Recent Articles - Page 2
After walking in the tropical heat of Bangkok, a street cart carrying large jars of colorful icy drinks is a heavenly sight. Pennywort juice is dark green, in a jar often decorated with green leaves which resemble tiny lotus leaves. This drink is perfect for quenching your thirst and fueling your next adventure.
Pennywort is believed to have healing properties that clear out bruises. We even jokingly offer pennywort juice to our friends after they go through a breakup.
The green drink has an earthy taste with a spicy undertone. Make a large jar of juice and keep it in the fridge; it makes a great welcome home drink after work.
Pennywort (aka gotu kola) is known in Thailand as Bai Bua Bok, or ‘land lotus’. The leaves are 2 inches in diameter and look like miniature lotus leaves. It grows well in a wet or damp area
Pennywort is well known for its healing properties. Other traditional medicine practitioners like Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine doctors use pennywort to treat various ailments.
The sight of young girls lining up for a meal along the school corridor, the sound of them chit-chatting, the clinking sound of plates and silverware and the smell of Pineapple Mussel Curry...all are so clear in my mind, even so many years later. Pineapple Mussel Curry was served so often so that it etched in my memory. For me, the curry is synonymous with school. It’s a simple curry to make and it tastes sweet and sour, just what I crave for today.
Pineapple Mussel Curry tastes exotic and delicious. Neither the pineapple nor the curry paste burns your tongue; this is the curry for kids and people enjoying mild Thai food. And for the novice cook, you can’t go wrong with this curry. Give it a go and taste Thailand.
Another thing that’s great about Thai food that it’s alive and ever-changing, with a complex meandering journey. The Tom Sab I had known as a kid has transformed and now branched out into new directions.
‘Tom Sab’ originates from Isan or northeast of Thailand. Over 20 years ago, when you referred to ‘Tom Sab’, it meant a spicy dish with a clear soup, full of chewy tripe and inner beef organs. Now, Tom Sab is an entire category of dishes.
With the rise in popularity of Goddess Guan Yin, many followers stopped eating beef and turned to pork instead. Combining the spicy soup from the northeast and a Chinese cut of pork, Tom Sab Leng was born. Leng is a Chinese name for pork backbones.
Some restaurants took Tom Sab Leng even further into the Chinese style by adding daikon. Others, added carrots reflecting the new foreign root vegetable.
Now it seems every restaurant in Bangkok has rushed to put this part Chinese, part northeast soup on the menu. Let’s find out why the soup is so good that everybody wants to claim a style to it.
We love to get notes from people returning from a Thailand vacation; they often ask us about dishes you never find in US restaurants. Having discovered such a gastronomic Alice in Wonderland, many people want to recreate the dishes at home, but don’t know where to start. Lohn Pboo Kem is a dish that you will find in fancy Thai restaurants in Bangkok, in people’s homes and at street food stalls. The small bowl of creamy, salty, sweet and sour sauce is served with a large platter full of fresh local vegetables.
Lohn is a class of cooking which combines coconut milk, shallots, preserved meat, fish or seafood, balanced with sweet and sour flavors. The main ingredients, such as coconut milk, shallots and salted crabs, are readily available in Thai kitchens and blend well together. The sour flavor can come from tamarind or other native sour fruits. A hint of sweet can come from the palm sugar or a combination of sweet and sour can come from fermented sticky rice.
The popular group of dishes goes back a long time, perhaps before the introduction of the chili peppers by the Portuguese in the 15th century. The chili peppers in this dish is almost like an afterthought. If you are apathetic about spicy food, Lohn lets you dig deep into Thai food history. To taste Lohn is to experience Thai cuisine and culture before the modern imports invaded it.
The way you eat Lohn is quite elaborate. In order to taste all the flavors; each bite consists of a spoon of rice with a piece of vegetable on top and a little sauce on the vegetable. Once in a while you’ll hit the crab, chew on the it to access this super salty juice inside. The swift contrast of sweet and sour and the ultra salty crab makes a perfect bite. Each bite changes with your choice of vegetable.
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, this is the dish I would recommend you try. And when you come home, now you can recreate it to remind you of the fun time you had.
Bitter gourds or bitter melons or karela are known as mara kee nok in Thai. The skin is dark green and bumpy which reminds me of Jurassic World.
The flavor is definitely an acquired taste; it's bitter and bitter. People claim the medicinal benefits are numerous from lowering cholesterol to lowering blood sugar. For me, it increases my appetite, especially when I think about how it tastes so good with Lohn Pboo Kem and Mackerel Chili Sauce.
In Thailand, there are 2 basic types of bitter melon/gourd, the larger and lighter green bitter melon and the darker green and smaller bitter gourd shown here. The larger bitter melons are used mostly in Chinese influenced dishes while the smaller bitter melons are an accompanying vegetable for chili dips and chili sauces. The 2 types are equally bitter but the larger bitter melons are served cooked as opposed to fresh.
Kanom Sai Sai or Kanom Sod Sai, is a dessert traditionally steamed and sold in banana leaf packets. The name means "filling", emphasizing the importance of the sweet chewy filling. The palm sugar sweetened ball is covered with a chewy wrapper and surrounded with thick creamy salty coconut milk. The salty-sweet smooth flavor and the soft and crunchy mouthfeel makes the dessert delicious.
When I was a little kid, some staff of the house I grew up in made and sold Kanom Sai Sai in a Sukhumvit neighborhood. I ate them all the time -- so many that I got sick of them and it's only been this week that I've tried them again. Now, coming back to them is like coming home. I quit eating them because they were overpoweringly sweet, so in this recipe, I dialed back the sweetness and balanced out the flavors. These are so much better than the ones I remember. Each bite is like an improved version of the past.
My mother makes this snack/dessert when she finds a great pumpkin. Her criteria for picking a pumpkin is that the flesh has to be very dense to the point where it's hard to remove the cutting knife from the pumpkin because there was no air space. In Thailand, a vendor would gladly cut up a wedge of pumpkin to show you how great it is. This pumpkin is gummy not fluffy when cooked. The mouth feel should be creamy and nutty. And when you have such a great pumpkin, it's the star of the show.
The pumpkins here in the US that comes closest to my mother's criteria is kabocha. Added bonus is that you can eat the kabocha skin and the green line of the skin looks so beautiful against the bright yellow flesh
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.