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Posts Tagged ‘Traditional Thai Cooking’

Do Nothing Day

Honey-lime Tea

Honey-Lime Tea, Cough Remedy

I got bit by a winter bug and have been resting for the past two days. What do I eat on such a do nothing day?  I prepared Honey-Lime Tea to sooth my coughing and sore throat. For dinner I prepared myself a rice porridge. While the rice porridge was on the burner, I whisked up an omelet from an old family recipe – a classic Thai omelet with pickled sweet radish – Kai Jeow Chaipor Wan. I took some pictures to share with you so you could enjoy eating this omelet along with rice porridge – Kao Tom from a recent post. This good gentle food doesn’t take long to cook, another reason why it is good for a day when you are not feeling well.

The four ingredients are eggs, shallot, Thai chilies and pickled radish. The pickled sweet radish is the same one that Thais use in phad thai, so it is easy to find. You may use dried daikon radish from PCC Natural Markets, but add a squeeze of lime juice and a teaspoon of fish sauce or soy to the recipe. You may also try it with Kimchi and pickled mustard greens; since both are pickled, you do not need to add fish sauce or soy sauce.

I hope you enjoy this simple recipe with four ingredients and three cooking steps. Twenty minutes after starting, I had both rice porridge and omelet on the dining table. I enjoyed this warm, down-to-earth comfort food and once again felt like I was at home with my mom and family in Phuket.

Pickled Sweet Radish Omelet

Kai Jeow Chaipor Wan 

ไข่เจียวไชโป้วหวาน

Serves: 2

1 small shallot, peeled and sliced
2 eggs
2 fresh Thai chilies or serrano chilies, sliced
1/4 cup pickled sweet radish
3 tablespoons canola oil

Place shallot, eggs, chilies and pickled sweet radish in a medium size bowl, then beat with fork to mix, about 1 minute.

Heat 6-inch cast iron pan or frying pan on medium-high heat. Pour in canola oil and tilt to coat the bottom of the pan. Pour omelet batter in the hot pan, stir quickly 5 times and then let it spread out to cover the bottom of the pan. Turn the burner to medium heat, cover with a lid and let it cook until the bottom of the omelet is dry. Flip the omelet and cook for 30 seconds more. Serve with rice porridge or steamed jasmine rice.

Sliced shallot, eggs, sliced chilies and pickled sweet radish

First you place shallots, eggs, chilies and pickled sweet radish in a medium size bowl.

Stir with fork until it well-mixed

Then beat it with a fork to mix, about 1 minute.

Phuket Pickled Sweet Radish Omelet

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

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Eat the Jungle

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

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

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

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

Green Papaya

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

Yield: ½ cup

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

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

Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya


Phuket Jungle Curry with Green Papaya

Gaeng Pa Malakaw Moo

แกงป่ามะละกอกับหมู

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

Ingredients for Phuket Jungle Curry

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

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

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

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

 

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

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A Cough Remedy

Honey-Lime Tea, a cough remedy

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

kişisel resim

Honey image via Wikipedia

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

Lime มะนาว - plenty of lime in Thailand

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

Honey-Lime Tea

Honey-Lime Tea

Cha Nam Pung Manao

ชามะนาวน้ำผึ้ง

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

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

Serves: 1

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

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

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

A Walk for Remembering

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

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

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

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Thai Spicy Stir-fried Seafood with Yardlong Bean

Phad Phed Talay Tua Fak Yao 

ผัดเผ็ดทะเลถั่วฟักยาว

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

Thai Spicy Stir-fried Seafood with Yardlong Bean

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

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

May 8, 2011, Las Delicias

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

Dinner with Rice, banana and bean

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

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

Banana leaf just right outside

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

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

Thelma wrapped rice, banana and bean with banana leaf

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

Kao Tom Mud

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

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

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

Sweet Rice and Banana Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Kao Tom Mud 

ข้าวต้มมัด

Servings: 8

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

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

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

Pranee’s note:

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

Pulut Lapa

Image by chooyutshing via Flickr

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Let It Stew

I love having a stew cooking on my stove top while I am catching up with a pile of work. I have had a frozen pork belly in my freezer for a month now, waiting for the time when it will become Moo Palo, or Stewed Pork Belly with Cinnamon and Star Anise in Soy Sauce, a delightful dish of Thailand. I could no longer make excuses that I was too busy too cook—I can accomplish both working and cooking: Just let it stew.

I worked at my home office all last week to meet my deadline for editing recipes and writing a proposal. When I saw the frozen pork belly in my freezer I pulled it out to thaw so that I could cook it the next day.  The rest was simple. I cut the pork belly into pieces, placed them in a Dutch oven and sprinkled the remaining ingredients randomly on top. Then I let the stove top (or you can use the oven) do the work of cooking. I took a break from work from time to time to check on the stew. While it cooked itself on the stove top for 2 hours, in my office I enjoyed the aroma of soy and cinnamon and star anise interacting with each other.

Stewed Pork Belly with Cinnamon and Star Anise in Soy Sauce, Moo Palo

This dish is similar to Thai Moo Palo but I omitted the hard-boiled eggs and instead of using five spice powder, I used Vietnamese cinnamon and star anise.  What I was looking for was a sweeter and more delicate flavor than from the Vietnamese version with cinnamon and dark soy sauce. It was surprising good and sophisticated. When I checked with my family they had no idea that there was a tablespoon of black pepper in it. It had just a hint of black pepper deepening the sauce.

In Phuket, this dish is called by its Phuket Hokkien name: Moo Hong – หมูฮ้องสูตรภูเก็ต. I cooked it the same way my mother would, with the fat and skin attached to the pork belly to keep it sweet and moist. The important ingredients that give  Moo Palo or Moo Hong Phuket its unique flavor are dark soy, crushed garlic cloves, black pepper, cinnamon powder, cinnamon sticks and star anise.

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Stewed Pork Belly with Vietnamese Cinnamon and Star Anise in Soy Sauce

Moo Palo

หมูพะโล้

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Stewing time: 2 hours on medium heat on stove top

2 pounds pork belly (aka side pork) with fat and skin attached, cut into 1½-inch thick pieces
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (Bengal)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce, more as needed
2 tablespoons Vietnamese cinnamon powder
1 tablespoon whole black peppers, crushed
8 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled (don’t chop, keep them whole)
3 star anise, whole
5 cloves, whole
2 cilantro stems, see Pranee’s explanation on cilantro root
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Place cut up pork belly in a dish and stir in the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Vietnamese cinnamon powder and black pepper; mix well. Marinate overnight or for several hours.

Place the pork belly and marinade in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, then add garlic, star anise, cloves and brown sugar on top of pork. Brown the meat a little, then add water to cover the top of pork by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium or medium low (depending on the burner) to create a nice gentle boil. Let it cook for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and add water if needed.

After an hour and a half, cover the Dutch oven with a lid and let the pork simmer for about a half hour, or until tender. (It is tender when you can cut it with a fork and it breaks up nicely without an effort.) Reduce the sauce to 1 cup, about ¼ cup per serving.

Serve warm with steamed jasmine rice.

 Pranee’s note:

Vietnamese Cinnamon or Saigon Cinnamon has more essential oils and 25 percent more Cinnamaldehyde  than other kinds of cinnamon.

You may add 4 shelled hard boil eggs during the last 1 hour of stewing time. It is also delicious served with cooked thin rice noodles.

An alternative cooking method is to braise the stew in the oven at 300°F for 3½ hours.

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

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A Stir-Fry from the Palm of My Hand

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

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

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

Firm Tofu, Mung Bean Sprouts and Garlic Chives

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

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

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

Stir-fried Mung Bean Sprouts and Tofu with Garlic Chives

Phad Tao Gua Tao Nge Phuket

ผัดถั่วงอกกับเต้าหู้ภูเก็ต

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

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

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

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

Pranee’s note:

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

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

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


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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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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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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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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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Dark Soy Sauce, an Essential in Thai Cooking  

Two years ago my friend Pom arranged for me to visit the Junsaeng soy sauce factory in Thalang, Phuket. I was fortunate to learn firsthand about their establishment and how soy sauce is made. Out of four soy sauce factories in Phuket, it is the only one still in business. I hope the video below will help you understand how soy sauce is made.

There are two types of soy sauce: light and dark. The dark soy sauce is a little-known but very important ingredient in many dishes, such as Phad See Ew, Kee Meo and Lahd Nah Noodles. After Phad Thai, these are the best known Thai noodle dishes for Americans. The secret ingredient in these dishes is a good dark soy sauce. For me personally, I love the flavor of dark soy sauce in Singaporean Noodles and Hainan Chicken. The challenge is that most of my students know how to use light soy sauce, but few have had a chance to experience cooking with dark soy sauce. Moreover, a good dark soy sauce is hard to find in America. My favorite brand is from Indonesia.

Before teaching my Thai Comfort Foods class for PCC Cooks, I decided to create a homemade, gluten-free, dark soy sauce. I didn’t want students to have to turn the world upside down to find dark soy sauce, but even more importantly, is almost impossible to find one that is gluten-free.  After a few experiments at home, I was happy with the results. My dark soy sauce recipe below was a success when I used it in stir-frying the noodles for my class. I hope that this recipe made it easier for you to cook Thai noodles at home. A few drops of dark soy sauce go a long way.

Dark Sauce 

See Ew Dam

In America, good dark soy sauce is hard to find. I created this recipe to make it available for students as a substitute for store-bought dark soy sauce. It is an important ingredient for stir-fried noodles and rice dishes that require a sweet molasses-like soy sauce. 

Yield: ¾ cup 

 ¼ cup water
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup wheat-free soy sauce

Place water and brown sugar in a heavy-bottom sauce pan and bring to a boil over a high heat. Stir until the sugar and water mix well together, then stop stirring completely. Let the sugar mixture cook on medium-low heat. Stand and watch the bubble. When it gets dark like coffee or molasses, pour in the soy sauce—be careful as there will be an eruption of bubbling liquid. Keep stirring until it becomes the consistency of molasses. Store in the refrigerator.

© 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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Northern Thai Cuisine with the Kantok Diner

When planning a trip to Chiang Mai, the largest city in northern Thailand, one must see all of the cultural aspects that Northern Thai culture or Lanna culture has to offer. That is why I took my tour members to the Old Chiangmai Cultural Center. It is my favorite place for eating Northern Thai cuisine, listening to Thai music, and watching the dances. This may seem like a tourist trap, but for a short visit to Chang Mail, I recommend this experience before returning home. My visits with tour members in February 2007 and 2008 were memorable. We sat under the moonlight in a courtyard surrounded by old Thai teak buildings, ate, and watched the dance show. And of course the visitors had a chance to dance at the end.

Kantok Dinner at the Old Chiangmai Cultural Center

A typical Kontok dinner menu consists of Pork-Tomato Chili Dip (Nam Prik Ong), Green Chili Pepper Dip (Nam Prik Num), Fried Chicken (Gai Tod ), Chaingmai Curry Pork (Geang Hungley), Fried Banana (Kleuy Tod) and all of the vegetable condiments that go with chili dip, plus steamed sticky rice and steamed jasmine rice. All of these dishes were placed in bowls (kan) and set on a small round teak or rattan table (tok) that was only about 10 inches tall. We sat around the table and ate the food with our fingers, or with forks and spoons.

Tomato-Pork Chili Dip, Nam Prk Ong

Inspired Recipe from Our Chiang Mai Kantok Dinner

Nam Prik Ong

Tomato-Pork Chili Dip

Nam Prk Ong

น้ำพริกอ่อง

This dish is easy to make, and among Thai chili dips, pork-tomato chili dip is easy to love. It has a tomato base and is spicy hot with chili pepper, but does not have too strong a taste of shrimp paste. The secret is to use the ripest, reddest and sweetest tomatoes you can find. I recommend multiplying the recipe so you will have enough to keep some in the freezer. In Seattle I keep some Nam Prik Ong in the fridge to use as a condiment when I serve a meal with one main protein dish. I also love to use it as a condiment with steamed jasmine rice or to accompany other savory dishes or an array of fresh vegetables.

Yield: 1 cup

2 cilantro roots, or 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro stems
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and sliced, about 3 tablespoons
3 Chile Guajillo, or New Mexico chili pods, sliced and soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
5 whole dried Thai chilies, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
10 cloves garlic, peeled
5 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons shrimp paste placed on a piece of parchment paper and roasted in a 350BF oven for 10 minutes, (or substitute 1 tablespoon Napoleon anchovy paste)
1 teaspoon salt, or more as needed
3 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
¼ cup ground pork
1 cup sweet cherry tomatoes or any sweet tomato variety, chopped
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
¼ cup chopped cilantro to garnish

Make a curry paste by placing the cilantro roots, lemongrass, chili Guajillo, Thai chilies, garlic, shallots, shrimp paste and salt in the food processor. Turn on the machine and while it runs, pour cooking oil into the spout in a stream (like making pesto). Let the processor run for 3 minutes, stopping it occasionally to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the machine.

Place the curry paste in a frying pan with the pork and cook over medium heat until the pork is no longer pink. Stir in tomato, palm sugar, and fish sauce and let it simmer until the tomato is softened. Nam Prik Ong should have the consistency of tomato sauce (not watery). When it is done, stir in chopped cilantro and serve with jasmine rice and vegetable condiments, or serve it Kantok Dinner Style with sticky rice and other traditional dishes.

Vegetable Condiments: Sliced cucumbers, long beans, wing beans, Thai eggplants, banana blossoms, steamed Kabocha pumpkin.

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

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Thai Cooking with Mussels

Steamed Mediterranean Mussels with Sweet Chili Sauce

I love mussels, and Thai cuisine has so many great mussel recipes. Unfortunately, cooking classes with mussels don’t sell well in Seattle. But you can enjoy my recipe without being in my class. This delightful, easy recipe uses fresh Mediterranean mussels that are at their peak season right now. The Taylor Shellfish Farm stall at many Seattle Farmers Markets is a good place to get them.

Cooking Tips from the Expert, Jon Rowley

The Mediterranean mussels, which are just now coming into season and will be very plump, aren’t done when they open. They need to continue cooking after they open until you see the meat contract. This makes a BIG difference in the flavor. If the mussels are not cooked enough, they have an unpleasant, fleshy taste. If cooked properly they are gloriously sweet. These mussels are so fat, you don’t have to worry about overcooking.

Also if some mussels don’t open and the others are done, the ones that are closed will also be done, they just need to be pried open. Bum mussels will be open before cooking and should be discarded. Mediterranean mussels that are still closed after cooking (if you have any) are fine.

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Steamed Mediterranean Mussels with Lemon Basil and Shallot, and Homemade Chili Sauce

Hoy Nueng Bai Meang Luck

Servings: 8 as appetizer
 
 
 
30 Mediterranean mussels, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons grape seed oil
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 cup lemon basil leaves, or any type of basil
1 Serrano pepper, halved
1 cup sweet chili sauce (see recipe below)

De-beard mussels and clean under running water to remove sand and grit. Discard any mussels that open before cooking.

Heat canola oil in a pan and stir in shallots and basil for 30 seconds on high heat. Add mussels, cover the pan, and shake it back and forth without opening the lid until the mussels start to open, about 2 minutes. Keep cooking until the mussels contract and look plump and round, about 1 more minute.

Serve with sweet chili sauce as a dipping sauce or place ½ teaspoon sweet chili sauce on each mussel. Garnish with lemon basil leaves.

Wine Pairing: Washington Pinot Gris

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

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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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