Snacks, Thai Food

Tod Mun Hua Plee – Banana flower fritters

Tod Mun Pla or fish cakes are popular in Thailand. The most common veggie variety are made with sweetcorn but I prefer Tod Mun Hua Plee made from banana flowers. My friends’ restaurant in Nontaburi Baan Rabiang Nam used to make delicious ones. I picked a banana flower the other day and was thinking of making Yam Hua Plee but decided to make these instead. This will make about 10 – 12.

Start by stripping the outer petals off the banana flower until you come to the lighter coloured centre. Save a couple of the outer petals to serve the fritters in. Prepare a bowl of water with salt and some lime juice in it, this will stop the banana flowers from discolouring. Cut the flower lengthwise into quarters and then cut out the centre core. You can then easily remove the actual flowers leaving you with the petals. Chop these into small pieces by shredding them lengthways and then cutting crossways and put them in the water. There should be about 1 1/2 cups . In a bowl add about a cup and a half of tempura flour, an egg and a (heaped) tsp. of red curry paste. Shred about 5 or 6 kaffir lime leaves and tear up a few sweet Thai basil leaves and add them top the bowl. mix this all together into a paste then drain the banana petals and mix them in. It should form a very thick sticky paste / batter that binds everything together. You can add some water or flour to get the right consistency.

In a frying pan heat about 1cm of vegetable to oil until hot then use a couple of spoons, I use noodle spoons, to form the patties in one spoon and ease them off with the other spoon into the oil. Fry in batches until they begin to turn golden brown  and then turn. When they are done drain them. Serve hot with a dipping sauce made from Thai sweet chilli (chicken dipping) sauce with some finely diced cucumber and crushed peanuts in it, if you like spice than add a bit more chilli powder to the sauce too and garnish with some coriander leaves.

Thai Food

Kale & cashew fried rice

I made this for lunch out of leftovers and things I had in my kitchen. It’s a very simple fried rice but the toppings of crispy kale leave, fried shallots, cashew nuts and chilli really add to the textures and flavours. Fried rice is best made with leftover rice that’s been kept in the fridge overnight, it should not be at all sticky. I used a mix of brown and red rice which tends to retain it’s shape better when cooked than white rice. The recipe below is for 2 portions.

I started by preparing the toppings. I washed a small bunch of Thai / Chinese kale (Pak kana) and took about half of the leaves off and shredded them finely and patted them dry in a tea towel. Then I peeled and finely slice 4 small shallots. I heated about a cm of vegetable oil in the bottom of my wok and then fried a couple of dried chillis until they puffed up and then put them on plate. Next I fried the shredded kale, stirring occasionally, until it started to become crispy. I drained this and put it on a plate and then did the same with the shallots. Finally I fried a handful of cashew nuts until they were golden.

Next I cut the stalks of the kale into small pieces and fried this with 4 chopped cloves of garlic as the garlic started to brown and the kale softened I added a tsp. of cumin seeds and fried a little. Then I added about 3 cups of rice and the remaining kale leaves, chopped up. I stir-fried this and added some light soy sauce, probably about a tbsp. and some white pepper. I fried the rice for a couple of minutes until the kale was cooked. I added in most of the cashews and then divided the rice onto two plates and sprinkled over the toppings and served with a slice of lime. If you like a spicy hit then tear the chilli into small pieces and mix in with the rice as you eat.

Veggie mains

Avocado pasta

This makes a great lunch or light meal and is perfect if you’re not sure whether you want a salad or a hot pasta dish. It’s fresh but creamy and very quick and easy to make. It will be ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. This will serve 2.

So what do you need?

  • 200 – 250 g pasta
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small / 1/2 a large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 / 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • a squeeze of lemon / lime juice
  • a sprig of basil leaves
  • some chilli oil (optional) or some ground black pepper

So what do you do?

First put the pasta on to cook. The chop the onion and start to fry it gently in the olive oil, chop up the garlic and add it. Chop up the tomatoes and them once the onion starts to soften. You don’t want to cook the tomatoes too much just heat them up really. When the pasta is nearly done cut open one of the avocados and mush it in it’s shell. Pour some of the pasta water into the pan with the veggies, probably about 1/2 a cup, turn off the heat and mix in the mushed avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few torn up basil leaves. Stir this to make a sauce. Then drain the pasta and add it to the pan and add the second avocado chopped into chunks. Stir together and serve with a drizzle of chilli oil and garnish with some basil leaves.

Something fruity, Something sweet

Creamy coconut & lamyai rice pudding pots


There are lots of lamyai / longans in season now so I’ve been thinking of new things to make with them. This dessert is a cross between a traditional English rice pudding and the Thai dessert of sticky rice and lamyai, which is delicious but very sweet. This is a pretty healthy dessert option and made with coconut milk so it’s vegan too. This makes 6 pots.

So what do you need?

  • 1 cup of shorgrain rice (I used Japanese rice)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 water
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. palm sugar (or regular sugar)
  • a couple of pinches of salt
  • about 4-5cms of cinnamon stick
  • a small bunch of lamyai / longans

So what do you do?

First rinse the rice once in water then put the rice, coconut milk, water , sugar, salt and cinnamon stick into a heavy bottomed saucepan, cover and put on a medium heat. While this is heating up peel the lamyai and take the stones out. You will need about 1 1/2 cups of lamyai pieces. Mix the rice occasionally and add the lamyai, before it reaches a boil turn the heat down and gently simmer it stirring occasionally. After about 15-20 mins it will start to thicken and you will need to stir it more frequently to stop it sticking. Keep simmering it until the rice is cooked and it’s thick and creamy, probably another 15-20 mins. When it’s done turn off the head, remove the cinnamon stick and then spoon the rice pudding into 6 smallish glasses and allow to cool. Decorate with half a fresh lamyai and then finely grate the cinnamon stick and sprinkle on top. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Drinks, Edible gifts, Something fruity

Lamyai Sangsom

Years ago I used to often drink Sangsom and Mekhong, Thai spirits, usually mixed with soda and a dash of coke, a squeeze of lime juice and plenty of ice. I added the coke and lime to take the ‘edge’ off the spirits. I don’t think they can be defined as ‘fine’ or ‘pure’ spirts, but when you are young they do the job and I had many fun nights, and not such fun mornings drinking them. Anyway my drinking tastes have moved on, but a friend gave me a litre bottle of Sangsom on my birthday, for old time’s sake, and it’s been sitting around unopened since.

Another friend from those good old Sangsom days gave me some lamyai from her garden so I decided to try a lamyai Sangsom infusion. I peeled the lamyai and took out the stones and the put them in a couple of large sterilised jars until the jars were about 2/3 full of fruit. I then pourded over the Sangsom and sealed them. I left them to infuse for a couple of weeks. We then all enjoyed the result with ice and soda. The lamyai helped take the edge off the Sangsom, making it a little sweeter and more fragrant. The fruit really absorbed the Sangsom and was very potent. It makes a ‘very Thai’ cocktail 🍸.

The Basics, Veggie mains

Courgette, cashew & blue cheese pesto


I love pesto but it’s not always easy to find Italian Basil here in Chiang Mai. The bugs have eaten my basil plants, but today I found fresh basil in the market so changed my dinner plans to pesto. I decided to mix things up a bit with the pesto adding courgette and blue cheese. Feel free to stick to parmesan if you prefer in the pesto. I served it with whole wheat past and fried mushrooms. The whole meal takes about 20 minutes. This will make enough pesto for 4 servings.

So what do you need?

  • 1 good handful of cashew nuts
  • 2 medium-sized courgettes
  • a large bunch of basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of half a small lime
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 50g blue cheese

First, bring a pan of water to boil for the pasta. Then dry fry the cashews in a frying pan until they just begin to change colour and put them in a blender. Put about 2 tbsp. olive oil in the frying pan and add the courgettes, chopped into pieces, and the garlic. fry until the courgette softens but before it browns and add this to the blender. I then put my pasta on and fried the mushrooms in the same frying pan.

Next grate the lime zest into the blender and squeeze in the juice and add the blue cheese, salt and pepper. Pluck the basil leaves off the stalks, about three large handfuls of leaves and add to the blender. When the pasta is almost done blend the pesto, I like to keep some of the texture of the nuts. Then add about 1/2 cup of pasta water to the pesto and blend this in. Drain the pasta and add the pesto. Stir so the pasta is well covered with the pesto and serve with the mushrooms and a grating of parmesan.





Something fruity, Something sweet

Rum raisin ice cream


This is delicious and super easy to make with only four ingredients. There’s no churning needed and it makes a creamy, soft-scoop ice cream. It’s based on Nigela Lawson’s no-churn ice cream recipes. It’s certainly not very healthy, but makes a nice treat.

Start by soaking 150g raisin in 150ml of spiced rum for a couple hours. Then put a can of condensed milk (about 380g) and 600ml of whipping cream in a large bowl or a stand mixer and whip them together until they become fluffy and begin to stiffen. This makes the ice cream light which means it does not need churning as it freezes. Then gently fold in the raisins and rum and put in an airtight container and freeze. The rum will prevent the ice cream freezing too hard so it can be scooped straight from the freezer. Enjoy!