South East Asia is the home of beautiful people, fashions, sights, scenes and delectable food. Thailand in particular has extremes - very good to very bizarre foods. In this our inaugural Thai cuisine blog series, I will leave your discovery of the arguably very bizarre to Andrew Zimmern (The Food Network Channel) and invite you to see his Bizarre Food episodes in Thailand. I will say this much - in sections of Thailand, catching lizards and eating them are deemed to be yummy. It got me thinking. Jamaica and other Caribbean islands have 'croco-lizards' and many people are ghastly afraid of them. Ding ding! For the entrepreneurs out there, that is a business opportunity right there. How about exporting some Caribbean lizards to Thailand? Those fat and crawly lizards would be seen as exotic :-) Tip:
Careful balance would however be recommended to ensure the mosquito population in the Caribbean does not increase.
So in focusing on the very good of Thai cuisine the fundamental components are important to understand. There are five (5) tastes: - 1) sweet 2) sour 3) salty 4) spicy and 5) bitter (many opt out). When done correctly, balance is achieved in almost every plate and or throughout your meal. This harmony in food I believe has been influenced by Buddhism (the religion practiced by many Thai people).
|with a Buddhist priest - Grand Palace, Bangkok|
I had the good fortune to join friends in Thailand where we visited three (3) states - Bangkok (the city), Chiang Mai (borders Laos) and Phuket ('touristy' by the Andaman sea). Each area charmed us. The people remained the same - warm and the food - special in every way. My friends and I love Thai food and enrolled at the internationally renowned Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School.
At the home of Sompon Nabnian (Thailand's International TV chef) we were taught our first authentic and one of the most popular Thai dishes - Green Curry with Chicken (Gaeng Kheo Wan Gai). Since then I have done it at dinner parties and most recently at my New Year's Eve Potluck party. On every occasion it is a 'hit' and will happily share the recipe. First of all, it is easy and you too will be able to do it from memory. Ingredients are available at your nearest Asian grocery store. In Kingston, Jamaica visit Fresh Approach Asian supermarket on Constant Spring Rd (beside New Line Cars) or Loshushan's supermarket (Barbican Center).
- 1 1/2 c, 10 oz chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1 c of thick coconut milk, set aside 2tbs to use as garnish
- 1 c thin coconut milk
- 4 tbs green curry paste
- 3 big egg plants, cut into 1/2" pieces (sometimes I substitute with bamboo shoots)
- 1/2 c small egg plant
- 2 tbs palm sugar (brown sugar works too)
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces discarding the stem (regular lime leaves works)
- 1 c sweet basil leaves
- 1 big green chili, sliced
- 1 big red chili, sliced
Put the thick coconut milk into a wok and fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the coconut oil begins to separate out. Then add the green curry paste and fry for 1-2 minutes. Once the paste is cooked add the chicken and cook until the outside of the chicken turns white. Then add the thin coconut milk and when it is boiling add the big and small egg plants.
Simmer for about 4min until the egg plants are slightly soft. Then add the palm sugar along with edge of the wok so that it melts and add the fish sauce, lime leaves and half of the basil leaves. Turn off the heat and serve garnished with green and red chillies, the remaining sweet basil leaves and the remaining thick coconut milk.
Recipe Credit: Sompon Nabnian
Well there you have it folks, the first Thai dish I learned. Give it a 'go' tomorrow or this weekend with family/friends. Thai night should be good. Let me know how it went. Your comments are always welcomed. Join us here to learn more about my Thai trip including a Khantoke dinner (meals are served on a wooden tray while being entertained with a cultural show) and how
to do fried fish Thai style with red, sweet chili sauce (see above).
- Megaliciously yours,