Salads, Thai Food

Tao Jiao Lon – fermented soy bean dip

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This is an old school Thai dish that isn’t easy to find in restaurants, particularly as a veggie option. It’s really tasty and health, especially as it’s eaten with a lot of fresh vegetables. It can be eaten alone or as part of a Thai meal. It’s made with fermented / salted soy beans and coconut milk. It has a delicate flavor compared to some spicier Thai dishes.

So what do you need?

  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 50ml veggie stock / water
  • 100g mushrooms (I used fresh shitake mushrooms)
  • 100g firm tofu
  • 2 or 3 small red shallots
  • 2 sticks of lemon grass
  • 3 – 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 – 4 large red / yellow / green chillies (prik chii far)
  • 4 tablespoons salted / fermented soy beans
  • 2 tbsp. roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1-2 tbsp. palm sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp. light soy sauce
  • 1tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Fresh vegetables and coriander leaves to eat with it

So what do you do

Start by prepping the ingredients.  Finely chop the  mushrooms shallots and finely slice the lemon grass and chillies and tear the kaffir lime leaves in half. Rinse the soy beans so they are not too salty and pound 3 tbsp. of them with the peanuts in a mortar to make a thick paste.  Then fry the mushrooms in the oil with a tsp. of soy sauce as they cook crumble in the tofu and cook for about a minute. Set this aside in a bowl.  Put the coconut milk in the frying pan with the stock / water, 1 tbsp. of palm sugar and 1 tbsp. tamarind paste, add the diced shallots, lemon grass, the kaffir lime leaves, most of the chillies and a tsp. of soy sauce and then stir in about 2/3 of the soy bean paste and stir until everything dissolves. It’s a good idea not to put all of the flavourings in at once as you may need to readjust the balance of flavours. You can taste the sauce and see is you think it is well balanced. It shouldn’t be too salty, too sweet, too sour or too spicy so adjust the flavourings as you see fit. Add the remaing tbsp. of rinsed soy beans and as long as it’s not too salty add the rest of the soy bean and peanut paste as this helps thicken up the dip. Simmer until it starts to thicken up but is not too dry and then put it in a bowl and garnish with some sliced chillies and some coriander leaves. The dip should be room temperature or slightly warm when served but so while it cools down prepare your veggies for serving it with. White / Chinese cabbage is good as are cucumber and yard beans and a bunch of coriander leaves is a must. If you can find it, I couldn’t today, then fresh white turmeric root finely sliced is a traditional accompaniment. To serve just spoon the dip onto the vegetables or make little parcels with the cabbage leaves and some coriander leaves. Yum!

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Something fruity, Something sweet, Thai Food

Mango & sticky rice ice-cream lollipops with Sang Som

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Probably the most popular Thai dessert is mango and sticky rice which is delicious but can be a bit heavy in the hot Thai summer. This ice-cream take the essence of mango and sticky rice and make them into cool lollies, with the added twist of some Sang Som, Thai rum. This will make about 15 lollipops.

So what do you need?

  • 500mls whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. Icing sugar
  • 300mls coconut milk (I used the scented dessert variety available in Thailand)
  • 400g sweet, coconut milk, sticky rice
  • 100mls Sang Som (optional)
  • the flesh of  2 medium sized mangoes (about 400g) chopped into small cubes
  • small (4oz / 5cms x 5cms) paper cups
  • lollipop sticks

So what do you do?

First put the whipping cream in a large bowl and whip it until it fluffs up a little then mix in the icing sugar, coconut milk and rum. Next crumble in the sticky rice and add the mango and stir them in so they are evenly distributed through the cream. Place the paper cups on a try and spoon in the mixture. Put in the freezer and after an hour or two when the ice-cream begins to freeze but is still slightly soft put a lollipop stick in each. Leave for another hour or two until frozen completely. Peel of the paper and enjoy a taste of Thailand!

lollies

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Brunch, Soups, Thai Food

Veggie Khao Tom

 

Kao tom

This makes a good brunch, or a meal if you are feeling under the weather and want something quite plain and comforting to eat. It’s normally made with pork or seafood but here I’ve made a veggie version the flavor will depend on the stock you use so I would recommend using a good / homemade stock. This will make 4 bowls of Khao Tom.

So what do you need?

  • 1 cup of jasmine rice / brown rice (I used a white jasmine rice which had some other rices mixed through it)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • a small bunch Chines celery
  • 1 cup of chopped mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup of other veggies (I used diced carrot and some chopped broccoli)

Condiments

 

  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. oil (I used sesame)
  • 1 inch of ginger peeled and very finely sliced
  • a couple of chopped spring onions and a handful of coriander leaves
  • a sliced red chilli
  • Chilli powder
  • Soy sauce
  • Pepper

So what do you do?

Start by putting the rice in a saucepan with the stock and soy sauce and bring it to the boil. Meanwhile chop the mushroom and the Chinese celery and add them to the saucepan and boil for about 10 minutes then add the other vegetables and boil for 15 – 20 more minutes until the rice is soft. The cooking time will depend on the rice you use but it should be well cooked and soft. The rice will absorb most of the stock and swell up, if necessary add more stock and stir occasionally as the Khao Tom thickens up to stop it sticking to the saucepan. Taste and if necessary add some more soy sauce.

While the rice is cooking prepare your condiments. Finely chop the garlic and fry it in the oil until golden brown and put in a small bowl. Serve the Khao Tom in bowls and allow people to flavour it themselves adding the condiments they like.

 

 

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Thai Food, Veggie mains

Pad Thai

pad thai

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get round to posting a recipe for Pad Thai, maybe as more often than not it’s a dish I eat at our local noodle shop and enjoy their version. There are probably as many versions of Pad Thai as people who make it, but I find many too sweet or too oily so making it at home allows you to control the flavours. If you don’t live in Thailand, surrounded by Pad Thai options, then it’s easy enough to make at home. This will make 2 servings which is about as much as you can make at a time in a domestic wok.

So what do you need?

  • 100g firm tofu
  • 120g flat rice noodles (I used brown ones)
  • 200g bean sprouts
  • a small bunch of garlic chives / spring onions
  • 4tbs vegetable oil
  • a handful of roasted peanuts
  • 3 tbsp. dried pickled Chinese radish
  • 3 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. palm sugar
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 lime

So what do you do?

Start by soaking your rice noodles in water, brown ones will take about 20 minutes, white ones about 10 minutes. Then cut the tofu into small pieces and marinate with a tbsp. light soy sauce. If using unroasted peanuts then dry roast them in a wok for a few minutes, stirring, until they are golden brown and put them in a mortar ready to crush.

Next make the Pad Thai sauce, in a small pan warm together the tamarind paste, palm sugar and 2 tbsp. of soy sauce with a splash of water, the amount of water will depend on how thick your tamarind paste is. This should make a runny sauce that is sour with a hint of sweetness and saltiness. Then rinse and strain the beansprouts and garlic chives, reserve a handful of beansprouts and a few of the chives to use as a garnish. Cut the remaining chives into 4cms lengths. Crush the peanuts once they have cooled.

Next put the oil in the wok and fry the tofu until golden brown and pour out most of the remaining oil into a dish. Then add most of the tamarind sauce and fry the tofu in it for about 30 second. Drain the noodles and add them to the wok and stir fry them for a minute or two then add the Chinese radish, most of the crushed peanuts, the chili powder and the bean sprouts and chopped garlic chives. Fry until the bean sprouts soften and if it seems dry add the remaining tamarind sauce. Then push the noodles to the edge of the wok and add the reserved oil into the wok and crack in the eggs and break them up with the spatula and fry them when they are almost done mix the noodles back in and fry everything together.

Divide into two portions on plates and garnish with the remaining garlic chives, bean sprouts, peanuts, a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of chilli powder (optional).

 

 

 

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Snacks, Thai Food

Fried tofu with Thai herbs & cashew nuts

This makes a really tasty and attractive snack, starter or part of a bigger Thai meal.

Start by preparing your Thai herbs and spices. I finely sliced the more tender insides of four or five lemongrass stems lengthways, julienned a large red chilli, sliced about four red shallots, 3 cloves of garlic and tore a few kaffir lime leaves.

In a wok with about half a cup of hot oil I started by frying the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, as they take a little longer, after about a minute I added the shallots and fried for another minute then added chilli, garlic, a couple of bunches of fresh green peppercorns and a couple of handfuls of cashew nuts and fried everything until it was golden and crisp and then drained them. You can use large dried chillis instead, of the fresh one, which will go crisp and can be crumbled on the risotto for an extra kick of spiciness (these don’t take long to cook so add them near the end of the frying process.)

Next I cube a couple of blocks of form tofu (about 500g). I then fried this in the same oil, turning occasionally) until crisp and golden brown (you may need to fry the tofu in two batches). I then drained the tofu and put it on a serving plate and scattered the herbs and nuts over the top. I served with a chilli dipping sauce with some extra dried chilli (optional) and coriander leaves in it.

 

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Thai Food, Veggie mains

Broccolini & tofu with sesame and mushroom sauce

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This dish is a meal in itself, served with some steamed brown rice. It’s similar to the sesame crusted tofu with charred broccoli I made a while ago but with a sauce.

I started by draining a large block of tofu which I cut into cubes and patted dry with a tea towel. Then I put it in a bowl and marinated it in about a tablespoon of light soy sauce. I then heated about 3 0r 4 tbsp. of sesame oil in a frying pan. I fried a handful of cashew nuts and then drained them and put them to one side. I sprinkled about a tablespoon of white sesame seeds on the tofu and then fried it until golden brown. I put the tofu on a tray in a warm oven. Next I strained any remaining sesame seeds from the oil and chopped up and medium onion and fried it in the oil. I added about 3 or 4 sliced cloves of garlic and grated in a similar quantity of fresh ginger. I fried this for a minute or so and then added about 250g mushrooms and a small bunch of Chinese celery. Meanwhile I steamed about 400g broccolini / Hong Kong kale. Once the mushrooms looked cooked I added a tbsp. of light soy sauce, a little dark soy sauce, some ground black pepper and the remaining sesame seeds from the tofu and a tsp. of black sesame seeds. Then I added a couple of tablespoons of mushroom (oyster) sauce and some hot water to make a gravy like sauce and cooked this down a little. I placed the broccolini on a serving plate poured over the sauce, sprinkled on the cashew nuts and arranged the tofu around the side.

 

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Salads, Thai Food

Yam woonsen 

This is a great Thai salad that can be served as part of a Thai meal or eaten on it’s own for lunch.

If you are using dried vermicelli / glass noodles then start by soaking an 80-100g packet. Quickly fry a handful of cashew nuts until golden, drain and leave to one side. I used about 150g of fresh glass noodles, cut into manageable lengths. Meanwhile steam / blanch about 100g mushrooms (if you use large mushrooms slice them) here I also added a few chopped beans to the steamer once the mushrooms were nearly ready. Chop up a couple of small shallots / spring onions and put them in a mixing bowl. Next grate about a quarter of a carrot into the bowl, a chopped tomato, a small bunch of Chinese celery and some coriander leaves. Roughly crush 3-5 birds eye chillies with the back of a knife and add these, add the juice of a smallish lime and a tablespoon of light soy sauce. Add in the noodles and the steamed mushrooms and beans, a splash of water and about a 1/4 tsp. sugar (optional) and mix everything together. Taste and add more soy sauce, lime or chillies to balance the flavours. Add most of the cashew nuts and mix in. Make sure the yam is not too dry, if necessary add a little more water, the noodles can sometimes keep absorbing liquid. Serve on a bed of leaves, here I used the celery leaves, you can also use some lettuce. Sprinkle over the remaining cashews and garnish with some coriander leaves.

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