Category Archives: Asian

Thai Green Curry with Chicken

This green curry dish is the most popular Thai meal after Phad Thai – but watch out, it’s spicy!

I first learned to make it at the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School during my stay in Thailand, where it became my inaugural meal using coconut milk. Before this I had never really given it a chance. My earliest memory of a coconut (cue the flashback harp music) is from a trip to Florida when I was really young, where my dad broke open a coconut that had washed up on the beach and handed my brother and I pieces to examine and nibble on. I remember the clear liquid on the inside tasting foul and then subsequently I was turned off everything ‘coconut’ for a few decades, however undeserved.

I’ve since learned that coconut milk isn’t actually the liquid inside of a coconut, as I had been led to believe; and many years after my Florida trip I realized that the liquid deserved another chance. After all, I had the same initial reaction to coffee and alcohol and look where I am now. During our stay in a rural Thai village, on a particularly sweltering day, our host father poked holes in a coconut he picked from his yard and handed us straws for drinking. Parched from the heat, I found this makeshift umbrella drink refreshing and vowed thereafter to conquer all of my other childhood food aversions.

Actual coconut milk, if ever the question is asked on Jeopardy, is made by squeezing the grated flesh of a coconut with a bit of hot water. The resulting rich, creamy liquid looks much like cow’s milk…and it is a vital ingredient in the making of most curry dishes, including this one. Continue reading


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.


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


Phad Thai

If you’ve never tasted Phad Thai – or Thai Noodles – before, then you’re life has been missing something vital and imperative. It is the quintessential Thai meal, if ever there was one; like bangers and mash to the British, sushi and sashimi to the Japanese, or Swedish meatballs to Ikea shoppers. Although the best place to sample this dish is fresh from a Bangkok street vendor in Thailand itself, probably for the equivalent of 50 cents, your local Thai restaurant will undoubtedly carry this dish too, though likely for 20 times the price. Better yet, dust off your kitchen wok,  hunt down some fish sauce and other easy to find ingredients and try your hand at this very simple meal. For a bit of extra burn of the esophagus and for a more authentic Thai feel, try adding the peppers. Continue reading


Japanese-Style Steak Sauce (for rice)

If you’re like me, you have to order a serving of rice with sesame steak sauce every time you visit your local Japanese restaurant – there is something highly addictive about it. A friend of mine passed along this recipe, which I think tastes pretty close to the real thing.

 

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw sesame seeds

1 tsp dijon mustard mixed with 1 tsp dry mustard; mix with a little water to make a paste

2/3 cup light soy sauce

2/3 cup light oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise

Directions:

1. Toast raw sesame seeds in a dry heavy saucepan on medium heat. Raise the saucepan in quick intervals off and on the heat, shifting and moving the seeds until they are a uniform light brown. Stay vigilant with this…the seeds can burn easily if left in one position too long.

2. Put seeds and remaining ingredients – except mayonnaise – in blender and blend until smooth, about three minutes.

3. Add mayonnaise and blend additional minute