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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Cuisine’

Celebrating New Year with Thai Sticky Rice and Alms Giving

Alms Giving with Jasmine Rice or Sticky Rice

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

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

Som Tum ~ Green Papaya Salad

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

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

Thai Chili Dip ~ Nam Prik

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

Bathing and Placing Gold Leaves On the Buddha Image

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

Flags on Sand Mount

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

Dancing to the Laotian Music

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


Steamed Sticky rice

Khao Neow Nueng

ข้าวเหนียวหนึ่ง

Serves 6 to 8

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

After 30 minutes, flip the sticky rice over

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

2 cups sticky rice

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

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

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

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

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Pandanus leaf (Bai Toey), a Thai Culinary Treasure

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

Pandanus Leaf-Bai Toey

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

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

Roses made from Pandanus leaves for worship or air freshener

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

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

Pandanus leaf cups

Thais use Pandanus leaves to make decorative containers.

Adding green color extract from pandanus leaf to pearl tapioca pudding

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

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A Perfect Thai Herbal Tea

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

Pandan leaf is available fresh or frozen at Asian markets.

Jasmine Pandanus Tea

Cha Mali Toey Horm

ชามะลิใบเตย

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

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

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

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

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The Mystery Dish of Southern Thailand

Stir-fried Fresh Grated Coconut with Phuket Curry Paste and Chapoo Leaf

I uncovered a mystery about my grandmother’s cooking during my last trip to Phuket. I asked around about Phad Maprow Khub Kruang Gaeng, a stir-fried, fresh grated coconut with Phuket curry paste. During my childhood and adult life, I had never seen it cooked or eaten or even mentioned by anyone except members of my family. And it was only my grandmother who always asked me to assist her with it when I was young. I always wondered if it was served for health or economic reasons, or simply a food that the women of the house put on the table for their large extended family. It was never served alone, but with other main dishes and steamed jasmine rice.

I described the dish to my family to refresh their memories. My mom said that mostly we prepared it with a special kind of coconut (out of a thousand different kinds of coconuts, we used one that has an interesting texture with more like a virgin coconut oil). Then my sister-in-law, who was born in Phang Nga (80 kilometers away from Phuket), recalled eating the dish in her hometown. She said she had prepared it before, but not often. Luckily for me, she was very happy to prepare this for me while I took notes and photographs. She did it exactly the way I remember my grandmother preparing it. Thank you to my sister-in-law Tim, who helped me preserve the history of this lost recipe.

We shared the dish afterwards and more than anything else, more than its just being an interesting dish, it was a moment of rediscovery of the old time flavors of the south. We bonded again with foods. I hope that some of you will try this recipe so it won’t be lost forever.

Curry paste and fresh grated coconut in a mortar mix with pestle

First, Tim pounds the Phuket curry paste. When it became a fine paste she mixed in the freshly grated coconut and pounded to combine all of the ingredients. Then she stir-fried the mixture in a wok.

Coconut and turmeric—the colors and flavors of Southern Thailand

Stir-fried Fresh Grated Coconut Meat with Phuket Curry Paste

Phad Maprow Khub Kruang Gaeng Phuket

ผัดเนื้อมะพร้าวสดขูดกับเครื่องแกงภูเก็ต

Serves: 8 (as a side dish)

Yield: 2 cups

1/2 to 1 recipe Phuket Curry Paste (please click here for the recipe)
2 cups freshly grated coconut meat, or frozen (thaw before cooking)
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
Salt to taste
32 chapoo or wild pepper leaves

Combine curry paste and grated coconut by hand or with a mortar and pestle. Place in a wok (without cooking oil) over medium heat, and stir constantly to allow the coconut and curry mix to become one texture. Continue stirring until the moisture in the coconut dries up and the curry paste is well-incorporated, about 5 to 8 minutes. It should be flaky with a little bit of moisture left, neither too dry nor too oily. Serve at room temperature with wild pepper leaves on the side.

Enjoy this as a tidbit by placing about 1 tablespoon on a wild pepper leaf, then wrapping it up so you can eat it in a single bite. Or simply mix it with warm jasmine rice and enjoy it as an accompaniment to curry and vegetable dishes.

Pranee’s Note:

This recipe has not been tested yet in my kitchen, so pay attention to spicy, salty and sweet when trying this recipe.

Chapoo leaf or wild pepper leaf is also known as la lot leaf (please see Pranee’s Blog Entry on Chapoo leaf)

Pranee’s Video on Youtube: How to Open a Coconut Husk: Thai Style

More Recipes by Pranee on Phuket Curry Paste

© 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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Playing with Food: Cassava

Cassava-Sweet Potato Pancake, a delicious Thai Dessert

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

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

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

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

Cassava - Sweet Potato Pancake

Cassava – Sweet Potato Pancake

Khanom Man Sumpalang Oop

มันสำปะหลังมันเทศแพนเค้ก

Servings: 6-8

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

Image via Wikipedia

Pranee’s Thai Kitchen note:

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

© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

I Love Thai cooking

Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area.

Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .




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Rubber tree plantation in Phuket, Thailand

Image via Wikipedia

My Love for Mushrooms

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

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

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

Grilled Spicy Phuket Mushroom - Rubber Tree Mushroom

 

 

Grilled Brown Button Mushrooms with Thai Basil Leaf in Banana Leaf

HED MOK PHUKET

Servings: 4 (one parcel per person)

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

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

Preheat oven to 400°F.

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

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

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

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

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The Heart of Phuket Muslim Cuisine

When I was growing up I was always fond of the pungent flavor of Phuket Muslim cooking—it must have been the aroma and the ritual that came with this food that I experienced in the diverse culture of Southern Thailand. The flavors and aromas were different and exciting compared to my family’s traditional Thai-Chinese cooking.

While visiting Phuket just two weeks ago, my dream came true when Varunee, my long time friend and a chef for my culinary tour, shared many of her family’s recipes with me. The one that I am sharing with you today is a Sa Curry with Buffalo Meat and Sa Spice Mix. This recipe is part of her family’s traditional cooking and has been passed on for many generations.

Varunee

 

Our meeting Point, Bangtao Mosque

I waited for Varunee at the Bangtao Mosque, a famous Phuket landmark, then followed her through the roads that snaked behind the mosque near the foot of the hill. My lesson on Aharn Muslim (Muslim food) began in her home with beautiful birds singing in the background.

 

Sa powder from Bangtao Village, Phuket

We started by making an aromatic Sa spice mix (Krueng Sa), the heart of the cuisine. The Thai name for cumin is Yee Rah, but Phuketians call it Sa. Varunee called cumin “Sa Lek” (meaning small Sa), and fennel is “Sa Yai” (big Sa). Cumin has a pungent hot Sa feeling (numbing) and the fennel is cooling and sweet after the numbing sensation. Thais use cumin to reduce the meaty smell. The rest of the spices are typical Southeast Asian ones such as turmeric, black pepper, coriander and dried chili. You may toast the spices before grinding to intensify their flavor.

Water Buffalo Meat

Water Buffalo meat is a more common meat in the Southern part of Thailand, especially in Phuket. Sa Curry with Buffalo Meat with Sa Spices is a stand out among Phuket Thai Muslim dishes.

Sa Spice Mix

Krueng Sa

Yield: 4 tablespoons

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
10 dried Thai chilies (Varunee recommended 20 to 30)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Place cumin, fennel, coriander, and Thai chilies in a small pan; toast the spices on medium heat until fragrant.

Let cool, then place them in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder, or place them in a mortar and pound with a pestle to yield a fine powder.

Store cooled spices in an airtight jar and store for up to 3 months.

 

Buffalo Curry with Sa Spices Mix


Sa Curry with Buffalo meat

Gaeng Kwai Kab Krueng Sa

Serves: 2 to 4

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 shallots, peeled and sliced, about ¼ cup

4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced, about 3 tablespoons

4 tablespoons Sa spices mix from recipe above

¾ pound buffalo meat or beef top sirloin, thinly sliced

½ cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon palm sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fish sauce

Heat canola oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Then add Sa spice mix and stir for 1 minute. Stir in buffalo meat and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in coconut milk. Let cook until the meat is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in palm sugar, salt and fish sauce. Serve with warm jasmine rice and a vegetable side dish.

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© 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 Phuket at the 12th Annual Old Phuket Festival

Phuket Old Town Festival 2011

Last night I had a great experience traveling back to my old Phuket lifestyle with the first day of the 12th Annual Phuket Old Town Festival. We started the evening around 8pm. The first visit was to the Blue Elephant Restaurant and Cooking School. I had a chance to visit a cooking class at the restaurant which is located at the West end of the festival on Krabi Road. A block further down that road we crossed Yaowarat to get to Thalang Road where the festival takes place every year. The buildings on both sides are in the Sino-Portuguese style that was built in the 19th century.

Thalang Road, Old Phuket Festival 2011

We walked on Thalang Road where the street was full of activities related to foods and crafts that reflect the Phuket Paranakan Culture. We listened to live music. We found the Kopitiem Restaurant which has an entire menu of old Phuket foods. My niece and I ordered three dishes to share. Salad Kaek is a salad with peanut dressing with Phuket-Muslim cooking flavors. Phad Bee Htun is stir-fried rice noodles with Choy Sum and egg that looks and tastes like Singaporean Noodles. Another noodle dish that we had is Phad Mee Sua (stir-fried thin wheat noodle with seafood).

Kopitiem~Restaurant on Thalang Street, Phuket

The evening was complete when I savored the taste of home and a taste of culture. I took in the whole experience and felt my old sense of connection to our heritage. I was lost between places and tastes like a time traveler. One moment I was eating on the streets in Singapore and a few minutes later in Penang, Malaysia. But it all makes sense. Please see an excerpt below from the Thai Paranagan Association

“Baba-Paranakan culture is beautiful in both spirit and expression. It deeply blends several customs and traditions from Thai, Chinese, Malay and Western into Phuket culture, throughout many civilizations for hundreds years.”

Stir-fried Thin Rice Noodle with Choy Sum, Phad Bee Htun Phuket

Phad Bee Htun was my favorite noodle dish when I was growing up. I am proud to share this recipe with you. I hope that you can taste the flavor of Southeast Asia and the culture in that region of Paranakan.

Stir-fried Thin Rice Vermicelli with Pork and Choy Sum

Phad Bee Htun

Servings: 4 to 6

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

½ package Thai Kitchen thin rice noodles or any thin rice noodle
4 tablespoons cooking oil, or more as needed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound pork chop, sliced
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 cups Choy Sum or Chinese kale
A dash dark soy sauce, optional
4 green onions, sliced diagonally, about ½ cup
4 lime wedges, to garnish

Soak noodles in hot water until softened, about 5 minutes; drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a wok. Beat two eggs in a bowl and then pour them into the wok. Tilt the wok so the egg will spread to make a thin omelet. Cook for one minute and flip once. Place on the cutting board and shred; set aside.

Heat wok on high heat and add 2 tablespoons canola oil and garlic. When garlic is yellow, stir in pork, light soy sauce, and fish sauce and cook until the pork is cooked. Stir in Choy Sum, cook for 30 seconds, and then stir in noodles. If desired, add a few drops of dark soy or molasses to get a tan color and a little sweet flavor. When the noodles are cooked, stir in green onion and shredded omelet; remove and serve with lime wedges and condiment below.

Condiment:

½ cup rice vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced

Place rice vinegar, sugar and jalapeno pepper in a small bowl, stir.

© 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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Iyara Thai Cuisine

A friendly Staff

I have to give credit to my students for introducing me to the Iyara Thai Cuisine restaurant in Redmond. I took their recommendation seriously because the more I talked to them, the more I realized how serious they were about the Thai dining experience. They had mentioned their favorite Thai restaurants throughout America, including Pok Pok, and other renowned Thai restaurants, some of which are owned by people I have taken workshops with at various food conferences.

They said that Iyara may not be as good as the Pok Pok Thai restaurant in Portland in terms of the ambience, menu and creativity, but it is their favorite when it comes to authenticity close to their home in Redmond.

A week later, two Thai friends and I had lunch together at Iyara Thai Cuisine in Redmond. It is in a convenient location, with plenty of free parking spaces on the street. It has a casual setting; we started with soup, Suki nahm, and then used our fingers to enjoy the rest of our meal of Isaan food (the food from Northeastern Thailand).These were our choices from Iyara’s menu:

Suki nahm: Thai-style hot-pot in a bowl with crystal noodles, chicken and prawns, egg, napa cabbage, and green onion with a chili-bean curd sukiyaki sauce. $10

Sai grog kra prow: grilled homemade pork and spicy basil Thai-style sausage. $7

Muu ping: grilled pork sirloin skewer marinated in garlic, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. $7

Som tum and kai todd: deep-fried marinated half Cornish game hen, crispy shallots with a small green papaya salad and sticky rice. $11

Sticky rice $2

Chinese doughnut and pandan custard for dessert.

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Iyara is a great place for you if you love Som Tum (shredded green papaya salad). It is offered with three options. The standard one has lots of crushed peanuts, salted crab and Thai anchovy sauce.

There are many more dishes that I would like to return and check out. All are a rustic style or street foods of Thailand; these are the owner’s new menu items and a concept that they are working on. There are also plenty of standard Thai dishes if you have friends who may not be as adventurous as you are.

For all of you that love to explore new flavors, please check out Iyara Thai Cuisine. I hope that one day Thai foods in America will be as good as in Thailand, then we won’t need to travel to Thailand or Portland to savor the dishes.

Kin Hai Aroy: Bon Appétit

Iyara Thai Cuisine
16421 Cleveland St., #E
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 885-3043

Menu: http://iyarathai.com/iyarathaimenu.pdf

Website: http://www.iyarathai.com/


Pranee’s Thai Restaurant Review is a fun read to help students enjoy the Thai dining experience. I believe that eating Thai foods is a part of learning about Thai food and the Thai culture as well.

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You say Pummelo, I say Pomelo, and Thais say ”Som Oh

One of my goals for the New Year is for my blog readers to learn light and easy Thai cooking and some new exotic ingredients. Thai cuisine has been famous for many centuries and I want people to have a more in-depth knowledge of it.

Pomelo, Thai Grapefruit - The Flower Market in Bangkok

One way that I hope I can deepen your culinary skills is simply by showing you some of the techniques that Thais use to handle their ingredients, methods learned from our families, our communities and our ancestors.  I hope the instructions in my video demonstration will help you to open your pomelo.

Pomelos tastes so great by themselves, you don’t need to cook them. I created this simple fun recipe on New Year’s Eve to provide a zing to welcome the year 2011.

Best wishes to you all.

I love pomelo. It is in season around New Year’s time, but you can enjoy it every week to give a zing to your life. There are so many way to create a wow moment with pomelo. My favorite recipe is from Phuket, Thailand, and is made with shrimp, tamarind sauce and caramelized shallots. It is a great dish for teaching my students about the layer of flavors and textures that can be found in a Thai salad.

Yum Som Oh, Pomelo Salad with Crab

For my blog visitors, I think learning to open a pomelo is challenge enough, so I am keeping this recipe simple (which is also how I cooked during this past week). This recipe is prepared like a crab or shrimp cocktail rather than the traditional pomelo salad from Thailand.

Pomelo Salad with Crab

Yum Som Oh Khup Phu

ยำส้มโอกับปู

Serves: 6

1 pomelo (prepared as shown in the video above), about 2 cups
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus 6 cilantro sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup cooked crab meat or cooked shrimp
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 lime
1 tablespoon fish sauce, or more as needed
1/8 teaspoon chili powder

Place pomelo, shallot, cilantro and crab in a medium size salad bowl. Whisk sugar, tamarind concentrate, lime juice, fish sauce and chili powder until well-blended, then pour over pomelo. Fold all of the ingredients together gently with a salad spoon and serve in a nice glass. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Vegetarian option:

Omit crab and use a few pinches of sea salt instead of fish sauce.

© 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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Pranee’s Curried Crab Filo for Holiday Entertaining

It is not a fusion and there is no confusion, they’re just for fun. Enjoy crab rangoon for a festive time.

Crab Wonton from a Chinese Restaurant

I first tasted crab wonton, or crab rangoon, in a Thai restaurant many years ago. It tasted great, but I was confused because it was not related to any Thai food in Thailand, which left me wondering about its origin. When my assistant suggested that my Thai green chili jam would be great with crab wonton, I started exploring this dish and came up with the following fun version.

I rarely do deep-frying at home, so using filo dough was the way to go for me. It provides the texture of a fried wonton, but it is a crunch with less guilt. I always heighten the flavor of a crab dish with curry powder and green onion, but this time I used pineapple chunks as well to add an interesting sweet experience to a savory dish.

Last week I attended a Girls’ Holiday Appetizer Party. As we all surrounded a dining table filled with many kinds of appetizers, I was happy to see everyone’s expressions when they tried the Curried Crab Filo. It is amazing what flavors can be experienced in just one bite!

I like to make the stuffing the day before and chill it in the refrigerator. It is a good idea to thaw your filo dough then as well. Both will be ready for you the next day. The rest is easy. Just preheat the oven, wrap and bake.

Curried Crab Filo at Home Party

Curried Crab Filo with Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam

Yield: 36 pieces

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Baking time: 10 minutes

1 cup cream cheese
1 cup chopped fresh or canned pineapple, squeeze out excess liquid to get about ⅔ cup of pineapple
⅓ cup sliced green onions (about 5 green onions)
4 teaspoons Madras curry powder
A dash of Thai chili powder
8-ounces crab meat (about 1 cup), squeezed lightly to drain out excess water
9 (17 by 12-inch) sheets filo dough, thawed if frozen
½ cup cooking oil
3 tablespoons Thai Lime-Green Chili Jam (see blog recipe)
36 cilantro leaves
36 sliced red peppers or red loganberries

Preheat oven to 375°F.

To make the filling, combine cream cheese, pineapple, green onion, Madras curry powder, and chili powder in a medium size bowl; mix well. Gently fold in crabmeat until combined. Yield: about 2 cups filling.

Take one filo sheet from the stack and lay it out on a work surface. Brush well with oil to cover the entire surface. Lay another layer on top and brush with oil again. Add a third layer and brush with oil again.

With the length facing you, place one-third of the cream cheese filling along the edge lengthwise from left to right to make a line of filling 1 inch by 17 inches. Fold the edge forward to make a roll. As you continue to roll, brush the dry surface of filo dough with oil. The finished roll should be about 1 inch in diameter. Using a knife, cut the roll into 12 pieces and place them on a greased baking sheet.

Repeat these steps to make two more rolls, for a total of 36 pieces. Place on the same baking sheet and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to a platter and place a ¼ teaspoon Thai lime-green chili jam on each curried crab filo and garnish with cilantro leaves and sliced red pepper or loganberries.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

© 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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Sticky Rice in a Bamboo Tube, Kao Lam

I have fond memories of sticky rice in a bamboo tube—it looks so cool! At every festival in my village when I was growing up, there was a man who made and sold this Kao Lam. We would eat some at the festival then bring home a few for family members who couldn’t go. It is a perfect take-home food, since it is already packaged in a bamboo tube.

Sticky Rice in a Bamboo Tube, Cambodia

The sticky rice is cooked in a segment of bamboo, the kind that has a thin wall so the heat can penetrate to cook the rice inside the tube. After it is filled with the sticky rice ingredients, the bamboo is plugged with a piece of coconut husk wrapped with banana leaf to keep in the steam for cooking the rice. Then the bamboo tubes are placed over charcoal. When it is done, the outer skin of bamboo is removed and a thin wall left behind to protect the rice inside. All Southeast Asian countries have some version of this, and they are all cooked in a similar way. The photo below is from Cambodia. In Thailand this dish is called Kao Lam; in Malaysia it’s Lemang.

Thai Sticky Rice in Bamboo Sticks in Cambodia

If you like sticky rice with mango, you will like Kao Lam, too. I love the fact that when you peel the bamboo away (see photo below), the powdery fiber in the bamboo tube leaves a sheen. The rice comes out shaped like a stick and looks like it was wrapped in edible paper. The vendor in my village usually made three varieties: white sticky rice, black sticky rice, and white sticky rice with black beans.

How to open the bamboo tube

In America you can find cooked sticky rice that comes straight from Thailand in the frozen food section in Asian markets. But I would rather you try my sticky rice recipe below. I wrap it up in parchment paper, roll it into a cylinder, and bake it. It is delicious, has a very nice texture, and is as satisfying as the original.

During the summer of 2010, I taught Grilled Sticky Rice with Black Bean and Banana Stuffing in a Banana Leaf (Kao Neow Mad) in my Thai Grill class. Organizing my photos from my recent trip to Cambodia led me to this project, a Kao Lam version baked in the oven. It is not easy to cook sticky rice in a bamboo tube—only a few experts from each Thai village know how. Last August I created this adaptation, wrapping and rolling the sticky rice in pieces of parchment paper and then baking them. The results were good. It was easy, and the flavor and texture were satisfying. Then I made a lot of them in small packages and even put some in the freezer. I microwave them or reheat them in the oven and eat them for a protein snack before teaching my classes. In Thailand, most farmers eat sticky rice before working in the rice field.

Baked Sticky Rice and Black Bean Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Kao Neow Yang

Serveings: 8

2 cups Thai sticky rice, soaked in water for 3 hours or overnight, then drained (see note)
¾ cup coconut milk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned black beans, drained
8 (8×8) inch pieces of banana leaves or parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir sticky rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and salt in a large pan over medium heat. Stir until all coconut milk is absorbed. Stir in black beans and fold gently to mix.

Put equal amounts of the sticky rice mixture onto 8 banana leaves. Form the rice into a cylinder about 6″ long and lay it in the center of the leaf so that you have about 1 inch left on either end. Fold the banana leaf in half around the rice, then roll it around the cylinder; fold in both ends and secure them with a toothpick, poking down and then up, or you can twist the ends and tie them. When you are done, each bundle will make a round tube about 6 inches long and 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Grill for 5 minutes on each side until the sticky rice is translucent and cooked, or bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Pranee’s note:

In Thailand, recipes generally use one of two types of rice: jasmine rice or Thai sticky rice. The starch in rice is made up of two components, amylose and amylopectin. Jasmine rice has more amylose than amylopectin, giving it a puffy appearance, whereas Thai sticky rice has more amylopectin than amylose, creating its sticky texture. Both white and purple Thai sticky rice are long-grain rices with a firm grain and become sticky when cooked. They are tropical rices, and different from Japanese, Chinese or Mediterranean (Arborio and Valencia) rices, which have a medium or short grain and grow in temperate climates.

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

 

 

Outer layer of bamboo tube is removed

 

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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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Seattle Feast with Friends, 2010

I created this recipe for Seattle Feast with Friends event (http://futurewise.org/action/SeattleParticipants) held on Thursday, September 30th, 2010. This celebration brings together local food producers, winemakers, and guest chefs.

I hope to see you there. If you cannot attend, then enjoy cooking this recipe. Cheers, Pranee

 

Thai Mussel Curry with Tomato and Lemongrass

Thai Mussel Curry with Tomato and Lemongrass

Gaeng Hoi Nang Rom

This recipe uses red curry paste, coconut milk and just enough lemongrass to create a flavorful soup. The sweet and sour from the tomato and the tamarind juice heighten the flavor of the mussels. It is a very well balanced dish that you can enjoy by itself as a soup, or served it with steamed jasmine rice as a mild curry dish. Dill and cilantro are the perfect herbs for a finishing touch.

Serves: 2 as a main dish

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon red curry paste
2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass
3 tablespoons coconut milk, or more as needed
2 medium size ripe tomatoes, cut into large chunks
15 mussels, de-bearded and halved (about a pound)
2 tablespoons tamarind juice, or 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Stir canola oil, red curry paste, and lemongrass together in a pan on high heat until fragrant. Then stir in coconut milk and let it cook until the oil separates out from the rest of the mixture. Stir in the tomatoes and mussels and stir well. Cover with lid and cook until the mussels open up, about 5 minutes. Stir in tamarind juice; stir well and cook until the mussels are done (see below). Stir in dill and cilantro and serve right away.

Recipe by Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen http://ilovethaicooking.com/

Mediterranean Mussels by Taylor Shellfish Farm http://www.taylorshellfishfarms.com/

Wine Pairing: http://www.skyriverbrewing.com/

Sky River Semi-Sweet Mead

$14.99 per bottle

“Sky River Semi-Sweet Mead, although drier, enjoys a similar depth and character to the Sweet Mead. With hints of pear and a crisper finish Sky River Semi-Sweet Mead, served well-chilled, delicately offsets the exotic notes of sesame and ginger in Pan-Asian cuisine, and the rich herbal textures of the Mediterranean.”

 

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 closed after cooking, if you have any, are fine.

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

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Phuket Red Curry Paste, My Aunt’s Recipe

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

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

Phuket Red Curry Paste--Recipe from Phuket Village

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

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

The Color of Phuket Red Curry Paste

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

Phuket Red Curry Paste

Kruange Gaeng Phed Phuket

Yield: 1/2 cup

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

© 2010  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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

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Three Kinds of Pepper Leaves in Southeast Asia

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

Wild Pepper Leaf - Chapoo - La Lot

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

Black Pepper Plant

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

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

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

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

Curried Scallop with Wild Pepper Leaf

Gaeng Hoy Shell Bai Chapoo

Serves: 2

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

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

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

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Ramadan 2010

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

Now

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

Phuket Chicken Biryani Rice—Kao Mok Gai Phuket

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

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

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

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

Phuket Chicken Baryani Rice

Kao Mok Gai

Serves: 4 to 6

Active Time: 10 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

  

Then

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

 

Pranee with Mama Boo, July 2005

 

Kao Mok Gai, Lunch for Kamala School Students July 2005

© 2010  Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking

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

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Som Tum, a Green Papaya POK POK 

Som Tum - Thai Green Papaya Salad

Pok Pok is the sound made when a wooden pestle hits a clay mortar. This is a classic sound in the green papaya making process and it is a familiar sound for Thais and tourists alike because Som Tum vendors are everywhere in Thailand. When I teach papaya salad recipes, I make sure to carry my clay mortar and wooden pestle with me to my cooking classes in Seattle, Lynwood, Edmonds and even Portland. I feel that it is important for students to understand the cultural and traditional aspects of  Thai cuisineFor me, making and eating green papaya salad is a cure for homesickness. But is not easy to find green papayas outside of Thailand, so sometimes we have to improvise.

Shredded Green Papaya and Carrot for Som Tum

Carrots are always a great substitute when fresh green papaya is not available. My first experience eating Som Tum made from other vegetables besides green papaya was when I was traveling in Switzerland and France visiting friends and relatives.

In Seattle you can find green papaya everyday at the Asian markets, but at farmers market events in Washington I always enjoy making Som Tum with various farm fresh vegetables. And I am always delighted that it still makes a great impression on everyone. First the Pok, Pok sound, then the flavors of chili-lime and peanuts dressing that make all fresh salad tastes so good. My favorite vegetables and fruits for this recipe are carrots, kale, green apples, green mangos, green beans and cucumbers.

Som Tum – Thai Green Papaya Pok Pok

Yesterday I was making special version of Som Tum for a Pike Place Market Sunday Event. I combined Som Tum made from local carrots and kale with cooked rice noodles and smoked local King salmon. Combining Thai and northwest flavors together using a mortar and pestle produced a delicious dish.  Let’s cook with the Thai rhythms!

Please also see Pranee’s Somtum Recipe featured in Seattle Times, Pacific Northwest Sunday Magazine

SOM TUM PLA SALMON

Green Papaya Salad with Smoked Salmon and Rice Vermicelli

Servings: 4
 
3-6 garlic cloves, peeled
5 Thai chilies, whole
2-3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
6 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
¼ lime, cut into 4 small wedges
8 cherry tomatoes, halved, or 2 large tomatoes cut into wedges
½ cup green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths
2 ounce smoked salmon, sliced, about ¼ cup, divided
2 cups shredded green papaya, carrot, cabbage, kale or any fresh vegetable
1 cup rice noodles or rice vermicelli, cooked using the instruction on the package

To make a dressing, use a wooden pestle to crush garlic, chilies, palm sugar and 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts in a clay mortar until it forms a paste. Stir in fish sauce and lime juice with pestle in circular motion until blended.  With pestle, gently mix in lime wedges, tomatoes, string beans, half of the smoked salmon and shredded papaya by pushing down the ingredients against one side of the mortar and using a large spoon to lift up on the opposite side. Repeat a few times until well incorporated.  Serve right away with rice noodles and topped with the rest of the smoked salmon.

Cook’s note: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, here is an easy way to make a salad dressing. Blend garlic, Thai chilies, palm sugar, 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts, fish sauce and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Mix the rest of peanuts, string beans, dried shrimps, tomatoes and green papaya in a salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix them together by hand until salad is well coated with the dressing.

© 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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The Rustic Style Cooking of Thailand  

Unlike the morning  glory found elsewhere, in Thailand, this morning glory is a vegetable and it is called Pak Bung in Thai. It is also known to all Asian cuisines as Kangkung in Malaysia and Ong Choy in Chinese. It’s scientific name is Ipomoea aquatica. You may know it as Chinese Spinach or Swamp Cabbage. I want to call it morning glory because it is a beautiful name and it belongs in the same family with its leaf and flower. I remember having morning glory in my garden here in Seattle. 

 Thais love to eat Pak Boong fresh, stir-fried in the famous dish “Pak Boong Fai Daeng” and often in a curry as a classic Gaeng Tapo dish. In Seattle, I often teach students the stir-fry dish. Then the other day, I walked down the aisles and saw three dried salted croaker and right away, I was just craving for this dish that my grandma used to cook during the monsoon time when fresh fish and other proteins such as meat were hard to find and morning glory were abundant. That was because it is an aquatic plant that grows on the edges of swamps canals or any damp soil. I wrote this recipe to honor both of my grandmas.

Red Curry Morning Glory and salted Croaker — Gaeng Tapo Pla Kem

This recipe is easy to adapt. You may use pork, beef, or salted cod. I love the fact that this recipe require less coconut milk than most curry to reflect my grandma style of cooking. And it is truly delicious. I ate every drop of the curry broth.

Red Curry with Morning Glory and Salted Croaker   

Gaeng Pla Tapo Pla Kem   

Serves: 4

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk, divided
1 dried salted croaker, cut into a steak of 1/2 inch long, or 5 pieces salt anchovies
2 cups water
3 cups morning glory, tough stems removed and cut into 3 inches long, see note
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Heat canola oil and curry paste in a large pot on medium-high heat and stir constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 3 tablespoons coconut milk, and let it cook for 30 seconds. Pour in water in the pot and place in croaker and let it cook for 8 minutes on medium heat. Then you may strain to remove the bone and pour back into the same pot, add the rest of coconut milk; and then bring back to a boil. Stir in morning glory and sugar and cook for only 1 minute, just to cook morning glory.  Serve hot with steamed 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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Cilantro roots, authentic Thai Cooking

 

 After taking cooking class “Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge taught by Grace Young at the Sizzle Works, I was inspired to do more reading. There were three books on the subject by Grace Yong: The Breath of a Wok and Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge and Martin Yan: Everybody’s Wokking. I came across the comment made by Martin Yan on the cilantro root and I am very happy to share this with you.

I can’t understand why the Thais are the only ones who cook with cilantro roots. The roots have a deep, rich flavor, less spicy than the feathery leaves. My produce man is so fastidious he trims off the roots, so I save a spot in my garden to grow my own supply. You can omit the roots from this recipe; …..will still taste great, just not quite as authentic Thai.”

Martin Yan: Everybody’s Wokking

In Seattle you can find cilantro that come with root at farmer’s market and occasionally at PCC Natural Markets. To learn more about about Thai cooking with cilantro roots and cook up an easy recipe Garlic Prawn (Kratiem Prik Thai Prawn)  please click here.

Cilantro roots is an essential part of Thai curry paste along with galangal, lemongrass, garlic and shallot

 

 

 

A Mountain of cilantro roots at Flower Market, Bangkok

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Eating in Southeast Asia

Traveling through Vietnam in 2009 as a culinary tour leader was an interesting and heartwarming experience. The local people are so eager to share their country’s wonderful cuisine and culture and spend time with you. You’re treated more like a welcome guest than a tourist.

Back home in Phuket with my traveling companion, we rested and strolled on the beach and enjoyed the best food in Phuket: local seafood.

We were lucky to become friends with Chef Tony of the popular Rockfish Restaurant after savoring our first plate of his Thai crab salad. He generously agreed to share his recipe and do a cooking video for my newsletter to welcome our mango season here in America.

Chef Tony Wringley has been working at Rockfish Restaurant as executive chef for the past 6 months. His recipe was inspired by local and seasonal ingredients from Phuket Island such as local crab, fresh mango and coconut. Chef Tony has captured the flavors of the tropical island of Phuket with this Thai crab salad.

Thai Crab Salad with Mango and Shaved Coconut

Thai Crab Salad with Mango and Shaved Fresh Coconut Recipe

Yum Pu Mamuang Maprow

Recipe by Chef Tony Wrigley
Executive Chef, Rockfish Restaurant
Kamala Beach, Phuket, Thailand
Rockfish Restaurant

Serves: 1

½ cup cooked crab meat
½ cup diced mango, about half mango
¼ cup sliced red spur chili or Anaheim pepper
2 green onions, chopped into 1-inch long pieces
3 sprigs cilantro, torn into large pieces
10 Thai basil leaves or sweet basil, torn in half
¼ cup chili peanuts or dry roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice, about 1 lime
¼ cup fresh shaved coconut or dry coconut chips
1 teaspoon chili oil for presentation

Gently combine crab, mango, red spur chili, green onions, cilantro, Thai basil and chili peanuts. Add fish sauce, sugar, olive oil and lime juice, and fold just to mix. Place crab salad on the plate, garnish with shaved fresh coconut on top and decorate the plate with chili oil. Makes one serving.

How to shave fresh coconut with a peeler

© 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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