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Thai Cooking at Home, 2007 – 2012


Jen Keenan
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Baked Oysters with Salted Black Beans and Pickled Garlic . . . A little of this topping goes a long way.

Looks delicious -- was the flavor unbalanced or simply strong?

I would love to chow down on your steelhead gkaprow. Of course, I have never met a gkaprow I didn’t like. :smile:

Shrimp stir-fried with roasted chile sauce and Thai basil: We refreshed the shrimp in brine, and stir-fried until barely done with lots of garlic and roasted chile paste, finishing with fish sauce, sugar, slivered chiles, and Thai basil. Adapted from Dancing Shrimp – simple and very good.

Cucumber salad: sliced cucumbers and minced scallions with a warmed sauce of fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice. From Cracking the Coconut.

Served with jasmine rice, sliced cucumbers, and wedges of Savoy cabbage.

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Okay, I'm in a schizophrenic mode, so this is the post on the Thai salad we did tonight. The schizo part is that I blackmailed Yoonhi into makein ojingo bokkum given that I was doing this.

The story.

Some time back a friend gave me a smoker they weren't using. So, having returned from the UK with some duck breast and other items, I've been in my usual obsessive mode about trying things out.

On Thursday night, I'd gone a little overboard, smoking a tenderloin, a chicken, and about four eggplants.

We finished off the tenderloin, but the eggplants and most of the chicken were beyond us.

I consider the Thai yam, along with the Sichuan hotpot and a few other deliver systems to be great tools for using up stuff in my fridge.

My plan for tonight was a Thai style yam of smoked chicken, smoked eggplant (to get that flavour like at Chote Chitr), and lots of mint, coriander, lettuce, and other stray greens crowding out my crisper.

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The results were mixed (sorry). A toss-up, so to say (sorry, again).

Everything actually worked, but I found that the softness of the eggplant, along with the aggession of the fresh lime juice in the dressing, didn't do much for me. I liked the smoke in the eggplant and chicken, but something didn't balance in the overall. Yoonhi, however, liked it, and had seconds.

Given that I had thirds of the ojingo bokkum, it all worked out as a good trade.

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Baked Oysters with Salted Black Beans and Pickled Garlic . . . A little of this topping goes a long way.

Looks delicious -- was the flavor unbalanced or simply strong?

The flavor of the topping is strong. I want to taste oysters first, complemented by the sauce, not the other way around. But the combination of oysters and black bean with garlic is delish. Salted black bean goes well with any seafood I can think of.

Everything actually worked, but I found that the softness of the eggplant, along with the aggession of the fresh lime juice in the dressing, didn't do much for me.  I liked the smoke in the eggplant and chicken, but something didn't balance  in the overall.

Was lime juice the only dressing? A little sugar would have helped balance the tartness of the lime juice, and also the bitter flavors from the smoke and greens. I like this dressing on roasted eggplant salad: 1 1/2 TB fish sauce, 3 TB lime juice, 1 TB sugar. Only an approximation. Typically I first add salt or fish sauce to the ingredients so the salad is properly salted to begin with; the ingredients should taste bright. Salt is followed by lime juice to the desired sourness. Then a little sugar rounds off the harshness of the lime juice. You may have to add more lime juice and sugar alternately until the sweet-sour flavors balance.

Smoked chicken, smoked eggplant, and those herbs and greens all sound very good. Maybe a little chile pepper and lemongrass, too?

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Everything actually worked, but I found that the softness of the eggplant, along with the aggession of the fresh lime juice in the dressing, didn't do much for me.  I liked the smoke in the eggplant and chicken, but something didn't balance  in the overall.

Was lime juice the only dressing? A little sugar would have helped balance the tartness of the lime juice, and also the bitter flavors from the smoke and greens. I like this dressing on roasted eggplant salad: 1 1/2 TB fish sauce, 3 TB lime juice, 1 TB sugar. Only an approximation. Typically I first add salt or fish sauce to the ingredients so the salad is properly salted to begin with; the ingredients should taste bright. Salt is followed by lime juice to the desired sourness. Then a little sugar rounds off the harshness of the lime juice. You may have to add more lime juice and sugar alternately until the sweet-sour flavors balance.

Smoked chicken, smoked eggplant, and those herbs and greens all sound very good. Maybe a little chile pepper and lemongrass, too?

No, it was the usual. Lime, nampla, palm sugar, chilis, and a bit of garlic. I just take it for granted. It should've worked, but for some reason it wasn't for me.

Maybe it was just one of those days?......

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Spicy basil chicken (gai pad gka-prow); stir-fried baby bok choy with garlic and oyster sauce; steamed jasmine rice. All from It Rains Fishes.

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Hot and sour shrimp soup (tom yam goong), from Thailand the Beautiful Cookbook. So far, this is my favorite version of this soup.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pan-seared sea scallops with choo chee curry (gkaeng choo chee hoi shel): I “borrowed” this from djyee100 upthread. We served this with coconut cream on the side. This relatively simple curry had a ton of flavor, but I will use less palm sugar next time. The dry-pack scallops remained tender while searing nicely in a cast-iron pan.

Stir-fried eggplant with chiles and Thai basil (pad makeua yao): We grilled the eggplant for smoky flavor, and stir-fried with crumbled sausage to add texture and porky goodness. Another Kasma recipe.

Prawn and lemongrass relish (nahm prik dtakrai): Garlic, dried shrimp, lemongrass, and bird chiles, ground together and finished with blanched shrimp, palm sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce. Delicious when first made, this consorted nicely with cucumbers and rice. From Thai Food.

Eternal cucumbers and jasmine rice.

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I've been struggling a bit trying to figure out how to make a proper salad dressing for thai beef salad.

All the recipes I've seen have some combination of fish sauce, lime juice and sugar as their base but no matter how I adjust the proportions, it always seems flat, aggressive and one dimensional to me. It seems like there's some secret trick I'm missing.

PS: I am a guy.

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Shalmanese,

Here are my completely ignorant, emphasize both, 2 cents: you can experiment with little drips and see?

1. Thai tamarind [not Indian!] either block or jarred, extracted in warm water, and added to your dressing: this would be the least complex.

2. Thai tamarind extracted in water, fairly thin, heated gently with GOOD quality Gula Java [ a rarity] or B, C grade maple syrup + fish sauce for a balanced flavor. This is your general pad thai sauce, and also use it to supplement your salad dressing in tiny amounts to see if it takes away that 1-dimensional flavor.

3. When using fresh limes, use your thumbs and make sure you are squeezing the rind also and getting the rind oils into the bowl. Keep laving your palms with the extracted juiceand squeezing the lime halves inside out, taking care not to make them bitter. You take the lime, room temperature, roll it gently, and slice off 2 arcs/chords cutting down from the north pole to south pole, to the right & left of the stem scar. You are left with 2 round discs cupped by rind and one circled by rind. The cupped discs you squeeze well with thumb nd finger extracting juice & oil. The middle you squeeze with hand, extracting juice.

Having the full flavor of the lime rind [bearss or Persian lime] adds a very refreshing dimension. Then you add a subtle tamarind, molasses/gula [for which maple sugar is a very good substitute, i you can afford it!] fish sauce previously cooked together gently, finely sliced sweet red onion etc. A very understated, few mint leaves chopped, maybe, because our mint & spearmint have different flavor value than Thai mints, and also vary with the seasons & provenance. Same issue with our cilantro. Such is life.

4. Try substituting fresh pineapple juice in various proportions to see what that does. Or even grapefruit.

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All the recipes I've seen have some combination of fish sauce, lime juice and sugar as their base but no matter how I adjust the proportions, it always seems flat, aggressive and one dimensional to me. It seems like there's some secret trick I'm missing.

shalmanese: In addition to gautam’s fine suggestions, you might try playing with Kasma Loha-unchit’s flavor-balancing exercise (click). If that doesn’t do the trick, you can mash in other herbs and aromatics such as garlic, cilantro roots, flat-leaf coriander, scallions, white peppercorns, etc. Roasted rice powder adds a nutty flavor - are you using any in your salads?

To add complexity or tone down the more aggressive flavors you can substitute salt, shrimp paste, or dried prawns for some of the fish sauce; rice vinegar or tamarind water for some of the lime juice; and/or reconstituted dried chiles or nahm prik pao for some of the Thai chiles. Diluting the dressing with water could help, too. Good luck, and please report if any of these suggestions work for you.

Tonight’s dinner courtesy of Thai Food:

Gai yang (grilled chicken): Marinating all day with mashed garlic, cilantro stems, white peppercorns, and palm sugar yielded tasty, crisp-skinned chicken. Yeah, we make this pretty often on weeknights.

Dtam so moo (pomelo salad): I have been waiting for pomelos to appear so that I could try this recipe. Pomelo supremes, sliced lemongrass and apple eggplants, poached shrimp, blanched long beans, and a dressing of mashed garlic, Thai chiles, crab paste, fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar.

Hung kao man gati (coconut rice): Always popular with the boys.

Cucumbers and sliced Napa cabbage on the side.

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Steamed fish with fried garlic and ginger (bplah neung gkratiem jiow, from Dancing Shrimp). Topped with slivered chiles and a mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. The most time-consuming step was chopping a whole head of garlic. :wub: I could see this becoming a go-to fish recipe for weeknights.

Stir-fried mushrooms, snow peas, and Napa cabbage (pad pak). We stir-fried the mushrooms in the scented oil from frying garlic and ginger, added the other vegetables, and finished the dish with fish sauce and fermented soybean paste (Snowangel’s “baby poop sauce” :biggrin: ).

Served with jasmine rice. Our carnivorous boys awarded 7 out of 10 points for the fish and greens.

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I've been struggling a bit trying to figure out how to make a proper salad dressing for thai beef salad.

All the recipes I've seen have some combination of fish sauce, lime juice and sugar as their base but no matter how I adjust the proportions, it always seems flat, aggressive and one dimensional to me. It seems like there's some secret trick I'm missing.

I second the other responses you got that add more flavors such as tamarind and aromatics.

I had a lovely success today with the simple fish sauce, lime juice, sugar sauce when I subbed in a more flavorful sugar. I happened to have some Mexican pilconilla sugar which comes in a cone shape and is very hard. I added water to soften and microwaved until I had a nice syrup. This is a very unrefined sugar with lovely molasses flavors. I thought of this after reading about the panoply of flavors in the various SE Asian sugars that are roughly refined. In the past I have used an intense buckwheat honey with similar but not as great results.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

We invited an allegedly chile-loving guest to dinner tonight. The plan was to get KFC for the children and their friends, and to make a full-on Thai dinner for the grownups. I spent the afternoon happily chopping chiles, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, etc., grinding curry paste, cracking coconut cream . . .

The guest never showed up.

With plenty of food for the smaller-than-planned crowd, we decided to skip KFC and invite the boys and their friend to share the Thai meal. I issued copious warnings to mix everything, especially the curry, with plenty of rice. Younger son immediately filled half of his plate with Panang curry, added a small spoonful of rice, and dug in.

He looked as if he had eaten high-level radioactive waste.

After dinner, one of our neighbors stopped by to take younger son to a movie. She tried some of the Panang curry and loved it. Her husband likes spicy food even more than she does. Apparently we are inviting the wrong people to dinner.

Anyway, here is the meal.

Austin’s Panang curry with beef (clicky): This started out sneaky-hot, and then rapidly dispensed with the subterfuge. Terrific flavor, but unfortunately too much chile heat for most of the family. My favorite of the meal, though. A finishing shot of tamarind added a subtle tang.

Garlic-black bean pan-fried fish fillets, from Dancing Shrimp. The fish is deep-fried until partially cooked and then finished with a sauce of ginger, cilantro stems, salted black beans, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, a little roasted chile powder, and a whole head of garlic. Plate-licking good, this was the crowd favorite tonight.

Hot and sour shrimp salad with roasted chile sauce, also from Dancing Shrimp. Barely-poached shrimp tossed with lemongrass, shallots, mint, sawtooth coriander, and one of my all-time favorite dressings – lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, bird chile rounds, and roasted chile paste.

Relish of garlic and chiles, from Thai Food. This turned out to be superfluous because no one felt a need to make tonight’s meal *more* piquant. I’ll keep it around to perk up any humdrum weeknight meals.

Grandma prepared a salad plate of cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, yard-long beans, cilantro, and Thai basil. Mrs. C drove kids around all afternoon and made the rice.

Edited to add a picture of the leftovers, which made a lovely breakfast with leftover turmeric rice.

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Edited by C. sapidus (log)
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At work on Friday the cafeteria was serving soup they called "Wicked Thai Soup with Chicken". A little research indicates that it's a frozen soup for food service made by Campbell's. It was surprisingly good - most of the cafeteria soups are too salty.

So today I did my best imitation. I poached a chicken breast in broth, sauteed some shallots, mushrooms and red bell peppers. A bit of red thai curry paste, some fish sauce, palm sugar, lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass with some nice thick coconut milk simmered together with the broth I'd poached the chicken breast in, then added in the chicken in pieces and some cooked rice - every bit as good as the stuff in the cafeteria. Not quite as thick (I suspect theirs had some sort of starch in it), but very tasty. All packed away in the freezer now for work lunches.

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Hi,

I'm new to Thai cooking - fell in love with some of the dishes we had at a Thai restaurant and then I read all 26 pages of this thread and the dishes look amazing! :) I'm not new to cooking but am new to Thai. Is there any particular cookbooks that would be a great start point for me? I don't mind making pastes etc so it doesn't have to be quick and easy or total beginners. I'm looking for about 2-3 cookbooks to get at the start :)

Thankyou!

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Hi,

I'm new to Thai cooking - fell in love with some of the dishes we had at a Thai restaurant and then I read all 26 pages of this thread and the dishes look amazing! :) I'm not new to cooking but am new to Thai. Is there any particular cookbooks that would be a great start point for me? I don't mind making pastes etc so it doesn't have to be quick and easy or total beginners. I'm looking for about 2-3 cookbooks to get at the start :)

Thankyou!

Sawadee kha (thai for hello),

Glad to hear the thai food bug has bit ya. I don't have my books out right now since I've just moved but I do use www.thaitable.com a lot. They have some good basic recipes for a lot of Thai stuff found in restaurants here and a few that aren't. I've made a few of their recipes and have no complaints. I'll be making the satay today for a super bowl party and it's always been a hit with everyone. Good luck. BTW until you get the flavors right I'd use May Ploy paste they do a very good job on their pastes.

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Hi,

Thankyou for the Mae Ploy recommendation. I've seen their pastes at the asian stores. Right now it is boiling hot weather so they would be useful for a quick meal! :)

Mai pen rai, kha. :smile: Is there a particular dish you are wanting to try out? I or a number of us here can help you get started.

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Hi,

There are a couple - panang curry / hot and sour prawn soup and some type of green curry :) I prefer spicy dishes as opposed to sweet.

Thankyou!

Do you have a good Asian market in your area? Preferably one that handles more southeast Asian cuisine than Japanese/Korean? Mae Ploy has both panang and green curry paste and simple recipes to follow. The key will be in what your area has to offer in produce and the like. The hot and sour prawn soup is simple but requires ingredients that can be hard to find. There are also pastes for it but they are not as good as from scratch, though they make a good quick tom yum goong.

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Hi,

There are a couple - panang curry / hot and sour prawn soup and some type of green curry :) I prefer spicy dishes as opposed to sweet.

Thankyou!

Hi, turando, and welcome!

Here are two recipes that we have enjoyed very much. If you try them, please let us know how they turned out for you.

Austin's Panang curry with beef (click)

Hot and sour prawn soup, from Thailand the Beautiful Cookbook (click)

I'm still searching for a green curry that really hits the spot, so I will be interested to see what folks recommend.

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Thankyou for the recipe links. I will need to go shopping now! I have some prawn shells already saved in the freezer so they would be good for the soup.

I think I should be able to get anything locally from the Asian shops. We have a lot of them around. I think there is even a Thai specific one a few suburbs away. Just FYI I'm in Melbourne, Australia.

Edited by turando (log)
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. . . I'm not new to cooking but am new to Thai. Is there any particular cookbooks that would be a great start point for me? I don't mind making pastes etc so it doesn't have to be quick and easy or total beginners. I'm looking for about 2-3 cookbooks to get at the start :)

The Cookbooks & References forum has an excellent compendium of cookbook threads (clicky), including two threads on Thai cookbooks.

Thai cookbooks, lookiing for the real stuff

"Thai Cooking", by David Thompson

The two Thai cookbooks that we use the most are David Thompson's authoritative Thai Food and Thailand: The Beautiful Cookbook (multiple authors), chock full of enticing pictures and brief but reliable recipes. Kasma Loha-Unchit's site, Thai Food & Travel, has some excellent tutorials and numerous recipes from her excellent but unfortunately out of print cookbooks.

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In addition to the excellent cookbook suggestions above, cooking videos are another medium that can be very useful.

Here are two dissimilar sets of videos that taken together might offer a lively introduction to Thai cooking. No special stuff, just something to please YOU. The first is expressly meant to teach a Western audience with no previous experience of Thai cookery. The second set records the activity of a busy street corner take-out stall in Thailand. If you absorb these two in conjunction with Austin Bush's fascinating blog, you will naturally find yourself picking up the rhythm and flavors that make for success in Thai cooking. [ Of course, after reading the cookbooks mentioned or along with them].

http://www.thaifoodtonight.com/thaifoodtonight/home.htm

http://www.ifood.tv/user/recipe/2205

http://www.austinbushphotography.com/category/foodblog/

Here are some more textual material that might be useful. Ms.Pim comes from the " high society'' of Thailand, so her perspective has its unique value. Ms. Yu has her roots in the Chinese settled in Thailand, and her perspective is also very interesting, e.g. her family story of the Massaman curry. Whereas Thompson often focuses on the cooking of the Imperial kitchens and the arisotcracy, Bush writes about the "boiled" "curries" of Southern Thailand, and Ms. Yu about other strands of life in Bangkok. [bTW, that word "curry" needs to be abolished from the international vocabulary: it conveys no meaning other than a spectrum of misrepresentation]

http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/thai_recipes/index.html

Cracking the Coconut: Classic Thai Home Cooking

by Su-mei Yu

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  • 1 month later...

A simple and satisfying weeknight dinner from Thailand the Beautiful Cookbook, served with jasmine rice.

Curried shrimp (goong pad pong garee): Slivered onions, red bell peppers, and green peppers (I used Poblano chiles) stir-fried with garlic, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, curry powder, and Thai basil.

Bean sprout pork (moo pad tua ngok): Bean sprouts, ground pork, and scallions stir-fried with garlic, white pepper, sugar, and fish sauce.

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