Friday Five: Twitter Thai Dishes

I never used to be a big Twitter follower, but ever since I started my blog and decided to create a Twitter account to go along with it, I’m obsessed.

The obsession isn’t necessarily with posting … I actually don’t post all that often. But I read. Oh how I read! I’m following 366 different people – a good mix of everything. I have a few family and friends, some companies and organizations I’m fond of, and a large group of food enthusiasts.  I follow a number of the Food Network chefs, some restaurant owners, and a bunch of foodies, bloggers, and amateur/professional creative food geniuses.

I fell away from Twitter for awhile when I was making my transition back to the United States from Thailand, but now that things are settled and my blog is back up and running, I find myself on the site all the time. And the best part about it? The recipes!

I am constantly clicking links from my “friends” to images and recipes of amazing food dishes – anything from apple turnover cupcakes to bacon wrapped scallops and “the best burger you’ve ever tasted”. More importantly though, there is also a long list of Thai recipes that have come my way through Twitter feeds. I love it.

So, today’s Friday Five is a list of five awesome recipes I have come across via Twitter. I haven’t tried any of them. I can’t vouch for their authenticity, deliciousness, or ease to prepare. All I can say is that the recipe sounds awesome or the picture looks amazing … or in most of these cases, both!

These are in no particular order. Without actually trying them, I didn’t feel good about ranking them 🙂

Click on any of the images to be redirected to the poster’s website for the recipe, more pictures, etc.

Enjoy!

1) Vegetables in Red Curry and Coconut Milk – posted by @Mango_Queen

This one is a favorite simply because I’m obsessed with curry! The ingredients in this look awesome – some I cook with often and others I have tended to steer away from in my Thai cooking, but now I want to experiment with (potatoes, etc). I’ll be trying this recipe soon. Click the picture to hit up the recipe.

2) Tom Yum Gai – Sour and Spicy Chicken Soup – posted by @templeofthai

This made my top five for a few reasons. First and foremost, I love the website. They have tons of amazing recipes, great pictures, and lots of useful tips. Second, I love this soup. I usually make it with shrimp, but the chicken version looks fantastic too. And third, the recipe looks fairly easy to follow. Maybe it’s just because I’ve made the soup many times before, but I feel like it’s something the majority of people could try with great success.

3) Thai Fried Garlic Pork On The Bone – posted by @BKKFatty

Oh. My. Goodness. This recipe looks incredible. I’ll say right off the bat that this one might be a little out of my skill range to actually make, but I can almost taste it just looking at the picture! This type of meat – barbecued pork, beef, chicken, anything really – is one of my favorite street foods in Thailand and to find a recipe that I might be able to try at home is awesome.  My mouth is watering just looking at it!

4) Yellow Curry Paste – posted by @templeofthai

And here they go again! Temple of Thai brings another fantastic recipe I want to try. As I said above, I am all about the curries … and, I’m all about the curry pastes. I enjoy store bought paste from time to time when I don’t have time to throw together my own, but I much prefer to prepare my own ingredients and pound down the paste in my mortar and pestle. I’m not sure if it’s an aggression thing or what, but it’s kinda soothing! So, any great “from scratch” curry paste recipe I can find is a winner. And, this is the best yellow curry paste recipe I have found. I already have pretty great options for red, Panang, and green, but I was looking to round it out with something like this. Happy girl.

5) Thai Shrimp Cakes with Sweet Chili Sauce – posted by @shesimmers

Yes please! First of all, @shesimmers is my idol. She has an incredible Thai food blog that I have used numerous times for tips and techniques and I’ve tried a number of her recipes as well. I love when I find something awesome on her site, and am super thrilled to share this one with you. I’m a lover of fish cakes, and this recipe for shrimp cakes looks divine! The image is from the recipe posted on SeriousEats, but you can find a ton of other awesome recipes on her website SheSimmers.com.

Friday Five: Ingredients

Friday Five: Thai Cooking Ingredients

So, here we go with the Friday Five! This week, the focus is on Thai cooking ingredients. The list isn’t necessarily of ingredients unique to Thailand (though a few are) as it also just includes popular ingredients or ones that I think make Thai food awesome! This list is solely my own opinions – you’re not going to find this as a formal list anywhere else! And the information doesn’t come from any encyclopedia or reference. It’s simply what I have learned through my travels in Thailand and my journey learning to cook Thai food.

Sorry I was unable to take pictures of the ingredients for you; time just didn’t permit! I’ve included links for you to check them out, but I promise to change it out as soon as I can get a few pics of my own! Bad blogger, I know.

#1 Galangal

I absolutely love this ingredient (and btw, this links to a great blog to check out too)! Also known as khaa in Thai, this ingredient looks very similar to ginger. I’ll admit, the first time I attempted to cook with it, I accidentally purchased the ginger instead (they put them right next to each other!). It’s didn’t make for the best meal.

Galangal has a peppery flavor and is far bitterer (that’s a weird word) to me than ginger. However, it is delicious to cook with! In Thai cuisine, galangal is used as a seasoning in things like soup, chili paste, and some meat and seafood dishes.

It is available fresh from Asian markets, but also comes in dried and powdered forms. I much prefer the fresh, but the others are useful as well if you don’t have fresh available. Dried galangal needs to be soaked in water before use.

#2 Thai Chilies

Talk about spicy! Thai chilies, also known as Bird’s eye chilies, are used in pretty much every dish in Thailand. Thai people love their food spicy and this is the primary way that they find that heat. Rightfully so! The Thai chili is one of the hottest chilies in the world!

To give you a little perspective: The jalapeno has a Scoville heat rating of 4,000. The Thai chili? Bump that rating up to between 80,000 and 100,000! Yikes!

Not only are these chilies spicy, but they also have a unique flavor and are used in all types of Thai cooking. You’ll find them in anything from curries and meat dishes to soups, Pad Thai, and side dipping sauces.

These chilies are available at almost all Asian markets (at least around here in the Pacific Northwest) and are very inexpensive. Eat up!

#3 Coconut

Thought not specific to Thailand, coconut (in its many forms) is a key ingredient in many Thai recipes. Seeing as though Thailand is a tropical country, coconuts are readily available to Thai people and they use them freely in their cuisine.

The most common part of the coconut that is used is the milk and cream. These parts of the coconut are used most often in curries and soups as well as in desserts. My favorite two Thai dishes happen to have coconut milk – Green Curry and Mangoes with Sticky rice … in case you were wondering the keys to my heart!

Thai people also use the coconut meat in deserts and sometimes in entrée dishes. If you ever get over to Thailand, definitely try out some of their many Thai desserts, especially the ones with this awesome ingredients! To whet your appetite, here’s a little Google search I did. Enjoy!

#4 Lemongrass

This is another one of my favorite ingredients in Thai cooking! A stalky plant, this lemon scented plant is readily available all over Southeast-Asia. Obvious by the name, this plant brings a lemon flavor and incredible aroma to whatever dish it is added to. It’s a lighter flavor so it is most often added to soups and salads, and also curries.

This ingredient is available in some general markets (I’ve purchased it from QFC and other grocery stores) but it’s super expensive. You’ll find much better prices at an Asian market, though not all of them carry fresh stalks. If you can’t find fresh, there is an option to go with powdered though it isn’t nearly as tasty! It is an easy substitute in curry pastes, but when it comes to soups and salad dressings, the extra time or effort to find fresh will be greatly rewarded!

#5 Basil

There are two different types of basil that are used in Thai cooking – bai horapa (Thai Sweet Basil) and bai gkaprow (Holy Basil). Both types of basil are used freely in Thai cuisine, but for two very different flavors.

Thai Sweet Basil is used more commonly in Thai cuisine. It is added into any type of dish – curries, meat, poultry, vegetable, etc. It is also eaten on its own with dipping sauces such as nahm prik.

Holy Basil, used less often, provides a completely different flavor. It is usually added to stir fry dishes and brings a spicy, almost peppery, basil flavor. The most popular dish using this ingredient is pad gkaprow gai (or moo), a stir fried dish with chicken (or pork) with holy basil and vegetables. This is one of my absolutely favorite dishes and one I have made often! Check out the recipe here!

Honorable Mention: Rice!

Okay, okay, I know these are supposed to be the Friday FIVE, but I make the rules and today I’m adding in an honorable mention. Obviously, that mention goes to rice. As is common in Asian cultures, rice is the foundation of any meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – it doesn’t really matter. A meal is not complete without a bowl of rice.

One of the reasons for this is because rice has always been a common crop and thus it became the popular compliment to meals. When I was living in Thailand, my family made the parallel that rice is like bread/carbs to Americans. We always want a roll or bread with our meals. It’s the same way with rice for Thai people!

If you want to read about the day a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer attempted to revolt against the rice, click here. It’s pretty hilarious, but absolutely accurate!

Now, if you want to take all of these elements today and make a really fantastic dish, I recommend the Tom Ka Gai soup – a coconut based chicken soup with chilies, galangal, basil, and lemongrass. We’ll leave the rice out of this one – but if you’re feeling Thai, you can definitely have a bowl of it on the side.

Happy Eating!

Review: Thai Street Food Challenge

I love Thai food.

I recognize this is a painfully obvious statement coming from someone with a Thai cooking blog who spent nine months in Thailand, and an inumerable number of hours in front of a wok trying to perfect recipes. I have to love something a great deal to put in that much effort, right?

So I get that you already know I love Thai food, but before you read this review, I need you to fully understand the extent of my love for Thai cooking and Thai food. I need you to truly comprehend how deeply that love runs within my veins. It’s not just a love; it’s a passion. One could say it’s almost an obsession.

For me, it isn’t just a plate of food. It’s an experience. I have come to appreciate the ingredients, the spices, the different methods of cooking, the smells, the subtle and not so subtle tastes, the culture, the history, and the emotion of the food.

Through the definition of that love, I have come to love one thing above all else … Thai street food. It isn’t just that Thai street food tastes amazing, but the vendors themselves put me in a constant state of awe. Their resources are sparce, their set up a bit archaic. But the food that comes out of their well seasoned woks is delicious each and every time.

I can honestly tell you that one of my favorite things in the world is eating at a Thai street food cart. There is always a new cart to try, always a new dish to consume. It’s one of the things I miss the most about Thailand.

And, that is why I absolutely love the blog EnjoyThaiFood.com. The blogger’s name is Richard Barrow and he is a full time independent food blogger based out of Thailand (my dream job, by the way). I enjoy his blog for an insane number of reasons, but the main one is his Thai Street Food Challenge.

Completed back in 2010, this challenge was to do the following:

Eat Thai street food … and only street food.

His goal was to eat street food three times a day, every day, for an entire month (31 days). Every meal had to be different. He could not visit the same cart within the same week. The cart had to be a true street vendor – cart, stall, or shop. It could not be a restaurant.

That’s it. That’s the goal.

And he did it.

On his blog, he posts a picture of every single meal. He includes the name of the meal (in both English and Thai) and provides a brief description. He also lists how much the dish costs and posts a running total for the day. Let’s just say, I miss how inexpensive Thai food is in Thailand!

The first time I ran through the pages of this challenge and oggled over the scrumptious pictures, I think I actually drooled a few times. On my second run through, I jotted down a few of the dishes that I wanted to try at home. The third time? I decided to do my own mini version of this challenge when I return to Thailand for a visit in December.

If you are a lover of Thai food, or any good food for that matter, definitely check out EnjoyThaiFood.com. While the challenge takes the cake for me, the rest of the blog is pretty fantastic as well. He also started a second round of the challenge last month and there are some new and equally as appetizing pictures posted.

If I had to rate this blog, I’d definitely give it a full five stars. Love it.

Restaurant Review: Iyara Thai

Looking for an awesome Thai restaurant to try? Live in the Seattle/Eastside area? If so, then Iyara Thai is the place to go. Read on to get my full review.

Overview

After living in Thailand for nine months and experiencing authentic Thai cuisine on a daily basis, I never thought that I would find a restaurant in Seattle that could satisfy my Thai food needs (yes, they are needs … some things you just can’t do without!). I’ve eaten at numerous Thai restaurants in my area and while a few have come close to meeting my expectations, the majority have fallen short … until now!

Iyara Thai absolutely hits the mark when it comes to authentic and tasty Thai cuisine. The restaurant markets itself as the place to go for Thai street food and one look at their menu clearly shows you why. Iyara Thai serves common dishes like Pad Thai and a wonderful variety of curries, but they also serve unique street foods like moo ping (sweet pork skewers), som tum (green papaya salad), and khao soi (curry noodle soup from Northern Thailand). These are delicious plates commonly found on every street corner in Thailand, yet are rarely found on Thai menus here in the states. I was thrilled to find a restaurant that served some of these less common favorites!

Here is a rundown of my ratings:

Decor ♥
Cleanliness ♥
Staff ♥
Price ♥
Taste ♥
Timeliness ♥

The restaurant is clean and nicely decorated, the staff is friendly and helpful, and the prices are very reasonable. Most importantly, the food is delicious and comes in traditional Thai portions (enough to take home for later!). As someone with very high standards for a good Thai restaurant, Iyara Thai receives a near perfect score in my book.

This restaurant only receives one and that comes in the form of timeliness. When we arrived at the restaurant at noon, the posted opening time for the restaurant, the doors were not yet unlocked. In true Thai fashion, we waited another ten minutes or so before they were ready to open the doors and seat us at a table. For a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who is used to the laid back attitude of Thai culture (which often leads to lateness) this isn’t necessarily something that bothers me; however, for people on an hour lunch break wanting to grab a quick bite, I can see this being pretty frustrating. In my opinion though, it’s well worth the wait.

All in all, Iyara Thai has climbed to the very top of my list as the best Thai food restaurant in the area.

The Food

Here is a little preview of some of the dishes served at Iyara Thai. I will add to this list after future trips to the restaurant, which will absolutely happen sometime soon!

Grilled Beef

Served as an appetizer, this dish is a marinaded beef cooked on the grilled and served thinly sliced. The beef is accompanied by a garlic ginger dipping sauce. The beef was very tender and had a great flavor. The dipping sauce was high on flavor and definitely enhanced the taste of the beef. I really enjoyed this dish; however, the dipping sauce was obviously refrigerated so it was in stark contrast to the temperature of the meat. I would have liked a dipping sauce that was less chilled, but that’s just personal opinion!

Grilled Beef

Som Tum (green papaya salad) This salad is made to order in a traditional mortar and pestle. Shredded green papaya is the base of this salad that also includes sliced tomatoes, long beans, peanuts, and a garlic-lime dressing made with palm sugar and fish oil. I highly recommend this dish. I ordered this dish with two stars and it was just right on the spice level (I love spice but like this salad with slightly less so I can focus on refreshing taste of the other ingredients). The sauce is a mix between salty and sweet and the veggies were fresh and crispy. This is the best som tum I have had since arriving back in the states. My only change would be to add more peanuts.

Som Tum

Pad See Ew (beef, vegetables, and flat noodles)  I didn’t actually try this dish so this review comes from the friend who accompanied me. According to her, this was the most authentic version of pad see ew she has had since returning to the states. The vegetables were sliced thinly in the traditional style and the noodles were well cooked. She ordered three stars and it didn’t meat her desired spice level; however, the waitress was extremely attentive and quickly brought her the accompanying mix of table ingredients. This made the experience far more “Thai” and gave my friend the perfect amount of spice. She’s not usually one to take leftovers home, but she was eager to package this one up!

Pad See Ew

Ka Praao Gai Kai Daao (chicken with holy basil and a fried egg)

This dish was at a disadvantage from the start seeing as though it was one of my favorite dishes in Thailand and is one that I have attempted to cook many many times at home. Luckily, this version was probably the best version of ka praao gai kai daao that I have had (both in a restaurant and at home) since arriving back in Seattle. In authentic style, the chicken was ground rather than sliced and the Thai chilies were red rather than green. There was a different variety of veggies than in Thailand, but it was pretty close to traditional – only onions and green beans. The best part of this dish was the kao daao (fried egg). Fried in a wok full of hot oil, this egg was crispy with a gooey yolk center – absolutely perfect! All in all, this was a great version of this dish and I will definitely be eating it again.

Ka Praao Gai Kai Daao

Khao Soi (Northern Thai Curry Noodles) ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This dish was one I brought home to my boyfriend. This is a dish he had a couple of times in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and absolutely loved. This is the first time he had this dish since his visit to Thailand and he loved it. He said that he liked the flavors in the curry better than in Thailand, but that the noodles were not as good. The noodles in Thailand were baa-meenoodles, a much thicker variety than the egg noodles used here. However, he said that the chicken was juicy, the flavors were complex and savory, and the overall taste of the dish was fantastic. He would absolutely eat it again.

Khao Soi

Let’s Cook: Khao Tom Moo (Rice Porridge)

The weather these last few days have convinced me that we are officially out of summer, into autumn, and very quickly on our way to winter. I love this time of year because the scarves and gloves come out and so do the “warm you up” recipes — my favorite! Nothing beats a big bowl of chili, soup, or stew to warm your bones on a cold rainy day.

This recipe is no exception!

Cory and I absolutely love khao tom moo (rice porridge soup). It is the easiest of recipes (which means you can’t mess it up!) but the flavor is divine and on a scale of 1-10 on the “warm you up” scale, it’s definitely a 10! Another added bonus? It’s super inexpensive with only a few simple ingredients going a long way. The base is really just chicken broth, pork and rice with an optional egg. It’s the garnishes that truly make this dish though. My favorite combination is a sprinkle of fried garlic, a handful of cilantro, red pepper flakes, and a dash of white pepper. The flavor combo is fantastic!

My favorite part about this recipe though is that it tastes even better as left overs. The longer this soup sits (whether on the stove or in your fridge) the more the rice breaks down and creates that yummy porridge consistency. You can start with a nice rice soup for dinner (more of a broth base with pork and rice) and end with a creaming porridge for breakfast. So delicious.

You cannot go wrong with this recipe — give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Khao Tom Moo - Rice Porridge

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

Khao Tom Moo
Khao Tom Moo

  • 1.5 TBSP vegetable oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic, about 3 cloves
  • 1/4 C ground chicken or pork
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 C chicken broth
  • 1 C steamed jasmine rice
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP coarsely chopped cilantro
  • A dash of white pepper powder

Method:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a medium size pot on medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic, stirring constantly until garlic is yellow. Do not burn. Then, remove half the portion and set aside for garnish.
  3. Stir meat into remaining oil and garlic and cook until no longer pink.
  4. Add salt and soy sauce and mix well so the meat absorbs some of the soy cause.
  5. Pour in chicken broth and jasmine rice and let it cook on medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Longer cooking will result in a more porridge-like consistency.

Note: At this point, you can remove from the heat and garnish with fried garlic, ginger, green onion, cilantro, and white pepper powder. Or, if you’d like to incorporate the egg, follow the rest of these directions.

  1. On high heat, crack the egg open and drop it in the center of the rice soup. *High heat is important for egg to cook properly.*
  2. Stir the egg into the soup or let it poach.
  3. Once cooked (30 seconds to one minute) remove from heat and garnish.

Updates for my Followers

To all my loyal followers,

I know it has been awhile since my last post … and by “awhile” I mean about six months, which is absolutely ridiculous and uncalled for. My apologies. My life has gone through a lot of changes in the last six months that has kept me from continuing this blog. However, things are settling down and I’m ready to give you a few updates on where I went, what I’ve been doing, and what’s going to happen withKy Cooks Thai. Are you ready? Here we go.

This blog started when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand. I was living in a small village, becoming a part of the Thai culture, and learning how to cook while I was at it. It was a perfect opportunity to start a blog about Thai cooking. I mean, I had access to an actual Thai market, real Thai ingredients and equipment, and actual Thai community members who could show me the ropes. It was awesome!

Unfortunately, back in September I decided to end my term as a Peace Corps Volunteer and return to the states. The reasons for that don’t really matter. What does matter though, is that it obviously became impossible for me to continue Ky Cooks Thai with the goals and objectives it started with – an American girl in a Thai kitchen. I spent the first month or so that I was home just settling back in and didn’t think twice about the blog. Then, as things began to fall into place back home, I did start thinking about the blog and was completely overwhelmed. What was I going to do with it? How could I continue the whole Thai cooking thing from a normal American kitchen? How could I find a new hook that would keep people interested? I thought and I thought and I thought … and I came up with nothing.

So, the blog has been here … just sitting … waiting for me to figure out how to jump back in.

Well, today marks a very important day as I think I have found a way to get Ky Cooks Thai back up and running. It obviously won’t be the same as when I was in Thailand, but I have some fun new ideas that hopefully will draw in a new crowd of readers.

The fact is that I have a background now in Thai cooking. I know the basics. I know the best ingredients. I know a few interesting techniques. I may be back in the states, but those things are not going anywhere … so, this blog will now have a “Ky Cooks Thai in the States” feel. There are a number of components that I want to include:

1. My cooking experiences in an American kitchen – why stop putting up recipes, tips, and tricks? I’m still cooking, therefore, I can still post about it!

2. Recipes!

3. Ingredient Help – Asian markets in Seattle and around the country are often difficult to find and to maneuver. Certain stores carry certain things. Some stores have a great variety while others don’t. I will dedicate part of this blog to helping those in the Pacific Northwest find the ingredients they need for proper Thai cooking … and hopefully I’ll be able to expand this outside of Seattle at some point 🙂

4. Restaurant reviews – I am constantly looking for great Thai food restaurants whether it be in Seattle or in other places I travel around the states. As someone who has had my fair share of authentic Thai food, I feel the need to share with others what makes the cut and what doesn’t.

5. Anything else I can come up with down the road! I want this blog to be successful so I am open to any suggestions on other Thai cooking related ideas. I want to bring you what you want to read!

So, sit back and enjoy the new and improved Ky Cooks Thai. I’m hopefully that this new direction will be successful and will satisfy my need to share Thai cooking with the world.

Happy Eating!

Kylene

The American Thai Cook

Thai Curries: What’s the Difference?

Back in the states, I frequented Thai restaurants fairly often. It was always a favorite and if I had the opportunity, I would almost always make the trip. I will admit though, my visits to these restaurants were always boring. I always ordered one of the same two dishes over and over again – Panang curry and Pad Thai. I didn’t really mind; I obviously loved both of the dishes. However, the reason for my picky eating habits was not because I didn’t enjoy other Thai cuisine, it’s just that I didn’t know what the heck it was! Specifically, I didn’t understand the Thai curries.

I knew I loved Panang curry, but I would often have the urge to branch out. I was itching to try some of the other curries listed – green, red, yellow – but I had no idea what they were and always was too afraid to try. Thai food is expensive, and what if I didn’t like it?! The list of ingredients didn’t help either. Most were very similar and as a newbie, I had no idea what I would be getting myself into. So, I stuck with my favorite and called it good.

Here in Thailand, I have been given the opportunity to learn about all different kinds of curry and I am so thankful for that. They are all so good for their own reasons, combining some similar ingredients to make distinctly unique flavors. When I head back to the states, I will never make the mistake again of always ordering the same dish. Now I know how many amazing things are on the menu!

For those of you already back in the states, I thought I would give  a quick crash course so the next time you hit up a Thai restaurants, you aren’t as shy about trying something new.

A Long Time Ago

Traditionally, all Thai curries started from the same base and their differences were derived from the types of chilies that were used. Not surprisingly, red curry used red chilies, green curry used green, and yellow curry used yellow. Over the years, each kind of curry began to take on its own style by adding different vegetables, flavors, and spices.

Red Curry

Red curry is traditionally made with up to 20 different types of red chilies and was often extremely hot. The more modern versions have toned down a bit and the majority of pastes these days are made with only a few different types of chilies and some other distinct Thai spices. Red curry is definitely spicy and is made in a coconut milk base. Usually red curry is made with chicken, pork, or beef (rather than seafood) and basic vegetables can be added. This curry is served more as a soup with a plate a rice to go with it.

My Opinion: ♥ ♥ ♥

I have never ordered Red curry. If every other Red curry tastes like the one I made at home today then I am definitely a fan. It is spicier than I am used to but I am getting used to that here in Thailand and actually am starting to enjoy it. I will be ordering more Red curries in the future.

Green Curry

Green Curry is given its name not only because of the use of green chilies but because of the distinct color of the dish. The addition of Kaffir leaves, Thai basil, and Thai eggplant add to the overall “greenness” of the dish. Green curry is often just as hot as Red curry, but has a distinct sweetness to it at well. When cooking, the paste is added to a coconut base and includes a protein, usually beef, chicken, or pork. A few vegetables are added, namely Thai eggplant, and this soup is usually served more soup-like than some of the others.

My Opinion: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I really like Green curry because of the added sweetness to the dish. Even if the curry is spicy, it is rounded out with this added sweet flavor. I am not a huge fan of the eggplant addition to this dish. Sometimes it tastes great, other times not so much. Overall though, this is a pretty consistent dish and I order it fairly regularly.

Yellow Curry

Yellow curry is known to be richer and creamer than some of the other Thai curries because of the addition of both coconut milk and coconut cream. Additionally, Yellow curry is often defined by an added ingredient like palm sugar or tamarind that add a special sweetness to the dish. Both the added sweetness and the coconut cream make this dish far less spicy than some of the others. Yellow curry is made with all kinds of protein from beef and chicken to fish and shrimp.

My Opinion: ??

I have never had Yellow curry! I always seem to go for the curries that I know I love. I need to branch out a little more I guess.

Panang Curry

Panang curry isn’t actually from Thailand. It originated in Malaysia hence being named after a state in the northern region of that country. The basic curry paste of Panang curry starts with all of the same ingredients as Red curry; however, it takes on its own unique flair with the addition of crushed roasted peanuts. Often, Panang curry is made with fewer chilies as well to create a more savory palate as opposed to spicy. When cooking, Panang curry is made with a coconut milk base, a protein (usually poultry), and simple vegetables. Sometimes the vegetables are omitted and the protein stands alone.

My Opinion: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I am a huge fan of Panang curry, mostly because I do not like crazy spicy food. I have never received a dish of Panang curry that was too hot for me to eat nor have I received a plate that I just haven’t liked. I have received a range of styles from very thick with no vegetables, to very soup like with many vegetables. I love them all!

Massaman Curry

Unlike the other Thai curries, this curry stems from the south of Thailand and the Muslim community. Massaman curry is by far the most different of all the curries. Usually made with beef, this dish also includes coconut milk, roasted peanuts, and potatoes. Rather than being spicy, this dish is almost always known for its savory and sweet flavors created by the addition of tamarind sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and palm sugar.

My Opinion: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you are a stew enthusiast then you would love this dish. The combination of beef, potatoes, and a hint of sweetness make this dish incredible. I absolutely love it. I could eat it for days. Definitely give it a shot next time you are at a Thai restaurant!

Let’s Cook: Gaeng Saparot Gai (Chicken Pineapple Curry)

My favorite genre of Thai food is curry. My favorite fruit is pineapple. Needless to say putting the two together makes for an awesome dish!

I decided that the first curry I wanted to cook would be something a little bit different. I cooked up some green curry in Chiang Mai and watched as my best friend cooked up some Panang. We also received a recipe for a basic Red Curry, which looks great. However, this whole experience is about trying new things so I decided to find a different recipe all together and give it a go. That’s where this pineapple curry came in.

I had a great time making this dish, though I will definitely do it differently next time. First and foremost, I purchased a pre-made red curry paste rather than making my own. Cash is a little tight right now being a volunteer and all and it was much cheaper just to go for the store bought brand. I look forward to making my first curry paste at home though! Still deciding which type it will be.

Additionally, I’ll do a better job preparing my ingredients. I didn’t double check my chicken supply and ended up with about half as much as I should have had. It turned out great – the veggies more than made up for it – but it would have been nice to have a bit more protein. Also, I bought my own pineapple and cut it up myself and it wasn’t the greatest. I wanted to get a pre-cut bag of fruit from a street vendor but today is “big night market” day in my town so during the middle of the afternoon they are lacking in cart options as people prepare for the evening. Finally, my grocery only had green bell peppers rather than green and red so I just used the one. It turned out just fine.

So, a few things were a bit off, but in the end all worked out well.

I’m a bit disappointed that my camera and lighting were a bit off today (cloudy and rainy) so I didn’t get any good pictures of the cooking process. However, I got one of the final dish and have shared it here. It was seriously tasty and I have tons of leftovers for tomorrow!

So, here we go with the recipe!

Gaeng Saparot Gai - Pineapple Curry with Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: intermediate

Ingredients

Pineapple Curry with Chicken made in my Thailand kitchen
Pineapple Curry with Chicken made in my Thailand kitchen

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin slices
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste (see notes)
  • 2-3 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk (see notes)
  • 3 TBSP fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (see notes)
  • 1.5 cups sliced bamboo shoots, drained and sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, quartered and separated
  • 1 cup pineapple, cut into square chunks

Notes:

  • Coconut Milk: The recipe calls for a total of 27 ounces of coconut milk. I only used about 16 ounces. I like my curry a bit thicker rather than soupier. I also like it a bit more spicy. That’s why I omitted the extra coconut milk. It’s totally up to you how much you use, but know that less will still turn out!
  • Sugar: Some people feel the pineapple adds enough of a sugar taste, so when adding sugar add it slowly and taste before adding more. Stop adding when you hit your sweetness preference!

Preparations: as with all recipes, prep and separate all of your ingredients ahead of time!

  • Plate One: Curry paste
  • Plate Two: Meat of choice, in this case chicken.
  • Plate Three: The vegetables you will be using – onions and bell peppers.
  • Tabletop: Keep your seasonings readily available on the counter. For this recipe those are coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. Also keep the curry paste on hand in case you want to add more once it starts cooking.

Method:

  1. Add oil to pan, add curry paste and mix until curry paste is foaming slightly. Note: Foaming might not be noticeable. Just make sure the curry paste has cooked a little bit. This process opens it up and releases the flavors so you get a very rich dish.
  2. Add about 1 cup of coconut milk and chicken and let cook. When chicken is mostly cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk. Cook on medium for about three minutes. Note: This is where I omitted some milk. You can choose your consistency at this point by adding or subtracting milk.
  3. Add fish sauce, sugar, and bamboo shoots. Allow to cook for five minutes or so. Note: Taste the curry sauce and add more fish sauce and/or sugar if necessary. This is the time to do it before the other flavors are added.
  4. Mix in the red and green bell peppers and the onion. Cook until vegetables are slightly tender (to your liking).
  5. Turn off heat and add pineapples. Note: I kept the heat on when I added the pineapples to cook them slightly. This made sure they warmed all the way through and some of the pineapple taste was infused into the curry sauce.
  6. Plate with rice and enjoy!

Final Thoughts:

  • You can use any curry paste you would like. The best two choices would be a red paste or a yellow paste.
  • Watch your heat. Make sure that your pan does not get too hot or the coconut milk/curry paste mixture will start to burn.

Let’s Cook: Gai Pad Med Mamuang (Stir-Fried Cashew Chicken)

I’m kind of obsessed with cashews. Whenever there is a bowl of mixed nuts in front of me, those are the only nut I eat. When I go to the grocery store and allow myself to splurge on the bulk nut section, always cashews. When I make brownies or cookies that call for walnuts or pecans, I always substitute for, you guessed it, the cashews. Needless to say, this is a recipe I love! Who doesn’t enjoy sweet tender chicken, savory sauce, and the added crunch of the best nut ever?

This was another fairly easy recipe for me to throw together. I was able to snap a few shots, which means it definitely wasn’t overwhelming like the Spring Rolls here! I did forget to add the spring onions at the end (I substituted Chinese chives).

I also would probably have added a bit more seasoning. I’m not good at taste testing before I plate so sometimes I realize it would have been better with a little more fish sauce, a little less sugar, etc, after it’s too late to make any changes. I’m sure I’ll get better at this but this was one of the issues I had with this particular recipe. Specifically, I would have added more fish sauce.

So, if you’re ready for an easy recipe of chicken, tasty vegetables, and the crunchy awesomeness of cashews, gives this one a try! You won’t be disappointed.

Gai Pad Med Mamuang - Stir-Fried Cashew Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

Gai Pad Med Mamuang from my Thailand kitchen
Gai Pad Med Mamuang from my Thailand kitchen

  • 70g (3 ounces) chicken (or tofu), thinly sliced
  • 1 TBSP cashew nuts (yeah right, go for 2 … or heck, even 3!!)
  • 30g (1 ounce) baby corn (or carrots), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, quartered and separated
  • 30 g (1 ounce) ear mushrooms, think sliced (see notes)
  • 10 g spring onion, cut into 3 cm length
  • 1 bell chili (or red diced chili)
  • 1 TBSP garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 TBSP palm oil (vegetable or canola works too!)
  • 1/2 tsp palm sugar (or white)
  • 1 TBSP oyster sauce (or mushroom sauce)
  • 1/2 TBSP fish cause (or soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup water

Notes:

  • Mushrooms: use whatever kind you want but ear mushrooms (big dark flat mushrooms) work well.
  • Bell Chili: Not sure what this is. I’ll do some research and get back to you!
  • Vegetables: They say baby corn OR carrots. Why not both?!

Preparation: In my opinion, it is always important to prep and separate all your ingredients prior to cooking since many recipes (this one included) cook very fast and can get easily overwhelming for a beginning cook (like me!).

How to separate ingredients:

  • Plate One: Garlic and Spring Onions (I used Chinese Chives). These are your first and last ingredients.
  • Plate Two: Your choice of meat. I used chicken.
  • Plate Three: This plate is all of your vegetables that are added at the same time. It’s easy just to tip the plate right in!
  • Tabletop: All of your seasonings should be readily available on your counter.

Method:

  1. Place oil in pan with garlic. Fry until fragrant, stirring frequently. Do not let garlic burn!
  2. Add chicken and stir until cooked.
  3. Add cashew nuts and stir until lightly golden.
  4. Add baby corn, large onions, ear mushrooms, red diced chili, and stir well.
  5. Add water and season with sugar, oyster cause, fish sauce; stir again.
  6. Add spring onion and mix well. Turn off heat.

Notes:

  • Just from reading this recipe, I might recommend adding the cashew nuts halfway through cooking up the chicken. I feel as though the chicken might get a little over cooked while waiting for the cashews to brown. Just a thought.

A Tour: My Kitchen

So, for the last few weeks I have been posting entries with recipes, cooking tips, and stories of my cooking successes and follies. I thought it was about time to give you a tour of The Kitchen where all of the cooking magic happens.

I’ll warn you …

It’s nothing spectacular.

In fact, it’s just two tables and a stove.

However, I thought that it might be interesting for you all to see how much can be accomplished in such a small space with very few pieces of equipment.

So, here we go! Welcome to my kitchen.

The Original Kitchen

This was my original kitchen, prior to the cooking challenge. This was the only table I had to store all my food and prepare all my food. My rack of non-perishables and spices is off to the right, and my covered plate of veggies and other foods is on the left. For someone who loves to cook and bake, it took some getting used to having only this small tabletop area to make the magic happen.

The Original Kitchen

The New Kitchen

Table #1:

This is the original table, but in it’s new form. I added a second table (description and picture below), which opened up some new space on this first table. I now have room for my rice cooker (in the middle) and my water heater (in the back). There is still a little bit of room for actual prep and cook but the majority of that is done on the new table.

New Kitchen: Table One

Table #2:

This table was added two weeks ago when I decided to start this cooking challenge. It was originally my desk in my front room, but obviously this is a far more appropriate and important place for it! I was able to find space for my dishes, as well as all of my spices. This is actually where I do most of my prep work now as the table space is a bit bigger … plus I can open the curtains and look out the window. 🙂

New Kitchen: Table Two

Shelf:

This is my one shelf in the kitchen. Mainly I store my pots and pans here (some are currently waiting to be cleaned from today’s cooking adventure!). I also store my cleaning supplies near the bottom. I’m thinking of getting another. Things here can get a bit cluttered!

The Shelf

The Stove:

And this would be my stove. Yes, this is it. This tiny little gas powered stove is where all of my cooking adventures take place. I’m not all that happy with it. When I was just making soup or Mac ‘n Cheese it definitely did the trick, but now it’s proving a bit more difficult. Trying to balance a wok or pot, trying to get the right heat. It’s all rather difficult. But, it’s what I have and sometimes you just have to make the best of it!

The Magical Stove

Clean Up!

… my bathroom. I have no sink. I have no dishwasher. All I have is my bathroom floor. This is where all my cleaning happens. I promise, it’s sanitary. I don’t actually set anything on the floor once washed — it moves directly to the tables in the kitchen for drying. As you can see, my next project is to clean up from today’s cooking adventure!

The Bathroom

And finally …

The Cookbook!

This is the cookbook that started this entire cooking challenge. I received this cookbook during the cooking class up in Chiang Mai and it has provided the majority of my recipes so far. This was the inspiration for this entire blog and cooking adventure and will continue to provide new recipes, ideas, and motivation. I love it! Thank you Smart Cook Chiang Mai!

So, there you have it … the brief tour of my very small kitchen.

I hope you enjoyed!

And, when you are reading through the recipes and pictures and wondering whether you would be able to pull this recipe off, just remember what I’m working with! If I can do it, you most definitely can too!