Thai at home

Fresh herbs and lime make this chicken salad's flavour pop!Everywhere I go, women always ask me for easy Thai recipes. So once again, here’s one of favourites. You can make it in minutes, so give it a try and enjoy tasty fresh Thai at home. 

After you stock up on a few Thai pantry basics such as fish sauce, tamarind sauce, and dried shrimp, Thai cooking is easy and fun.
 
This salad, also called Som Tom or Som Tum, is a Thai classic and perfect this fall when green beans are plentiful. If you cannot easily find a green papaya or do not like it, double the green beans – it will taste fine.
 
If you add a half-cup of cooked chicken, (I use BBQ chicken from the store) or grilled shrimp or scallops to this salad, it will serve two or even three people as a tasty warm-weather meal.
 
Top and tail 1 cup of green beans, and steam them until they are cooked but still crisp (about three minutes). Then rinse them in cold water to keep the green colour. You can also microwave for three minutes, covered with a damp paper towel.
 
½ cup of grape tomatoes washed and halved
½ cup thinly sliced sweet onion or green onion
1 thinly sliced carrot, peeled
1 handful of Thai or regular basil
1 handful of peanuts to top the salad
½ cup dried shrimp (soak in water)
For a lunch or dinner salad, add ½ cup of cooked shredded chicken, or ½ cup grilled shrimp or scallops per person.
 
1 green papaya, julienned on a mandolin, or buy it already julienned or cut into long thin strips with a sharp knife. There is a big stone in the middle of a papaya. And the fruit’s tough peel is hard to remove, so use a peeler.
 
Dressing
Make this at least one hour in advance to blend the flavours:
 
2 tsp. fish sauce (I like 3 Crab brand)
Juice from 2 to 3 limes – it depends on how juicy they are.
1 pkg. Stevia in the Raw, Splenda or 1 tbsp. white, brown, or palm sugar (palm is Thai)
1-2 thinly sliced bird chilies, no seeds or 1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp. spicy or regular sesame oil
 
To serve, mix all the vegetables together with the dried shrimp, the chicken or seafood, and toss with the dressing.   Garnish with peanuts.
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Hot and spicy Tom Yum soup

Shrimp in a spicy aromatic brothHot and spicy Tom Yum soup with shrimp or chicken is the perfect thing for a cold winter’s day. It’s also tasty and refreshing on a sultry afternoon. I like to make a quick version of this popular Thai soup using prepared Tom Yum paste, boxed chicken stock, and a few other pantry staples. It’s delicious and takes just minutes. It’s called Tom Yum Goong or Tom Yum Kung when it is made with shrimp, and Tom Yum Kai when made with chicken. The version I prefer has a bit of tomato paste, but not all do, so feel free to try it both ways.

 
Fresh herbs are traditional. But if you haven’t any on hand, make it anyway. I have made this soup from scratch and it is fabulous, but making it with a prepared spice paste is just as good. It makes a tasty healthful treat that is ready in an instant after a long day.
1 heaping tbsp, Tom Yum Paste (I usually use a brand called Por Kwan sold from Thailand and widely available in Asian shops and better-stocked grocery stores).
1½ tbsp fish sauce ( I use Three Crab brand)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. sugar or 1 pkg. Splenda or sweetener of your choice
3½ cups organic or regular boxed chicken (uses water or fish stock, if you prefer)
1 cup white or brown mushrooms — washed, dried, and sliced
½  pound or 250 grams shrimp, cleaned and shelled (retain the shells, if you have them) or for chicken soup ¾ cup of cooked diced chicken
Optional:
2 to 3 washed spring onions or scallions, sliced diagonally into small pieces about ¼ inch or 6.5 mm.
1 stalk crushed lemongrass
1 tbsp. chopped herbs, such as fresh basil or cilantro
Juice from half a lemon
1 tsp. tamarind concentrate -optional
 
Sauté the Tom Yam paste briefly in small amount (1 tsp.) of oil, add the shrimp shells and stock, and simmer for two to three minutes. The shells add a more intense flavour to the soup. Add the tomato paste, lemon juice and sweetener. Remove the shells from the stock with a slotted spoon.
 
Add the mushrooms and the shrimp and simmer for five minutes.
 
If desired, add lemongrass  green onion, and herbs.
 
This soup can be made with chicken, too. Just add ¾ of a cup of diced chicken and follow the same directions.
 
For a heartier dish add a scoop of Jasmine rice to the hot soup.
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Spicy Thai mussels in minutes

Spicy Thai mussels are a snap to makeThis is one of my favourite ways to prepare mussels. I love mussels – they are so easy to prepare and healthful. I also adore the spicy Asian flavours of this dish. So do my friends and family. For years I have used delicious cultivated mussels from Prince Edward Island. They are easy to find and clean now. Here in Atlanta, mussels are small and unsatisfying – even in the best seafood restaurants. Why? I do not know, and can’t seem to find out. So I experimented with huge frozen New Zealand mussels. Either way, I love this dish and so do all my friends. Try it and delight your friends. It’s so easy and so fabulous.

 
Scrub fresh mussels under cold water. Most cultivated mussels will be pretty clean and need nothing more than good rinse. If they have a “beard” or scraggly piece of seaweed hanging on them, pull it of with needle-nose pliers. I find this is the best thing to use for the job. If you don’t have a pair of them, sturdy tweezers work well too.
 
Throw out any mussel that does not close completely when you hit it on the counter; it could be dangerous to eat.
 
If you are using the big frozen NZ mussels — and they are good! — defrost them almost completely. Rinse them in cold water right before cooking.
 
In a big pot, place:
1-3 Thai or Bird chilies (use only 1chili for if you don‘t want it, spicy hot)
1 to 3 stalks of lemon grass, bruised, or the peel of a freshly-washed lemon cut into strips.
1 handful of clean chiffonaded Thai or regular basil, and 1 handful of cilantro leaves, removed from the stems.
3-4 cloves of sliced garlic (sliced very fine)
1 inch finely-sliced ginger
1 tbsp. green Thai curry paste
 
Sauté in 2 tsp of oil until fragrant.  Do not burn!
Add the mussels.
 
Pour in 1 can of coconut milk
2 tsp. Thai fish sauce
Juice of one lemon
2tsp. sugar or 1 pkg. of Splenda
 
Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer and steam the mussels for 6-8 minutes — or until they all open. For large frozen NZ mussels, steam 5 minutes to permeate.
 
Serve with steamed Jasmine rice and a Thai mango salad for dinner.
 
Try this. It is wonderful, easy to make, and it really does taste like Bangkok on a plate.
 
 
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Thai chicken curry in a hurry

Thai green chicken curry

Recently, I had dinner with an old friend and loyal DolceDolce reader. She asked me to rerun this recipe. She said that if she had not saved it, others had probably missed it too. It takes only minutes to make restaurant quality Thai Green Chicken Curry. Try it once, you will be hooked. If you use a barbecued chicken, it takes about 10 minutes, start to finish. You will die over the taste.

 
For four people
3 limes
3 cups of cooked diced chicken
1½ cup green vegetables, quartered or sliced: Thai eggplants, snow peas, frozen, green or asparagus.
Thai eggplants are small and green and available in Asian markets. Wash and quarter them unless they are tiny. Slice snow peas thinly, also green beans to bring out flavour and colour. Cut asparagus on the diagonal. Add good frozen sweet peas. All are delicious. In a pinch, a big red bell pepper, diced, is good too. Green pepper doesn’t work as it is not sweet.
 
Open coconut milk can.
Wash and cut three limes.
 
Dice three cloves of garlic and grate 1½-inch of fresh ginger, or use one heaping tbsp. of garlic ginger paste. Place it in small amount of hot oil (any type) and heat until it begins to colour. Add 1 heaping tbsp. of green curry paste. Cut the heat to a low simmer and cook the curry paste with the garlic and ginger. 
 
Add the coconut milk
Add the chicken and the green vegetables
Add 2 tbsp. of fish sauce and 2 red chilies (do not add if you do not like very spicy curry)
Adjust heat to a low simmer
Add the juice of two limes
Add 1 pkg. of Splenda or 1tbsp. sugar
Stir
Taste
Add more lime or sweetener or fish sauce for salt.
This all takes about 10 minutes max.
Grate a little lime peel into curry to intensify flavour if you like (that is why we wash all citrus)
 
Remove from the heat and add ¼ cup fresh chiffonaded (thinly sliced) Thai or regular basil leaves.
Optional: Top with ¼ cup fresh cilantro and fresh basil (Thai basil is fabulous and more intense if you can find it –regular will do) and chopped peanuts. Serve with the Jasmine rice you started before you made the curry. This can be served at a dinner party — it is that good.
 
Garnish with herbs, peanuts, and chilies.
 
A very basic Thai /Asian pantry:
Fish Sauce – Three Crab brand, if you can find it
Coconut milk
Green curry paste in cans. Get some small Tupperware or jars. They will keep the paste fresh in the refrigerator for months.
Limes
Red chilli, fresh (you can use dry flakes if you don’t cook a lot, or if you do not like very spicy food)
Lemongrass (you can use just fresh limes). Lemongrass may be cut and kept in the freezer
Garlic
Ginger
 
You can buy garlic ginger paste in jar as time saver– or buy a jar of each and use them for all your cooking needs. I prefer fresh, but if you are in a time-crunch, it works!
 
Jasmine rice
Thai basil or regular basil (can be used in other cooking and sandwiches later – so good
Fresh coriander or cilantro (optional if you do not usually use it in your cooking
 
Not for this recipe but for your Asian pantry
Soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Hoisin Sauce
Sesame oil
Sesame oil with cayenne
Garum Marsala
Basmati rice
  
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Tapas dish with an Asian flare

Spicy Thia coconut sauce and huge mussel --a hit of chili and lemon grass It seems that Tapas dishes these days can include any and all small plates. This is one of my favourite ways to prepare mussels. Seafood is always poular on Tapas bars and mussels are inexpensive. For years I have used delicious cultivated mussels from Prince Edward Island. They are easy to find, clean and easy to prepare. Here in Atlanta, mussels are small and unsatisfying – even in the best seafood restaurants. Why? I do not know, and can’t seem to find out. So I experimented with huge frozen New Zealand mussels. Either way, I love this dish and so do all my friends. Try it and delight your friends. It’s so easy — and yet so fabulous.

 
Scrub fresh mussels under cold water. Most cultivated mussels will be pretty clean and need nothing more than good rinse. If they have a “beard” or scraggly piece of seaweed hanging on them, I pull it of with needle-nose pliers. I find this is the best thing to use for the job. If you don’t have a pair, sturdy tweezers work well too.
 
Throw out any mussel that does not close completely when you hit it on the counter; it could be dangerous to eat.
 
If you are using the big frozen NZ mussels — and they are good! — defrost them almost completely. Rinse them in cold water right before cooking.
 
In a big pot place:
1-3 Thai or Bird chilies (use 1for slightly not more for spicy hot)
1 to 3 stalks of lemon grass, bruised or the peel or freshly washed lemon cut into strips.
1 handful of clean chiffonaded Thai or regular basil, and 1 handful of cilantro leaves, removed from the stems.
3-4 clove of sliced garlic (sliced very fine)
1 inch finely-sliced ginger
1 tbsp. green Thai curry paste
 
Sauté in 2 tsp of oil until fragrant.  Do not burn!
Add mussels.
 
Pour over 1 can of coconut milk
2 tsp. Thai fish sauce
Juice of one lemon
2tsp. sugar or 1 pkg. of Splenda
 
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and steam mussels for 6-8 minutes – or until they all open. For large frozen NZ mussels, steam 5 minute to permeate.
 
Serve as Tapas dish or with steamed jasmine rice and a Thai mango salad for dinner.
 
Try this. It is wonderful, easy to make, and it really does taste like Bangkok on a plate.
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