Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pink Deserts in the Market, Chiang Rai

We stumbled upon these pretty fluorescent coconut deserts in mid preparation. We didn't have the chance to taste them, but as they were so pretty, we had to share them with you.

Lunch in Chiang Rai

Today for lunch we had Lahp Gai, minced chicken fried with herbs and topped with crispy deep-fried shallots and garlic. It was a nice change from curry and Yum soups as it was dry and crunchy.
We had it with steamed rice at Loong It, a shack on Th Phranorn in Chiang Rai.

A Snack Stall in Sukhothai

As we returned from our long day at the Sukhothai Historical Park, a stall with a queue caught our attention at the market. Like all stalls in Thailand which usually specialize in one or two dishes, this one does only two snacks, found in Central Thailand.

Khao Yum Nam Kuk is a crunchy cold spicy salad. The base of this salad is deep fried rice balls made from white rice, egg, garlic, pepper, soy sauce, coriander root, fried bread crumbs (panko) and coconut flakes. To make the actual salad you have to mash these with your fingers adding ground pork (may substitute with chicken or tofu), chili pepper, shallots, sugar and fish sauce. Vinegar, dried shrimp and more fried bread crumbs can be added to taste. Top with fried peanuts and eat wrapped in a green mustard leaf.

Khao Kiab Pak Moh is a savory and sweet Thai dumpling steamed over a pot covered in thin white cloth. The batter is a mixture of rice flour, corn starch and water and the filling is a combination of salted preserved daikon raddish, fish sauce, palm sugar and peanuts all ground together.
The batter is treated like a crepe on the cloth, when the color becomes opaque it is divided, filled and swirled into a dumpling.

The finished product is served with coconut cream and flakes, with a side order of coriander.

Our Banana Lady, Bangkok

Our favorite lady vendor in all Bangkok makes the most delicious fried bananas we have had. Her stall was dangerously situated around the corner from our guesthouse (Samsen Road Soi 1, Bangkok, for those of you in the area). We think her secret lies in the sesame seeds added to the batter.
Deep fried bananas are a simple but divine delicacy. This one calls for a shorter yellow banana with a firmer body, sliced 1 cm thick (1/3 inch). The pieces are drowned in batter (the contents of which remain a mystery to us) and deep fried in a wok. Praise the Lord!

Deep fried bananas.

Our favorite woman in Bangkok.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicken and Rice Two Ways

Chicken One:
A very tasty dish found in many street stalls around Bangkok is Khao Mun Kai, a Thai version of Chinese Chicken Rice. We had this one in Chinatown for 35 Baht (1 dollar). The chicken is boiled and served sliced over steamed rice (cooked in the chicken stock of said chicken). The secret to this dish is the special sauce, a mixture of soy sauce, soy bean paste, ginger root and chillies. Pour liberally.

The stall in Chinatown.

The Chicken. We were also served a small bowl of broth on the side.

Chicken Two:
Thais like to eat their Yums, spicy and tangy salads with chili as the most important ingredient. We tried a cold spicy chicken salad with red onions, mint, lime juice and of course chili. The mint was a nice addition to the usual Thai fare.

Coconut and Pumpkin Custard, Sangkaya Fuk Thong

One of our favorite Thai deserts, is easily made and easily addictive. Its a simple custard made of eggs, palm sugar and coconut cream poured into a cleaned out pumpkin, and then steamed over low heat for half an hour. Let cool, slice and serve. You can also use sweet potatoes or squash.

The hollowed out pumpkin.

Before steaming.

The finished product, as sold in many street stalls.

The custard is often served over sticky rice (another Thai desert called Khao Niew Moon).

Red Curry Paste, Nam Phik Gang Phet

Curry pastes are not bought but hand ground in mortar and pestle (can be made in a blender). We used this red curry paste as the base for Red Curry with Grilled Duck.

Mash together:
1 red chili
1 tsp. galangal
1 tbs. lemon grass
1/2 tsp. kaffir lime rind
1 tsp coriander root
5 pepper corns
1 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shallot
10 cloves of garlic.

(The recipe is taken from the Thai Chef International Cooking School)

Kaffir lime, its rind, juice and leaves are widely used in Thai cuisine.

Chopping the chillies. Watch your eyes.

Grinding the ingredients in a stone mortar and pestle.

Tom Kha Gai, Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup

Chicken breast, galangal, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, straw mushrooms, coconut milk, chicken stock, fresh cayenne chillies, fish sauce and lime juice make up this deliciously tasty and aromatic soup. Boil the coconut milk and stock first, then add mushrooms and chicken, and finish with the rest. Serve in a bowl and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Freshly sliced lemon grass.

Straw mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves and bird chillies.

Fish sauce (rosey color) and lime juice (yellow).

The finished product.

Cooking Workshop, Bangkok

Sitting for breakfast one morning at "Cafe the Flow" (real name) we were offered a cooking workshop by the lovely owner. We accepted and spent the afternoon chopping, grinding, steaming and frying a 9 course Thai dinner. We learned basic Thai cooking techniques and some great tips. We also had a lot of fun. Here's a peek at what we cooked up:

Som Tum, Spicy Green Papaya Salad. Mashing together all the ingredients with a wooden mortar and pestle.

Frying Spring Rolls, Por Pah Thod, We made everything (including the wrappers) from scratch.

Our finished steamed Chicken Curry Cakes, usually made in banana leaf cups.

Believe it or not, tiny eggplants used in Red Curry with Grilled Duck, Gang Phed Ped Yang.

Crispy Coconut and Other Stuff

Miang Khum:
This one is a very interesting and fun snack we tried at one of restaurants around the block. Bits of diced lime, red onion, fresh ginger, chillies, tiny dried shrimp and roasted peanuts are all arranged around a pile of roasted coconut flakes. A little bit of each is placed in a green mustard leaf and drenched in the accompanied sweet fish syrup. Enjoy.

You can also find this snack on the street, prepackaged for your convenience. Each ingredient is wrapped separately.

Things to Do With Coconut

Crispy Pancakes with Fillings, Khanom Buang, are incredible! We found them on the sidewalk near our hotel. The vendor spread the batter on a flat griddle, added coconut cream and topped the pancakes with shredded coconut and egg yolk strips. A savory alternative is a topping of shredded coconut, dried fish flakes and chopped green onion. They are both out of this world!

These are called Shredded Coconut Puddings, Khanom Paeng Jee. A batter of glutinous rice flour, palm sugar and shredded coconut. The pudding is spooned on a pan and baked for a few minutes until browned. They come in a variety of sizes.

Going Bananas!

Bananas are everywhere in Bangkok. They come in different shapes and sizes and are prepared in many ways. Even their leaves are widely used in Thai cooking as plates and wrapping.

Grilled Banana, Kluay Ping, is a simple banana grilled over a charcoal oven. Depending on the type, these can come peeled or unpeeled.

The perfect way to eat it is sliced with dribbled delicious coconut syrup on top! Yum.

Some vendors prefer to flatten the bananas after they are grilled, drizzle some syrup and keep them warm only to be served later on a stick.

The winning variation is none other than Banana Roti (Loti). A ball of dough is thinly stretched and thrown on a hot flat griddle with oil and butter. Fresh banana slices are added and the dough is folded and browned on both sides. A topping of sweetened condensed milk is a must!

Street Fruit

One of our favorite things about Thailand is the abundance of fruit: whole, freshly cut before your eyes and blended into a smoothie, it is found on every street corner in all these forms.

This fruit salad was our first encounter. It is made from cubed mango, apple, banana, kiwi, dragon fruit, papaya and pineapple, topped with muesli and yogurt.

Fruit vendors will cut your choice of fruit on the spot and place it in a plastic bag with a toothpick for you to take away on your stroll.

Pineapple, watermelon, mango and guava. If it's in season, they'll have it!


Rambutan - red hairy fruit

Coconut milk in fresh young coconut.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Duck de Chine, Beijing

Duck de Chine. Our complements to the chef at this fabulous upscale Beijing duck establishment. Everything was perfect from top to bottom. We entered without reservations and were politely ushered to the bar to wait over drinks. When our table was ready we were escorted by a waitress with a headset (very efficient) to the dining area which was nicely designed in intimate bourdeau colors.

The Beijing Roasted Duck was perfect. Carved in front of our table it was lean, crisp and delicious. Beijing duck is served with an accompaniment of cucumbers, spring onions and plum sauce. These ingredients are rolled inside the thin steamed flour pancakes and eaten.

The restaurant serves its plum sauce with a swirl of sesame sauce, peanut sauce and ground peanuts, which enriches the whole experience.

We also ordered a side dish of green herb salad with cashews and candied walnuts which we liked very much.

Duck de Chine. Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District.