Category Archives: Appetizers

Thai Chicken Salad – Laap Gai

Our favourite Isan (North East Thailand) meal, which we have occasionally made since returning home from our travels there, is minced chicken salad, or Laap Gai. Like other typical Isan cuisine, it is spicy and rich in flavour. Traditionally it is made with ground, roasted sticky rice in it, though I usually skip this step for simplicity without noticing the difference. I enjoy eating this dish, as the Thai people do, with handfuls of sticky rice, or wrapped in lettuce leaves like a wrap.

Follow this link to read about my experiences in Thailand

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chicken breast or turkey breast, minced or ground. Ground chicken is usually available at grocery stores.

4 shallots, thinly sliced

3 tbsp fish sauce – yes, it smells vile, but it’s an integral ingredient in Thai dishes

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp chilli powder

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion (optional)

1 tbsp cilantro, chopped (optional)

1 green onion, chopped

1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped

 

Method:

1. Place the ground chicken, shallots, red onion, fish sauce, lime juice and chilli powder into a medium bowl and mix together.

2. Heat a wok and on medium heat and cook the chicken mixture for about 6 minutes until the chicken is cooked. During the last minute, add the mint, cilantro and green onion.

3. Serve with sticky or glutinous rice or in lettuce leaves, similar to lettuce wraps.

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Easy to Make Chicken Satay

There are a lot of great peanut-satay products that one can buy, normally found somewhere in the asian food section of the grocery store. But I find it just as easy to make my own with an ingredient that is found in almost every cupboard – peanut butter.

 

Ingredients:

1 pound skinless boneless chicken, either cubed or sliced into 1 inch x 3 inch pieces

1/3 cup peanut butter, store bought or home-made

1/4 cup boiling water

1 tbsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp curry powder or paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

Red Chilli flakes, depending on taste (or 1 finely chopped chilli pepper if you are brave)

1 tbsp plain white yogourt or milk

1/2 tsp salt

 

Directions:

1. Cut chicken into pieces, as above. Mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl – the hot water will melt the peanut  butter into a creamy liquid consistency.

2.  Set oven to broil.

3. Immerse the chicken into the peanut butter mixture to cover each piece well and then line the coated chicken in an oiled pan or cookie sheet. Reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture for a second coating later on.

4. Broil the chicken for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and brush chicken with remaining mixture, then cook for another 5 minutes. Serve on a bed of jasmine or basmati rice. Sprinkle with chilli flakes if desired.


Thai Style Fish Cakes and Sauce

I worked and travelled in Thailand for one summer and ended up staying in Chiang Mai for 3 days in the desperate search to see an elephant. The 3 days then turned into 2 weeks, as I lost track of time. I never did get to meet an elephant in that particular city except for one sad, wizened elephant who accompanied its master through a seedy district of town as a novelty for tourists.  Although my exposure to these ancient pachyderms was a letdown, the rest of the city had plenty to offer.

I could spend countless posts praising or describing this incredible country, but will instead just focus on the couple of days when I signed up for Thai cooking classes at the renowned Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, run by Thailand’s answer to Emeril: Chef Sompon. Classes would typically begin after lunch and last until dinner time and would include the preparation of 5 or 6 traditional dishes. Even though meals were spaced out, I would still skip breakfast each day just to make room for the feast that would follow. The Thai fish cakes were one of the meals made on the second day of my class and it was probably one of the only seafood dishes I recall eating during my stay. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Continue reading


Roasted Bagel Chips

Instead of buying crackers or pita bread for dipping, try bagel chips for something different and tasty.

Ingredients:

2 or 3 bagels, any kind

3 tbsp of butter or olive 0il

1/4 tsp of salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

2. Place  bagels in fridge for 30 minutes. This step isn’t necessary, although I find it helps make the bagels easier to slice thinly.

3. Slice the bagels into 1/2 – 1.4 inch slices (4-5 slices per bagel, typically).

4. Lightly butter each side of the bagel slices or drizzle with olive oil, then coat both sides with salt, to taste.

5. Place bagel slices on ungreased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip part way through. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.


Smoked Salmon Dip

I’m not really a dip kind of guy, unless it’s hummus or spinach-artichoke. Not that I’m incredibly health conscious, but I’ve always been suspect of the calorie or fat count of store-bought dips. Even though this dip recipe includes cream cheese and mayo, the smoked salmon in it at least makes me feel a little less guilty pleasure when partaking. This tastes great on sliced cucumbers or with cut veggies.

Ingredients:

2 cups cream cheese (I use light cheese, in order to feel a little less guilty)

3 tbsp onion, minced

1/3 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 cup smoked salmon

1/4 cup mayonnaise (light)

2 tsp fresh dill, chopped

Directions

1. Whip cream cheese in a blender until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend well using a food processor or blender.

2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.


Hummous

 

Ingredients:

2 cups canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1/3 cup or less to taste, tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

1. Add the tahini and the lemon juice to a small bowl and whisk until slightly foamy. This will help give the hummous a creamier consistency later on.

2 – 0ption 1: Add the tahini mixture with the garbanzo beans, half the olive oil, salt, cumin and garlic in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.

2 – option 2: I’ve thrown in this brief extra step, as an option. I find that hummous will turn out creamier if you first boil the canned chickpeas for 2 minutes, to soften them. You can add the garlic to the boiling water during this step. Drain, then add the chickpeas and garlic to the food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve.

3. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.

4. Serve with pita bread or home-made bagel crisps


Roasted Garlic

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Peel away a few of the outer layers of the garlic bulb, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 inch off the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.

3. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each bulb, using your fingers to coat. Cover with aluminum foil.

4. Bake at 400°F for 35 minutes or until the cloves feel soft.

 

Eat as is or serve warm with Brie cheese or as a spread. Not recommended for a date night!