrass and shrimp paste broth, bring water to a boil in a medium size pot on medium high heat. Add shrimp paste and Asam fruit or tamarind concentrate. Stir until shrimp paste is dissolved. Add lemongrass and shallots and let mixture boil for 5 minutes. Place fish in the boiling broth, which should be slightly covering the fish. Cook until the fish changes color and becomes opaque and the size is a bit smaller—about 3 minutes. Stir in salt. Remove from heat and serve.

© 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 
 
Sand Whiting Fishing Competition 2012

Sand Whiting Fishing Competition 2012

Kamala women love fishing.

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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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Three Best Friends

สามสหาย – Saam Saahai

To consider oneself a Thai cook, one should understand the fundamentals of  Kratiem Prik Thai—garlic-black pepper-cilantro root seasoning paste. Like Nam Prik or chili dip, it is a truly Thai invention without any influences from neighboring countries. Like the classic pesto sauce that originated in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy, Kratiem Prik Thai is a classic Thai culinary seasoning that has been around for as long as the existence of Siam.

Garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots

Pounding a mortar and pestle to make a Kratiem Prik Thai paste is a classic Thai culinary technique, and this paste is prepared practically everyday in every Thai kitchen where it serves as a seasoning for any meat or seafood. There is no need for more herbs than just this awesome three: garlic, black pepper and cilantro root. I like to call them the “three best friends” or, in Thai, สามสหาย – Saam Saahai. They often appear together in Thai recipes. Like The Three Musketeers, they are”All for one, one for all.”

Garlic – Black Pepper – Cilantro Root

Kratiem – Prik Thai- Rark Puk Chee

กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

The Kratiem Prik Thai paste is simply made with just the three main ingredients of garlic, black pepper and cilantro. When balanced with salty and sweet from soy sauce and brown sugar, they deepen the flavor of grilled meat, appetizers, meat patties for soup, or marinades for meat before deep-frying. Then sweet chili sauce and Sriracha hot sauce may be served alongside the meat with a vegetable condiment. I hope you have a chance to learn how to make the Kratiem Prik Thai paste below and experiment with it in your cooking at home, from marinating your steak to adding it into a meat patty or simply sauteing it with seafood for a quick and easy main dish.

Garlic – Black Pepper – Cilantro Root Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

Place garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots in a mortar.

Garlic – Black Pepper – Cilantro Root, the three ingredients in  Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

With pestle, pound garlic, black pepper and cilantro root in a medium-size mortar

Garlic – black pepper – cilantro root Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

until it forms a fine paste, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots with brown sugar and soy sauce: Kratiem – Prik Thai – กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

Add brown sugar and soy sauce and stir in circular motion with pestle until it is well-blended and smooth.

Thai Basic Seasoning Paste

กระเทียม – พริกไทยดำ – รากผักชี

This recipe makes a large quantity. You can store it in the refrigerator and use it as needed, or freeze it in convenient quantities in an ice cube tray. Use 2 tablespoons of the finished paste per pound of meat or seafood as a marinade before grilling or frying. You can also use it as a basic seasoning paste in ground meats cooked for Thai appetizers. Please click on the photo for a link to a recipe for using the paste with seafood or shrimp.

 
Yield: 1/2 cup
 
1 tablespoon black pepper corns, or more
10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
8 cilantro roots or 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
 
Place garlic, black pepper and cilantro roots in a medium size mortar. With pestle, pound the ingredients until they form a fine paste, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add brown sugar and soy sauce and stir in circular motion with the pestle until it well-blended and smooth. Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for a week, or freeze for up to 6 months. Please see suggestion above on how to incorporate this seasoning paste in your cooking.
 
Alternative preparation method: Place garlic, black pepper, cilantro roots, soy sauce and sugar in a blender and blend until it reaches the desired texture. I like the consistency shown above which still maintains a little texture.
 
Note: Please wait to see my next post when I will discuss in depth how to incorporate Kratiem Prik Thai Rark Puk Chee seasoning in your daily cooking.
 
© 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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Eat the Jungle

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

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

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

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

Green Papaya

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

Yield: ½ cup

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

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

Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya


Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya

Gaeng Pa Malakaw Moo

แกงป่ามะละกอกับหมู

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

Ingredients for Phuket Jungle Curry

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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.

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Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf with Tomato and Onion

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

Thai Yellow Curry Rice Pilaf

Cooking Instructions

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

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

Preheat oven to 350°F.

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

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

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

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

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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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Stinky Leaf Omelet

Last week I found fresh acacia leaf, or cha-om, for the first time in Seattle at the Makong Raineir Market. Without hesitation, I grabbed this rare opportunity to purchase some. Two days later the cha-om was still fresh in my refrigerator. There are many ways to prepare cha-om in rustic Thai cooking (see pictures below), but my heart was set on my favorite cha-om omelet—Khai Jeow Cha-Om—which is dense with a layer of cha-om leaf. It can be cut into 1-inch squares and served as a side dish or as an accompaniment to Shrimp Paste Chili Dip – Nam Prik Kapi (see the video of my sister and I preparing Nam Prik Kapi). I prepared a cha-om omelet last Sunday and packed it in a tiffin (a stainless steel food carrier), along with warmed jasmine rice and shrimp paste chili dip. Then I took it to a Thai community potluck party and I am happy to tell you that it was gone in the blink of an eye. We all love these stinky leaf omelets—a taste of our Thai villages.

A Package of Cha-Om at an Asian Market in Seattle

Fresh cha-om has a very strong, almost sulphur-like aroma that mellows when it is cooked. A little research led me to a link which mentions that cha-om is rich in Niacin (B-complex), just like most deep green leaf vegetables such as wild pepper leaf (chapoo), spinach and coccinia (tum lueng). One hundred grams of these vegetables yields more than 1.9 mg. of B-complex vitamins. This reminded me of the old Thai saying about bitter vegetables that I mentioned in a previous blog:  “The sweet is a faintness and the bitter is a medicine.”

Cha-Om Shrub Fence

Cha-Om (ชะอม ), or Acacia Pennata, is a shrub that is native to South and Southeast Asia. It can grow up to 5 meters tall, but in Thailand we usually let it grow to about 2 meters, then cut it down to promote young leaves. Most villagers love to grow a few cha-om plants in their backyard. I am glad to share with you photos of my friend Nongnut’s cha-om plants. I took them a few months ago while wandering in my village in Phuket.

Tender Shoots of Cha-Om

Every week Nongnut’s mom would cut off the young leaves and bundle them up to sell in the morning in front of their house. The bundles would lie alongside the many other edible vegetables from their plantation such as bamboo shoots and young banana trunk. This is a very common practice in Thai villages. It keeps her parents active, they share daily dialogs with friends in the village, and they earn some money selling these nutritious, organic vegetables to villagers.

Typically one bunch of cha-om leaves weighs about six ounces; after removing the hard stems, it will yield about two cups of leaves. Frozen cha-om leaf is available in Asian markets in the US all year round.

Sour Curry with Cha-Om Omelet and Prawns

Cha-Om omelet cut into square chunks adds a delicious layer of flavor to the traditional Thai sour curry Gaeng Som Goong Cha-Om. In Seattle, the only place I know that serves this dish is the Krua Thai Family Restaurant in University Village.

Tom Laos - Mixed Vegetable and Mushroom Soup with Cha-Om Leaf

In Northeastern Thailand, cha-om is used in the famous Tom Laos Soup.

Acacia Omelet

Khai Jeow Cha-Om

ไข่เจียวชะอม

Whisk Cha-Om and Egg Together

Simply whisk cha-om  leaves, egg, salt and fish sauce together to create an egg mixture for Acacia Omelet, or Khai Jeow Cha-Om, a rustic dish of Thailand.

Cha-Om Omelet

There is no substitute for acacia or cha-om leaf, but this recipe can be adapted by using baby spinach for a quick, easy and healthy meal.

Serves: 2-4

2  cups (about 6 ounces ) chopped acacia leaves, stems removed
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons canola oil

Place acacia leaves, eggs, salt and fish sauce in a large bowl and whisk with folk until mixed, about 1 minute.

Heat a large pan on medium-high heat and cover the whole surface with half of the canola oil. Pour in half of the egg mixture and tilt the pan to make an even layer of omelet; let it cook until golden yellow on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip it and cook until the other side is also golden yellow, about 2 minutes. Remove with spatula to a serving plate. Repeat the same process with the remaining cooking oil and the rest of egg mixture. Cut the omelet into small squares about 1-inch by 1-inch and place in a serving plate to serve as a side dish with Thai chili dip or any curry.

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In the Seattle area you can find cha-om in the freezer section at the Mekong Rainier Market or the Vietwah Market. Please click here to find the addresses for these stores.

© 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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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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Your Bilimbi, My Taling Pling

My favorite plant and fruit to watch as it grows is Taling Pling. It is also known as bilimbi and other countries have their own names for it as well. Its flowers and fruits grow in a cluster from the trunk and the main branches of the tree. First the cluster of maroon flowers comes out, then within a few days a cluster of cucumber-like fruits appears. The mature fruit can grow to 2.5 inches long. Because of its greenish color and the shape of the fruits, this tree has been nicknamed the Cucumber Tree. Its young leaves can be cooked and eaten or it can be used as an herb. The leaves have a sour flavor similar to sorrel and they are also know as Tree Sorrel.

Bilimbi or Taling Pling (Averrhoa bilimbi) is a relative of carambola or star fruit (Averrhoa carambola); it belongs to the genus Averrhoa and family Oxalidaceae. Bilimbi is native to Indonesia and the Malayan Peninsula and known throughout Southeast Asia, though it was not introduced to other parts of the world until the late 17th century. It is easy to grow and I grew up with a Taling Pling tree in my backyard. Most of the children growing up in my village had the experience of getting the fruit from the tree with a stick. We used to snack on it with sugar, salt and chili powder, just like we often did with green mango.

The Taling Pling that grows in Thailand is a sour variety. I cut it into small cubes to substitute for lime wedges in Miang Kam, a Thai snack dish. My family often adds it to sour curry as an alternative to tamarind chunks. The fruits are usually plentiful all year round, but we often neglect them.

Bilimbi Fruits

Bilimbi serves as an inspiration when the fruits are available and plenty. We use Taling Pling creatively in place of other sour fruits such as tamarind, lime and mango, depending on the dish. As I mentioned above, I also use it in place of star fruit. But there is no other fruit around quite like it, so it is hard to find a substitute for its distinctive sour flavor. The two ways that I can think of to cook this dish outside of Thailand would be to substitute two star fruits plus one to two tablespoons lime juice to whatever you are cooking, or you could substitute 1 cup sorrel leaves in the recipe below. Star fruit will give you the flavor and aroma of Taling Pling, but you will need to add lime juice to get the sour that the star fruit is lacking. Sorrel leaves, on the other hand, provide the same nice sour taste, but not bilimbi’s distinct aroma and texture.

Fish Head Sour Curry with Bilimbi – Southern Thai Cuisine

Fish Head Sour Curry with Bilimbi

Fish Head Sour Curry with Bilimbi

Gaeng Som Hue Pla Taling Pling

แก้งส้มหัวปลากับตะลิงปลิง

Serves: 4

2 cups water
3 tablespoons sour curry red curry paste aka Gaeng Som Curry Paste
2 fish heads, cut in half, or 1 pound black cod or halibut, cut into large pieces with the skin on
8 Taling Pling, cut in half lengthwise, or 2 star fruits, sliced, plus 2-4 tablespoons lime juice
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Add water and curry paste to a large pot and bring to a boil on high heat. Stir well before adding fish head or fish chunks and let it cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add Taling Pling or star fruit with lime juice and let it cook on medium heat until the fish heads are cooked and the Taling Pling is soft and juicy but still firm enough to hold it shape, about 5 minutes. Gently stir in sugar. Taste to find the balance of spicy, sour and sweet and adjust the flavor to your liking before serving. Serve warm with steamed jasmine rice.

Pranee’s Note:

There are many kinds of Fish head curry in Southeast Asia. I have more stories and tips to share in the future.

© 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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Kamala Beach, Phuket Thailand

A Walk for Remembering

When I visit home, I often take a leisurely walk—Dern Kin Lom—เดินกินลม—in Thai this means “walk to eat the wind.” Today I walked on the beach and in the village just a bit before the sunrise, around 6am. During the first walk of each visit my mind can’t help but wander off a bit to the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. But as each year goes by, it is like a memory lost, and it does not stay in my mind as long. The rebuilding is beautiful with a park and the new-old town now filled with hotels, guest houses, shops and restaurants. And the people are moving on. Their daily lives are back to normal with cheerfulness as before.

I started my walk from the south end of the beach, then went along a canal through the tsunami memorial park. My first stop was to join locals at the breakfast stand.  (Please click here to see my  Breakfast on Phuket Island on YouTube.) After catching up with old friends and villagers at the coffee stand, I returned through the park and walked to the north end of the beach then back again. It takes about an hour and I become totally lost in the serenity.

I walked back passing the Kamala Beach School and stopped by the school kitchen to say hi to an old friend. As usual, I ended up joining the chef team and had a second breakfast. Today, however, was different. Khun Taeng, the head chef, was in the middle of preparing Phad Phed Talay Tua Fak Yao for 500 students for lunch. I hung around and took a bunch of photos and caught up on the good old days and how we used to cook together with my family and friends. I have more recipes from Kamala Village and the school kitchen to share with you later on during the year. For today it was a perfect way to share my morning walk with you as well as recipes from the Kamala School. Our greetings to you all — from Kamala Village with love!

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Thai Spicy Stir-fried Seafood with Yardlong Bean

Phad Phed Talay Tua Fak Yao 

ผัดเผ็ดทะเลถั่วฟักยาว

My students enjoy all sorts of Chinese style stir-fries with a little spice and herbs. It is a very common practice in Thai kitchens to use a wok for a quick and easy approach, but to add a pungent, spicy curry paste and herbs. This creates a meal that bonds flavor and satisfaction and is served with steamed jasmine rice. This quick and easy one-dish dinner is called Aharn Jan Deow (อาหารจานเดียว)—”A Dish Deal.” Most Thai cooks cleverly combine their choice of protein and vegetable to create this Phad Phed (meaning “Spicy Stir-fried”). If this dish is too pungent for your taste buds, you can add a few tablespoons of coconut milk to lower the heat. And if you wish to create the same flavor as Phuket Phad Phed, please prepare it using my Phuket Curry Pasteinstead of store-bought curry paste.So I hope you like the Thai flavorful approach to Chinese-style wok cooking. Let’s add Thai spicy stir-fried to your repertoire

Thai Spicy Stir-fried Seafood with Yardlong Bean

Preparation: 10
Cooking time: 5
Servings: 2-4
 
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste, Phuket Curry Paste or Prik Khing curry paste (Mae Sri)
5 Kaffir lime leaves 
1/2 cup calamari rings
1/2 cup shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup yardlong beans beans or green beans, cut into 1 inch-lengths
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup Thai basil
  
Heat the wok on high heat. When it is hot, add the cooking oil, then the red curry paste and Kaffir. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then stir in calamari, shrimp, beans, yardlong beans, cauliflower and sugar. Stir until the seafood cooks through and the vegetables are cooked, but still crispy. Add a few tablespoon water as need to create steam and sauce for the cooking. Then stir in basil for 10 seconds. Serve over jasmine rice.
 
© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen  
I Love Thai cooking 
 Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .
 
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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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A Stir-Fry from the Palm of My Hand

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

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

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

Firm Tofu, Mung Bean Sprouts and Garlic Chives

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

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

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

Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts and Tofu with Garlic Chives

Phad Tao Gua Tao Nge Phuket

ผัดถั่วงอกกับเต้าหู้ภูเก็ต

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

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

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

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

Pranee’s note:

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

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

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


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