An Evening in Thailand

Our Thai feast was a hit and here are the recipes.
I got a lot of the Asian ingredients at the Oriental Store on International Speedway, just west of Beach Street.


Keep in mind the following:
Thai food requires a balance between sweet and sour, salty, and hot.
Fish sauce is used for salt, as well as soy sauce (the Thai variety is very sweet and not so salty)
Soy sauce is used for salt and sweet
Tamarind is used for sour
Lime juice is used for sour
Brown sugar is used for sweet
Red chilies and cayenne are used for heat
Coconut milk is used to cut heat
Shrimp paste is used for salt and umami (depth of flavor)
Lemon grass adds a distinctive far-east flair

With this information up your sleeve you can adjust your Thai flavors to your liking.

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Appetizers


Thai Summer Rolls

Ingredients:

1 package of 6 or 8 inch rice paper
¼ package rice noodles – whatever thickness you desire
1 package firm tofu
Cooking oil
6-8 green onions trimmed and cut into 3 or 4 inch slivers
1 or 2 carrots cut into thin 3 or 4 inch slivers
Baby lettuce leaves – or spinach – or arugula
Soy sauce

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add a little salt. Put the rice noodles into the boiling water and turn off the burner. Let them sit in the hot water until they are cooked but not mushy. Pour through a colander and reserve.

Drain the tofu and press it gently with paper towels to absorb the excess moisture. Cut the tofu in slices and then the slices in sticks. Make the tofu sticks thick enough so they don’t crumble and break right away. Though you’ll have a little breakage. Put the tofu sticks in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with soy sauce to marinate.

Heat about 1 inch of oil in a frying pan – cast iron is your friend. When the oil ripples, add tofu sticks – one at a time – to the hot oil. Fry for about 3-4 minutes before gently turning and fry some more on another side until nice and brown. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the rest of the tofu until it’s all fried.

To assemble the summer rolls have all your ingredients lined up: green onions, carrot slivers, little lettuce leaves, cooked noodles, tofu.

Place a shallow bowl full of hot water at your work station. Soften the rice paper one sheet at a time in the hot water. Take the softened rice paper and place on your work surface. Place one or two lettuce leaves, right side down, onto the paper about one third toward the middle. Add a few strands of noodles. (If the noodles are too sticky, add a bit of warm water and toss them around so they become pliable.) Add a tofu stick, onion and carrot.

Take the shorter side of the wet rice paper and fold it over the ingredients lengthwise. Tuck everything in firmly while rolling a little. Now fold in the sides and then continue rolling the paper until you have a nifty little package. Place on a clean plate and proceed with the next one. Rice paper is a bit stretchy and very forgiving, so this is not hard to do.

I just keep on rolling until the tofu runs out – or until I get bored.

Store the rolls with some space between them and stack them between layers of plastic wrap. They set up nicely after about 2 hours and can be made a day ahead of time.

Serve with Thai peanut sauce (see below) and/or Thai sweet chili sauce.

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Fish Cakes



Fish Cakes
Makes about 20 small fish patties

Ingredients:

2 lb. white-fleshed fish fillets
8 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips with scissors
6 Tbsp. coconut milk
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. shrimp paste
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. brown sugar
6 green onions, sliced
2 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
5 cloves garlic
2 red chili, sliced
1 cucumber (to accompany cakes)
Oil for high temperature frying

To SERVE: Thai sweet chili sauce, lime wedges, handful fresh coriander

Rinse fish and pat thoroughly dry (if using frozen, the fish will be more moist so be sure to dry it as well as you can). Cut into chunks and place in food processor or large food chopped.

In a cup, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and brown sugar. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour into the processor over the fish.

Add remaining ingredients (kaffir lime leaf strips, green onion, galangal/ginger, garlic, and chili). Pulse to create a thick fish paste. Chill the paste in a bowl for about an hour

To form patties, wet your hands with cold water. Start with about a heaping tablespoon size of fish paste and pat the paste into a small cake. Set on a clean plate. Note that traditional Thai fish cakes are small (about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch thick) and not too thick. Put plastic wrap over the first layer of cakes so they don’t all stick together.

Tips: If your paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often with cool water to prevent paste from sticking.

Set plate of cakes in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare your pan for frying as well as your garnishes. Cut the cucumber length-wise into long strips, then dice up into small cubes and set aside. Pour oil into a small frying pan or wok (at least 1 inch deep).

Heat oil. When hot enough (a bread crumb should sizzle and cook immediately when dropped in), gently place cakes in oil. Allow to fry 1 minute before turning, gently lifting cakes from the bottom of the pan (they may stick a little). Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towels.

Serve fish cakes immediately with the chopped cucumber and Thai sweet chili sauce drizzled over. Top with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice just before eating.

Make Ahead Tip: You can make the fish paste up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and set in the refrigerator, then form into cakes and fry.

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Chicken Satay


Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 12 to 15 satays

Ingredients:

2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-size pieces or strips
1 package wooden satay sticks

MARINADE:
2 Tbsp. minced fresh lemongrass,
4-5 cloves garlic
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 fresh red chili, minced
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Preparation:

Place all 'Marinade' ingredients in a food processor or chopper, and process well to create a richly-flavored Thai marinade-paste. Pour over prepared chicken and stir well. Set in the refrigerator to marinate 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours, covered). While chicken is marinating, place 12 to 15 satay sticks in your sink and cover with water to prevent burning.

Skewer marinated chicken onto satay sticks. Place meat near the sharp end of the stick, and not too much per stick so the cook has a 'handle' for turning. Keep as much marinade on the meat as you can, and save any that remains.

To Grill: Place satays over a hot grill. Baste with leftover marinade after turning them the first time. Cook until meat is nicely browned with charred edges, and is opaque inside (about 15 minutes).

Serve with Satay Peanut Sauce for dipping.

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Peanut Sauce



This makes a lot – you can cut the recipe in half. Or you can just make a lot and eat it on all sorts of things for a week.

Ingredients:

2 cup fresh-tasting dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
2/3 cup water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, to taste
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
4 tsp. tamarind paste – thinned with water
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. cayenne pepper,
1 cup coconut milk

Preparation:

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.

Do a taste test, adding more fish sauce (or soy sauce) if not salty enough, or more cayenne if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you'd prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar.
Serve warm or at room temperature with Thai Chicken Satay.

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Coconut Lime Shrimp



50 medium shrimp shells removed (tails can be left on)
Freshly ground black pepper
Wooden satay sticks

COCONUT-LIME SAUCE:

1 cup coconut milk
Juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup chopped fresh coriander, leaves & stems
4 spring (green) onions, sliced and finely chopped
1 fresh red chili or more, minced
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, to taste
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste, OR 1/2 extra Tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. lime zest

Preparation:

Combine all the Coconut-Lime Sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Taste-test for a balance of sweet, sour, spicy and salty. Adjust to your liking, adding more sugar if you find it too sour, more chili for more spice, or more fish sauce for more salt. If too salty, add another squeeze lime juice.

Set prepared shrimp in a bowl and pour 1/3 to 1/2 of this sauce over, depending how many shrimp you are cooking. Gently turn shrimp in the sauce and set aside to marinate 10 minutes. Reserve remaining sauce for serving.

Skewer them onto satay sticks (soak wooden ones before using), 3 shrimp per stick. Brush your grill first with a little vegetable oil, then set marinated shrimp on grill. Season with freshly-ground black pepper, and baste with a little of the leftover marinade the first time you turn them. Cook until pink and curled – about 1-2 minutes on each side.

Briefly heat up remaining coconut-lime sauce (don't boil or you will lose the fresh flavor of the herbs/coconut milk). Serve shrimp with the sauce on the side.

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Entrees


Cucumber Salad



Ingredients:

3 English cucumbers, peeled and seeded

½ cup minced purple onion
4 green (spring) onions, finely sliced
3 fresh red chilis, de-seeded and minced fine
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup ground or roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts

DRESSING:
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. shrimp paste
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
2 tsp. sugar

Preparation:

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and cut each half lengthwise into about 4 long strips. Now slice the other way to create bite-size rectangular chunks. Place in a salad bowl.
Add the onion, green onion, chili/red pepper, and coriander to the salad bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients together in a cup, stirring to dissolve the shrimp paste. Taste-test it for sweet-sour balance, adding more sugar if it's too sour for your taste. Tip: Note that the dressing will taste quite salty and pungent now, but will be perfect once combined with the salad.

Pour dressing over the salad and toss well.

To serve, scoop or slide salad onto a serving platter or place in a serving bowl. Top with the ground/chopped peanuts, plus extra coriander. If desired, garnish with a slice of lime. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.

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Chicken Pad Thai



18 oz. Pad Thai rice noodles
2 lbs. Boneless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces or strips
3 Tbsp. soy sauce*
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 fresh red or green chili, sliced
2 thumb-size piece ginger, grated
8 green onions, sliced
3 eggs
4 cups bean sprouts
2/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews, ground or roughly chopped with a knife
2 fresh lime, sliced into wedges
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil

PAD THAI SAUCE:
1 cup good-tasting chicken stock
6 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
5-6 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Preparation:

Place prepared chicken in a bowl and toss with 3 Tbsp. soy sauce. Set aside.
Combine 'pad Thai sauce' ingredients together in a cup, stirring well to dissolve sugar. Note that this sauce needs to taste sweet first, followed by sour and then salty to create good pad Thai. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dunk in rice noodles and switch off heat. Allow noodles to soak approximately 6 minutes, OR until soft enough to bend easily, but still firm and 'undercooked' by regular standards (this is the key to good pad Thai, so be sure not to over-soak or boil the noodles. They will finish cooking later). Drain and rinse noodles briefly with cold water to keep from sticking. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and swirl around, then add the garlic, chili, galangal/ginger, and half of green onion (or just the white parts), reserving green parts for later. Stir-fry 1 minute to release the fragrance.
Add chicken and stir-fry 3-4 minutes, or until cooked. If pan becomes dry, add 1-2 Tbsp. of the pad Thai sauce, just enough to keep ingredients frying nicely.

Push ingredients aside and crack egg into center of pan. Stir quickly to scramble, then combine with other ingredients.

Add prepared noodles plus 6-8 Tbsp. of the pad Thai sauce. Using two utensils (or tongs) lift and turn noodles to stir-fry and combine with other ingredients. Continue frying in this way, adding more of the sauce every minute or two, until all sauce has been added and the noodles are chewy-delicious and a little bit sticky (8-10 minutes). When sauce has been absorbed and noodles are cooked, fold in the bean sprouts (you want them to stay crispy).

Remove from heat and taste-test, adding more fish sauce until desired taste is achieved (I usually end up adding 1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce, but I like mine on the salty side). Portion out onto individual plates and add a lime wedge on the side.

Before eating, top with remaining green onion and squeeze over the lime wedge, then finish with a generous sprinkling of chopped/ground nuts. For those whole like it extra spicy, serve with Thai chili sauce on the side, and ENJOY!

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Beef Massaman

Serves about 8 people. Cut recipe in half for a lesser amount.

2 pound beef cut into ½ “cubes
4 medium potatoes cut into chunks
2 14 ounce cans coconut milk
2 small red peppers, thinly sliced into short strips
3 medium tomato, seeded and sliced
4Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced in half moons
2 thumb-piece ginger, grated
10 cloves garlic smashed
3 red chili, sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 stalks lemongrass, minced
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews (+ handful more to finish)
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. whole cumin seed
1 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. cardamom
2 tsp. tamarind, or substitute 2 Tbsp. lime juice*
1 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste 4 Tbsp. fish sauce
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Preparation:

Heat a wok, large frying pan, or soup-type pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and swirl around, then add the onion, ginger, garlic, and chili. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes to release the fragrance.
Add the stock plus the following: lemongrass, bay leaves, turmeric, chopped cashews, ground coriander, whole cumin seed, white pepper, cardamom, tamarind (or lime juice), shrimp paste, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir with each addition and bring to a light boil.

Add the beef, stirring to coat with the spicy liquid, then add the coconut milk and potatoes. Stir and bring back up to a boil. Reduce heat to low, or just until you get a good simmer.
Cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken and potatoes are tender. Add red pepper and tomato during last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.

Taste-test the curry, adding more fish sauce for increased flavor/saltiness, or more chili if you want it spicier. If too sour, add a little more sugar. If too salty or sweet for your taste, add a touch more tamarind or lime juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk.

Add a handful more cashews and fold in. Transfer to a serving bowl or plate up on individual plates or bowls. Top with fresh coriander, if desired, and serve with Thai jasmine rice. ENJOY!

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Dessert



Sticky Rice with Mango



Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

3 cups Thai Sweet Rice (also called 'sticky rice' OR 'glutinous rice', available at Asian food stores
3 ripe mangos, cut into bite-size pieces (for more on mangos, see below)
10 Tbsp. palm sugar OR brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 can good-quality (thick) coconut milk
Water (for boiling or steaming the rice)

Preparation:

Soak the rice in 3 cups water for 20-30 minutes, OR up to 4 hours.
Do not drain the rice. Simply add 3/4 cup (more) water, plus 1/4 can coconut milk, 1tsp. salt, and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Stir this into the rice.

Bring to a gentle boil, and then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Reduce heat to medium-low.

Simmer in this way for 20 minutes, or until the coconut-water has been absorbed by the rice. Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner with the lid on tight. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.

To make the sauce, warm (do not boil) the rest of the can of coconut milk over medium-low heat (5 minutes). Add 3 Tbsp. sugar, stirring to dissolve.
Taste-test the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. (Note that it will taste less sweet when added to the rice).

To assemble, place a mound of sticky rice in each serving bowl. Top with slices of the mango, and then pour sauce over. It should look like an English pudding with custard sauce, with the mound of rice swimming in sauce.







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