Thai Food and Thailand Travel
For years, ThaiTable has been one of the leading Thai food and travel websites.
Here you can learn everything it takes to cook real and authentic Thai food, just like your Thai mom used to make.
And then read about visiting Thailand.
One crop that I'm looking forward to in the summer is fresh corn. I love yellow corn which is hard to come by now; most of the corn available in the local supermarket is white corn. Yellow corn, in my opinion, is chewier and creamier. Now, many farmers grow bi-color corn. The complete sweetness from the white kernels and the chewy texture from the yellow kernels bring the best of both worlds in one ear.
When I feel like having corn, usually plain boiled corn which is so boring. My mind zooms back to Thailand and craves a snack that is simple and tasty.
Before you see coconut milk in a can at supermarkets, the coconut has to dodge a few stages where it can be eaten. With the green coconut, we drink the sweet juice and scrape the tender, gel like, white meat and eat it just like that. We also shred the tender meat and add to desserts and drinks.
When the coconut shell outside is brown, the juice is not as sweet as young green coconut and the white flesh is no longer tender, it is not quite ripe yet. The white flesh is firm but not hard and brittle like ripe coconut which makes it easy to shred. It's ideal for shredded coconut. The grated white flesh is perfect as a sprinkle on top of desserts and snacks.
At the end of the coconut life span, it's perfect for coconut milk. The finely grated white meat is packed with milk, ready for the squeeze.
Often as I would walk through my neighborhood, I'd catch a whiff of delicious aroma coming from my neighbors kitchens. When it gets dark, as I'd glimpse people eating inside, I'd wonder what they’re eating, what are they talking about, who are these people and what kind of lives do they have.
When coworkers or friends bring delicious food from home that’s been cooked by their mothers or spouses, I want to invite myself to their houses to enjoy more food. When I go to the restaurants, I wonder what the kitchen staff is really eating.
In Thai restaurants outside of Thailand that cater to both Thais and locals, if you know Thai, you ask for a hidden Thai menu. That’s when you get the gems reserved for those who truly appreciate the food.
Namya or fish curry is eaten with thin rice noodles and assorted vegetables. Traditionally, there is no namya curry paste. Namya curry paste and curry is all made at the same time. With the new modern life style and more Thais living aboard, namya paste was born. To make it like in the old days, all the ingredients are boiled first, fished out of the pot then pounded into a paste.
Now, Namya curry paste is made similar to all the other Thai curry pastes by pounding all the ingredients in a mortar before adding to the coconut milk.
Like all other recipes, Namya recipe is passed down from generation to generation. My recipe came from a family cook that could claim that her Namya made it all the way to the Thai parliament. During one of the many military coups in Thailand in the 70's, her namya made it to the table of the coup leader. However, saying that the namya curry made it to the Thai parliament was a stretch because the general was the only military coup leader who refused the prime minister position after the successful coup.
I didn't grow up eating Watermelon Rind Sour Curry and I wish I did because it's so good and so accessible. I'd heard of Watermelon Rind Sour Curry from a friend and decided to give it a try. My family loves it. Now when we buy a watermelon, a Watermelon Rind Sour Curry is expected.
The watermelon rind works so well absorbing spices and strong flavors in the sour curry. The dense texture keeps the rind from falling apart during cooking. With mild flavor, the rind absorbs and tone down the sharp spices and flavor. Every bite of the watermelon rind is full of flavor.
Gang Som or sour curry is more common at a Thai's dining table than red or green curries. It uses core Thai ingredients, shallots, shrimp paste, dried peppers, tamarind and fish. No need for coconut milk. It's extremely easy to make and can last several days. Several types of vegetables and vegetable combinations are common such as yardlong beans and daikon, Chinese water spinach, drum sticks, green beans, green papaya, bean sprouts and napa cabbage. Adding shrimp or big chunks of fish is also a favorite of restaurants as a way to give oomph to the homey curry.
The term 'som' has 3 meanings: orange as in the fruit, orange as color and a sour taste. In this case, som is an old term referring to the sour taste. If you ever run into a recipe for 'gang som' and it calls for an orange, please note that something was lost in the translation.
Sour Curries are native to central Thailand. The south has their version which includes fresh turmeric and seafood. Try a Southern Sour Curry, it's another of my favorite dishes.
Sour curry paste is one curry paste that most people don't buy, but make it themselves right before making sour curry. The core ingredients in sour curry paste are dried chili peppers, shallots and shrimp paste. Other added ingredients such as garlic, Chinese keys and fresh turmeric depends on the region and personal preference.
I add garlic to mine. The amount of garlic should be minimal compared to shallots. Many people, including my mother, add Chinese keys to tame the fish flavor and add a nice aroma to the curry. Southern Sour Curry Paste is made with fresh turmeric and garlic.
People from the south of the US pickle watermelon rinds, while Thais cook them in curry. The texture and mild flavor are perfect for absorbing spices. Next time when you have a watermelon, try watermelon rind sour curry.
I didn't think about watermelon rind being edible until a friend was talking about it. When the green skin is removed, the light green rind is still hard, but can be bitten. It's texture reminds me of cucumber or winter melon but much denser, while it's taste is simply slightly sour, perfect for cooking or pickling.
Pork Rice Porridge is such a comfort food in Thailand that serves well as breakfast or late night snack. It's filling but easy to digest since it's mostly water. The sick loves a bowl of hot porridge as well.
When the Thais travel, they often pack instant rice porridge anticipating the unavailability of the food that they like. Instant rice porridge is handy, just add hot water which is usually available at most hotels.
Rice porridge is an easy dish to make. You can make it from left over rice (great way to modify left over!) or start from uncooked rice.
My tradition of eating rice porridge is rushing to eat all the crispy fried noodles before they turn soggy from the steam. The crunchiness of the noodles is almost as satisfying as the warm bowl of porridge with runny yolk. The julienne ginger brings extra heat to the tummy. Ahh...a warm bowl of rice porridge...a perfect comfort food.
Thank you all for participating in the raffle and survey. We learned that the 3 most popular brands are Panasonic, Tiger and Zojirushi. And they are all equally popular. Jasmine and Japanese rice are both very popular. I'm surprised that about half of the people say they cook organic rice which is harder to find and also more expensive. It's great to hear how organic food is becoming a norm. If I could, I would love to cook organic jasmine rice every day.
I'm happy to hear that every person say they cook rice at least once a week! But only half of the people own a rice cooker. If there is a rice cooker that you're curious about, please let us know, we'll seek one out for a review.
Our winner for this Miracle Exclusive rice cooker is ABJ from Massachusetts.
Thai grilled chicken is a popular dish available on most street corners in Thailand. Other street vendors travel from neighborhood to neighborhood with a trail of smoke offering grilled chicken and sticky rice. Similar to KFC, some restaurants make their fame entirely on their special grilled chicken recipes.
The popular styles of grilled chicken come and go. When I was kid, chicken baked in a heap of straw was the flavor of the era. I still remember the distinct aroma from burning straw. That style eventually waned. Many regional styles of grilled chicken also made their names all over the country. Some emphasize on the marinade. Others make their name through spicy dipping sauces. Recently, 5-Star Chicken (ไก่ย่างห้าดาว ), a franchise restaurant from a deep pocket conglomerate like CP Group, planned to bring their grilled chicken to the rest of Asia.
When ordering grilled chicken in Thailand, there are 2 types of chicken, Thai or farm raised chicken (native or foreign). Thai chickens have long necks and legs. The meat is lean, firm and full of flavor. Farm raised chickens are meatier, fatter and more tender. Thai grilled chicken is drier, more cooked than American grilled chicken.
All these grilled chicken vendors, big and small, have their own secret recipes, which are generally based on a common core. The base ingredients are salt, peppercorn, garlic and cilantro root. In this recipe, I add lemongrass to give the Thai spice aroma. Other ingredients in secret and not-so-secret recipes include shallots, pandan leaves, soy sauce and even milk. You can build your own secret recipe from this basic recipe. What ingredients will you add to your recipe?
Serve the grilled chicken with green papaya salad and sticky rice.