Tofu Pad Khing

padking

In college, there was one Thai restaurant nearby, and on a whim I tried an unfamiliar dish very similar to this one from their menu. I have remembered those tastes ever since! Once I decided to make my own version, I had a hard time tracking down a recipe – I learned that this dish is probably of Chinese to Thai immigrant origin, and that while I enjoyed a tofu version at the restaurant, it is most often made with chicken. As I researched looking for an “authentic” recipe, I came to a realization I so often have and try to remember – recipes are always changing, and are influenced by too many countries and histories to count. Sometimes, in my efforts to respect the origins of a dish I do just the opposite – I expect it to be a window into a historic world that doesn’t exist. So! This recipe is a combination of many recipes I found as well as the flavors that I remembered from that wonderful first dinner, and I was very pleased. The meaty flavor of the mushrooms and veggies hold their own very well against the ginger, resulting in a dish that is balanced but packed with flavor. Enjoy!

Serves 2 – 3.

Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake (optional for more spice)
  • 1 head broccoli, sliced into large pieces
  • 6 – 8 oz shitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
  • 3 green onions, white and tender parts sliced
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce*
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce*
  • 1 tsp fish sauce*
  • 1/2 tsp palm sugar or white sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup chicken stock, mushroom stock, or water
  • Jasmine rice for serving (1 cup uncooked rice)

*Cook’s note: if you are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free – this dish can still work for you, just pay attention to the sauces! Oyster and fish sauce are products of fermented fish, and can be substituted for with 2 tbsp soy sauce. However, if your diet doesn’t prohibit these, don’t be tempted to omit them – these flavors add additional complexity to a great dish. If you are gluten free – just be careful of the soy sauce that you use! Many contain wheat, look for a tamari sauce (lower sodium soy sauce) that is labeled gluten free. I am most familiar with the Kikkoman gluten free tamari.

Instructions

After pressing tofu, cut into 1″ – 1/2″ cubes. Oil a baking sheet, and bake the tofu on the baking sheet in a toaster oven or oven heated to 350 degrees F while you cut and cook other ingredients, or for about 30 minutes until slightly crispy and starting to brown. Start your rice now, too.

In a wok or large frying pan, add about 1 tbsp of canola oil, followed by ginger, garlic, and chili flakes. Stir over medium high heat until fragrant, about 30 – 40 seconds. Now, add the broccoli and mushrooms. Continue to stir for a few minutes until the vegetables are just beginning to lose their water, then add the red pepper, shallot, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Continue cooking until the broccoli and mushrooms are almost tender – you don’t want to completely cook the water out of these though, because they are nice with a bit of a crunch!

Now, remove the tofu from the oven and add it to the stir fry along with the stock. Turn the heat up to high, stirring for an additional minute or two until the broccoli and mushrooms are just tender and the sauce has begun to diminish. Stir in the green onion and remove from heat. Serve over the rice, and don’t forget to spoon out the extra sauce! One of my favorite thing about this dish is that the rice soaks up the saucy flavors.

Tom Kha Gai

tomkhagai_0291
 
For a few months I lived in London, UK, and on dark fall nights I decided that I needed a pick me up and a cooking project! I was interested in Thai food and had access to a market, so I started to research dishes that I might be interested in making. I came across this recipe for Tom Kha Gai by Leela Punyaratabandhu on her fantastic blog SheSimmers, from which my recipe is adapted. There are no large differences, this is just the way I have come to prefer preparing this meal. This soup is a fantastic array of flavors that are balanced perfectly into a delectable bowl of soup. It is a little salty, sweet, spicy, savory, and sour- a little bit of everything!
 
Serves 2 – 3. 
 
Ingredients
 
  • 3 cups sodium-free chicken stock 
  • 2 chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite size pieces across the grain
  • 8 ounces fresh or canned straw mushrooms (drained)
  • 1 cup snap peas 
  • Two stalks of lemongrass
  • 2-3 fresh bird’s eye chilies (more or less depending on your heat preference
  • 2-inch piece of fresh galangal (you can substitute ginger, but use 1 – 1 1/2 inch)
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) coconut milk
  • 4-5 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 limes
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (can substitute Thai basil)
Instructions

Combine the stock and coconut water (not coconut cream on the top of the can) in a large pan. Begin to heat to a simmering temperature.

Cut the tender bottom half of the lemongrass stalks into 1-inch pieces. Peel the galangal and slice it very thinly, I used a mandoline to create thin slices. Place the lemongrass and half of the galangal into a strainer or tea ball and add these to the simmering liquid. Put the other half of the galangal directly in the liquid instead of the strainer, you can eat it directly as part of your soup after it has simmered a bit.  

Add the coconut cream to the liquid and bring almost to a simmer. You don’t want to boil the liquid because the coconut cream will begin to form a skin. Don’t worry – it’s very hot and your chicken will cook! 

Halve the straw mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. You can use other meaty mushrooms like oyster or cremini mushrooms, but stay away from portobello – while delicious, they don’t work well with this soup and turn it an odd gray color. Add the mushrooms, snap peas, palm sugar, and chicken to the broth and stir occasionally until the chicken is cooked. This will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces, just keep an eye on your pot and check the chicken when it looks completely white and cooked through. If you need more liquid to cover the ingredients add a bit of water. 

Remove the stems and the tough veins that run through the middle from the kaffir lime leaves, and tear them up into small pieces. Tear some cilantro leaves from their stems or the Thai basil. Cut the chilies into thin slices. Set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the pot from heat and season with fish sauce. Add a few dashes first, then taste the soup and see if you would like to add more fish sauce to make the soup saltier. Then, stir in the lime leaves. Serve the soup into bowls. 

Top the bowls with cilantro or basil, juice of at least 1/2 lime, and however many chili slices you would like to add to your heat level. You can also serve your bowl over hot jasmine rice! 

Thai Pork Satay

satay

Pork Satay is a delicious summer dish and a great reason to break out the grill. If you are missing some ingredients, all should be readily available at a Thai or well-stocked Asian market, and it is well worth the investment. For an easier dinner, prepare satay sauce and serving relish the day before. You can also use any leftover satay sauce for a Thai inspired pizza! This recipe derives from David Thompson’s Thai Street Food

For the marinade

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped galangal (ginger is an ok substitute)
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch of roasted chili powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp shaved palm sugar 

For the pork

Ingredients

  • 400 g (12 oz) pork neck or loin
  • about 30 bamboo skewers
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • pinch of salt
  • Satay Sauce and Cucumber Relish to serve

Instructions

First, make the marinade, In a dry, heavy-based frying pan, separately roast the coriander and cumin seeds, shaking the pan, until aromatic. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the spices to a powder before adding the lemongrass, salt and galangal. Pound to a fine paste, then stir in the turmeric and chili powders. Add the coconut cream, oil and sugar and stir until dissolved. Pour into a bowl. 

Cut the pork into thin slices about 1 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch. Add to the bowl and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or as long as overnight. 

Soak the skewers in water for about 30 minutes, then thread 3 slices of marinated pork onto each skewer. The satays can then be returned to the marinade for a few minutes or a few hours. 

Light a charcoal grill about half an hour before you intend to grill the satays. Stoke the charcoal, letting its fierce heat peter out to a gentle heat so that the pork will gently cook and smoke rather than charring. 

Place the coconut cream in a wide, shallow bowl and stir in the pinch of salt. Take each satay out of the marinade and give it a cursory dip into the coconut cream before placing it on the grill. Grill the satays over the prepared charcoal or in a chargrill pan over a medium heat, cooking three or four at a time, or more if you can manage it. Baste with the salted coconut cream. Turn the satays often, taking care not to let them color too much. 

Meanwhile, warm Satay Sauce. Serve the satays with the sauce and Cucumber Relish.

 

cucrelish

 

Satay Sauce

dippinsauce

Make this satay sauce to pair with Pork Satay as a dipping sauce, but make sure to reserve 2 tablespoons to create a sauce for a Thai Satay Pizza! This is a flavorful sauce that keeps on giving. 

Ingredients

  • 4 dried long red chilies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped galangal
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated kaffir lime zest
  • 1 tbsp chopped red shallots
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp cleaned and chopped coriander roots
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp shaved palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely ground peanuts
  • 1/2 cup stock, water or coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • pinch of roasted chili powder

Instructions

Nip of the stalks of the chilies then cut along their length and scrape out the seeds. Soak the chilies in water for about 15 minutes until soft. While the chilies are soaking, toast the coriander and cumin seeds separately in a dry, heavy-based frying pan until they are aromatic, shaking the pan often to prevent the spices from scorching. Grind to a powder using an electric grinder or a pestle and mortar then set aside. 

Drain the soaked chilies, squeezing to extract as much water as possible, the roughly chop them. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the chilies with a pinch of salt, then add the lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime zest, shallots, garlic and coriander roots one ingredient at a time, reducing each to a fine paste before adding the next. alternatively, puree the ingredients in an electric blender. You will probably need to add a little water to aid the blending, but try not to add more than necessary. Finally, stir in the ground spices.

Heat 1 cup of the coconut cream in a small pan and simmer for a minute or two before adding the paste and frying it gently for 4-5 minutes until fragrant and oily, stirring regularly. Season with the palm sugar then moisten with the remaining coconut cream. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the peanuts and simmer for 5 minutes. Mositne with the stock or coconut milk. Season with the fish sauce, chili powder and a pinch of salt. It should be quite oily, rich, dark, sweet, nutty and spicy. remove from the heat and let the sauce sit for about an hour, it will improve. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Thai Cucumber Relish

cucrelish

This is a cool fresh summer relish that is delicious with Satay Pork (that recipe later!) or slow-cooked pork with tomato-based barbecue sauce. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and a tasty complement to meats or soy marinated, baked tofu. We are indebted to David Thompson’s Thai Street Food for this recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • about 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 long red chili or 1 thai bird’s eye chili or 1 habenero, seeds removed diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup red shallots
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro coarsely chopped 

Instructions 

Simmer the sugar with the vinegar, salt and 1/4 cup of water. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool. 

Just before serving, stir in the cucumber, chili, shallots and cilantro.