Thai-ing One On

COOK TO IMPRESS WITH A FIVE-COURSE THAI FEAST

Written By: Kim A. Fuqua

Thai Iced Tea

Thai red tea leaves are blended with star anise, cinnamon, and vanilla. The steeped tea then is flavored with sugar and after being cooled is mixed with cream and often condensed milk for a refreshing creamy drink.

Prep Time: 5 minutes; Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours; Cook Time: 5 minutes; Serves: 6

6             cups water
1              cup Thai tea
3/4         cup sugar
6             tablespoons cream
6             tablespoons condensed milk

In a kettle, bring the water to a boil. Place the tea in a teapot or glass container. Pour the water over the tea and let steep until bright orange in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Strain into a clean container, such as a pitcher (or, if tea is in bags, remove the bags). Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fill 6 tall glasses with crushed ice and add tea to 3/4 full. Add 1 tablespoon cream and 1 tablespoon condensed milk to each glass.

Serve with an iced-tea spoon so guests can swirl the mixture themselves.

Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce

This appetizer dish also makes a great entree. Most of this recipe can be prepared will in advance and heated just before serving.

Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 20 minutes; Serves: 4

1/2          cup canned coconut milk
1              tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2             teaspoons curry powder
2             limes, juiced (1/4 cup)
1/8         cup rice wne
               cayenne or red curry
               paste to taste
4            boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
12          bamboo skewers
1            green onion, minced
 
Thai Peanut Sauce:
2            teaspoons canola oil
2            tablespoons red curry paste
2            tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2     cups canned coconut milk
6           tablespoons chunky-style peanut butter

Earlier in the day, combine coconut milk, ginger, curry, lime juice, and wine. Adjust seasoning and stir in cayenne to taste. Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 3 strips. Toss meat in sauce and let marinate in a bowl in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Thread chicken strips into skewers. Grill on an oiled grate over direct medium heat, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Sprinkle with green onion and serve warm with peanut sauce.

Thai Peanut Sauce:

Heat saucepan over high flame and add oil. Add curry paste and sizzle. Stir in sugar then coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Stir in peanut butter and simmer for 5 minutes; taste and adjust with sugar or curry paste. Remove from heat and refrigerate if not using right away.

Tom Yum Goong

Tom Yum is the most famous of Thai soups. It is a clear, hot and sour soup featuring large shrimp and flavored with fresh lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf. It’s a good idea to tell your guests that the lemongrass and lime leaves are for flavor only and should not be eaten with the soup.

Prep Time: 20 minutes; Cook Time: 30 minutes; Serves: 4

2           quarts chicken broth
2           stalks lemongrass, cut into 2-inch pieces and crushed with the side of a cleaver
4           kaffir lime leaves (or peel of 1 lime)
1            1-inch piece of fresh galangal or ginger, sliced
2           jalapeno peppers, seeded and slivered
1           pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1           8-ounce can straw mushrooms, rinsed and halved
2          limes, juiced (1/4 cup)
2          tablespoons nam pla (fish sauce)
 
Garnish:
2          whole green onion, thinly sliced
1/4      cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Bring the stock to a boil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and jalapeno peppers. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Uncover and add the shrimp and mushrooms and cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. To serve, ladle into individual soup bowls. Garnish with green onion and cilantro.

Chef’s Hint: Taste for salt and spice levels before serving; you should have an equal balance of spicy, salty, and sour. Add more jalapenos for spicy, more fish sauce for salty, and/or more lime juice for sour.

Don’t Lie It Hot? Use only one jalapeno pepper for milder heat, or do not cut the peppers up at all, but leave them whole for decoration only.

Thai Beef Salad

Grill good-quality beef, slive thin, toss with the Thai-style dressing, and serve on a bed of romaine with fresh, colorful vegetables arranged on individual serving plates. This dish also makes a lovely light meal in itself on a hot summer day.

Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 30 minutes; Serves: 4

1             pound beef tenderloin, cut 3/4-inch think
1             teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2        cup beef stock
1             lime, juiced (1/8 cup)
2            tablespoons nam pla (fish sauce)
1            teaspoon sugar
7            garlic cloves, minced
3           serrano chili peppers, minced
1            large bag chopped romaine lettuce
1            English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1            red onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 1/2    cups cherry tomatoes, quartered

Preheat grill. Rub black pepper into all sides of the beef. Sear on the grill for about 2 minutes per side; beef should be cooked rare. Transfer to cutting board and cover loosely with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, and then slice very thin against the grain. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the stock, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add the meat to the sauce and stir quickly to coat it with the sauce. Immediately pour contents into a medium bowl. Add the garlic and chili peppers and toss gently. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately; reheat before serving.

Mound the romaine lettuce on four individual serving plates. Arrange the sliced beef over the lettuce, leaving the leftover sauce in the bowl. Decoratively arrange the cucumber over the beef, followed by the onion rings, and then the cherry tomatoes, creating elevation. Spoon the remaining sauce over each plate serve.

Pad Thai

As with so much Thai food, this dish uses the combination of sweet, sour, and salty to great effect. The addition of the protein ingredients depends upon your preference: Pork, chicken, firm tofu, and/or shrimp are all popular options. I use the common chicken and shrimp combination in my recipe.

Prep Time: 25 minutes; Cook Time: 45 minutes; Serves: 4

Sauce:

1/8          cup nam pla (fish sauce)
3/4          cup water
2              tablespoons brown sugar
1               teaspoon cayenne pepper
2-4          serrano chili peppers, minced (depending on desired spice level
 
Stir-Fry:
8              ounces rice noodles (or vermicelli)
1/2           pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
3              tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2              eggs, lightly beaten
3/4         pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch strips
6             garlic cloves, minced
6             green onions, cut into one-inch slices
1             teaspoon paprika
1/2         cup unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
3            tablespoons chunky-style peanut butter
 
Garnish:
3            cups cooked white rice
1/2        cup bean sprouts
4            lime wedges
4           tablespoons unsalted peanuts, finely chopped

Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Place 6 cups water in a wok or large stir-frying pan and bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well. Place noodles in a large bowl. Add shrimp and 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss well. Set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat over medium-high. Add eggs and stir-fry for one minute. Add eggs to the noodles and toss gently. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add chicken and garlic and stir-fry over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add noodle mixture.

Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan. Add onion and paprika, and then gradually stir in the peanuts. Stir-fry for one minute. Add the sauce mixture, peanut butter, and noodle mixture to the pan. Continue cooking and stirring for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately; reheat prior to serving.

To serve, pile rice on 4 plates, top with Pad Thai noodle mixture, then bean sprouts, and garnish with a lime wedge and a tablespoon of peanuts.

Thai Fried Bananas

Enjoy these fried bananas hot from the pan, or add some nontraditional toppers – your guests won’t mind a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a dab of whipped cream!

Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 15 minutes; Serves: 4

4            bananas
1/4        cup flour
1             teaspoon cinnamon
2            tablespoons butter
              sugar for sprinkling

Be sure bananas are not overripe. Prepare bananas by peeling, cutting in half lengthwise and then cutting in half crosswise to form quartered sections.

In a small bowl, mix the flour and cinnamon. Stir until well blended and then coat banana sections with this mixture.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in the bottom of a skillet over medium heat until sizzling. Place the floured banana sections in the hot butter and cook until browned on each side. Carefully turn only once.

Remove from the skillet when browned on each side and sprinkle with a little sugar. Serve warm.