Chicken corn soup (click here) from my childhood has inspired many reinterpretations influenced by places I have lived over the years and here is yet another inspired by my life in Thailand.
Making an early morning warming rice based porridge is a ritual found across t Asia as well as in Asian communities here in the US!
I find myself returning again and again to the Asian practice of using rice as a foundation for soups in the same way we use potatoes in the west. The advantage in using rice is that it is flavor neutral, a perfect medium for flavor, a smooth texture, and a hearty viscosity.
Taking that idea a step further, slowly simmering 1 cup unwashed Short grain rice in 2 Â½ cups stock will transform the rice into a thick translucent paste that is ideal for thickening stocks, soups, stews and sauces.Â IÂ make a batch, store it in small containers and freeze it for use on demand.
Stock is of course the flavor base for so many applications, and making a Thai stock will requires finding and including some perhaps unfamiliar ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger root, coriander roots, galangal, Thai birdâ€™s eye, chilies etc. I have found Whole foods is a good source if other options fail, but do not be be discouraged if you canâ€™t find some of these ingredients. Just improvise, keeping in mind the more assertive the flavor the better.
Thai inspired Sweet Corn Soup aka Jok
3 qourts of of strained Thai flavored stock prepaired in advance, strain, and set aside or refrigerated.
If you would like to add chicken to this poridge, poach 2 chicken breasts in advance.
Rice for thickening the soup
- r2 1/2 cups stockÂ
- 1 cup precooked short grain rice
Heat the stock in a sauce pan and add the precook rice, stir until simmering. Stir continuously until the rice has been completely broken down and translucent. Then puree using a hand held immersion blender until completely smooth and creamy, and set aside to use later.
- Preparing the Soup
21/2 quarts Thai flavored stock
- 4 fresh sweet corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob, include cob scrapings
- 3 young celery stalks, finely diced
- 1/2 inch knob ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced and diced
- 1 or 2 small Thai red birdâ€™s ye chilies, seeds removed and finely minced
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 6 Thai basil leaves sliced lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- sea salt or soy sauce to taste
- 2 tablespoons freshly sliced chives
If you are adding chicken to this soup, use prepared poach chicken breasts.
Pour the Thai stock into a stock pot set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the cut corn and cob scrapings, celery, ginger root, and chilies and and simmer for 12 minutes. Add the fish sauce, oyster sauce and bring back to a simmer.
Add some of the pureed rice mixture and stir until simmering. Adjust the consistency by string in more rice mixture sa needed.
Add he Thai basil leaves and simmer while stirring until you are ready to serve.
Taste and add salt or soy sauce to taste
If you are using poached chicken breast pull it into bite size strands and place in individual soup bowls before adding the soup.
Stir the lime juice into soup and ladle it in to individual soup bowls. scatter fresh chives over the surface and serve promptly.
Yam Som O in is a spicy Thai pomelo salad. Pomelo is a large tropical grapefruit like citrus fruit native to South East Asia. The salad includes shrimp, toasted coconut, shallots, peanuts, tossed together with a spicy chili-coconut lime dressing.
While I love the traditional Thai yam som o (click here) the conundrum is finding pomelo if you do not live in the tropics. That said I have found ruby red grapefruit to be an ideal stand in for the pomelo in an equally zesty Yam Som O.
The recipe that follows otherwise adheres to the traditional ingredients of this salad which will require gathering together some Thai ingredients that you may not have on hand as well as preparing a roasted Thai chili paste which I promise will fill l your kitsch with a â€œbreathtakingâ€ aroma of an authentic Thai kitchen. This chilli paste can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
Thai roasted chili paste
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons dried red birdâ€™s eye chills, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small saute pan set over medium heat. When hot add the shallots. Saute until wilted. Add the garlic and saute until the shallots and-garlic are golden. Then Add the chills and saute until softened.
Transfer the contents of the pan to mortar, or small processor and set the pan aside. Add the shrimp paste, fish sauce, and sugar and pound or process the mixture until emulsified.
Add dd the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. When the oil is hot add the chili mixture and saute for several minutes until reduced to a paste like consistency.
Allow the mixture to cool and then transfer it to a jar. Bets used while fresh, or refrigerate for up to a month or so.
The dressing may also be prepared ahead and refrigerated.
- Â½ cup coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons roasted chili paste
Pour the coconut milk into a small sauce pan and bring to a low boil. Add the palm sugar and swirl the pan until dissolved. Add the fish sauce and lime juice and swirl to combine. Then add the roasted chili paste and stir until it is incorporated. Reduce he heat to a low simmer and cook for10 minutes. Set aside to cool and then store in a jar with lid and refrigerate.
Thai Yam Som Oo saladÂ Â Â Serves two
- 2 cups precooked and de veined small shrimp that has been well chilled
- 2 tablespoons shallots tht have been thinly sliced lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons garlic that hat has bee thinly sliced lengthwise
- 4 tablespoons toasted shredded coconut
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh red chills
- 2 cups fresh ruby red grapefruit sections
- 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
- 2 iceberg lettuce cups for lining the individual serving bowls
Place the chilled shrimp in a non reactive salad bawl. Scatter the sliced shallots and sliced garlic over the shrimp. Scatter three quarters of the toasted coconut and chopped fresh red chilies over the contents of the bowl. Pour some dressing over all and toss, adding more dressing as needed until the salad is evenly dressed.
At this point the salad may be refrigerated briefly while you prepare for serving.
Divide the salad into two individual serving bowls lined with iceberg lettuce. Tuck ruby red grapefruit sections into the salads generously. Spoon a little more dressing over the salads if needed. Sprinkle toasted peanuts and coconut over the salads. Add the remaining grapefruit on top of the salads and dust with a few pinches of peanuts a toasted coconut and garnish with fresh coriander leaves or zesty sprouts and serve.
I used to make some stellar Thai basil pesto variations when I was living in in Thailand. But Thai basil is hard to find here in the US unless youâ€™re lucky enough to have an Asian grocery store near by.
By all means use Thai basil if it is available for the recipe that follows. There are two varieties to look for. Thai sweet basil has pointed bright green aromatic leaves with a hint of anise and an after note e of cinnamon. Thai holly basil leaves are a deep green or sometimes reddish purple leaves with an earthy peppery flavor. Both variegates are distinctly more assertive in flavor than broad leaf Italian basil.
If Thai basil is not available, just adapt and diversify, which is how this recipe evolved. The secret to Thai food’s popularity is a cleaver one. Most Thai dishes include all five elements of taste, those being salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami (savory) flavors in one dish which is pure genius. Itâ€™s no wonder why Thai food is so loved. With that concept in mind I used readily available broad leaf Italian basil along with some hot jalapenos from south of the border, some Thai fish sauce, lime juice, cashews (abundant in Thailand) and you end up with a Thai- americano pesto!
This is a pesto you will want to add to your repertoire. A dollop added to almost any savory dish will have it bursting with all the flavors of a Thai- americano mash up.
Pictured is Thai..americano Peato served on toasted bread strips atop a salad of baby arugula, pickled beets and hard cooked eggs, and shaved aged provolone cheese.
Thai…americanoÂ Â Pesto Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Makes about 1 Â½ cups
- 3 cups fresh torn broad leaf Italian basil leaves, or Thai basil if available
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 or 2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and diced
- Â½ cup chopped cashews
- Â¾ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce +more to taste
- Â¼ teaspoon sugar
- Â¼ cup olive oil
- cold water as needed for thinning
Place the basil leaves, garlic, 3 tablespoons lime juice, jalapeno chiles, cashews, Â¾ teaspoon of salt, fish sauce, and sugar in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are broken down into a coarse paste.
Scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Turn the machine on and pour the olive oil into the feed tube and continue to run the machine until all the oil is incorporated.
Stop the machine and taste the pesto and add additional salt and fish sauce to taste. If the pesto needs thinning, turn the machine on and add 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
Transfer the pesto to a nonreactive container, cover, and refrigerate.
The pesto can be served chilled or at room temperature with endless applications.
Listed are additional pesto recipes that I have posted over the years to to expand your pesto repertoire for freezing for later use during the winter months.
Fresh Sweet Italian Basil Pesto (see here)
Pesto alla Siciliana & Pesto Trapanese (see here)
Spinach Pesto with Pancetta (see here)
Pomegranate Glazed Pork Loin with Pistachio Pesto (see here)
Pesto Diverso (see here)
When the hot season, April- June, arrives in Thailand the last thing you want to do is spend much time in the kitchen. With temperatures tipping 40 c/ 104 f daily it is really HOT!
Being a hot country year round Thai cuisine has a unique hot weather appropriateness. Flash cooking fresh ingredients tossed together with assertive flavors and fiery spicy heat is what makes Thai cuisine so universally popular. The capsacin from fiery hot chiles stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain that instantly produces a sense of euphoria, while breaking into a sweat from the heat of chiles has a pleasant cooling effect as well. No wonder everyone loves Thai food!
The recipe that follows is a reinterpretation of a popular Thai stir fry dish; Kra Pao Moo (click here for recipe) . I have upped the ante in this recipe using a Thai rum marinated pork loin and included chayote to the stir fry that adds a fresh crisp element to the final dish.
Chayote originates from Central Mexico and widely used throughout Central and south America. Chayote was introduced to the old world during the Columbian exchange. From there it was transported through trade routes throughout Asia. Chayote is a member of the gourd family, and favored for its crisp texture and plentiful nutrients. The entire plant is eatable and often included in stir fried dishes throughout Asia. Seek it out! Widely available in Latin and Asian markets in North America as well.
Thai Stir Fry with Rum Marinated Pork Loin and ChayoteÂ Â serves 4
To avoid the heat of the day during the hot season I like to marinate the pork in the morning and refrigerate it for the rest of the day. Prep all the other ingredients in the morning as well and refrigerate. That way the stir frying can be done very quickly in the evening without breaking a sweat!
- 1 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced and diced
- 3 tablespoons minced shallots
- 3 kaffir/ makrut lime leaves
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/3 cup Thai Sang Som rum (or other dark rum)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
- Â½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound pork loin, silvery membrane removed and cut into 3 pieces
- cold water to cover
Select a non reactive bowl just large enough to hold the pork loin and other ingredients. Place all the ingredients except the pork and water into the bowl and stir to combine. Then add the pork loin and, using your hands, massage the pork with the mixture until covered. Then add just enough water to cover all. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 8 hours.
- marinated pork tenderloin, thinly sliced into medallions across the grain
- 2-4 teaspoons oil
1 onion, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, quartered, seeds and membrane removed, thinly sliced and halved
- 2 chayote, peeled, halved, pit removed, sliced lengthwise and cut into bite size pieces
- 1 or 2 jalapeno chiles, quartered, seeds and membrane removed, cut into thin strips and diced
- 1-3 Thai red chiles, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed and very thinly sliced and then diced
- reserved marinade
- Â½ cup fresh Thai sweet basil leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons oyster sauce or to taste
- stock or water
- additional fish sauce to taste
- fresh lime wedges
A steel Chinese wok is ideal for stir frying food very quickly over intense heat. For more information on cooking with a wok (click here)
Heat your wok over a gas burner or charcoal fire and add the oil. Swirl the pan to coat the surface and promptly add the pork medallions and stack them all the way up the sides of the wok. Sear briefly and then turn the pork and continue searing. Once lightly browned promptly remove the pork from the wok and set aside. Total cooking time 2 to 3 minutes max. Reserve the marinade to use later.
Add a little more oil to the wok and add the onions, garlic, and red bell peppers. Toss and stir fry until softened and lightly colored. Then add the chayote and toss to combine. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the jalapenos and Thai red chiles and toss until combined. Then add the reserved marinade and cook for a couple minutes. Taste the chayote. Ideally you want the chayote to retain a refreshing crispness that will compliment the otherwise deeply flavorful stir fry.
Add the basil leaves and toss to combine. Taste the broth and add additional oyster sauce and fish sauce to taste. If the broth has reduced quite a bit you can add a little stock or water.
Finally add the reserved pork and toss until just heated.
Just before serving squeeze some lime juice into the stir fry, toss, and you are ready to serve.
Serve with Thai Jasmine rice or, my favorite, Thai Jasmine brown rice. Have a bowl of lime wedges set out on the table as well.