Friday, May 29, 2009

Thai Barbecue Pork ,Moo Ping, Yummy Street Food

If you are a meat lover and happen to have a chance walking on streets of Thailand, look for smoke filled stalls. A chance is you might find a stall that sells this flavorful barbecue pork .

It is a must for the meat lovers. The taste and fragrant of charcoal, coconut milk, pepper, garlic and a kick of cilantro make this Thai style barbecue pork different from others. They usually sell with a bag of steamed sticky rice to eat together. When I was living with a hectic life in Bangkok, this is my fast food on the go.

What a different from the pictures you see here is that in Thailand they skewer them with short wooden skewers, and slowly grill on charcoal. Here in my tiny apartment, in New York City I don't have a luxury to do a charcoal grill, so I make do of it - put them into a broiler and let them fill my room with yummy fragrant.

The marinade
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 20 seed of black peppers
- 6 cilantro root or a bunch of cilantro stems
- 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro leaves

- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 3 tbsp. palm sugar

- 2 lb. of pork butt, slice into thin strips.

Make a marinade paste
Put garlic, black pepper, cilantro roots and salt together in mortar (leave the fresh cilantro leaves for the marinate bowl later), crush them with pestle until they become a paste.

Get your hands dirty.
1. Put all ingredients including the marinade paste together in one bowl, use your hands, you can wear gloves if you want, to mix the ingredients thoroughly, make sure there is no lumps of palm sugar left.

2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, let it sit for at least 3-12 hours, and it would be the best if you leave it over night in the fridge.

3. If you want to use wooden skewers, just do it. If you prefer metal skewers like I do, they do a good job as well. Skewer pork, push them tightly together on a skewer, to keep the marinade locked in at the inside. Grill until fragrant and well cooked.

4. Serve with spicy tamarind dipping sauce and soft steamy sticky rice....Holy Moly!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ginger Chicken, Gai Pad Khing

If you had Ginger Chicken in some Thai restaurants here before, you might find this dish looks a little different from the one they serve in the restaurants, which some have bell peppers, scallion or even broccoli?...

Gai=chicken, Pad=stir fried, Khing=ginger

This is a kind of Ginger Chicken we eat at home in Thailand. There are no other vegetable besides julienne gingers and black fungus ( aka cloud ear, tree ear, wood fungus, mouse ear, and jelly mushroom) put into it.

soaked black fungus

The taste is quite rich with Asian sauces, touch of spice from ginger and a little punch from whisky, which makes it a perfect dish to eat with plain, steamed rice.

julienne fresh ginger

Ingredients : serve four people.
- 2 cups of fresh julienne gingers
- 1 hand full of dried Black Fungus (available at most Chinese market and groceries), soaked with water until soft
* These dried fungus need to be rinsed and squeezed a few times until the water is clean.*
- 2 big pieces of boneless chicken thigh, cut into medium chunks

- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- 3/4 cup of water
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp. whisky (any kind your husband has)
- 1 tbsp. of fine ground white pepper

Dried Black Fungus

soak them with water

Heat up the pan

1. In a small bowl, mix up all sauces and sugar, leave out the whisky.
1. In a hot pan, put in vegetable oil, follow with ginger, saute till fragrant and soft.
2. In goes chicken, saute until no pink meat left.
3. Add in mixing sauces and water, stir until all ingredients are incorporate, cover the pan with a lid for 3-4 minutes
4. Add whisky, black fungus, saute about 2-3 minutes, sprinkle in ground pepper ( up to this point, it should have quite a lot of sauce in the pan, if it isn't, add 2 more tbsp of water.)
5. Put the lid on again and let it simmers for another 3 minutes, let the sauce subsided. Turn off the heat, serve with steamed rice.

Ginger Chicken, Gai Pad Khing

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Salty Fired Chicken

Gai Tod Nam Pla

Rumor has it that every thing tastes good when it is fried. I agree. In my kitchen, this dish is one good example of it. As I mentioned before about a variety of dishes Thai people have on their table for each meal. One of them is fried dishes. Fried dishes help to balancing the strong and spicy dishes, such as all kind of curries and Yum (Thai salad)

When it comes to fried foods, there are a few ingredients using to marinate the food, and also the simplest ingredient, which makes the meat or fish tasty without the complicated in any ways as well - just marinate meat, fish or other food with fish sauce or soy sauce or rub it with salt, let it sit for 10 minutes and fry with hot oil. It's really that simple.

See how easy it is to make it
Here, I use boneless chicken thigh since they are thick and make it not too dry when fried, but, when I was at home with mom, we will always have free-ranch salty chicken, the whole chicken - with bone, which I will never trade them with anything else. If you can find free-ranch chicken, go for it. Cut up the whole chicken with bone in. It is DELICIOUS.

- cut up all chicken thighs into medium chunks.
- marinate them with 1 tbsp. fish sauce for 10 minutes.
- heat up the oil and fry marinated chicken with medium heat.
- fry until golden, rest them on cookie rack.
- serve. If you have Thai sweet chicken dipping sauce, pour it into dipping bowl and serve along.

Also try these salty fried chicken with plain, steamed, sticky rice. My seventh heaven is right there.

Nam Pla Prik, Chili Fish Sauce

Nam Pla Prik

If you ask my mom to choose between fish sauce and fine, expensive perfume, I'll bet with my head chopped off, she goes with fish sauce.

Nam = water, Pla = fish, Prik = chili

If you love eating and cooking Thai food, you have got to make friend with fish sauce. It is a bit stinky for those who don't acquaint with, but, don't you agree that some stinky cheeses are dead on delicious by either themselves or with other foods, and that makes no difference with fish sauce. Some friends of mine ask how do we, Asian, enjoy this stinky sauce? I would say, "The same idea you enjoy the stinky cheeses."

Fish sauce is made from fresh fish, such as mackerel or sardine fermented with layers of salt and slowly press to get the liquid up to a year. It is an essential ingredient for most South East Asian cooking. To get good fish sauce, look for a little bit light in color not a very dark one.

Nam Pla Prik is considered as a cannot-live-without condiment to Thai food. We put it on rice, fired eggs, fried fish, fired rice, just like the Westerners put salt & pepper to their foods. It is a mixer of fish sauce, mince chilies and a wedge of lime (some might sprinkle a little bit of sugar in it).

Sunny Side Up Eggs

Once, one of my American customer walked into the restaurant I worked with, the first question he asked,"Do you serve Nam Pla Prik with your food? because I am gonna need that." Yep! he knows how to eat Thai food.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Market, Chinatown NYC

Fish store, Mott St.

My fridge was running out of greens, so we hit Chinatown today. It is my only oasis in New York City. Every times we go back to Thailand, both moms, my mom and mother in law, try to pack our bags with all Thai ingredients for us to bring back to New York. I have to try hard to tell them that we can find almost all ingredients in Chinatown, no need to fill the bags with 20 packs of curry paste or a big bag of preserved salty eggs, and the most important thing is that I don't want to make myself looks dead cute trying to explain to immigration officers what I have in the carry-all is just a snacks. Mom always concerns about our eating.

Vegetable store with extra boxes outside along sidewalk, Mott St.

Living my life in Thailand, I didn't cook, so I had never done a serious market shopping before. Chinatown Manhattan is the first market I learn to shop for cooking. Today I have my places for seafood, where to get fresh fish, which store to go for vegetables, which street to go for exotic fruits in the season.

Chinese Mom and Pop store, Mulberry St.

I am now enjoy every bits of it. Both my mom and my mother in law are great cooks, especially my mom, going to the market for fresh foods every morning is her life that I would never understand before. My mother in law, on the other hand, enjoy cooking for everybody in the house - almost every meals. She is a big fan of healthy eating, and that means cooking at home is the best. Now, I can't wait to go back, wake up early in the morning and hit the market with them. I know that there are still a lot out there I need to catch up with moms when it comes to the market shopping.

Chinese Soaps at all kind, Mulberry St.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sour Curry with Fried Eggs and Watercress

Gang Som Cha-oom Kai

Kang Som translats as the sour curry. The word Som is literally used for something that gives the sour taste. In Thai, Som is also oranges or tangerines. There are two bases of Thai curries, which is a coconut milk base and a water base. Most Kang Som are water base curries, which are lighter and tend to be tangier than most coconut milk base curries.

This particular dish just surfaced in Thai restaurants about fifteen to twenty years ago, I would say. I consider it as a Thai fusion food from the fact that it is a combination of two individual distinctive foods, which is one is Kang Som dish and another one is fried vegetable beaten egg dish, which normally be served separately on the table. Somehow, someone got creative and took a risk putting these two dishes together as one dish and introduced it to people. It becomes a big hit over night. I would die for to know who is the one who created this dish. However,whoever that is, he/she is a real genius because it tastes so good.

I was first introduced to this Kang Som by one of my friend who owns a small, edgy restaurant in Bangkok, and it's become one of my favorite Kang Som I always ask for in the restaurants.

In Thailand this curry is called....Kang Som Cha-om Kai. The original of making this kind of fired beaten egg is to use fresh Cha-om leaves, a type of Acacia family called Acacia pennata, a shrub that is native to Thailand, beaten in with eggs and then fry, called Cha-om Kai, a dish that is usually paired up with spicy shrimp paste dipping (Num-Prik) to eat together. These tiny green leaves have a very strong pungent smell and also health benefits that is good for our body.

I didn't make a trip to a Thai grocery in Chinatown, so I just substituted Cha-om with watercress, which also give a nice texture to fried egg, the only thing missing is that pungent smell, which is, yes, I can live with that.


- 2 tbsp. Thai Kang Som curry paste ( some would label "yellow curry")
- 2 cups of water
- 3 tbsp. concentrated tamarind juice (available in Thai groceries or most Asian groceries)
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. palm sugar
- 3-4 tbsp. oil for frying eggs

- fresh watercress
- 2 eggs
- 6 fresh shrimps (optional)
- 1 cup of dried shrimps, grind them up into fine powder. (optional - it will help to give more body to water base curry - available in Asian markets and groceries)

First Part: Making Fried Egg

1. Wash and rinse watercress thoroughly.
2. Take a hand full of them and put them into beaten eggs. Leave some to put in the curry.
3. Add 1 tsp. fish sauce mix thoroughly
3. Heat up a pan until the oil get very hot ( you can see some smoke coming up)
4. Pour the mixing egg to the hot oil until it is golden and crispy to both sides.
5. Take it out from the pan, rest it on a cookie rack for cooling down.

Second Part: Making Kang Som curry.

1. A pot with water, stir in Kang Som curry paste until the paste and water are incorporate.
2. Bring curry to a boil.
3. Turn the heat to medium and start seasoning with tamarind, fish sauce and palm sugar.
4. Put in ground dried shrimp.

To this point you can gradually adjust the taste by adding more the seasonings if you like. Besides the spicy taste, the taste of Kang Som should be led by sour taste then wrapped with salty and sweet. I usually squeeze a wedge of lime into the curry before serving.

4. Put in fresh shrimps (optional) and the rest of watercress, increase the heat to full boil then turn off the heat.

Fried Watercress Egg

Cut up the crispy egg into small pieces, put them into a serving bowl. Ladle out Kang Som curry to top the crispy eggs. Eat with fluffy steamed rice and fried salty chicken to help balancing the spicy taste of the curry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saute Baby Buk Choy with Fresh Garlic

This is a nastily easily vegetable dish to cook when I lost my cooking pants. It is also an easily tasty dish to complete a meal. Like other Asian nation, the Thai way of eating doesn't come as a course. Each meal, all the the food will be served at once on the table and we will eat them together. The taste of each individual dish usually complements each other. We will have vegetable dish, meat dish, soup or curry dish and fired dish to eat together.

And this saute baby Buk Choy is another excellent choice of vegetable dish to put on the table. I made a bigggg pot of beef Massaman curry, which will last us long for a week. All I have to do for each meal is to cook a small and easy vegetable dish to go along with a yummy curry.

You will need
- 2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed
- 2 Buk Choy, cut into half
- 1 tbsp. Oyster sauce or soy sauce
- crushed black pepper
- 2 tbsp. oil for saute
- 2 tbsp. water

1. Cut Buk Choy into half, clean them thoroughly, blot them with paper towel, so they don't splash when hitting the hot pan.

2. Heat up the pan until it is very hot, drizzling in the oil.

3. Put crushed garlic, saute to smell, in go Buk Choy.

4. Season them with oyster sauce or soy sauce, give them a quick stir, add a little bit of water, sprinkle with black pepper, turn off the heat.

5. Put them into your mouth :)

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