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thai feast

Over the winter break I spent a week in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, stuffing myself with all the Thai food I could lay my hands on and also taking a cooking class with the coolest chef Aoywaan, at Aoywaan Riverside Thai Cuisine. Do check out her restaurant if you are ever in Bangkok! So anyways, I got back to Berkeley and was craving Thai food, especially my new-found love, papaya salad. I found a great Thai supermarket in downtown Oakland, purchased everything I needed for my Thai feast and prepared papaya salad, coconut chicken soup and basil chicken – Som Tam, Tom Kha Gai, Pad Kra Pao Gai. It tasted just like I remember in Thailand, and the spice level was perfect!

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Ingredients

  • Som Tam (Papaya salad)
    • 1 green papaya, grated or julienned
    • 1 carrot, grated or julienned
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1 thai red chili
    • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 1 tbsp. coconut sugar or brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
    • 3 grape tomatoes, halved
  • Tom Kha Gai (Coconut chicken soup)
    • 1″ galangal, roughly chopped
    • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, roughly chopped
    • 6 kaffir lime leaves, cut in half
    • 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 shallot, sliced
    • 2 red thai chilies, sliced
    • 1 unripe banana, sliced (optional)
    • 3 tbsp. lime juice
    • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
    • 1 cup chicken stock
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
    • Handful of cilantro for garnish
  • Pad Kra Pao Gai (Thai basil chicken)
    • 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
    • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
    • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. honey
    • 3 red thai chilies, thinly sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 15 – 20 thai basil leaves

Method

  1. For the papaya salad, place the garlic, chilies and sugar in a mortar and crush with a pestle until mashed and bruised, but not to a paste. Add in the lime juice and fish sauce and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Toss the papaya, carrot and tomatoes together in a bowl and drizzle in the mixture. Mash lightly with the pestle so the vegetables soak up the liquid. Adjust lime juice and fish sauce according to taste, toss with the peanuts and serve.
  2. For the soup, dry roast the galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves in a pot on medium heat for 30 seconds. Add in the stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Adjust lime juice and fish sauce according to taste, transfer to a bowl and garnish with cilantro. For some extra spice, stir in any chili paste; mine is a fried chili paste from the Thai supermarket.
  3. For the basil chicken, marinate the chicken in oyster sauce, soy sauce and honey for 30 minutes. In a wok, sauté the garlic and chili in some oil on medium heat till fragrant, then add in the chicken and toss till well coated and cooked through; this should take about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add in the basil leaves and stir. Serve with rice.

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