Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chicken Green Curry

Gaang Keaw Wan Gai

This green curry has become the must-try-to-make curry for my foreign friends, once they get the chance to taste it.

To me, this is one of the very savory curry among many curries we have. It's full of a bunch of aromas from the varieties of herbs using to make this type of curry paste and a richness of coconut milk.

Green curry paste

The question I get most about this curry is " What does make it green? " the answer is the green chilies make the curry paste green. In Thailand some people even add the chili leaves to make it even greener.

Don't freak out when seeing green curry with a thick layer of oil floating on the surface which is released from coconut milk, that is how you tell green curry you are about to eat is made by experienced hands, and it tastes real darn delicious. Those oil can also tell that the curry is made with very fresh coconut milk, in away that the canned coconut milk can never do it .

Make the most out of what you can find.
Japanese Eggplants

- 3 tbsp. of Thai green curry paste - available in most Asian groceries.
- 1 canned coconut milk. (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3-4 pieces of big chicken thighs - either with bones or boned, cut into a bite size.
- 10 Thai eggplant or 3 Japanese eggplants, cut into a bite size.
- a bunch of basil, using only the leaves.
- handful of kaffir lime leaves.

- 3 tbsp. of fish sauce
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp. of paste or 2 pieces of cake palm sugar.
- 1 tbsp. tamarind water.
- 1 tbsp. of oil
- a cup of warm water

Kaffir lime leaves at mom's edible garden in Thailand.

1. Heat up the cooking pot, add in the oil and green curry paste, saute the curry paste until fragrant - be careful not to burn the paste.
2. Add a cup (half of can) of coconut milk to saute with the curry paste. Keep sauteing them until you can see streaks of oil seeping from under the paste up through the surface.
3. Add chicken thighs to incorporate with curry paste.
4. Mix the rest of the coconut milk with water then pour into the pot.
5. Put the lid on, and let the curry reaches the full boil.
6. Once the curry reaches the full boil, start seasoning with fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind water.
7. Bruise all the kaffire lime leaves with your hands to release the aroma , and add to the curry.
8. Bring the heat down to medium put the lid on, but let it ajar for 15 min.
9. In goes eggplant and cook until the eggplant soft, add basil leaves.
10 Taste your curry and adjust the taste you like.
11. Serve with rice or Thai noodle.

Yum Mommy Yum!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Palm Sugar, Num Taal Puk

Palm sugar is one of the most important ingredient in Thai cooking. It gives the sweet taste more rounded in food. In Thailand, this kind of sugar can be made from the sap of Palmyra palm and sap of coconut palm.

When I was about 10, during the school break, my aunt would take a vacation and take me to many interesting places for me to see and learn things by myself. One of the trip that I still remember is going to the place where the palm sugar is made locally.

coconut trees on the Haad Kuad beach, Koh Pa-ngan, Thailand

There I learn how the sugary sap was collected out of the palm trees into a bamboo container, which is later transferred into a big pot on an open fire, ready to slow cook the sweet liquid into thick caramel-ly sugar.

I also learn that the sugary sap can be fermented and make into coconut wine. I was then even allowed to taste it. I had no idea why the adults love it, to me, it was like sugar canes go bad...yuk!

In Thailand you can find palm sugar in many shapes and forms, depends on what kind of palm sugar, I mean what kinds of palm tree they are made of.

But, I'm not going to go that far because it would take more than a page to talk about it. Out of Thailand, you can find palm sugar at most Asian groceries. They come in a form of either hard cake or soft paste.

This soft paste in container is usually sealed with wax on the surface, just use a tip of the knife to pick off the wax and you are good to go.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Long Eggplant Salad, Yum Ma Keu Yoaw

If you are an eggplant lover, you'll love this beautiful purple long eggplant dish.

In Thailand we call it Ma Keu Yoaw or Long Eggplant, when here, in the state, is known as Japanese eggplant.

Like other Thai salads, it is light yet full of flavors and textures. Once you think you've got all the flavors, you'll be surprised with another, and the next thing you know - you want more of it.

The taste is well balance of sweetness, tang and salty. Fresh shallot and pickled garlic give a dish very distinctive taste and flavors. The textures of soft eggplant, cooked shrimps and ground dried shrimp are just perfect together. A kick of chilies will wake up your taste buds at the end.

pickled garlic

Let's give the kitchen some purple

- 1 beautiful long purple eggplant.
- 4 cooked shrimps.
- 1/4 cup, ground, dried shrimp. (I ground them with a coffee grinder that never be used to grind coffee beans)
- 1 head, pickled garlic, (available in Asian grocery) thinly sliced.
- 2 heads, shallots, finely sliced.
- 4 small Thai chilies, crushed.

- 1 tbsp. pickle garlic water
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. lime juice

1. Put eggplant on the grill until the skin gets dark and wilted.
2. Peel off the skin, let it cools down, put it on the serving plate then cut into one inch long.

Prepare the dressing.

- In a small bowl, mix together pickled water, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chilies and sliced pickled garlic.

- Put shallots on top of eggplant as a first layer, the second is cooked shrimps than pour the mixture dressing over the layers then top with the last layer of ground dried shrimp.
- Serve!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Red Sauce Chicken, Gai Ob Num Dang

Last week my husband and I were watching Lidia's cooking show on PBS. She was cooking pasta and chickens in some kind of red sauce, then my husband turned to me......drooling!!

OK...... it means I have to go to the market the next day.

This recipe is not from Lidia though, it's my family's recipe my aunt used to cook for us quite often when we were little, and of course we eat them with rice - not pasta.

Surprisingly!..our red sauce chicken and Lidia's looks quite similar, but the ingredients we use are a bit different. Ours has a hint of Asian flavor which comes from soy sauce and Thai original chili sauce, Sri-ra-cha sauce, we put in....and oh....we use ketchup instead of canned tomatoes *--*

Chicken Thigh with Bone Rocks!
*I made a big portion though, you can just reduce the portion to suit you.*

- 12 pieces of chicken thigh with bone intact.
- 1 big head of sweet onion, roughly chopped.
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
- 3 bay leaves.

- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. white pepper powder
- 1/2 cup, ketchup
- 1/2 cup, Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup, soy sauce
- 1/4 cup, Sri-ra-cha chili sauce
- 1/4 cup, sugar
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
- 2 cups, water
- 1/2 cup, frying oil

1. Toss chicken thighs with salt and pepper powder and keep them marinated for 10 min.
2. Heat up the oil - ready to brown the chicken.
3. Brown all chicken thighs.
4. Pour off the frying oil, in the same pot, goes garlic and chopped onion and tomato paste, saute to incorporate and the onion get translucent.
5. Add ketchup then add 1/2 cup of water, stir to incorporate.
6. Start seasoning with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Sri-ra-cha sauce, sugar and Chinese cooking wine.
7. Add in all browned chicken thighs follow with the rest of water - make sure water cover the chicken thighs, stir a little for everything to incorporate, stick in bay leaves.
8. Put the lid on completely, bring the heat down to low and let the chicken simmering in a sauce for 1 hr. - open and adjust the taste a haft way to an hour.
9. Serve with steamed, oiled green beans, broccoli, carrot and steamed rice.

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