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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Food Blog’

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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Monastery Banana Bread

Assorted desserts

My son and I were at the Atammayatarama Buddhist Monastery early in the morning one day last week. We had volunteered to water over 20 newly planted trees surrounding the new meditation hall. Later in the morning I also offered food to three Thai monks. They were Southern Thai dishes such as stir-fried spicy stinky been with beef, Thai chili dip, Thai yellow curry rice and fried eggs. Since I am familiar with the kitchen, I also became a temporary helper there for the day. I helped visitors to properly place foods they had brought from home and to properly present them to the monks. At the end of the day, there were more than a dozen fully ripe bananas that had not been eaten. Waste not, I offered to take them home and return them to the Monastery as banana bread.

My banana cake recipe

This is my banana cake recipe from Thailand. I modified it into a quick and easy recipe for banana bread.

My banana bread recipe has long been on my list to share with you, but it never seemed to work out to do so until now. First, I found my 28-year-old recipe notebook which is always misplaced and hard to find. Second, I had the free time to make banana bread as well as a good reason for making it. The next day I made 4 loaves with one single recipe. It is a perfect recipe to bake once and share with friends and families as hostess gifts or for a community event.

Banana Bread-Cake – ขนมปังเค้กกล้วยหอม

This recipe makes an oil-based cake or quick bread that is baked in a loaf pan like a bread. Since vanilla and butter taste so good with bananas, I kept them in my recipe. I used olive oil because it is a healthy fat, but you can use any vegetable oil. There are no nuts in this recipe because I prefer it without. This recipe is light, somewhere between banana bread and banana cake. If I wanted to make a banana cake, I would keep the recipe the same but add one more cup of sugar, bake it in a cake pan, and then frost it with my dreamy coconut frosting recipe. But since I baked it in a loaf pan, let’s call it banana bread.

Banana Bread

Khanom Cake Kluey Horm

ขนมเค้กกล้วยหอม

This recipe makes four loaves of banana bread with a cake-like texture. It is unbelievably easy. Just stir the ingredients together and bake with fun. Enjoy it plain or with the frosting. If you wish to have it plain but sweeter, you can add one more cup of sugar or garnish it with frosting.

Yield: 4 loaves

7 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 sticks butter, melted
¾ cup olive oil
10 to 12 ripe banana, peeled, sliced and chopped
3 1/4 cups white sugar
8 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare loaf pans with oil and coat with flour, then set aside.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt twice.

In a large bowl or 6-quart pot, stir butter, olive oil, banana and sugar together until blended. Then stir in eggs and vanilla until creamy. Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at the time, stirring after each addition until mixed. It will yield about 16 cups of batter. Divide equally into 4 loaf pans. Baking time is about 50 to 60 minutes. Bake without disturbing the cake for 45 minutes and then check the cake with a toothpick or wooden skewer; when it comes out clean, remove the pans from the oven. Let them rest on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove banana bread from the pans.

© 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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Romancing with Lavender

Can you smell that? This time it is something familiar to us all: lavender. It is not an indigenous Thai ingredient, but it is one that is easily adapted to Thai kitchens, just like any fragrant flower. So here is my contemporary Thai dessert, Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream. It was born last week from romancing with lavender in my kitchen. It has been three years since I met my friend Kathy Gehrt, cookbook author and the founder of the website Discover Lavender. She opened my world. Like most of us, I wondered how could one eat perfume flowers? The more I learn about how to cook with lavender, the wilder I get. It is an amazing discovery. For a change this post is not directly related to Thai cuisine, but a study of taste as a food lover. One should never stop exploring.

Culinary Lavender

Two years ago my friend purchased a few varieties of culinary lavender plants from the Lavender Wind Farm. This summer the plants took off. They have yielded many flowers, so last Tuesday Barbara and I got together and celebrated our first harvest day. We prepared lunch together and added a lavender accent to everything we had for lunch. We got creative. First I made an avocado and nectarine salad with lavender as a fragrant herb and garnish. Then we added a sweet bread spread with lavender butter, followed by baked salmon with lavender salt, and a lovage and lavender earl grey tea. After lunch we made lavender sugar, lavender infused honey and lavender salt. How lucky am I to have then also returned home with two large bunches of fresh lavender? Please feel free to check out my photos on I Love Thai Cooking flicker.

Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream with mixed melon

 Coconut-Lavender Ice Cream is ideal to serve in a summer month with a chilled mixture of water melon, honey dew melon and cantaloupe.

For a summery dessert in July there is nothing better than coconut ice cream with a scent of lavender. I have made a few versions and love to keep the coconut with a custard texture as the main flavor followed by a hint of lavender. It is a simple, easy recipe but the trick is to heat the cream mixture above 175 degrees, then after tempering it with the egg, bring it back to the stove top again but do not let it get higher than 160 degrees. When churning the ice cream, I recommend starting with a cold batter then do not churn it more than needed—about 25 minutes or until it starts to form a solid ice cream consistency. Finish the process in the freezer. Follow these tips to get a custard-style ice cream with a soft silky texture. I hope you have a chance to share this coconut-lavender ice cream with your families and friends this summer. Let’s create a romantic flavor and the fragrance of lavender in the air.

coconut cream, half and half and lavender

Heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and lavender.

Coconut-Lavender Ice cream

Coconut Lavender Ice Cream

ไอศครีมมะพร้าวลาเวนเดอร์

Anyone can make ice cream today. All you need is a simple machine and a good recipe to follow. For a lactose-free recipe, simply replace the heavy whipping cream with the same amount of coconut milk.

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons culinary lavender
8 egg yolks
1 ¼ cup lavender sugar (please click to see recipe)
 

First you will need to freeze your ice cream churning bowl at least 24 hours beforehand.

Prepare an ice water bath in a container that is larger than the pot.

Bring heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and lavender to a gentle boil and cook on medium-low with a gentle boil for 5 minutes or until it reaches 175 degrees.

Whisk yolks and lavender sugar in a large bowl until they are creamy, light and puffy like ribbon, about 10 to 12 minutes.

While slowly pouring the cream mixture into the yolks and lavender sugar mixture, stir constantly with the other hand to prevent the egg from curdling. Strain the mixture to remove the lavender as you pour it back into the same pot; whisk constantly while cooking on medium-low heat. The setting should keep the temperature below 160 degrees and the mixture should be steaming but never boiling. Observe the texture; watch for it to begin to thicken, changing from creamy and beginning to take on the appearance of a soft custard. When it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, remove the pot from the heat and place it in the prepared ice water bath.

Cool it in the ice bath and and then pour it into the prepared ice cream machine. Turn on the machine and continue according to the machine instructions, usually about 20 to 25 minutes. It should have a texture of soft ice cream. Put it in the freezer for 4 hours before serving.

Pranee’s Note

For further study on making ice cream, please check out the science related to making ice cream by Harold McGee.

Where can you find culinary Lavender in Seattle?

I found culinary lavender at Pacific Food Importers, Inc. By chance you can sometime fine them at some Seattle Farmers Markets. But best of all is if you have sunny spot in your garden, plant your own culinary lavender. Kathy Gehrt recommends the Royal Velvet variety. Next I recommend that you immerse yourself in a lavender world by visiting the Sequim Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington.

Lavender at a Hmong farmer’s stand at the Columbia City Farmer Market

© 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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Applied Thai Culinary Art

Gai Yang Amphawa – ไก่ย่างอัมพวา

Grilled Thai Chicken Gai Yang, shown here from my visit in 2011, is famous Thai street food.

On May 29th—just about two weeks ago—The New York Times published the article “Cuisines Mastered as Acquired Tastes.” It told the story of some cooks that have become stars of authentic cuisines from other than their native countries.

One person mentioned in the article is Superstar Thai chef, Andy Ricker, the James Beard Best Chef in the Pacific Northwest in 2011. The article was fascinating reading and brought to mind my last week’s post on Thai basic seasoning paste.  Andy Ricker uses Kratiem Prik Thai paste – a basic Thai seasoning – in his restaurant kitchens as intensively as a Thai would in his. I have been to Andy’s Pok Pok Restaurant in Portland, Oregon a few times. Several of the dishes on his current menu obviously use this basic Thai seasoning paste, including Kai Yaang: Charcoal, rotisserie-roasted natural game hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro), Moo Paa Kham Waan (Boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper glazed with soy and sugar grilled over charcoal) and Kung Op Wun Sen (Wild caught gulf prawns baked in a clay pot over charcoal with pork belly, soy, ginger, cilantro root, black pepper, chinese celery and bean thread noodle.). Andy uses Kratiem Prik Thai as a marinade sauce in the first two dishes and as a seasoning in the third.

Goong Oob Woon Sen – กุ้งอบวุ้นเส้น

Goong Oob Woon Sen, a famous Thai hot pot dish served on a banana leaf. I enjoyed this dish served from a clay pot or on a banana leaf by street vendors in Amphawa. The grass noodles were soaked with the delightful flavors of soy, cilantro root, garlic and black pepper. A short gentle braising brings out all the great flavors.

It is great to see non-Thai become super stars in Thai cuisine because it is important to educate both Thai and non-Thai about our truly amazing cuisine. We would like non-Thai to appreciate and learn about authentic Thai cuisine in restaurants in America and elsewhere. And most importantly, we would like for Thai restaurant owners to work hard to preserve our culinary heritage through menus that don’t just offer dishes laden with sugar and coconut milk. If you are looking for a Thai cookbook, here are some authorities on Thai cuisine whose work I admire: David Thompson, a restauranteur and cookbook author; Nancie McDermott, cookbook author and historian; Robert Carmack and Robert Danhi, cookbook authors and tour leaders to Southeast Asia; and Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, cookbook authors, writers, travelers and photographers.

Fried Thai Garlic and Pepper Fish – Kratiem Prik Thai Pla – ปลากระเทียมพริกไทย

Fried Thai Garlic and Pepper Fish – Kratiem Prik Thai Pla

My friend Kratiem Prik Thai Pla at Kamala Beach village Pavilion Beach Restaurant with its signature garlic-black pepper sauce, topped with a lot of fried garlic.

Now that you have learned about Kratiem Prik Thai paste from this and the previous post, you can have fun learning to be a food detective, reading menus and finding the tastes of garlic, black pepper, and cilantro toots in Thai restaurants.

Cilantro roots alternative. In Seattle, when I see cilantro roots at a farmers market or at PCC Natural Markets, I buy a bunch so I can have a supply on hand in the fridge and the freezer. When  cilantro roots are not available, I use 2 teaspoons of finely chopped cilantro stems as a substitute for 1 cilantro root.

I hope you enjoy my photos from a famous restaurant in Bangkok, street food in Amphawa, and a beach restaurant in Phuket. The creators of these dishes may vary as to their preferences for white pepper or black pepper, soy sauce or fish sauce, palm sugar or white sugar, but they all use the secret ingredients of garlic, black pepper and cilantro root.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for using Thai Basic Seasoning Paste Recipe.

Sun-dried Pork – Moo Daet Deow – หมูแดดเดียว

Amphawa, Thailand
Sun-dried pork on the street at Amphawa, ready to deep fry to order.
Some Thai cooks prefer to use fish sauce rather than soy sauce and white peppercorn powder rather than black pepper corns in making Kratiem Prik Thai Rak Puk Chee paste.

Kratiem Prik Thai Goong – กระเทียมพริกไทยกุ้ง

You will find the nationally famous garlic prawns in many forms and under many names in Thai restaurant menus. The traditional Thai version doesn’t mix in vegetables but has a few fresh sliced cucumbers on the side. This photo of garlic prawns was taken at Harmonique Restaurant, my favorite restaurant in Bangkok.

© 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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Maui, Upcountry Culinary Getaway

First of all, Happy New Year – Sawasdee Pee Mai – สวัสดีปีใหม่.

Maui, Upcountry

I have just returned from a family vacation to Maui. While I was there I had the chance to take two days off to totally explore Maui as a culinary getaway. For foodies and culinary enthusiasts, the upcountry is a must. No Maui vacation is complete without a full immersion into this land, people, food and culture.

View from Highway 37 between Grandma’s Coffee House and the Maui Winery

First Day – Grandma’s Coffee House, Tedeschi Vineyards, Ali’i Kula and the Hili’imaile General Store

On Friday December 23rd, I left Ka’anapali around 8:30am and drove along Highway 37 to the upcountry area. Upcountry is the high land area near the base of the Haleakala Crater and the Haleakala National Park. (Please see related links below for more information.)

I arrived at 9:30am at Grandma’s Coffee House – a must-visit place for coffee lovers, either on your way to the Maui Winery or afterwards if you are following the area’s bike route. Grandma’s serves breakfast and lunch.

Grandma’s Coffee House

Grandma’s Maui Coffee, Highway 37, Keokea.

grandmascoffee.com

I enjoyed a Grandma’s Americano and a Grandma’s Pineapple and Banana Cream Cake at an outside table. The cake was perfect—not too sweet, but with all the Hawai’i goodies: macadamia nuts, pineapple and bananas. The frosting was light with a swirl of caramel. My palate tasted the heaven.

Maui Winery

Tedeschi Vineyards at the Ulupalakua Ranch

Highway 37, Keokea. mauiwine.com

Around 10am I got back in the car and, continuing on Highway 37, headed to Ulupalakua. I arrived at the Maui Winery 20 minutes later, just in time for the first tour at 10:30am. The free half-hour tour provided extensive information about the winery and its wine, as well as the history, culture, and native land that connect to the spirit of the place. The old large tree and hilly landscape made for a very tranquil atmosphere.

Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Grill

Ulupalakua Ranch Store and Grill, Highway 37

 ulupalakuaranch.com

Then I walked to Ulupalakua General Store and had my picture taken between the sculptures of two Hawaiian cowboys. I could have ordered an elk burger, salad or sandwich for lunch, but the Ali’i Kula lavender Farm was my next destination and I planned to have a late lunch after that at the Hili’imaile General Store.

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, 1100 Waipoli Road, Kula.

 aklmaui.com

Twenty minutes later, I arrived at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Admission to the farm was free, but I decided to take the 30-minutes tour at 1pm for $12. This gave me plenty of time to enjoy the gift shop, eat a lavender scone and sip some lavender black tea on the patio. I enjoyed the retreat-like setting in the beautiful garden with its cool air and great view and felt at peace.

Thank you to Kathy Gehrt, my friend and author of the cookbook Discover Cooking with Lavender, who recommended this place to me. If you wish to learn more about cooking with culinary lavender please visit Kathy’s blog: Discover Lavender.

Right after the tour ended, I excused myself and headed out to The Hili’imaile General Store. I arrived at 2 pm, just 30 minutes before the kitchen was to close.

The Hili’imaile General Store Restaurant

The staff was very friendly and I took their recommendations for what to order. I was glad I did. To share my memorable meal with you, I have found Chef Beverly Gannon’s recipes online and placed the links to them right under the pictures of these dishes. The Sashimi Napolean and the six times award-winning Pineapple Upside-Down Cake are not to be missed. The recipes are also in her second cookbook, Family-Style Meals at the Hali’imaile General Store which is published by Ten Speed Press.

Sashimi Napoleon

Sashimi Napoleon Recipe by Chef Beverly Gannon

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-down Cake Recipe by Chef Beverly Gannon

Recipes and information on her second cookbook

with Chef Beverly Gannon

The Hali’imaile General Store

900 Hali’imaile Road, Makawao, HI 96768
Phone: 808.572.2666 | Fax: 808.572.7128

Second Day – Kula Lodge, O’o Farm and Makawao

On Monday, December 26th, the second day of my upcountry culinary getaway, I started my day with breakfast at Kula Lodge, then drove to the O’o Farm which is only 10 minutes away. I arrived at the farm just 10 minutes before a farm tour was to begin.

O’o farm, harvesting Salad Mix for Our Lunch

O’o Farm, 651 Waipoli Road, Kula. Tours and lunches

 oofarm.com

Farm Fresh Lunch Prepared by Chef Caroline Schaub

Chef Caroline Schaub prepared some amazing and inspired farm-fresh dishes.

O’o farm, lunch area

The farm tour and lunch package costs $50; booking in advance is recommended. The tour, which included about 26 people from all across the United States, was guided by the farm manager. It started at 10:30am and we picked our own salad mix at the end. We all enjoyed the tour and were inspired by our farm-to-table experience.

Lunch at O’o Farm Tour

After leaving the farm I spent a pleasant hour in Makawao, a delightful small town for visiting art galleries, eateries and shops. Then I made a leisurely drive back to Ka’anapali and met up with my family in the late afternoon.

Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen

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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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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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