Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fruit from Home

Lambutan (Ngao)

This time of the year is the time when most tropical fruits come to Chinatown. It is the time that I can enjoy the delicious, sweet taste from home. Like these red hairy fruit called Lambutan or Ngao in Thai. They are my favorite tropical fruits ever. I can eat up to two kilos. by myself.

My brothers, sister and I always to go grandma's orchard when these fruits are in the season. We eat them right there on the trees. You peel the red hairy skin off and eat the sweet, white meat at the inside. It is an almond-size pit inside that you don't want to eat it, or you can, if you wanted to, only that it doesn't taste anything. As for cooking, some people put them in some red curries. It is delicious.

Sweet Pamelo (Som-O)

These guys are so refreshing and juicy. There are many kinds of Pamelo. The one that is quite sour, we put them in salads, and eat the sweet one just like other fruits. To me, they are the giant grapefruits with a very thick think skin and thick white membrane that you need a knife to peel it off.

Pomegranate (Tub-tim)

Pomegranate are in as well, but I am not a big fan of them. I am taught not to eat their seeds, I can put all the seed in my mouth, once I get all the juice I have to spit the white seeds out - do not swallow them, and that's quite annoying.

Longan (Lum-yai)

These fruits will give me mouth ulcer if I eat too much of them at one time, which happens quite often because the white meat inside the brown skin is so irresistible. It is sweet and fluidly - a bit like hard-jelly. They have a hard black pit inside, just don't eat those.

In Thailand we have so much varieties of fruits year-round, and that what I miss the most.

vegetables and fruits store on Mulberry and Canal street, Chinatown, Manhattan

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thai Jungle Curry with Beef, Gang Pah Neau

I don't know what your jungle looks like, my jungle looks like this - lots of mixed vegetables and herbs and beef. This jungle is wild. It makes my mouth on fire every time I eat it. But, that is a good thing though, according Dr. Oz, spicy food helps booting your metabolism, burning your fat.

Gang Pah, Gang means curry, Pah means jungle in Thai, is once considered as a peasant curry. When you live in the jungle, your foods come from what ever it is the jungle provides you- wild herbs, wild vegetable and wild meats.

Thai eggplant, Kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin)

Cooking in the jungle with wild meat, which some have a very strong meaty smell, the curry paste using for this kind of curry is made with strong fragrant and spicy herbs to help dilute the scent of the meat.

Today the jungle curry has made its way to the city, so that, in some area, the level of spice has been toned down because of a supermarket meats and vegetables have been used instead of the wild animals out there.

preserved Bamboo Shoot

This is the water base curry.
It's light, but it can make your mouth on fire.

- Gang Pah curry paste (available at Thai groceries)
- Vegetables : Thai eggplants, string beans, preserved bamboo shoot, Kabocha squash, cut them all up into bite pieces.
- Thai basil or holy basil, use only the leaves
- kaffir lime leaves, fresh galangal, julienned
- beef, thinly slice

- fish sauce
- palm sugar(optional)
- water

Gang Pah curry paste

1. Heat up a 5 tbsp. of curry paste with a half cup of water until fragrant then add 3 cups of water more, leave it until boil.

2. putting in vegetable, start with squash since they are the hardest to get soft then follow with others except the basil leave (basil leaves go in last)

3. leave them to reach full boil then season it with fish sauce, start with 2tbsp. then taste it, and you can little by little adjust the taste as you go, too salty add more water.

4. (optional) add a small piece of palm sugar for more rounder taste.

5. With fully boil, in goes beef, stir a few times, add basil leaves, close the lid for a few minutes then turn off the heat, leave it for three to five minutes, and it's ready to serve.

Serve with fried fish or stir-fried vegetable and steamed rice. YUM!

Secret tip:
If you feel that the curry is too watery, before cooking this dish, soak up 1 tbsp. of uncooked rice with water for 1 hour then pound or grind them into powder and add into curry, it will help curry to have more body, just what I like.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pan-fired Turmeric Red Mullet, Pla Kra Bok Tod Kamin

Red Mullet, my mom favorite fish. She always comes up with delicious recipe with this yummy fish, and this is one of hers that becomes my favorite fish dish ever. It is also another delicious recipe using turmeric powder. You need to add more turmeric to your diet, people. The research shows it helps prevent Alzheimer

I got two Red Mullets for $2.60 from fish store in Chinatown. The fish was very fresh with clear eyes and red gills, and when thing is fresh, it tastes SOoo good.

Easy preparing

- 2 tbsp. turmeric powder
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 15 seeds black pepper
- 2 tsp. salt
- fresh red Mullet, cleaned and scored
turmeric powder

Make the rub and fry

1. using mortar and pestle to crush garlic and black pepper together until it becomes paste then mix in turmeric power and salt.
2. * wear gloves, otherwise your hands will be yellow stained for two weeks* rub the paste all over the fish. If there are any paste lump left, try to put them inside the fish stomach so they will not get burn when frying.
3. Fry them in hot oil and serve.

Warning : Be prepare for the delicious smell that comes out from these garlic, black pepper and turmeric rub, it'll make your stomach groans so bad.

They are golden delicious indeed.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stir-fried Brussels sprout with Garlic

I love these cute little green cabbages. They are so green and crunchy and yummyyyy. Shame that they cannot grow in hot weather like Thailand. It was here, in the state, that I had the first taste of them, and I was hooked since.

At first I didn't really know how to cook these guys, so I just thought that since they are tiny cabbages, I'll cook them just like how I cook big cabbages - Stir-fried, and I wasn't disappointed. They taste better than big cabbages.

Wok is the best thing to stir-fry vegetable

I was watching one of the cooking show, the guy was talking about woks, comparing the benefit of woks and saute pans, which one keeps the heat better during the process of stir-fry, and then he concluded that wok can't do a good job because of its lack of to be able to keep the heat during stir-frying according to the shape of the wok.

After that show, he came back again and said that he got a lot of letters and emails, (well, he should) saying that he was so wrong about woks, and that he doesn't know what he is doing, so he had to come back and cleared it out that he meant woks are not good for using with the regular gas stoves because, according to the shape of the wok, the heat will lose anyway.....Again, he's still wrong about that.

Working with wok
You can stir-fry vegetable with wok with regular gas stoves and get the best stir-fried vegetable still.

The tip is.....
the wok has to be really really really Hot....before adding oil. Once wok gets really hot it will keep the heat through out the stir-fly process. Keep in mind that stir-fry is a quick cooking process, you only need 2-3 minutes to do it, so it preserves the crunchiness and taste of vegetable. To say that, with a very hot wok and only 2-3 minutes of stir-fly, the wok will not lose the heat that bad as some might think it will, and they do an excellent job as we all know.

How hot is the wok?
The heavy stainless steel wok is the ideal for stir-fly cooking though. Forget about those non-stick wok, since you need to heat it up to the extreme. I usually heat the empty wok until I can see the hot air dancing over the wok, that tells me that the wok is heated up all over then I'll add oil and, right away, start to stir-fry.

Now, let's get Brussels sprout stir-fried

- Fresh Brussels sprout
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
- ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Oyster sauce or Soy sauce
- 1 tsp. fish sauce
- 2 tsp. sugar
- oil
- 4 tbsp. water

1. Rinse vegetable to clean a few times, cut them into a half.
2. If seasoning with oyster sauce like I do, pour oyster sauce over the raw vegetable before hitting a wok.
3. Heat up the wok until you can see the hot air dancing over the wok then add the oil.
4. In goes garlic and Brussels sprout.
5. Add some water, give a few quick stir, add fish sauce and sugar, stir. (* add more water if the wok's getting to dry because of the heat*)
6. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with black pepper.

Hot and Sour Salmon Soup, Tom Yum Pla Salmon

This recipe is another delicious choice you can cook with fresh Salmon. It is very light and flavorful yet easy to cook. The tangy soup full with the freshness from Asian herbs complements the taste of fresh Salmon perfectly.

Fresh from the market
- Salmon
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- bunch of kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tube of fresh Galangal
- Thai chilies
- 6 button mushrooms
- cilantro leaves
- 1 lime


- 1 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
- (optional) 2 tbsp. tapioca flour mixed with 1 tbsp water

fresh galangal and fresh kaffir lime leaves


First part of herbs.

1. cut 1 stalk of lemongrass into 2 inches, and smash to break them.
2. slice galangal into tin pieces - about 4-5 pieces.
3. 4 leaves of kaffir lime.

Second part of herbs

4. finely slice another stalk of lemongrass.
5. finely chop more galangal.
6. julienne kaffir lime leaves.
7. finely chop Thai chilies.

5 minutes cooking
1. Boil 1 1/2 cup of water with the first part of herbs.
2. In the boiling water, add Salmon, after 2 minutes, season it with fish sauce.
3. Use a fork to check if the fish is cooked then take the fish out of the soup, put the fish in to the serving bowl, let it sit.
4. reduce the heat to medium low, use a slot spoon to spoon all the chunky herbs out of the soup, leave the soup clear. These part of the herbs are no longer used.

5. In goes mushroom and the second part herbs.
6. Add in the tapioca flour mixture ( this will give the soup more soupy body)
7. Turn off the heat.
8. Add in fresh lime juice, stir.
9. Pour the soup over the fish sitting in a serving bowl, top with fresh cilantro leaves.
10 Serve.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oh! Taisho, gimme Yakitori!!

After a long walk of the day, we decided to have something to eat in the neighborhood before climbing back to the apartment. We ended up ten steps away from our apartment at Oh! Taisho, the Japanese Izayaka style restaurant, a type of Japanese street food place that served foods to accompany the drinks . The place is on Saint Marks Place and 3 Avenue, Manhattan.

I don't drink,...Really!! my aim was the Yakitori, grilled meats and vegetables on sticks.
B set Yakitori

Seaweed Salad

Even though I have not yet had a real Izayaka experience in Japan, growing up reading Japanese comics my eyes out, I can say that this Oh! Taisho is exactly what I always see in Japanese comic books, a tiny stall with a long counter attached to the stall as a long table for customers to sit and have hot Ramen.
Grilled Squid

The place is so tiny, and always cramped and bustling. We don't come here as often as we did before anymore, for a while we just get tired of a lot of people and long waiting line.

It is a fun place to hang out with a gang of friends though....for a date?...I won't recommend. With the bustling, yelling for the foods from very busy waiters and waitresses, I don't think it's romantic at all.
Steamed Rice Ball with Spicy Cod Roe inside

Japanese Sausages

Over a past year or two, we I've noticed a drop in quality - the Yakitory most of the time comes out cold when it supposes to be hot from the grill. I believe they are too busy to keep the quality of the food stable, and that's might be one reason that we step back a little.

But, it's not that bad, after a long break, I still enjoy my favorite Yakitori even though, again, it came out a little bit cold instead of hot from the grill.
Grilled Green Onion

This time we sat at the counter because we didn't want to wait for a table inside, and that we realized that it was a bad idea for our appetite to be able to see how they handle the foods with their hands.

I used to work in the restaurant, I understand the nature of a kitchen frenzy, when you have to be on top of a pile of orders. That's why we prefer not to see it to be able to eat out.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Beef Noodle, Gui Teaw Neur

When I want some fast noodle as a lunch, I'll go to Chinatown. But, when it comes to a real treat noodle, I'll make it myself. When I say "real treat" I mean the taste that I am familiar with, the taste from home, just like this delicious Thai beef noodle.

In New York, if you want to find the real Thai noodle, you have to go to Queens. There are many Thai restaurants that make very good noodle. In Manhattan, there is the one I recommend, located at downtown on Fulton st. between Gold st. & William St. The restaurant name is the Bennie's Thai Cafe. They make a very delicious beef needle called Gui Teaw Num Tok or Waterfall Noodle, cute:)
dried rice noodle

Make this noodle when you have the whole day for cooking. It takes at least three hours to slowly cook the soup until beefs get very tender and soft, almost melt in your mouth. But, it's all worth it.
Chinese celery

What vegetable to buy?
- Chinese Celery
- Cilantro (with the roots intact)
- Green Onion
- Green-leaf Lettuce, here I used water spinach

Condiment for the soup
- 3 star anises
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 root of galangal, slice

Star anises, Cinnamon Sticks

Herbal Paste

- 5 cilantro roots
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 10 black or white pepper

- Soy sauce
- 1 small piece of sugar candy (optional)
- salt

Beef : I use chunk beef stew meat

Note : There is no specific measurement for these one. I made a big pot that would last us for almost a week. The best way is to taste it as you go, so you can make the right portion for yourself.

Making the soup

1. Make the Herbal Paste
2. Put all the meat into a pot, cover them up with water and put on high heat.
3. In goes, condiments and herbal paste to the pot.
4. As the meat start to get hot they will release the oil to the surface, gradually skim those foamy oil out.
5. Reduce the heat to medium and start the seasoning, start with three table spoon of soy sauce, and a pinch of salt, later you can taste and adjust the taste as you like it.
6. After the seasoning, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and let them stew until the beef get very soft and tender.


water spinach

There are quite a lot of things to prepare when it comes to serving noodle.

1. Cut coarsely fresh cilantro, green Onion, Chinese Celery, water spinach or green-leaf lettuce.
2. Boil dried rice noodle (just like boiling pasta).
3. Put soften noodle in a serving bowl, in goes, fresh cilantro, green onion, Chinese celery and green-leaf lettuce or water spinach.
4. Ladle beef and soup in the bowl, top with garlic oil and serve.

Again, you can adjust the taste of your noodle before eating by seasoning them with sugar, white vinegar and fish sauce...oh...also a bit of chili powder is Delicious!!!

I also love to have some extra beef balls to go with this noodle. It is a real treat for me.
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