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Posts Tagged ‘Thai Side Dishes’

Grilled Bok Choy for Minimalist Cooking

Bok Choy – ผักกาดใบ

I want to share with you my tips and techniques for making quick and easy grilled bok choy, something I did last weekend to celebrate the first warm sunny day when I spent a lot of time outdoors gardening. Cooking in the summer is about minimalism, and I like the idea of a few ingredients on the grill at one time.

Bok choy, also known as Chinese cabbage, is my favorite Asian vegetable. To me it is like vegetable-candy. I love its crunchy texture and light mustard flavor and the fact that I don’t need to be concerned about calories when I eat it. Even in large portions, I can just enjoy its delightful nutritional benefits. There are many ways to stir-fry bok choy with seasonings in a wok, but my favorite way to cook it is on the grill. This is in part because I don’t like to cut up a beautiful bok choy before I cook it; I would rather do that with a knife as I eat it. With baby bok choy, however, I can avoid cutting it all together and there are many other delicious Asian vegetables that I can cut up and stir-fry—such as choy sum, morning glory, and dozens of other greens. So when summer comes along, bok choy becomes a regular on my grill. It goes with any main dish.

This recipe is a great way to enjoy beautiful, low-fat, crispy, grilled bok choy. I typically cut regular bok choy in half lengthwise. This makes for easy grilling and a very appealing natural pattern. To quote Georgia O’Keeffe: “Colors and line and shape seem for me a more definite statement than words.” Sliced bok choy makes a beautiful pattern indeed. You can appreciate the look while grilling and eating them, and it only takes a little effort. You can dress the bok choy up to accompany any type of cuisine by adding a vinaigrette or sauce after grilling.

Grilled bok choy as a side dish

A perforated grill pan is ideal for grilling vegetables or seafood

Technique

First cut the bok choy in half lengthwise, then soak it under ice cold water for 15 minutes or longer for a crispy texture. Drain well, but do not spin. Drizzle a tablespoon or more of grape seed oil (or any vegetable oil) over the bok choy then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt; using tongs, mix well. (This technique is easier and uses less cooking oil than brushing it with oil.) The water bath, cooking oil and salt will keep the vegetable green, shiny and tasting good. Crushed fresh white or black pepper adds a great accent.

Grilled bok choy, grilled beef and steamed jasmine rice

This is a perfect dinner for a minimalist. Except for the rice cooked in a rice cooker, each dish is cooked with just three ingredients out on the grill. I rub fish sauce over my steak and pierce it with rosemary from my garden. The steaks are 1/2 inch thick, so both the steak and the bok choy cook in less than 15 minutes. The total time to prepare and to cook is about 30 minutes.  Minimalist cooking is a perfect approach for summer to come!

Grilled Bok Choy

ผักกาดใบย่าง

Pak Gard Bai Yang

Serves: 4

 
1 pound bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoons grape seed oil, canola oil or any vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
1/4 cup Thai Chili-lime vinaigrette, optional

Pre-heat the grill to high heat. Place perforated grill pan on top of the grill.

Soak bok choy under cold water for at least 15 minutes, or longer for a crispy texture. Drain well but do not spin. Drizzle on a teaspoon or more of the oil and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon sea salt over the top. Use tongs to mix well.

Place bok choy on perforated grill pan in a single layer and let it grill for 3 to 5 minutes on each side until it is translucent but still firm. Serve as is, or use tongs to mix well with Thai Chili-lime vinaigrette. Serve warm or cold as a side dish.

Pranee’s Note: Measure the first seven ingredients from the Thai Chili-Lime Vinaigrette recipe into an 8-ounce mason jar, close the lid tight and shake well. Pour over grilled bok choy.

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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Are Winter Squash Leaves Edible?

I enjoyed the Seattle sun last Wednesday at the Columbia City Farmers Market along with the delicious food from the stalls. I purchased a few fresh vegetables from various farmers and, like always, a bunch of winter squash leaves from a Hmong farmer’s stall. This time the squash leaves prompted me to cook and share with you a recipe from my Thai kitchen: how to cook winter squash leaves –Yod Namtao – ยอดน้ำเต้า.

Winter squash leaves are edible. In fact, all parts of squash family plants are edible, from leaves to stems, flowers, fruit, skin and seeds. The young leaves and stems are shown in the photos above and below. These edible greens become available when a farmer cuts back the leaves on a plant in order to encourage it to produce fewer but larger fruits. Winter squash leaves are popular in rustic-style cooking in Southeast Asia and they are great sources of fiber and other nutritional benefits.

Winter Squash Leaves and Blossoms - my visit to Hoi An Market 2009

Though they may feel a little rough to the touch, the young leaves from winter squash have amazing flavors when cooked. They have a  spinach-like texture, but are richer and denser with a bite to it in flavor. Like any leafy green vegetable, you can stir-fry, steam or stew them. In my kitchen, I either blanch them in salted coconut milk or saute them with butter, then add water and chicken stock and cook them down until the leaves are softened but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Last year I made a winter melon leaves stew with dried fish and shallots using a Hmong farmer’s verbal recipe. It was similar to my Watermelon Rind Soup and made a delicious vegetable stew.           

Winter squash leaves are only available in the summer and only at the Hmong farmers’ stalls. Because of this limitation, I never fail to purchase a bunch of winter squash leaves each visit to the market. Supporting the Hmong farmers also helps me to ensure that there will be a continuing supply due to the demand. When you get a chance, please pick up some winter squash leaves at a Seattle Farmer Markets near you and give them a try.

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Winter Squash Leaves Boiled in Salted Coconut Milk

Yod Namtao Luak Kati

ยอดน้ำเต้าลวกกะทิ

Winter Squash Leaves in Salted Coconut Milk

One bunch of winter squash leaves weighs about a pound. After removing all of the twine holding them together and the hard stems, the soft edible part weighs about six ounces; the rest goes into a compost. If I have time, I use a peeler to remove the rough skin on the stems then cook the stems down until they are soft, about 8 minutes.

There are many ways to prepare winter squash leaves, but blanching or boiling them in salted coconut milk produces my favorite quick and easy side dish. This same method can also be used with many other leafy green vegetables, which can then be served with Thai Chili Dip. You will be surprised how the flavor of winter squash leaves and leafy green vegetables are complimented by just a little coconut milk and salt.

 
Serves: 4
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
 
6 ounces winter squash leaves (see preparation above)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon plus 2 pinches salt

Bring coconut milk, water and salt to a boil on medium-high heat. Then add the squash leaves, using tongs to turn them around to make sure they are all cooked in the liquid—like blanching the leaves in a coconut broth. Cook from 3 to 5 minutes until the greens reach your desired degree of tenderness. Serve with the broth as a side dish, or with warm jasmine rice as a main dish.

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

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My Everyday  Asian Vegetable

Choy Sum - Flowering Cabbage

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

Stir-fried Choy Sum as a Side dish

Stir-fried Choy Sum

Phad Pak Gwang Tung

ผัดผักกวางตุ้ง

Servings: 4

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

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

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

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

Stir-fried Phuket Hokkien Mee with Choy Sum

 
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A Stir-Fry from the Palm of My Hand

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

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

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

Firm Tofu, Mung Bean Sprouts and Garlic Chives

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

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

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

Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts and Tofu with Garlic Chives

Phad Tao Gua Tao Nge Phuket

ผัดถั่วงอกกับเต้าหู้ภูเก็ต

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

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

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

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

Pranee’s note:

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

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

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


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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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Sunflower Sprouts Salad with Chili-Lime vinaigrette

Yum Med Tan Tawan Ngawk

Sunflower Sprouts by the Alm Hill Gardens Stall – The Columbia City Farmer Market

July 15, 2010 – Yesterday I was at the Columbia Farmers Market. While waiting for my friend, I visited the Alm Hill Gardens stall, and was introduced to sunflower sprouts. I have tasted it before, but these fresh sprouts from the farm I will never forget. It was fresh, buttery and nutty. I brought some home and made a salad for a side dish to accompany my Thai chicken Baryani rice, Kao Mok Gai.

Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, tomato and dill

August 4, 2010- My friend Annette came over for lunch today and it is a perfect day for me to perfect my Sunflower Sprout Salad Recipe and do some photos for the blog. As I envisioned to add some texture, and sunflower seed is a perfect theme for salad. I have no reservations about adding the abundant and flavorful mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes. The rest is simple. I hope you like my chili-lime vinaigrette. Interesting and freshest  ingredients in an easy recipe is a way to go.

Sunflower Sprouts S

Sunflower Sprout Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

alad with Chili-Lime vinaigrette

Yum Dork Tan Tawan Ngawk 

Serves: 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or garlic oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or 2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper flake
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon lime juice or lemon juice
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, whole or halved
2 cups sunflower sprouts, washed and drained
1/4 dill or cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds

Whisk olive oil, sea salt, sugar, black pepper, chili powder, lime juice until it is well mixed. Fold in shallot, tomatoes, sunflower sprouts and dill, and mix gently. Sprinkle sunflower seeds  before serving. Serve immediately.

 © 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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Thai Grandmother Cooking is a sustainable cooking

Pranee’s Grandmother Recipe

Watermelon rinds

My mom taught me many culinary skills but it was my grandmother who deepened my sense of sustainable cooking. We cooked virtually everything sustainably, just like the French. I have a habit of saving the rinds in a zip lock bag and cooking for myself because I am not sure if anyone else care for it. I would not miss this opportunity that only come once a year. I either incorporate them into a hearty soup or stir-fry. For stir-frying, I stir-fry it with either salted pork or dried anchovies. There is nothing more or less, just two ingredients. If you haven’t try to cook with watermelon rinds, you will love the flavor. I like it more than stir-fried cucumber, as it has light flavors of watermelon and cucumber.

how to remove the green skin from the water melon

A little light green on the rind has a nice little sour to it, where as the pink has sweet melon flavor. After stir-frying the fragrance and flavor are more like cucumber.  As my grandma always said, “sour, sweet, fat and salt” are neccessary in any main dish.  I tasted a similar combination once at the IACP international event  in New Orleans by renowned chefs combining fresh frozen cubed melon garnish with fried crunchy pork rind. (I will get the name and post it later)  

It takes 10 minutes to prep and 3 minutes to stir-fried and next it became my lunch. I enjoyed it on my patio in the sun recently. The aroma took me back to my grandma’s kitchen and a warm of sunshine of Thailand.

Note: I decided to add chive from my garden to make this Thai rustic cooking more appealing and also for photography purpose. However, the favor of chive does go well with the stir-fried watermelon rind and salted pork.

Pranee’s Grandma Cooking–Stir-fried Melon Rind with Salted Pork

Thai Stir-fried Watermelon Rind with Salted Pork

Phad  Puak Tang Mo Moo Kem

Serves: 1

2 tablespoons cured salted pork or sliced becon
1 teaspoon canola oil, optional
1 clove garlic, crushed and coarsely minced
1 cup melon rind, skin removed and sliced into 1/3 inch width and 2 inch length–please see slide show
2 tablespoons chives, for garnish
 

Heat a wok on medium-high heat, and stir in salted pork or bacon. Saute them until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove excess fat to allow only 1 teaspoon on the bottom of the wok. If no fat can be rendered, then add 1 teaspoon canola oil. Saute in garlic until yellow. Stir in sliced watermelon rind and cook for 1 minute, the aroma of garlic, bacon and melon like should  develop before adding 1 tablespoon water. Cook for one more minute and make sure to have about 1 or 2 tablespoon sauce, otherwise add more water. Stir in chives and serve right away. Or use chive for garnish. Serve with warm jasmine rice.

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Thai Vegetarian Option: Saute shiitake mushroom with sea salt to substitute salted pork.   

Thai Cooking Recipe for Kids, Gluten-Free Recipe  

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

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