Roasted pheasant stuffed with wild rice served with pomegranate and persimmon sauce makes a flavorful winter dish.
Nowadays, you don’t have to go foraging for mussels at the beach. Farm-raised mussels are so common that fresh mussels are available at most grocery stores year-round. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is in a Thai style with peppers, basil and a sweet and salty sauce. You can make it a starter or part of a meal by pairing it with another stir fry.
A little rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of people who came to satisfy their appetite for Thai food and culinary adventure Sunday at Wat Buddha Oregon, the Thai Buddhist Temple nestled in the woods in Turner. For a donation into the collection boxes that lined the food tables, visitors got to sample such […]
Tacos have become such a part of mainstream American cuisine that on the West Coast other ethnic groups have begun topping the ubiquitous corn tortilla with their cultural culinary specialties. Forget the fish taco, ground beef taco, or shredded beef taco. Their time has come and gone. In Los Angeles and Seattle you can find Vietnamese and Korean food-truck chefs who are creating the latest taco sensations: Korean barbecue and Kimchi tacos, Bulgogi tacos, Vietnamese lemongrass chicken tacos. I mean, when you see a dozen kinds of tacos available in the neighborhood supermarket, and Taco Bells show up in China, what would you expect, right? The taco is ripe for a cultural hijacking. And so this native Thai decided that the time was ripe for….ta da…a Thai taco.
As far as American fare goes, chicken is one of those old stand-bys. Roasted, grilled or battered and fried, it has attained comfort-food status in most American households. In the Far East, chicken also has the coveted comfort-food status on many family tables. My recipe for this dish combines Thai and Chinese techniques of poaching a whole chicken in garlic and ginger and then serving it with a zingy sauce of crushed garlic and ginger, salted soybeans, soy sauce and vinegar.
I’m not sure about the origin of the name pad kee mao, which literally translates as stir-fried drunken noodles. Mom says maybe because it’s good to wash down with beer. Or maybe it’s a good cure for a hangover. I think it’s one of those quick and cheap street foods that’s widely available around Bangkok to satisfy an appetite after a night of disco. Who knows for sure? Charles and I do agree, though, that the perfect thing to serve with this dish is a bottle of Chang beer (from Ayutthaya, Thailand). We’re lucky that we can find it here in Salem at Capitol Market. This version of drunken noodles takes very little time to prepare.
As I was growing up in Thailand, kaffir limes were a common sight. Not so much here in the U.S. So imagine my surprise when I get a call from Charles, the excitement in his voice palpable, extolling that our little organic food store in Salem, Lifesource Foods, had kaffir limes and did I want any? Are you kidding? Yes! My family has gone to great lengths to make sure that wherever we’ve lived — Texas, Maryland, Oregon — we’ve always had a kaffir lime plant. Usually, Mom has to scour her friends in Houston and bring a live plant back on the plane after one of her annual visits there. Sometimes, we beg to have plants sent to us via FedEx. The fruit doesn’t contain much juice, but in Thai cooking, the rind and the entire fruit are used to impart their bright, clean, citrus flavor and aroma. The most common dishes that use kaffir lime rind or leaves are Tom Yum soup and Tom Kha soup.
Aunt Noi pulls out a bag and says she brought a snack for us. Next we notice her setting out several small covered bowls, a couple of spoons and a larger container of a stack a bright green leaves. She explains, as she’s opening the containers, that she’s brought a surprise that I’ve probably never had before. As I look over the contents of the bowls — crushed peanuts, dried shrimp, small lime pieces, garlic, chiles, toasted coconut, shallots and a thick sauce — I ask, “Is this Miang Kham?”
A few weeks ago, during a warm spell and a flash of inspiration, as well as a flashback to my childhood in Bangkok, I was inspired to make lemongrass soda. This weekend, with my 46th birthday party looming, I made some more of the lemongrass simple syrup to serve, but instead of just splashing it into soda over ice, I decided to shake things up a little and experiment with adding the lemongrass syrup to gin, shaking it in a cocktail shaker and serving it in a martini glass garnished with a kaffir lime leaf. YUMMY!
Why had I not thought of this before?
Nam prik pao, a thick sauce made of ground-up roasted chilis, soybean oil, palm sugar, fish sauce, ground-up dried shrimp and shallots, has one of those unmistakable flavors. Literally translated, the name means roasted chili water. It’s a sauce that I grew up loving — believe it or not — on toast. Mom’s version of chicken and cashew nuts uses this delicious sauce, giving this Chinese dish a uniquely Thai twist.
I was thinking of how well pork and mushrooms go together the other day, while musing on a novel way to use black trumpet mushrooms we received from Marx Foods, a purveyor of bulk fine foods. I remembered a favorite Thai dish that Mom occasionally makes that is a salad made from stir-fried ground pork and mung bean noodles in a lime and fish sauce dressing, topped with lots of cilantro and shallots. Collaborating, Mom and I decided to make this dish with the addition of black trumpet mushrooms.
One of my favorite stir-fry dishes that incorporates kaffir lime leaves is Pad Prig King, usually pork or chicken stir fried with fiery red curry paste, yardlong beans or green beans, and very thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves. When I lived in Thailand as a child, I remember roaming the markets with Mom and getting to the area where food vendors congregated. I could always tell which vendor had Pad Prig King from the intense aroma of curry and the pungent kaffir lime leaves. For some reason, I always connect this dish with Thai monks, perhaps because the color of the finished dish reminds me of their bright saffron robes.
Thai porridge brings back fond memories from my childhood in Thailand, where I spent many weekends at my cousin’s house. It’s a dish that my favorite uncle would serve for breakfast. The bland taste of the rice porridge would be punctuated by the side dishes that were each full of their own flavors: salty, savory, sweet, sour and pungent. To this day, it’s a comfort food that we enjoy at our home and it brings back warm memories of my cousin who is now half a world away, and my favorite uncle who is no longer alive.
Living in Oregon now, I often ache for my homeland. It seems so far away. The last time I went home to Thailand was in 2007, and it brought back to life so many memories from my distant childhood that had begun to grow dim and fade with time. One of my fondest memories grew out […]
One of my favorite memories of Bangkok prompts me to ask my mother to often make Larb for us for dinner. Larb is a Thai dish that can be made from ground beef, ground pork, or if you have to be healthy — ground chicken or turkey. It is quickly cooked and then seasoned with fish sauce and lime juice and dressed with roasted ground rice and ground red chillis, chopped cilantro and chopped scallions.
One of the things that I love about living in Oregon is the bountiful and fresh seafood available. Another is that the state embraces Pacific Rim cultures. As an Asian-American who has lived lots of places in the U.S., I’ve found it one of the most welcoming places to be. With our love of the […]
In the wintertime most of the U.S. is gripped by snow, freezing weather, or some combination of the two. In Oregon, we have the winter monsoons. It rains almost daily from November until April. Most of the time it’s a civilized, spritzing kind of rain, where you don’t need head gear. Sometimes it’s a heavier […]
When we have dinner parties and cook Thai food for company, our guests usually ask the names of the dishes they’re enjoying. Sometimes things just don’t translate well into English! Sometimes you need a censor at our dinner table. Most of the time you just need a sense of humor. Charles usually will sit there […]
Besides Thailand, I’ve lived in Singapore, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, Baltimore, and now Salem, to name a few, and in each place there has been an abundance of Thai restaurants. How do I tell the good ones from the not-so-good ones? There is one dish I order at every new Thai restaurant I encounter so […]