Thai Red Curry Trout (fish)

I’ve been trying to eat healthier and eat fish a couple times a week. This week I did a twist on a couple of things I know pretty well, one being making Thai curry.

I took a basic red curry, varied it for what I had on hand and gently cooked fish in it.  It came out very well and the flavors blended as well in practice as I had had imagined.

ThaiRedCurryFish

Often red curry is served with duck and a fruit, like pineapple or mango is added to the sauce to provide tartness and sweetness. For fish, I substituted grape tomatoes instead. In place of the palm sugar, I used a smaller measure of brown sugar. My kaffir lime tree has gone to the great tree heaven in the sky, so I used a little bit of lime juice, and finished with a few chopped leaves of basil.

Here’s the recipe, enjoy! 🙂

Thai Red Curry Trout (fish)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 generous servings
 
An easy to make red curry sauce that works wonderfully with fish.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Trout (or outher suitable fish)
  • ½ Cup halved Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • Potatoes and Carrots, cut to small stew size and steam cooked seperately (optional)
  • 2 oz. Red Curry Paste (For this recipe I used MaeSri in a 4 oz can)
  • 19 oz can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 tsp. Chicken Powder
  • 2 Tbs. Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Palm or Brown Sugar (to taste, go light, then add)
  • 2 Kaffir Lime leaves stem removed, chopped OR 2-3 Tbs Lime Juice to taste
  • ¼ cup Basil leaves (preferably Royal Thai Basil)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut trout into 1" pieces, set aside
  2. In a wok or large pan, heat the solids (coconut oil) from the coconut milk over a medium-low heat. Reserve half the can for now.
  3. Add the red curry to the hot coconut oil and gently fry, allowing it to release it's fragrance.
  4. Add the remainder of the coconut milk, the chicken powder and the sugar. Stir well.
  5. Add the tomatoes and simmer gently for two or three minutes. If using Kaffir lime leaves, add now.
  6. If using potatoes and carrots, add now and stir gently.
  7. Add the fish sauce, and the fish.
  8. Cook until the fish is just done, It should only take a couple minutes.
  9. If using Lime Juice, add to mixture now.
  10. Add Basil Leaves and stir gently.
  11. Serve.
Notes
- A number of vegetables work well. We like carrots and potatoes, however grape eggplant or the small round ones work well too. You can take liberties with this.
- I find that I like Mae Ploy and Mae Sri brands for curry pastes and coconut milk.

 

What’s cooking…

I’ve been so busy lately that even regular home cooking has dropped off. Work days are 10 hrs so by the time I get home I’m ready to have a half dinner and then relax.

Today I had a day off, so I decided to go Thai (yes, no surprise, lol) and make a couple favorites, plus something new.

The usual dishes, Som Tum Talay … my usual papaya salad with squid and shrimp, and Pad Kaprow Moo (the spicy basil pork) … and something new to me.

Instead of a large starch we made a Thai dish that’s apparently not often seen here. The dish is quite simple, and the elegance lies in clean execution. Cooked sticky rice is mixed with raw pork, some thinly shredded vegetables and sesame seed. It’s lightly seasoned with just a little white pepper and salt, rolled, dipped in egg and then fried.

The result is a ball that’s soft and sticky inside and crispy and crunchy outside. It’s the perfect complement to anything with a sauce, as you can pinch and dip with the sticky rice.

I found the recipe at one of my favorite sites, importfood.com. I didn’t vary it by enough to justify writing my own recipe, so it’s better to ask you to get it directly from their site.

All in all, it was a delicious dinner and the family was pretty happy with it 🙂

What’s up in our kitchen for New Year’s Eve!

New Year's Eve Dinner 2012

On this New Year’s Eve, we want to wish you a bright and shining New Year and hope it’s filled with many, many blessings!

I’ve been cooking and prepping for two days straight. Both trying new techniques on dishes I’ve been doing for years, and trying new dishes. Here’s a sneak peak at a couple things I’ll be serving the extended family later tonight. I’ll have full photos and recipes up in January.

I’m doing Asian tonight with a few dishes from different places. On the menu tonight:

Hainan Chicken Rice (China/Thailand/Singapore/Malaysia)

Hakka Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables

Fried Fish in Spicy Tamarind Sauce (Pla Rad Prik – Thailand)

Lettuce Wraps with Pork and Cloud Ear Mushroom Filling (China)

Gai Lon – green vegetables with Oyster Sauce (China)

 

That special moment when you say to yourself “ah…THIS is what I travelled here for!”

 

I’ve been on holiday in Thailand. So far, the  food has been good. I haven’t had any regrettable meals. Everything has been fresh, well prepared, and tasty. But today was one of those, pause and roll the flavor around in the mouth days.

I have had an urge for Pla Rad Prik, Fish in Chili sauce for a while now and decided that even if I’m eating alone, to just go for it and eat what I can. I found a restaurant that looked pretty good (no yelp here, so you’re rolling the dice much of the time). I went in and ordered the Pla Rad Prik. On the side, I had an order of Shrimp Fried Rice – Khao Pad Goong.

Pla Rad Prik (c) wildchopsticks.com 2012

As with most Thai recipes, there are all the elements of taste in there. Fish sauce for salty, palm sugar and tamarind paste for sweet, fiery peppers for hot, and lime on the side for sour. The fish was fried perfectly and the sauce was delicious. So good, in fact, I’m really tempted to go back again. A pound or more of fish for 250 baht, or about 8 dollars.

The rice was good, nothing to complain about at all, and had plenty of shrimp. The only thing that kept it from being memorable was that I was so into the fish that even white rice would have been just fine.

Khao Pad Goong - Shrimp fried rice

I managed to eat the best parts of one side of the fish and half the other as well as all the rice, but eventually had to stop. I hate to waste food. I mean I really, really hate to waste it, but it was either eat what I could or (if I didn’t order it) miss the chance entirely today.

 

Wood Ear or Cloud Mushrooms – Asian Ingredients

Wood Ear (sometimes known as Cloud or Black Fungus) mushrooms are a common, yet interesting, ingredient in Asian cooking. Used more for it’s texture, than it’s mild flavor, the mushroom still adds a substantive quality to the dish. You can buy them dried, or you can buy them fresh. Around the San Francisco Bay Area, they are easily found in Asian markets. If you don’t have access to an Asian market, or one that carries the fresh variety, the dried are just as good. You can find them online here:

Melissa’s Dried Woodear Mushrooms, 0.5-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

In my video, you can get an idea as to the texture and appearance of the mushroom.

If you have never seen or tried cooking with this ingredient, don’t fear! It’s really hard to go wrong with this in savory dishes. Just slice or chop up and add it. The taste is mild, as is the gentle crunchiness of it. It’s excellent to add a little texture to a silken tofu dish or even scrambled eggs.

One of the things I like to do with it is cook it and serve in Vietnamese spring roll rice paper or in leaves of Romaine lettuce hearts. Costco seems to have the Romaine lettuce nearly all the time.

Meat Filling with Wood Ear Mushrooms
Recipe type: Asian, Entree, Appetiser
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6
 
A nice savory filling for use in lettuce or rice crepes.
Ingredients
  • (caveat with the ingredients, it's ALL to taste. I usually don't measure a thing when cooking Asian foods. The measurements below are my best guesstimate, having cooked this just a half hour before writing).
  • 1-2 lb. Ground Beef (ground pork or chicken would work too)
  • 1 tsp. Soy Sauce, or to taste
  • ½ tsp Lee Kum Kee chicken powder (opt.) http://bit.ly/LKKChickenBouillonPowder
  • ½ tsp Beef powder (opt.) http://bit.ly/BeefStockPowder
  • 1 TBS Tamarind paste ( http://bit.ly/Tamarind_Paste )
  • 2 TBS Oyster Sauce http://bit.ly/LKK_OysterSauce
  • ¼ cup Wood Ear Mushroom, chopped ⅛" squares or so
  • ¼ cup Water Chestnuts, chopped ⅛" squares or so
  • 2 Thai Bird's Eye Chili Peppers, chopped very fine (to taste)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped fine
  • 3 Tbs Corn Starch
  • ¼ cup Cold water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the cold water.
  2. Add the cold water a little at a time, until you have a soft, wet meat mixture, but not so much that it's puddling.
  3. Preheat a wok with a few tablespoons of oil to med-high.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the meat and leave for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir, breaking up any lumps to a medium fine ground texture.
  6. Strain excess oil and service in a bowl.
Notes
This works well with Romain lettuce "tacos", butter lettuce cups, or Vietnamese spring roll wrappers. http://bit.ly/SpringRollWrapper Serving suggestions. Have a bowl of cooked rice noodles or bean thread noodles. You can serve it with Hoisin sauce as a condiment to be spread inside as well. If you're using spring roll wrappers, have cucumber shreds and lettuce or spring mix to put inside and add a nice fresh, healthy crunch to it. A small bowl of lemon or lime wedges will put a contrasting sour to complement the salty, savory, and spicy taste of the meat.

 

 

Thai Pork Shanks with Preserved Mustard Greens (Khao Kha Moo)

My last trip in Thailand I fell in love with a dish commonly found at food stands and in food courts. It’s made of a pork shank, slowly braised and served simply with rice, some of the cooking liquid for gravy, and a serving of preserved mustard greens on the side.
I tried making it myself today and it came out pretty well. First I put an inch and a half of oil in the wok and heated it, then gave 3 lbs. of shank a quick fry. Continue reading

Interesting Thai Snack – Spun Sugar in Crepes

As we exited the MRT station, having had a pretty good day munching our way around Chinatown, which included fresh jack fruit, any number of meat products on a stick (don’t ask me what they were, I have no idea, lol), fried seafood puffs on a stick and some Indian food, we spotted this lady who had a stand selling what looked from a distance like bits of hair extension.

She greeted us in a friendly ‘come on over’ in Thai (or at least that what I think it means), and we took a look. I asked what it was and she said sugar. Hmm sugar.

So, what the heck, 25 baht and we had a bag of blonde and brunette (ok, actually green and wheat colored :D) and another bag with a few crepes in it.

Here’s what we ate:

The best is yet to come, click more. Continue reading

Yum Som O, a fanfare of flavors in this different salad.

Wow!, Who would have thought the light, slightly sour-sweet flavor of the pomelo would blend so well with the sweet, sour, salty, hotness of Thai salad dressing! I stopped in at Yum & Tum at Central Festival tonight and couldn’t resist picking this healthy looking treat.

Blended with the Pomelo was dried shrimp and shaved toasted shrimp sung (i’m not 100% sure what the shaved bits were on top. I thought it was pork sung, then shrimp…), thinly sliced shallots, garlic, and coriander tossed with fish sauce, sugar, perhaps lime. I was trying to figure it out by taste. Bird’s eye chile supplied the fire. Continue reading

Tamnanthai restaurant, Thailand

Top quality Thai food, albeit at top prices. I had dinner at Central Festival Mall tonight. I was wandering around and decided to try an intriguing Thai restaurant that looked like it was going for the higher end.

Since this was not your typical fifty dishes fast, kind of place, many of the dishes were too large for me alone. (fish, for example). After going through the menu front to back a couple times, I ended up picking the first item on the first page. A fried chicken and sticky rice plate with a bowl of som tum (papaya salad).

It was cooked while I waited and when it arrived it was plated simply, yet beautifully. The chicken was excellent. The skin was as crispy as roast pork skin, the way it crackled and crunched. The sticky rice was a lesson to me in how dry sticky rice should be. It’s so easy to drown your sticky rice and cooking it with a rice cooker leads to mushy sticky rice as well. The Thai use a conical shaped bamboo steamer seated in a proper sized pot to cook their sticky rice and the quality difference is amazing. A story to follow up on perhaps.

The only thing I found that I wasn’t thrilled about was the som tum. I personally found it to be flat, unspicy, and far too salty. Missing was the sour bite of lime and the sweetness of tamarind, buried under what tasted like a double portion of fish sauce. Was it ‘dumbed down’ for tourists? Was it the chef’s personal preference? I didn’t ask, so I will never know. Usually a Thai eatery will have a set of four condiments to adjust the basic for tastes of Thai food, but there was none here and I didn’t bother to ask.

This was my only meal today. I skipped breakfast and lunch. It was good overall. The service at the restaurant was excellent. The price, I paid for that plate and an ice tea was 350 baht and that really could have fed an entire family. Actually with street food, you could feed a Thai family twice.

Still, it wasn’t bad. I think, though, that there are other (perhaps less fancy) Thai restaurants, Thai chains, and Thai food carts that I’ll try before returning as a solo diner.

I think this restaurant, for me, would be best enjoyed taking a group or a number of family members here to enjoy the upscale seating and decor and being able to try more dishes at once.

You can find out more about the restaurant and it’s other locations here

 

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