Regional Thai Cuisine: Part 3 of 4 – Central Thailand

Wow, when life gets busy it really gets busy! My apologies for such a delay in posting. My fiancé and I are just a few weeks out from our wedding and things have gotten so hectic around here. I’ve thought many times about getting my next blog up but then something gets in the way. Fortunately, I had some time today to finish this one up and get it out to the masses!

Ampawa Floating Market near Bangkok. Floating markets are a BIG part of central Thailand culture. I'll be writing a blog entry about them soon!
Ampawa Floating Market near Bangkok. Floating markets are a BIG part of central Thailand culture. I’ll be writing a blog entry about them soon!

One of my last blog posts was Part 2 of my four-part series on regional cuisine that focused on southern Thailand. Next up in our tour of the Thai regions is Central Thailand. Central Thailand is a pretty interesting region for Thai cuisine because there are so many regional influences. This is a fairly large region that is very densely populated and is made up of many different smaller regions. Right in the center of this region is the country’s capital of Bangkok, which has naturally become a magnet for all different types of people and cultures and therefore, all different specialty cuisines. It’s this mish-mash of influences that defines central cuisine.

Before we get to some of those influences though I want to chat a little bit about the geography of the region. As we discussed in our post on Northern and Southern cuisine, the topography and weather of a particular region greatly influences the food that comes out of that area. Central Thailand happens to be a delta-like landscape, fairly flat but packed with rivers and water sources. This maze of waterways has created a landscape of extremely fertile soil that allows nearly any type of crop to be grown successfully. As such, the cuisine in Central Thailand is far more diverse than some of the other regionals.

The central region is what influences and inspires many of the American dishes you’ve enjoyed here in the states. Dishes like tom yum (hot and sour soup) as well as tom kha (a similar soup with a coconut base) originated in this region as well as yam salads and many different stir fries.

Additionally, the central region also houses a large Chinese population and thus is heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine which shows itself in the variety of noodle dishes you can find including kuay tiaw, pad see ew, and Phad Thai. It’s important to note (at least it’s important to me!) that most of the versions of Phad Thai that you find in the states are very far from the authentic version you’d find in Thailand. Believe it or not, authentic Phad Thai doesn’t have a peanut sauce! Crazy, I know. Mind blown.

Anyway, here are a few more specific notes about this particular region:

This is me overlooking the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand ... one of the many waterways in Central Thailand.
This is me overlooking the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand … one of the many waterways in Central Thailand.
  • Central Thailand produces the best rice in the country. This includes all different types of rice, but the most popular is hom mali or the ever popular jasmine rice.
  • Many of the smaller regions throughout the central region have specialty cuisines specific to their area. These range from desserts, to noodle dishes, to curries. You can travel extensively through the central region and never have the same dish twice. It’s glorious!
  • Many meals in the central region include an omelet of some kind, also called kai jiaw. Yummy, these omelets are seriously by favorite. Take an egg, whisk it in a bowl, pour it into a wok full of hot oil, let it fry, and serve. Heaven. My favorite type of omelet is not the plain one described but actually one that fried oysters and bean sprouts. It’s called hoi tawt and it’s incredible and I should really get the recipe up on here soon. If you’re not into oysters, you can also add ground pork, vegetables, or anything else you want. Wow, I’m getting really hungry over here.
  • The goal of cuisine in central Thailand is to find that perfect combination of spicy, salty, sweet and sour … and often times a little greasy! This is accomplished by serving nearly every dish with some sort of dipping sauce as well as many dried spices. Any restaurant you visit in central Thailand usually has a condiment container that includes some of these yummy dish-toppers.

The final thing to note.

While many of the dishes you enjoy at your local Thai restaurant are heavily influenced by this region that does not mean they are authentic! Not to harp on these restaurants, but they usually cater to the American crowd. They substitute or add certain ingredients that Americans happen to love, but are not actually used in the authentic dishes in Thailand (example, carrots). If you’re looking for truly authentic central (or other regional) Thai cuisine, my best advice is to jump on Yelp and look for restaurants with positive reviews from actual Thai people. You may find a restaurant with amazing reviews, but if they’re from people who have never experienced authentic Thai cuisine, you’re not necessarily going to find authentic food at that establishment.

Okay, so here is your recipe for this region – the ever popular Phad Thai. This is an authentic recipe that I reworked based on the recipe we learned at our cooking class in Chiang Mai. It’ll be a bit different than what you’re used to from most Thai restaurants but trust me, it’s delicious! This one is Phad Thai Jay, jay meaning vegetarian. You can also add chicken if you’d like. If you do, add the chicken before adding the garlic, shallots and tofu. Cook until almost cooked through, then move on to step 5.

It’s also a difficult recipe to master; it requires a lot of different steps in a short amount of time. Be sure to read through the recipe and understand what you’re doing before you jump in and cook. Good luck.

Phad Thai Jay - Vegetarian Phad Thai

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: hard


Pad Thai: A Traditional Favorite
Pad Thai Gai (made with chicken)

  • 1/3 cup plain vegetable oil
  • 4 oz 2-3 millimeter wide dried rice noodles, prepared
  • 2/3 cup Phad Thai sauce
  • 1 TBSP shrimp paste in oil, optional
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • ¾ cup firm tofu, optional
  • 2 large eggs, cracked into a bowl
  • 6-7 stalks Chinese chives
  • 2 cups bean sprouts


  • Sugar, dried red pepper flakes, fish sauce, lime, chopped peanuts, Chinese chives


  1. Cut the chive blades into 1-inch pieces; reserve bottom parts for garnish. Mix 1-inch pieces with bean sprouts and set aside.
  2. Set a flat pan or wok over medium-high heat, add half of vegetable oil.
  3. Once oil is hot, add noodles followed by sauce (and shrimp oil is using); stir constantly keeping the noodles moving at all times.
  4. After 30-40 seconds or once noodles are slightly softened, push them to one side of the pan and add the remaining vegetable oil.
  5. Add garlic, shallots, and tofu (if using). Stir on one side of the pan but still move noodles around on other side so they don’t burn.
  6. Once garlic and shallots have browned slightly mix in with the noodles and push mixture back to one side of the pan.
  7. Pour broken eggs onto empty side of the dish; scramble with spatula and then let cook undisturbed on one side of the pan before flipping and breaking them into smaller pieces.
  8. Once eggs are done your noodles should be soft and chewy, sauce has been absorbed into noodles, and little bits of shallots and garlic are crispy.
  9. Take off the heat and mix all together. Add two handfuls of chive-bean sprout mixture and give a gentle stir.
  10. Serve topped with 2-3 TBSP chopped peanuts, a wedge of lime, and chive stalks. Season individually to taste with fish sauce, sugar, and dried red pepper flakes.


  • This dish cooks very fast! Make sure that you watch the heat, add things immediate, and don’t overcook. This is one of the more stressful dishes to make (at least for me!) and definitely takes practice!
  • Cooking the egg is the hardest part! You want to make sure the excess water is out or it will end up a goopy mess. Let the egg fry up. You can break it apart and sort of scramble it in the pan as well. Any method works.

Summer Thai Cooking Classes … are we crazy!?

What is an American doing hosting Thai cooking classes anyway?
You’re not Thai.
You only spent ten months in Thailand.
You don’t have any formal training.

What are you thinking?

The voices go on in my head until I wake up in a cold sweat and question everything I’m doing!

Okay, not really. I’m playing the drama card. But, don’t think those same thoughts didn’t run through my head when I decided a few months ago to hold my first Thai Cooking class. At that point, it was just a creative way to solve a funding problem. The dog rescue that I volunteer with was in need of medical funds and recently a few of my friends had mentioned wanting me to show them a Thai recipe or two sometime. In order to kill two birds with one stone I decided I’d hold a charity cooking class with all proceeds going straight to the rescue.

*Note: If you’re a dog lover like me (specifically boxers), check out Northwest Boxer Rescue and see how you can help or get involved.

One of the class participants mixing the laab gai.
One of the class participants mixing the laab gai. Note the wine.

It wasn’t anything spectacular – a group of 10 dog lovers came together for a night of Thai cooking and some wine. Lots of wine. I had an opportunity to teach something I’m passionate about, they had a chance to learn, and a few dogs were helped in the process. It was a win, win, win!

A few weeks later I decided to host another one. There were a few people who couldn’t make it to the first one that still really wanted to attend so we did it all over again. The first one had been my solo endeavor, but for this round Cory decided he wanted to be more involved. Gladly, please, and thank you! It’s tough instructing a bunch of adults!

He helped me pick out the recipes, plan the order of events, instruct, and even clean up (gotta love the man). Our group was smaller this time, only six, but it worked out well. We made a few tweaks to the way we went about the class and everything seemed to work; everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

We have our third charity event scheduled for the end of this month, this time for Cory’s brother. He is attempting to complete all 16 Tough Mudder events in the UK and Ireland this year to benefit Hope for Heroes. Can’t wait to raise some money to donate to his cause.

Getting ready to prepare the Panang curry paste.
Getting ready to prepare the Panang curry paste.

*Note: To learn more about Aaron’s challenge or to donate to his cause visit Aaron’s Tough Mudder Challenge.

Anyway, I’m getting a bit off track.

Somewhere in the midst of these charity classes and the planning, the execution, and the debriefing Cory and I had a thought.

Why not do these more often?

Everyone we invite over for Thai dinner parties asks us to teach them some of the recipes. We’ve received compliments on our food and how much better it tastes than many of the restaurants they visit (well it’s authentic, of course it’s better)! The participants we’ve had in our classes so far have all talked about how they’d love to come to them again.

So why not?

That’s where those questions of doubt come in though.

We aren’t Thai. I only spent 10 months in Thailand and Cory only spent three weeks. Neither of us have any formal training. And I’ll repeat in case you weren’t clear … we’re not Thai.

So what are two Americans doing hosting Thai cooking classes?

Plain and simple, we’re having fun!

We both have an incredible passion for this culture and this food. We work hard to learn and practice traditional cooking techniques.  We study the ingredients, we try recipes again and again. We immerse ourselves in the culture as much as we can … even as Americans.

So why not?

Why not share this passion with those around us? If people are interested in learning then who is to say we can’t be the ones to teach them?

Bottom line, we’re extremely excited about this summer. We are thrilled to take what we love and share it with family, friends, and hopefully new acquaintances. It’s one thing to explore a passion on our own; it’s another to share that love with others.

If you are interested in learning a little bit about Thai culture, exploring the ingredients and dishes of Thailand, and getting some hands-on experience cooking delicious Thai food, then give our classes a try. We’d love to have you.

Visit the Cooking Classes tab at the top to view our class schedule.

Let’s Cook: Sii Khrong Muu Yaang (Thai-style Pork Ribs)

“Some of the best ribs I’ve ever had.” – My wonderful fiancé who really really likes his ribs.

If you’re like my fiancé and truly appreciate a delicious plate of ribs then this recipe is for you. No joke, he actually said that these were some of the best ribs he has ever tasted … excuse me!? Can you say that again? Put it in writing? Billboard? Please, and thank you.

In all seriousness though, I really don’t think the success of this recipe had anything to do with the fact that I made them … as much as I’d like to think so. The recipe is just that good. The combination of the savory marinade with the honey glaze and the sweet and spicy dipping sauce make this recipe exceptional. It takes a bit of time, but if you’re willing to put in the effort I really think this recipe is so perfect that it’s fool proof.

A few notes on my own experience with this recipe.

  • It calls for spare ribs. The Asian market I visited only had baby backs so I went with those. They worked great!
  • The recipe recommends the ribs being cut across the bone into 2” strips. I highly recommend this as well. I was able to purchase them this way from the Asian market.
  • Don’t disregard the recommendation to serve with the jaew sauce. It is so good! I didn’t think it tasted very good when I first made it but after it sat in the fridge overnight and I added the cilantro it really came together. It really made this dish pop.

So, here it is – Chok dii!

Sii Khrong Muu Yaang (Thai-style Pork Ribs)

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: intermediate


Served with Pak Boong Fai Daeng and Jaew dipping sauce (recipe below)
Served with Pak Boong Fai Daeng and Jaew dipping sauce (recipe below)

  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoon Thai thin soy sauce (I just used the bottle I picked up at the grocery store)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (original recipe called for Ceylon cinnamon)
  • A pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) pork spareribs, cut lengthwise across the bone into 2-inch-wide strips
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Jaew dipping sauce (recipe below)


  1. In a bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of honey with the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, sesame oil, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg until the honey has dissolved.
  2. Put the ribs in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the top. Close the bag, expelling excess air. Massage the bag to spread the marinade around. Refrigerate for 2 hours or as long as overnight.
  3. Before cooking the ribs, mix together the remaining 4 tablespoons of honey with 2 tablespoons of hot water. Set aside to use as a glaze during the last hour of cooking.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  5. Put the ribs on the rack leaving at least one inch between the racks. Bake for 2 hours, flipping the ribs and rotating the baking sheet once or twice.
  6. After two hours, increase the heat to 300F and continue to cooking for 30-40 minutes, brushing on the honey every 10-15 minutes. The ribs should have a dark lacquered surface when they are finished.
  7. When finished cooking, remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then slice into individual ribs and serve alongside the jaew dipping sauce.

This dish is not complete without the recommended jaew dipping sauce. Give it a shot!

Jaew (Spicy, Tart Dipping Sauce for meat)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy


  • 2 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced (tender part only)
  • 2 TBSP Thai fish sauce
  • 1 ½ TBSP Thai thin soy sauce (I just used my grocery store bought sauce)
  • ¾ tsp Thai seasoning sauce (Golden Mountain works)
  • 3 ½ TBSP lime juice (preferably Key limes)
  • 1 ½ TBSP Palm sugar simple syrup (or any simple syrup)
  • 1 ½ tsp Toasted-chili powder (made from dried guajillo chilies roasted in a dry wok until black and then ground up)

To Finish

  • 1 TBSP Toasted-sticky rice powder (I did not add this)
  • 1 TBSP coarsely chopped cilantro


  1. Pound the lemongrass in a granite mortar until you have a coarse, fibrous paste. You can also use a mini-processor but this will not break up the fibers as well. You can also buy lemongrass paste instead.
  2. Scrape the paste into a medium bowl and add fish sauce, soy sauce, seasoning sauce, lime juice, simple syrup, and chile powder.
  3. Let sit at room temperature for at least one hour or in the fridge for up to two days. It really does get better with a little time!
  4. Right before serving, let it come to room temperature and stir in toasted-rice powder and cilantro.

Product Review: Lobo Kao Soi and Thai and True Hot Chili Oil

Khao soi made with Lobo brand Kao Soi seasoning and seasoned with Thai and True Hot Chili Oil
Khao soi made with Lobo brand Kao Soi seasoning and seasoned with Thai and True Hot Chili Oil

Earlier this week I posted this quick pic of a bowl of khao soi, a delicious curry and egg noodle dish coming out of the Chiang Mai area of Thailand. After visiting the region, this dish quickly become one of Cory and my favorite dishes and we often make it at home. Unfortunately, khao soi (as with many Thai dishes) takes a lot of preparation and we don’t always feel like putting in the effort. It’s on these nights that we sometimes decide to use prepackaged ingredients.

I won’t lie, when we choose to go that route we are often sorely disappointed. No matter how “authentic” these types of products claim to be, they rarely meet that standard and typically lack a vital flavor, spice, or ingredient. Huge bummer.

This time around though we were extremely pleased by our final product! We used two new products that I can honestly say will become a regular star player in our kitchen.

Kao Soi seasoning mix found at
Kao Soi seasoning mix found at

Lobo brand Kao Soi Seasoning

As I said, khao soi is one of our favorite dishes and I have a pretty great recipe to make this from scratch.  Unfortunately, while it’s a fairly simple dish to ‘get right’ it does take quite a few ingredients and a lot of time to prepare. That’s why I was so thrilled to find a product that takes out the preparation time and still makes a delicious final product.

All we had to do was add the seasoning packet to a can of coconut milk, add chicken and let it simmer, and then tweak at the end with lime juice and fish sauce to get our preferred flavors.

And the end result? Fantastic!

This seasoning created exactly what we love most about khao soi – a mouthwatering bowl of Thai-style comfort food. This seasoning has that perfect mix of curry flavors including a hint of cardamom that you usually find in Massaman curry and adds a new depth to the flavor. When mixed with a little lime, cilantro, and fish sauce you have that ideal combination of sour, sweet, salty, and spicy that every authentic Thai dish contains.

The only thing lacking was that bit of extra heat Cory and I love in all our Thai dishes. That’s not to say there isn’t a good bit of heat to this product, but Cory and I like things spicy!! So, that brings us to the second ingredient up for review.


We purchased this product from our favorite Thai product website,, though you may be able to find this product in other local Asian markets. We haven’t looked yet but I’ll update if/when we find it!

Thai and True Hot Chili Oil found at Whole Foods
Thai and True Hot Chili Oil found at Whole Foods

Thai and True Hot Chili Oil

Oh my goodness … what an amazing product this is!

I first discovered Thai and True on a visit to Whole Foods. They had a string of Thai and True products on their shelves and while I didn’t purchase any of them, I did read the back of the jar and learn a little bit about the Thai and True company.

Talk about awesome! Thai and True is a company based in Oregon that hand-makes a wide variety of GMO-free, gluten-free, and Vegan products. They are stocked in various stores around Oregon and Washington and work hard to retain that ‘local’ company feel.

I recently made a trip back to Whole Foods and decided to purchase two of their products including Hot Chili Oil. Hot Chili Oil is often used as an add-on sauce found on tables at Thai restaurants (similar to how we serve ketchup). This particular product is a combination of rice bran oil, Thai chilies, vinegar, fried garlic, and sea salt – a very simple combination that packs a big punch!

While it is described as an oil, it’s actually more of an oily paste of ground up chilies and garlic. With a very well-rounded base of flavors, this chili oil can be added to nearly any Thai dish (or non-Thai dish) to up the spice level. One teaspoon of this product bumped our entire batch of khao soi from a “one star” dish to a “two star” dish. I have a feeling we’ll have this single jar of oil for quite some time!

We look forward to trying this product in many of our other favorite Thai dishes and will make this product a staple in our kitchen going forward.


Thai and True is only sold in select stores across Oregon and Washington though you can order the products directly from their website as well.

I’ll take the Phad Thai … hold the chopsticks.

I’ve been meaning to write on this particular topic for quite some time. Pretty much every time I walk into a Thai restaurant and see chopsticks on the table I groan and think two things to myself:

  1. I should probably leave.
  2. I really need to address this issue in my next blog entry.

It’s taken me until now to write about it which means many of you have been going along in your day-to-day visits to Thai restaurants (because come on, we all go to Thai restaurants daily, right?) believing that Thais use chopsticks to eat their food. For that I apologize!

The truth is that Thais do not use chopsticks.

Crazy, right? I’m sorry if I just blew your mind.

In truth, Thais have adopted a more Western method of eating food. History goes that King Rama IV brought the fork and spoon to Thailand back in the 19th century. Thailand had yet to be colonized by European powers (like all surrounding countries) and he believed that bringing some Westernization to Thailand might help further evade that seemingly inevitable fate. He brought in advisors to teach the Thai Royal Court western culture including the use of the fork and spoon. Since then the use of the fork and spoon have become common place.

Phad Thai is commonly eaten with a fork and spoon.
Phad Thai is commonly eaten with a fork and spoon.

The use of these utensils is still somewhat unique though. In Thailand the fork is used to push food up onto the spoon which is then the item used to bring the food to your mouth. No knives are used; rather, the edge of the spoon acts as the knife when necessary.

Now don’t get me wrong – there are chopsticks in Thailand. They are mostly used when eating noodle dishes, many of which were brought to Thailand by other Asian countries. For example, the only dish that I actually used chopsticks for was kway tiao, a noodle soup dish commonly purchased from street vendors. That being said, not all noodle dishes are consumed with chopsticks. You will still find many Thai people using the traditional spoon and fork for Phad Thai, Phad See Ew, and other dry noodle dishes.

Kway tiao nam tok is a dish in Thailand often eaten with chopsticks.
Kway tiao nam tok is a dish in Thailand often eaten with chopsticks.

So then why do the majority of Thai restaurants here in the states have chopsticks on the table? I really can’t answer that question for sure but my guess would be Americanization and the belief by Americans that Asian countries use chopsticks. To us, an Asian restaurant is ‘authentic’ if we can eat with chopsticks, which I don’t quite understand either because eating with chopsticks is hard. That’s a whole different entry though.

And there you have it, the reason I groan every time I walk into a Thai restaurant with chopsticks already on the table. Is that restaurant truly authentic or just trying to make me think they are?

Finished product!

Let’s Cook: Som Tum Thai (Green Papaya Salad)

Sorry for the delay everyone! I’ve been super busy with a new job, a new apartment, and a new little niece! I haven’t had much time to update the blog, but I’m getting back to it … and starting with one of my favorite dishes ever … som tum!! Enjoy!

Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad)

I must say, my absolute favorite Thai dish is som tum. A salad made with fresh green papaya, som tum is spicy, sweet and refreshing all at the same time. I do love me some curry and dozens of other awesome dishes, but if I had to choose one single Thai dish to eat for the rest of my life, this would be it.

I apologize for not getting this recipe up sooner! I should have done it in Thailand but didn’t get around to it. Then, after returning to Seattle, I have struggled to find fresh green papaya! It’s definitely a rarity in this area. Most papaya you find is the fruit in its traditional form. Finding a market that carries this type of papaya has taken nearly a year, but I finally found one! So, here you are with a simple but awesome recipe for som tum.

This particular recipe is for som tum Thai, which includes peanuts. You can always keep those out if you want, but personally, I think it makes the dish!

Note: If you are going to use a mortar and pestle, make sure that it is clay or wood. A stone mortar and pestle will bruise the ingredients too much. You want a surface that will give. If you do not have a mortar and pestle, you can just use a large bowl and crush with a spoon.

Som Tum Thai - Green Papaya Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: intermediate


  • 2 cups green papaya shredded
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 or so string beans, cut into 1inch pieces
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4-6 Thai chilies, sliced in half
  • 2 TBSP fish sauce
  • 2 TBSP palm sugar (can substitute white or brown sugar)
  • 2 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  1. Mix fish sauce and lime juice together in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add sugar and mix until partially dissolved.
  3. Add chilies, garlic, string beans, and tomatoes and bruise with pestle (or spoon). To bruise is to crush slightly so they keep their form but are slightly falling apart.
  4. Add shredded papaya and bruise while mixing with spoon. Make sure sauce is coating the papaya.
  5. Add peanuts and mix.
  6. Serve and enjoy!


  1. Taste your sauce before you add the vegetables. If you want the sauce sweeter, add more palm sugar. If you want more salt, add fish sauce. If you want spicier, add more chilies. It is easier to do this prior to the vegetables being added than after!

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 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 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.


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


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


  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!


The American Thai Cook