Trying Thai: Experimenting with New Dishes

If I didn’t have enough of a yen for traveling, it only increased when I found out that my friend Anna is going to Thailand for a year to teach English. Luckily, she decided to include me in the before-trip festivities, as we decided to test-run some foods from a Thai cookbook that she bought. To get the ingredients, we went shopping at an asian grocery store off Argyle. There were many ingredients that we had never heard of before, such as Taramind water and snake beans, but luckily for us, there was a great employee that helped us find everything in no time flat. So we headed back to her apartment and commenced making out three-course dinner:


First Course: Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Mash garlic cloves, salt, dry roasted peanuts, and dried shrimp using a pestle and mortar (a bottle on a plastic bag is a quicker way).
  2. Mix in the tomatoes and long beans, bruising slightly.
  3. Add the lime, bruising slightly so the juice flavor disseminates to the rest of the dish.
  4. Next, add Thai chili peppers as desired, bruising SLIGHTLY. The more the peppers are squashed, the hotter it will be, so season to taste.
  5. Next add the papaya, thoroughly mixing.
  6. Lastly, season with fish sauce, palm sugar, lime juice, and taramind water. The dish should be sweet, spicy, savory and sour all at once. Dish can be served with cabbage or green beans, and it is traditionally served with rice.
This was the most time-consuming dish, mainly because it was VERY difficult to crush the dried shrimp (which I wasn’t all that impressed with). We bought pre-shredded papaya, which made the process a lot quicker, and luckily it was still fresh. The end result, to our surprise, was a delicious dish. On to the pork!
Second Course: Crunchy Pork & Broccoli

Crunchy Pork & Broccoli

To our great surprise and happiness, this dish was extremely easy to make, as well as tasted delicious. There are many places where you can buy pre-roasted pork, but we bought raw pork shoulder from the market. For speed, you may want to buy it pre-roasted, because it takes nearly an hour to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pork
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Bunch of Chinese broccoli
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon oil

Directions:

  1. Cut the broccoli stems into small pieces, and remove the leaves.Crush the garlic with a mortar and pestel (if available).
  2. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, pork, salt, water, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar.
  3. Heat up a wok (or skillet) and put the oil on. When it is hot, add the garlic and cook until browned.
  4. Next, add the skillet mix and cook until the broccoli is cooked, then take off skillet and serve. Serve with rice.

Third Course: Pumpkin Custard Dessert

Now this, like the salad, was more challenging than it looked. We also had the most trouble with this dish. Here’s the instructions:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Japanese pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons of palm sugar
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Carve the pumpkin, taking a hole out in the top, and remove the seeds and strings. Then, steam the pumpkin for 15 minutes until it is partially cooked.
  2. In a bowl, mix together egg, coconut milk, palm sugar, and salt. Stir until it is completely blended.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pumpkin. Boil water in steamer, then place pumpkin mixture in the steamer. Cover the basket with the lid. Let it cook for about 45 minutes.
  4. Stick a fork into the custard. If it is still very runny, it probably needs more time.
  5. Remove the pumpkin and let it cook down. When its cooled enough, cut into quarters and serve. The custard should stand on its own.

Now, I would just like to note that our custard did not come out good on the first try. It was too runny, and we did not cook it for long enough. That just goes to show that every dish isn’t going to work the first time. However, it was still delicious, and I can’t wait to give it another try!

-Lisa

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