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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Recently, I have found myself day-dreaming about foods and dishes from home that I have not been able to find in Thailand. For starters, my Chicago refrigerator was never in short supply of cheese (especially goat cheese), avocados and at least one bottle of Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc. To say that these three staples from my Chicago life are sparse in Thailand would be an understatement.  White wine is bought at the local 7-11 (you have a choice between two equally mediocre bottles) and we have to drive on our motorbike 10km just to buy a block of cheddar cheese, spending an arm and a leg for both.

Recently, I have had a craving for a recipe I found in Cooking Light Magazine last summer: Crunchy Shrimp with Toasted Couscous and Ginger-Orange Sauce. I made this dish for my parents one night last June and lets just say there were no leftovers. I even made the dish again the next night.

Picture taken from CookingLight.com

The textures and bold flavors of this dish are really what make it a homerun. The panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) encrusted shrimp or chicken and the toasted almonds add a crunch to the “melt in your mouth” citrus-infused couscous. The layer of watercress gives the dish a fresh yet peppery taste that is countered by the sweet orange ginger sauce.  This dish has it all, and to top it off, it’s healthy.

If you are like me and can find an excuse to add goat cheese to just about anything, a few crumbs sprinkled on top adds a creamy component that is absolutely delicious with the citrus dressing and tempura shrimp.

Tip: When breading meat or seafood, I prefer to use panko breadcrumbs, trust me, the end result will taste better. If you are having trouble with the tempura breading crumbling off into the pan, coat the meat or seafood in flour, salt and pepper before the egg wash, it helps everything stick together.

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In the attempt to find the best pad thai in Thailand, I have eaten this dish at least once a week since for six months. I am a little shocked that I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. I guess it makes sense; if I were living in Italy, pizza and pasta would definitely be a weekly indulgence.

I have had everything from inedible ramen noodle imposters to the most delicious and mouthwatering plates of pad thai you can imagine.  For me, pad thai is my Thai equivalent to homemade risotto, pure comfort food. Diving into a dish that, seconds before hitting my mouth, was bubbling from an open flame in a nearby wok is an experience all on its own. It takes everything in me to let it cool down, so I use this time to jazz my plate up with extra peanuts, chili infused vinegar, lime and bean sprouts.

The consistency of pad thai is one that can easily be ruined. Not enough time in the wok leads to crunchy noodles and a thin, watery sauce and a minute too long will leave it dry. Classic pad thai begins with sautéing garlic, shallots, carrot (optional) and tofu in vegetable oil until golden brown. Add the pre-soaked Thai rice noodles to the wok, stirring actively. Next comes the sauce: add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, and chili pepper until the noodles and sauce are fully combined.  Push the noodle mixture off to the side and crack an egg in the wok. Scramble the egg and incorporate it into the pad thai (Not an egg fan? Leave it out). Add green chives and bean sprouts a minute or two before serving. Top your pad thai with peanuts, bean sprouts, chives and a wedge of lime.

There are too many amazing pad thai places that I have discovered to name them all, but when I have the craving, a local guesthouse in Ayutthaya comes to mind. It is hard to walk by ‘One Love…Coffee’ guesthouse and not stop in for at least a drink. The three women who work there love practicing their English and all but harass you until you decide to take a seat and stay a while. The company and a perfect plate of pad thai always has me coming back for more.

For a traditional pad thai recipe, I found a great website with step-by-step instructions and pictures for a first timer. Enjoy.



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Tonight, we headed to Malakor for dinner. This seems to be a trend when we are unsure on our dinner plans. Malakor is a very modest Thai style restaurant. There are never more than 8 diners  sitting cross-legged on the floor, and yet they serve the best Thai food in Ayutthaya. Malakor was our first meal in Ayutthaya and has been a weekly occurrence ever since.

One dish that has become a staple for me in Thailand is Pad Med Ma Muang, or Stir-fry chicken with cashew nuts. It seems that the more I order the dish, the better it is. Either each restaurant I go to makes it better than the last, or I just cannot go a week without the combination of warm crunchy cashew nuts with caramelized onions. I’m going to go with the latter.

Malakor’s take on the dish uses dried red chilies instead of fresh, giving the dish a smoky flavor. The stir-fry also includes sweet green peppers (similar to banana peppers), carrots, green onion, baby corn, and local mushrooms. Ma Muang, meaning mango in Thai, could be one of the reasons the sauce is so flavorful, but with the communication barrier, I am not even sure if mango is used. Even if can’t figure out the exact ingredients, mai bpen rai, I know my fix is just a five minute motorbike away.

I am aware that my blog must look like an advertisement for Malakor, but if you ever find yourself in Ayutthaya, it would be worth it to eat multiple meals in this hole-in-the-wall spot.

I am the opposite of a picky eater. I’m no Andrew Zimmern, but I’ll basically try anything. Soup, however, has just never been my cup of tea. I like foods with multiple textures and soup tends to get boring. Or so I thought until I had my first bowl of Tom Kha at Malakor.

On our first trip to Malakor, Sean and I split Tom Kha and another main dish. By the time the second course came out, we had both our spoons in the Tom Kha bowl, fighting over the last few sips. We were more than tempted to order a second bowl.

Tom Kha is a coconut milk-based soup and has similar flavors to Tom Yum (a popular spicy Thai soup). The coconut milk is slowly cooked with large pieces of galangal (Thai ginger), lemongrass, red chilies and bay leaves. The mushroom, tomato, onion and shrimp are added with a few minutes left to cook, allowing the liquid to reduce and for the flavors to come alive.

Another Malakor crowd favorite: red curry with shrimp (featured below).

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