Drinks

Thai Limes

Thai Limes

Thai Lime Tree

Thai Lime Tree

 

Yesterday, my lovely Thai neighbors hoisted a big bag full of gorgeous freshly picked limes over our shared back fence. I can see their lime trees from my kitchen and had been, I admit enviously, admiring the ripening plump and surely juicy fruit from afar. It was a steamy hot and humid afternoon and I was in the kitchen in a flash juicing some of those limes pronto to make nam manao!

Nam means water and manao means lime in Thai. This Thai limeade is served throughout Thailand.  Believe me when I say there is nothing more refreshing and thirst quenching than a tall glass of icy nam manao to beat the heat here in the tropics!

Limes are abundant and the juice used in just about everything from savory curry pastes, soups, salads, to freshly squeezed over many dishes to enhance the flavors and compliment the ever present fiery chilies in most Thai dishes.

There are several types of limes in Thailand. The small firm green limes, about 1 ¼ inches in diameter, are picked before they are ripe for their tartness and intense lime flavor. Very similar to the key lime found in the Florida Keys and throughout Mexico.

Another variety is larger, about 2 ½ to 3 inches in diameter, very juicy with just a slight hint of sweetness, and a perfumed lime flavor. Similar to the Tahitian lime and ideal for nam manao and lime based cocktails.

Easy to prepare!

Nam Manao (Soda) serves 4

Thais call this Nam Manao Soda. The soda is optional, but the fizz really hits the spot on a hot day!

Nam Manao

Nam Manao

  • 1 ½ cups/ 350ml freshly squeezed lime juice (I used  larger variety seen above)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons/ 95g super fine sugar, or more to taste
  • good pinch of flaked sea salt
  • 2 ½ cups/600ml cold water
  • 12 thin slices of lime
  • 8 small sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 cup/240 ml soda water (optional)
  • plenty of ice

Combine the lime juice, sugar, and salt in a large glass pitcher. Stir until the sugar and salt is completely dissolved.

Stir in the water. Add 8 lime slices, and 4 of the mint sprigs and stir. If you are serving immediately add the ice and top off with the soda water. Stir and ladle or pour into tall glasses. Garnish with lime slice and mint sprig and serve.

If you plan to serve later refrain from adding the ice and soda water and refrigerate.  Add the ice and soda, stir, garnish with lime slice and mint sprig, and serve. 

Settled into an easy chair on the veranda while sipping a cooling refreshing effervescent mojito is a sure way to assuage the steaming heat of the tropics!

Thai Mojito

Thai Mojito

 

 

The mojito was allegedly Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail at La Boquedito del Medio in Havana in the1930’s and 40’s. Most likely not true as Hemingway was infamously known to be a hard drinking dry Martini man, but the mojito’s popularity flourished with the notoriety of Hemingway’s supposed endorsement none the less.

The backstory of the mojito is far more interesting. The etymology of mojo or moc’o is rooted in west African culture’s spiritual and religious rituals of vodun, later in the Americas, voodoo; including the practice of casting magical spells.

Mojo reappeared in the Americas in an African creole language, gullah, that evolved in communities of enslaved Africans who worked on rice, sugarcane, and indigo plantations in the coastal islands of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and in the Caribbean islands. Mojo entered into mainstream English usage in the early 20th century and later popularized in the blues songs of Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” and Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Workin’” in the 1950’s.

The diminutive Mojito was certainly a clever name for a spirited cocktail  rooted in the islands that has since been casting its little magical spells far and wide beyond the Caribbean and across the globe.

 All the essential ingredients for a mojito are found right here in Southeast Asia; rum, cane sugar, limes, and mint are plentiful. So why not push the boundaries a little and stir up a Thai Mojito? Thailand produces a world class dark rum, Sang Som (moonlight) ( see here). Aged in wooden casks and blended with Thai herbs, Sang Som is available worldwide at select shops and online. Adding a hint of lemongrass to a Thai rum mojito and you have a Thai Mojito with the flavors and aromas of the Southeast Asian tropics. 

 

Thai Mojito: serves 1

  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • ½ fresh lime, seeded and quartered
  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2 oz (1 shot) Sang Som Rum (or other dark rum)
  • 4 oz (½ cup) sparkling water (club soda)
  • 1 round slice of lime
  • 1 sprig fresh mint

Remove the outer layers of the lemon grass until you reach the lighter inner layers. Trim the bottom of the stalk and mash it with the back of a knife. This will release the essence of the lemongrass into the mojito when muddling and stirring.

Place the quartered lime, mint leaves, and sugar in a tall clear glass. Using the lemongrass stalk as a muddler, smash the limes, mint leaves, and sugar together; extracting the juice from the lime quarters, bruising the mint leaves to release the essential oils, and dissolving the sugar into the mix.

Add the rum, stir vigorously to exchange the flavors, and top up with the sparkling water.

Add crushed or small ice cubes to fill the glass. Stir with the lemongrass stalk and garnish with a sliced lime round and a sprig of mint leaves. Leave the lemongrass in the glass for stirring.

The quantities of ingredients can be increased exponentially for making a pitcher of mojito mix, adding the sparkling water once the mojito mix is poured into individual glasses filled with ice.

A frosty margarita is the best hot weather drink ever and always turns a party into an occasion! Freshly squeezed lime juice is absolutely essential and good quality blue agave blanco tequila elevates the flavor mix to the sublime! The recipe mix can be multiplied for a larger gathering, placed in a pitcher and refrigerated.

Margarita  

Margaritas

Margaritas

  Makes 4

Prepare ahead: 4 glasses, frosted in the freezer

 

Place some flaky sea salt in a saucer large enough to accommodate the rim of the glass. When you are ready to salt the glasses, run a fresh lime wedge around the rim of each glass and then press into the saucer of salt.

  • 8 oz fresh squeezed lime juice, strained
  • 4 teaspoons triple sec
  • 8 oz blue agave tequila blanco (white)
  • 2 tablespoons fine granular sugar
  • flaky sea salt
  • ice cubes

Place the lime juice, triple sec, tequila, and sugar in a large cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.                            Pour over fresh ice in the salted frosted glasses and garnish with a sliced lime round on the rim.

If you prefer a frozen Margarita, place the ingredients in a blender and blend until the ice is completely broken down. Pour into glass and garnish with a sliced lime round.

 

Passion Fruit Margarita

 

Makes 4

Prepare ahead: 4 glasses, frosted in the freezer

Place some flaky sea salt in a saucer large enough to accommodate the rim of the glass. When you are ready to salt the glasses, run a fresh lime wedge around the rim of each glass and then press into the saucer of salt.

  • 8 oz fresh passion fruit juice, strained (or 100% packaged juice)
  • 4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, strained
  • 8 oz blue agave tequila blanco (white)
  • 4 teaspoons fine granular sugar
  • flaky sea salt
  • ice cubes

Place the passion fruit juice, lime juice, tequila, and sugar in a large cocktail shaker with ice and shake well.                                                                                                  

Pour over fresh ice in the frosted glass and garnish with a sliced lime round on the rim.

If you prefer a frozen Margarita, place the ingredients in a blender and blend until the ice is completely broken down.                                                                           

Pour into glass and garnish with fresh lime round.

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