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Thai Cooking at Home, 2005 - 2006


Susan in FL
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Yes, kraphrao (how I would spell it) is almost certainly the same as the other similiar-sounding words you've mentioned. It's a thin, light green fragrant leaf that is normally not eaten raw, but rather is used in stir fries and sometimes soups.
Interesting – I don’t think that I have seen kraphrao leaves here. Do you know if they are exported, or what other names they might be called?

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Hmm... Am not too confident on the English names, but assume that kraphrao must be holy basil, as the other basil, horaphaa, is usually just called Thai basil. I think many people are confused by all the different Thai basils, so when I get a chance I'll post a Thai Basil 101 lesson her or on my blog.

I recommend to everybody that, even when following a recipe, don't follow the seasoning directions to the last word. Ideally, you should flavour to taste, but this is hard if you've never had the dish prepared for you the right way. I would suggest by adding half of what is suggested in the recipe, then taste and gradually add more until it tastes "right". Remember that Thai cooks always look for a favorable balance of salty, sweet, spicy and sour.

Austin

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Hmm... Am not too confident on the English names, but assume that kraphrao must be holy basil, as the other basil, horaphaa, is usually just called Thai basil.

You've got it right; I should have specified holy basil in my previous post where I translated this as simply 'basil'. Here's what I was taught:

Normal Thai basil = sweeter = purple =Bai horapah

'Holy' basil = stronger, hotter = green, maybe little bit purple; small hair, rough leaf edge = Bai kapao/krapao/grapao etc

'Local' or 'Lemon' basil = citrus-y = all green = Bai mang luk

This website is a very good resource on Thai herbs and spices, with photos:

http://simply-thai.com/Thai-Market_Herbs_and_Spices_eng.htm

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Going back a bit to the end of Oct. on this thread... I soak the rice noodles (banh cuon kho) in warm water, but when I add them, at the very end of whatever dish I'm making, they always curl up. What am I doing wrong?

Edited by MicBacchus (log)

Burgundy makes you think silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them ---

Brillat-Savarin

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've decided to make a return to thai food and to start out I went with one of my old simple favorites: Kasma Loha-Unchit's steamed chicken.

gallery_44574_3991_1074645.jpg

It was quite tasty, but I was hard pressed to come up with a simple vegetable

accompaniment for it. I had some chayote, so I ended up stir frying that with some garlic and soy sauce, and deglazing with a little chicken stock and sherry, but this was really more chinese than thai.

gallery_44574_3991_1219155.jpg

I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for simple but tasty thai vegetable side dishes. I have an endless list of main dishes I want to try out, but its really good vegetable sides that I am in need of.

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I think that the favorite veg dish around here is some stir-fryed greens (my family is partial to "chinese broccoli" done with that fermented soy bean stuff (that looks like baby poop). Also works well with spinach. It's nice and green, so it looks really pretty with curry.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for simple but tasty thai vegetable side dishes. I have an endless list of main dishes I want to try out, but its really good vegetable sides that I am in need of.

Yeah, what Snowangel said. Some simple yet highly flexible Thai stir fries were described a few posts back (and in subsequent posts). Also, a wide variety of vegetables can be served raw, boiled, simmered in coconut milk, grilled, deep-fried, or pickled to accompany a Thai meal. One of my favorites is Thai cucumber relish - boil rice vinegar, sugar, water and salt, and pour over thinly-sliced cucumber, shallots, ginger, chilies, and cilantro. Simple and delicious.

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One of my favorites is Thai cucumber relish - boil rice vinegar, sugar, water and salt, and pour over thinly-sliced cucumber, shallots, ginger, chilies, and cilantro. Simple and delicious.

This is one of my favorite, and it works well as a salad for not only Thai, but farang food. It's also great on a tuna salad sandwich. (do we call that fusion?)

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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We grilled sirloin steaks for the boys and one of their friends. One of the steaks was pulled early and sliced thinly, mixed with mint, basil, and cilantro and doused in a sauce of lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and roasted chile powder. Afterwards, I realized that I forgot the shallots and roasted rice powder. Oops.

To clean out the fridge, we also made Thai fried with shrimp, sausage, egg, scallions, roasted chile paste, fish sauce, and lots of garlic.

Beef salad (nahm dtok) and fried rice (kao pat)

gallery_42956_2536_32373.jpg

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I haven't read all the pages of this thread Im afraid ( will get to it tho', Thai food is a passion!) so maybe someone has already mentioned these...but here I go!

Mieng Kham, the most utterly delectable wee bites of explosive taste sensations you could imagine. :biggrin:

Have been to Thailand many times and until a few months ago had never tried these. Trust me, I sure have made up for it!!

Basically, you are presented with a tray of many tiny dishes containing the following: dried shrimp, fine dice red onion, fine sliced ginger, toasted coconut, chopped peanuts, fresh lime..very finely chopped with skin on, and some birds eye chilli. Around the dishes are arranged some beautiful, very green leaves, almost heart shaped.

There is also a bowl of sauce with this arrangement, consisting of galangal, roasted belacan paste, coconut, dried shrimp, fresh ginger, palm sugar, shallots, salt and some white sugar.

Ooooooookay. Now what. :rolleyes:

The waiter was a beautiful boy, he very tenderly showed us what to do with the above ingredients. He took a leaf and twisted it slightly to form a bowl. Into this he placed a little of each ingredient from the bowls then topped it with a spoonful of sauce. I was presented with the package to taste and I wasted no time.

Never have I had such an oral experience as I did at that moment. A truly exquisite, never to be forgotten moment actually. This totally defined what Thai food is about. The bursts of flavour each ingredient gave came separately then melded together to create the quintessential Thai ' flavour'. But, so simply and so eloquently.

I had a problem with what the leaves were. The waiter had no idea of the English word ( if there is one!) but I considered that they were betel leaves. Since found out that yes, betel leaves are used as well as another variety I am yet to research.

At home, I use small spinach leaves with great success!

If you get a chance, make this appetiser, you will not be sorry. :cool:

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Thanks for the suggestions. A few days ago I tried Sanrensho's asparagus stirfry which was quite delicious; I especially enjoyed the bite the white pepper added.

Tonight I tried Bruce's suggestion of the cucumber salad, minus the ginger as I didn't have any on hand. It was tasty but I felt a little lost in making it as no general direction for the dish jumped out at me. Might Bruce or Snowangel be able to give a rough idea of the proportions they use or perhaps what a typical flavor profile for the dish would be? Also, do you tend to use birds-eye or other chilis? I'm wondering if the chilies are primarily for heat or primarily for flavor.

Snowangel are you refering to Phat fai daeng (scroll down a little less than halfway) or some other stirfry with chinese broccoli and fermented soy bean? I know what you mean about chinese broccoli, I love the stuff. It's like regular broccoli, which I already love, but better.

Sentiamo, I know what you mean about Miang Kam, the combination of flavors is incredible. I have made Kasma's version which includes most of the things you mentioned, and some others like minced pickled garlic. I am curious as to what belacan paste is, is this the same thing as shrimp paste? I am curious about the leaves too, on her website Kasma says that they are wild pepper leaves, or bai chapoo, but I have had trouble finding these as I'm not sure what they look like.

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Tonight I tried Bruce's suggestion of the cucumber salad, minus the ginger as I didn't have any on hand. It was tasty but I felt a little lost in making it as no general direction for the dish jumped out at me. Might Bruce or Snowangel be able to give a rough idea of the proportions they use or perhaps what a typical flavor profile for the dish would be? Also, do you tend to use birds-eye or other chilis? I'm wondering if the chilies are primarily for heat or primarily for flavor.

Gabriel: Cucumber salad (ajat dtaeng gwa) is infinitely variable, but here is a recipe (link) that is pretty close to what I make. I usually use bird chilies, but a milder chile would provide more chile flavor for the same amount of heat.

Cucumber salad serves as a refreshing palate-cleanser, so keep the flavors light. The flavor profile that I like has a balance between sweet and sour, with heat in the background and just enough salt to balance the flavors. Kasma Loha-unchit has an excellent exercise in balancing Thai flavors (link).

Do try ginger with the cucumber salad next time, it really adds a lot.

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Thanks for the suggestions. A few days ago I tried Sanrensho's asparagus stirfry which was quite delicious; I especially enjoyed the bite the white pepper added.

I'm glad you liked it. It's definitely my favorite way to eat asparagus.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I always see thai eggplants at my local asian grocer for a pretty reasonable price. I have never eaten them or seen them in a thai dish, but I would love to try them. I love the color and the shape - very cute. Does anyone have any good suggestions for a recipe involving them that doesn't involve meat? I am not vegetarian, I just don't feel like buying meat (i'm cheap). I am of course willing to use fish sauce in the dish.

does anyone else salivate when they smell really stinky fish sauce? I love this stuff...I don't know what it is. Thinking about it now is making me drool

BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
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well, I don't measure out my ingredients but this is an approximation of what I do :rolleyes:

Mix a yam sauce using lime juice, nam pla, sugar and green chilis to taste.

Either BBQ or char the eggplants, (I use 3-4) until they are soft inside and then put them in a bag to steam for a few mins so it is easy to peel off the skin. Don't worry about a few black spots as they make the salad taste smokey and earthy.

Soak some gung haeng in hot water for a few mins and drain.

Slice up a few shallots and some cilantro.

Shred some steamed crab meat.

Slice the eggplant lengthwise and halve (or whatever)

Throw it all together, pile the salad on lettuce leaves and enjoy

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Bruce:

Thank you for the feedback, I will be sure to try it with ginger next time and play around with the flavors. The exercise in balancing flavors is familar , as Kasma is something of a demigoddess to me. I think I have read every article and feature on her site, and many of them twice. I would highly recommend the exercise to anyone trying to gain a better understanding of thai cooking and the principles involved.

Austin:

As you said, and as is readily apparent in your blog, it seems you have something of a distaste for sugar. I have never been to bangkok, but I can commiserate on the overuse of sugar in many dishes, it is a theme common among popularized asian food in north america.

One thing that I have learned though, is that a little sugar can go a long way. One of the things I find intriguing about thai and asian cooking in general is the more flexible approach to seasoning with sugar. Making some thai and other asian dishes I have learned that even a small amount a sugar can completely change the character of the dish. For example, I can't imagine a thai curry without atleast some palm sugar added, its almost like to magic to me the effect of a 1/2-1 tablespoon of palm sugar has on a thai curry.

While I would agree that is important first and foremost to cook to taste, I know that as a cook I don't really have a reference point for any of the thai food I make, and this is why I find Kasma's explanations so helpful. Sometimes it seems like I find that "balance" she seems to describe, and although I can't be sure, I like to think that I have gotten it right. What I am getting at is that I have this idea in my head that many thai dishes have a basic flavor profile that involves a minimum proportion of a certain number of ingredients. For example, most thai curries just wouldn't be right to me without that right balance of hot, saltly, and just slightly sweet. Given that, I have always thought that I was better off looking for some sort of balance - atleast at first. Sometimes I feel like I'm reaching in the dark, because its not like I've tasted a dish prepared a few different times or even one time before, and just adjusting the seasoning to taste with respect to the flavor profile I remember.

Whew, this has gotten a little long winded, but it has something I have wondered for a while and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. For example, do you simply cut back on sugar in most recipes where they would normally be some, or do you sometimes omit it entirely?

Sheena:

I love thai eggplants, as you said they are wonderful just to look at, but they taste great too. From what I have read, it seems that in Thailand a lot of people just eat these raw, often accompanied by some sort of dipping sauce. If you sort back 8-10 pages or so you will find some discussion of thai eggplants.

For me, thai eggplants usually mean thai curry. They are perfect for curry because the soak up the delicious flavors of the curry and then melt in your mouth while you eat them; they also act to thicken the curry too. For this reason I usually like to simmer them up until they are close to melted into the sauce. An excellent recipe for a simple green curry can be found here. This recipe calls for pork, but you could easily substitute a few more sturdy vegetables, or even increase the number of eggplants.

I might add though that in my area these eggplants don't really work out to be much cheaper than the meat I use in my curries. A pound usually works out to be about 2 dollars or so, and for 3 dollars I can get 3/4lb of excellent pork shoulder, and if you are willing to skin/debone chicken thighs, you can get a lot of great chicken for even less. I find this is plenty of meat, as the meat isn't the main actor so much as another member of the cast. The cheaper cuts work quite well in curry, provided you cut them into small pieces and simmer them long enough to tenderize nicely.

At first I found fish sauce pretty disgusting, but now the smel brings to mind all the delicious things it is in. I also find that the better brands don't really smell all that bad, I think it is just something that takes getting used to.

Insomniac:

Wow, that looks like a great recipe. I will have to try it soon. I wonder about the eggplants though, only 3-4? How big are the eggplants you use, the ones we get here are about the size of a golf ball.

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does anyone else salivate when they smell really stinky fish sauce?  I love this stuff...I don't know what it is.  Thinking about it now is making me drool

Sheena: Fish sauce definitely makes me salivate. Disturbingly, my brain now responds this way to other “fermented” meats. While cutting the grass last summer, I smelled what I thought was fish sauce every time I passed the open kitchen window. I thought that my wife was heating up leftover green curry, and my mouth began to water.

When I cut a few more rows, it became obvious that the saliva-inducing aroma was not coming from the kitchen – it was coming from a dead and, um, fermenting bird. Even knowing the source of the odor, my mouth kept watering. As soon as the lawn was finished I ran inside and heated up some green curry (with extra fish sauce).

No, I didn’t eat the dead bird.

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