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Jen Keenan

Thai Cooking at Home, 2007 – 2012

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Whoo - ee!

Virgin to Asian markets has finally DONE it! :raz:

Details to follow if anyone is interested.... It was awesome.


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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Okay, I think I've sobered up from my non-alcoholic rush from my local Asian market :biggrin: ... BUT...

I could have picked a thousand unknown items, but I tried to stay in control!

I did, however end up with:

1. Sator (frozen) They look like green olives, but there's a picture of lime-looking fruits on the package... any ideas, suggestions on use?

2. Goi bang la chuoi - or "Pork Meat Loaf" It says its "wrapped in banana leaves, Flavored with anchovy flavored fish sauce" ?? Don't ask me why I picked this one... :wacko: But what do I do with it? (It's frozen.)

3. The most adorable bottle of Grazioso Pomegranate Beverage (Seokryu Sarang) - it may not be Thai, but does anyone know what to do with it?


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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Susan, those are amazing roots - and to think I'm happy when there is a nub less than a quarter-inch that I can scissor off to add to my freezer stash....

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1. Sator (frozen) They look like green olives, but there's a picture of lime-looking fruits on the package... any ideas, suggestions on use?

2. Goi bang la chuoi - or "Pork Meat Loaf" It says its "wrapped in banana leaves, Flavored with anchovy flavored fish sauce" ?? Don't ask me why I picked this one... :wacko: But what do I do with it? (It's frozen.)

Jamie - google sator bean salad, or wing bean salad and you will come up with some Thai salads that sound good. I have never had them but understand they can be a little smelly and bitter. Makes sense in the great Thai balance of flavors pallette. The pork loaf sounds like something that would lend itself to a sandwich treatment like Vietnamese Banh Mi - crusty baguette, mayo, lightly pickled cuke, shallot, carrot, fresh hot peppers, cilantro, etc. Report back with your end results. I also get a big "kid in a candy store" or "Disneyland!" rush visiting the many local Asian markets I am blessed with - cheap thrills.

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Heidih... I'm so new to this type of cooking/eating ... thanks for your feedback. Its now after 10 pm my time, and my biggest frustration is that, while I now have a pantry and fridge filled with cool Thai ingredients, I'M NOT HUNGRY! :shock:

Once upon a time, that wouldn't have stopped me, but due to some medical treatments I am surviving, life has changed. Day-yamm!

I'm waiting for my appetite to return. I'll post my experience at the first Asian market in my life soon.

Keep it spicy! J.


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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Sator are called "stink beans" here in Thailand for the way they make your breath smell. I've never tried them though...I don't know why? They are a regional food of Southern Thailand.

Great! All those kool things I could have picked, and I found the one that will make my breathe stink??? :cool: They may live forever in freeezer-land! Shopping may become the next FNTV Reality show!


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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I haven't tackled the sator "beans" yet, but have done larb for my first and second times - YUM. :biggrin:

I posted a link on the Kitchen Consumers thread and hopefully did not come across offensive, but if you thai gurus could respond, I'd be interested.. see it here:

How can asian markets do it? The thread

I'm really curious to understand how asian markets can sell EVERYTHING for so much less - a truly joyous finding - and how that may impact on othe "green" initiatives...


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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I bought lemongrass at the Asian market today, and it's probably 3 feet long, and includes lots of greens/leaves at the top. Every recipe I've seen only uses the bottom part - what do I do with the tops and greens?


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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I bought lemongrass at the Asian market today, and it's probably 3 feet long, and includes lots of greens/leaves at the top.  Every recipe I've seen only uses the bottom part - what do I do with the tops and greens?

Jamie Lee: We usually compost the parts of the lemon grass that we do not use. I hope your appetite soon returns for a long stay. I had a nice find today at our Asian market: pickled green peppercorns. Now I just need to remember what recipe called for them. :wacko:

Tonight we made crispy catfish curry from True Thai, except we substituted tilapia for catfish. We deep-fried flour-dredged tilapia fillets and set them in a warm oven to rest. For the curry, we stir-fried about 10 cloves of mashed garlic with red curry paste, and then added chicken stock, palm sugar, chopped red bell peppers, bamboo shoots, and mushroom soy sauce. When we mixed in a cup and a half of Thai basil the aroma was incredible.

This curry had great flavor but could have used more heat. True Thai was written in 1995, so the red curry paste calls for dried New Mexico and Japanese chiles (I used dried bird chiles instead of Japanese chiles). Next time I will use phrik haeng or “goat peppers” instead of the New Mexico chiles – that should give it some kick.

Crispy tilapia curry (pla duk tod krop phat phed)

gallery_42956_2536_9188.jpg

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Tonight we made pork with garlic and crushed black pepper (mu kratiem phrik Thai) and green mango salad, Chiang Mai style (som tum mamuang), both from True Thai. The pork was simple: mash twenty :shock: cloves of garlic to a paste with black pepper; stir-fry the paste; add pork tenderloin medallions, and finish with black soy sauce, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Almost everyone liked this very much, but elder son objected to a faint aftertaste. I did not notice the aftertaste until he pointed it out, but was probably a hint of burned sugar. To avoid this, next time I’ll lower the heat when adding the sauce.

The green mango salad had another fifteen cloves of garlic, mashed to a paste with dried shrimp and Serrano chiles. We tossed mango slivers with the spice paste, slightly crushed tomatoes, crushed peanuts, and a dressing of lemon juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar. This was delicious but seriously spicy! Perhaps three weeks of mild food has lowered my tolerance, but next time I’ll use fewer chiles.

I have been quite happy with True Thai so far. The writing is clear and straightforward, and I am looking forward to trying a long list of intriguing recipes. Many of the dishes are quite sweet, though – I often cut back on the amount of sugar.

Som tum mamuang (left) and mu kratiem phrik Thai (right)

gallery_42956_2536_50753.jpg

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Wonderful looking as always- can almost taste and smell it. Just wondering with all that garlic if you use the pre-peeled stuff? I see everyone at the Korean market (another garlic heavy cuisine) using it, so I have been playing with it. I found a company stocked at a major chain that vacuum seals 4 large cloves and then packs those into a pack of 20.

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Wonderful looking as always- can almost taste and smell it. Just wondering with all that garlic if you use the pre-peeled stuff? I see everyone at the Korean market (another garlic heavy cuisine) using it, so I have been playing with it. I found a company stocked at a major chain that vacuum seals 4 large cloves and then packs those into a pack of 20.

Thank you very much, heidih. Pre-peeled garlic would have helped get tonight’s dinner on the table much sooner. I will see if our Asian market carries it.

I finished the mango salad for breakfast, and an overnight stay in the fridge mellowed the flavors nicely. The salad was still very spicy, but good spicy – more balanced. Next time I will mix in the dressing earlier and let the salad sit for a while before serving.

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Tonight we made red curry with beef and green peppercorns (kaeng phed neua phrik Thai on), from True Thai. This was an absolutely delicious mixture of flavors and textures. I had never used pickled green peppercorns before, but they added nice crunchy jolts of flavor. Bamboo shoots added texture and a hint of bitterness; slivered Serrano chiles and a squirt of Sriracha added some heat; palm sugar and fish sauce rounded out the flavors; thinly-sliced tender beef pulled it all together; and a bag full of Thai basil made everything smell wonderful. I will definitely make this again.

Kaeng phed neua phrik Thai on

gallery_42956_2536_32882.jpg

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Bruce,

You are one of my thai cooking warrior heros!!!! :wub:

If you could only have one thai cookbook, which one would it be?

(And if you were a tree, what tree would you be? - just kidding, channeling my inner Babba Walters!)

Question open to all, please!


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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You are one of my thai cooking warrior heros!!!!  :wub:

Jamie Lee: :blush::blush::blush: Why thank you, kind lady, but I’m a food-lover, not a food-warrior. :rolleyes:

If you could only have one thai cookbook, which one would it be?

I have a bunch of Thai cookbooks, but picking one would be difficult because each has pros and cons. How about two?

Thai Food by David Thompson – the ultimate Thai cooking reference, but more of a weekend than a weeknight cookbook. I would suggest getting this book and one of the following:

True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking by Victor Sodsook – I have just started using this book, and like it very much with one caveat: it is an old book, so the recipes call for Mexican rather than Thai chiles. The book has a lot of fascinating recipes that I can’t wait to try, and I have been very happy with all of the recipes we have tried so far.

Crying Tiger: Thai Recipes from the Heart by Supatra Johnson – this is a very casual book with lots of weeknight meals and an emphasis on northeast Thailand (Issan) cuisine.

Thailand: The Beautiful by Panurat Poladitmontr – I received this recently and have not yet used it, but the recipes look good, it has lots of beautiful pictures, and others speak highly of it.

Edit: fixed to provide eGullet-friendly Amazon links.

(And if you were a tree, what tree would you be?  - just kidding, channeling my inner Babba Walters!)

On the tree front, I love sourwoods but I would prefer to be an American beech (except for the lack of fall color and disadvantage of kids carving their initials in my bark – ouch!) :wink:


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

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Oh my, we have a true "Son of a Beech"! :raz:

In my fourth try at larb, I'm reminded how inept I am at balancing thai flavors. I've made larbs too bland (not enough hot), curries too sweet, larbs too hot.. and now a larb too sour!

I have learned that I tend towards hot and sour, but I'm a bit over-zealous in leaning one way or another.

I have GOT to find the calm, centered, spiritual sense of balance!

BTW: What a delicious way to discover oneself - none of my "mistakes" has been unworthy of eating! :laugh:

And Bruce, you can call me "kind lady" any day of the week! :wub:


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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In my fourth try at larb, I'm reminded how inept I am at balancing thai flavors.  I've made larbs too bland (not enough hot), curries too sweet, larbs too hot.. and now a larb too sour!

I have learned that I tend towards hot and sour, but I'm a bit over-zealous in leaning one way or another.

I have GOT to find the calm, centered, spiritual sense of balance!

Jamie Lee, balancing Thai flavors takes a lot of practice (enjoyable practice, as you mentioned). Sometimes, the balancing act is not intuitive - for example, sugar can balance out an excess of sour or hot. You may want to check out Balancing Flavors: An Exercise from Kasma Loha-Unchit's wonderful site. David Thompson has a similar exercise in his book. Good luck finding your calm, yet spicy, salty, sour, sweet spiritual center. :smile:

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My computer has been broken and I have been very busy for the past while, but I am very pleased to see people cooking thai food at home. I have been cooking a lot of thai food myself, but haven't had time to post about it.

Bruce, everything you've made looks wonderful. I'll have to look into some of your other thai cookbooks as I am beginning to exhaust the doable recipes in Thompson's book. I have been doing some experimentation and recipes of my own though. The other night I made a red curry of mussels and mangosteens with some pasilla de oaxaca, smoked mexican chilies.

1.  Is there any way to tell the heat of a chile?  I know all about varieties, but I can buy two of the same chiles and one is bland and the other blows your socks off!  How can you tell - at the point of sale, and/or at the point of cooking?

2. Why do some recipes separate coconut cream from coconut milk, then recombine them?  Others "let" you shake the can and skip that step.  Why does it matter?

3.  Is there a way to make sticky rice without specialized equipment, in a poorly outfitted rental kitchen?  If I make larb and serve it with Thai jasmine rice (instead of sticky rice) is the outcome so different?

TIA.  Jamie

I'll add my own advice for these questions,

1. Inside of general ranges different varieties fall into, chili heat is primarily determined by growing conditions. The logical way to think about it is that the "heat" of the chilies is an evolutionary defense against animals eating too much of the plant. Therefore the more comfortable the chili plant, the milder it will be. When the chili plant is under stress capsaicin levels go up as the plant has less chance of sucessfully propagating its genes when under stress. So you can easily have two habaneros of very different strengths. Practically I find that most chilies are fairly reliable provided you get them from the same source. Some varieties can suprise you occasionally, but the more chilies you eat the better you will be able to gauge their heat.

2. The difference between coconut cream and milk is more or less the same between

regular cream and regular milk. The cream is rich and flavorful and often you want to use the two in isolation from each other. In making certain types of curries you heat the cream until it "cracks" (seperates into coconut oil and coconut solids) and then fry the curry paste in this "cracked" cream. As Bruce mentioned, this provides a very different effect from simply stirring the paste into coconut milk. Other times, when you are making a rich soup you might want both so you can simply stir the whole thing in. Some brands of coconut milk use emulsifiers or stabilizers to prevent the cream seperating from the milk. I dislike these brands as they are difficult to use for making curry pastes and the like.

Mention cilantro roots as well. Cilantro roots are used in thai cooking as an earthy and herbal seasoning, usually to counter balance other flavors or provide balance. A classic thai combination is coriander roots, garlic, and white pepper pounded to a paste. Most recipes I've come across use them pounded to a paste in some form of another, such as the seasoning I mentioned above or in curry pastes, relishes, salad dressings, etc.

Balancing flavors can be difficult, just practice practice practice. Definitely check out the exercise Bruce suggested, and try to add in small increments tasting as you go. I try to err a bit on the underseasoned side as I find sometimes it takes a few minutes sitting down for me to realize the seasoning isn't quite right, and it is always easier to adjust up than to try and regain the balance without things being too intense.

Here are some photos I've some things I've made Recently:

Roasted Chinese Duck and Egg noodle soup:

gallery_44574_3991_742551.jpg

Soft Bean Curd soup with bean sprouts and shiitake mushrooms:

gallery_44574_3991_409006.jpg

Red Curry of Chicken w/ shredded young ginger and green beans:

gallery_44574_3991_643154.jpg

Grilled Catfish with a sweet/hot/sour sauce and assorted vegetables:

gallery_44574_3991_996320.jpg

Black Fried Squid

gallery_44574_3991_1035742.jpg

Green Curry of Seasoned trout fish balls and apple eggplants:

gallery_44574_3991_602398.jpg

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. . . Grilled Catfish with a sweet/hot/sour sauce and assorted vegetables:

gallery_44574_3991_996320.jpg

Gabriel: Thank you! Glad to have you back on line, both for the food (all of which look wonderful) and for the sage advice. It took me a while to figure out the grilled catfish – at first glance I thought the slashes were the spiky teeth of some prehistoric lizard jaw. How did you make the sweet/hot/sour sauce? Also, I have never made fish balls - how involved is the process?

Part of tonight’s dinner was from True Thai – grilled shrimp salad with green mango and Thai emeralds dressing (yam kung pao kap mamuang). The salad included slivered green mango, shallots, and mint. The “Thai emeralds dressing” added mashed cilantro stems to our usual mixture of garlic, chiles, lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar.

gallery_42956_2536_53942.jpg

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Bruce:

Yes the fish does look somewhat amiss without it's head, but the only way I have been able to get catfish is like that frozen from the asian grocer. It is quite good actually, better than a lot of the fresh fish here and very cheap. The catfish pictured above is Thompson's recipe (nahm pla warn pla yang, pg 460), but I'm pretty sure its the same dish Kasma Loha-Unchit refers to as TooNahm Prik Bplah Too. Thompson's recipe calls for immersing the whole fish in fish sauce, but I didn't really want to do that so instead I scored the fish marinated in only a few tablespoons of fish sauce; I was happy with the results.

The sauce is a simple combination of fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind water mixed with a little deep fried garlic, deep fried shallots, and deep fried chilies. It uses a lot of sugar; it is one of those dishes that requires a very intense flavor to get a good sweet/salty balance. Some of those I am not very fond of, but this one worked beautifully with the catfish, I would highly recommend it.

The fish balls are a fair amount of effort, but I think they are well worth it. That particular curry was one of the best I have ever made, and the fish balls had a lot to do with it. Basically you finely mince the trout flesh and then combine it with pounded seasonings, fish sauce, and a bit of tapioca flour to give texture. With sharp knives and good knife skills, it is only really the shaping that will eat up your time. The curry pictured above is Thompson's geng gwio warn look chin pla (pg 320), but Kasma also has a similar recipe on her site.

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I bought lemongrass at the Asian market today, and it's probably 3 feet long, and includes lots of greens/leaves at the top.  Every recipe I've seen only uses the bottom part - what do I do with the tops and greens?

The leaves of lemon grass are sharp like blades ..we normally do not use them cooking but you can make lemon grass tea from leaves.

If you use the leaves to make tea, you will need more leaves than when you use stalks.

Simply boil it...adding sugar or not is up to you.

The tea is quite soothing... :wink:


Edited by iii_bake (log)

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Hi guys. I've been reading this thread but haven't posted before. Bear with me here: I went shopping at a large Southeast Asian market half an hour away today, and because I knew I wouldn't be there often, I got a number of things even though I wasn't terribly sure what they were. I figured the internet would give me a hand, and most of them were so cheap that it was no great risk.

I don't know that all (or any) of these are Thai -- Lowell has a large Cambodian population, and I don't know how much overlap there is there. This market also sells some Latin American items, which might be relevant to the produce.

So. These are the items I don't know anything about:

Bitter melon leaves

Tamarind leaves

Frozen mangosteens (I know what mangosteens are, but is there anything I need to know here, or can I just thaw them and have at it?)

U Toy (some kind of green)

Green beans (they look like green crabapples, the price tag says "fruit," the sign said "green beans")

Shrimp fat in oil

Pork Fu (dried shredded sweetened pork)

Left to my own devices, my thought is to stir-fry the greens, or use them in hot and sour soup. The shrimp fat in oil, I have no clue about.

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Hi guys.  I've been reading this thread but haven't posted before.  Bear with me here: I went shopping at a large Southeast Asian market half an hour away today, and because I knew I wouldn't be there often, I got a number of things even though I wasn't terribly sure what they were.  I figured the internet would give me a hand, and most of them were so cheap that it was no great risk.

I don't know that all (or any) of these are Thai -- Lowell has a large Cambodian population, and I don't know how much overlap there is there.  This market also sells some Latin American items, which might be relevant to the produce.

So.  These are the items I don't know anything about:

Bitter melon leaves

Tamarind leaves

Frozen mangosteens (I know what mangosteens are, but is there anything I need to know here, or can I just thaw them and have at it?)

U Toy (some kind of green)

Green beans (they look like green crabapples, the price tag says "fruit," the sign said "green beans")

Shrimp fat in oil

Pork Fu (dried shredded sweetened pork)

Left to my own devices, my thought is to stir-fry the greens, or use them in hot and sour soup.  The shrimp fat in oil, I have no clue about.

I can only suggest the items i am sure what they are:

Tamrain Leaves:..Fresh??? I have never seen them dried though. The tamarind leaves are used in Soup called Tom Klong...a kind of Tom Yum seasoned with Tamarin pulp extract ( instead of lime)...the leaves are a bit sour and lend the sourness to the soup.

Shrimp Fat in Oil, i think it is the tomalley ( see perparation for Thai River Prawn for the photo). Use this in Shrimp fried Rice to get the Full Shrimp Flavour. ( add just before you mix in the rice)

Pork Fu...Eat with Boil Rice for breakfast ( and other boil rice condiments).

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