We’ve asked people to submit their original Thai or Thai-inspired recipe for a chance to win two cash prizes of $599 and $399 from SheSimmers.com. And they did. Our three judges have reviewed the entries after the submission deadline on July 11th, 2011, and they have named the following entries as the finalists.
Here are the finalists, listed in no particular order.
Finalist #1 is Merry of My Merry Cooking who has submitted Spicy Ginger Chicken-Cakes on Hot Thai Dressed Cabbage.
Our judge Bill Daley is impressed with this entry. “Sharp, attractive photos help tell the story; clear recipe instructions; conversation tone is helpful and encouraging. People love shaping foods into patties, burgers and cakes like this. I think people will make this recipe,” he says.
Finalist #2 is Rachel of Rachel Cooks Thai who has submitted Northern Thai Dip (Nam Prik Ong) Cucumber Appetizer.
David Hammond likes how Rachel has used a blend of traditional elements in non-traditional ways. “That’s important because what I’m looking for is not just mastery of a traditional recipe, but a somewhat new application,” says Hammond. The use of fried lotus and basil does that, he says, likening it to ‘a delicate presentation that recalls the filigree of a Thai temple or the finesse of a Thai dancer.’ As for the question, “Does this dish make me hungry?” which he used as another important criterion, Hammond has come to a conclusion, “I would eat these apps, probably a lot of them.”
Mike Sula‘s reason is similar to Hammond’s, “I mostly liked it because she chose an element of Thai cuisine (dips) most non-Thai folks won’t be familiar with, and drew a straight line to the all-American concept of chips and dip. Without compromising technique (pounding can be intimidating!) or ingredients (bean sauce!) she clearly demonstrated its simplicity, yet created something very pretty and sophisticated.”
Finalist #3 is Sonia of My Little Kitchen Laboratory who has submitted Coconut Quinoa Cakes with Shiitake Peanut Red Curry Sauce.
“I thought the recipe fascinating; the use of a hot ingredient like quinoa was a smart move to reach adventurous cooks,” says Daley.
“Hot, rich, spice over neutral grain — delicious,” says Hammond of this entry which he considers a good looking dish and an easy-to-follow recipe. “This sounds like an excellent high taste/low fat recipe that’s definitely in the Thai tradition but that utilizes a key ingredient – quinoa — that is not in the Thai cannon,” he says, adding that the red curry sauce, coconut and garlic sound good with the grain and the peanut.
Finalist #4 is Chris who has submitted Fried Wontons with Pork Filling which he serves with a dipping sauce — a blend of original Thai Sriracha (similar to this) and Thai chilli jam (Nam Prik Pao).
Although Sula thinks cilantro stems should have been mentioned as a substitute for cilantro roots which are hard to find in the US, he likes this recipe. Simplicity is cited first as one of the reasons. The use of proper ingredients is also what impresses him about this entry. “[It’s] one a of few to use fish sauce,” he notices. Then there’s faithfulness to technique — pounding ingredients in a mortar. “I’m really into pounding lately,” he adds (evidence). For Sula, connection to something everybody is familiar with, like wontons, also helps tip the scale in favor of this recipe.
Finalist #5 is Jessica of Inquiring Chef who has submitted Thai Shrimp Bites with Peanut-Lime Dipping Sauce
Hammond likes how the recipe is easy to follow and not so complicated as to make it inaccessible to inexperienced chefs. It also passed his “Does this dish make me hungry?” test. “Like a lot of good recipes, as I read it, I can taste the food being described: the flavors make sense when I imagine them together,” he says, adding that this recipe is not a radical departure from the Thai culinary tradition, but it is a solid presentation of a familiar set of flavors, with the process clearly delineated.
The judges’ duty has ended here. It’s now you, readers, who will determine which of these five finalists will receive the cash prizes. The first prize of $599 and the second prize of $399 will go to the finalists who have received the highest and the second highest number of votes as of 11:59 p.m. CDT on July 18th, 2011, respectively.
Voting is open now. You can vote by leaving a comment on this post including the number (#1, #2, #3, #4, or #5) in your comment. If you’d like to tell us your reason, please feel free to do so. Otherwise, a simple “I vote for #X” is enough.
Anyone can vote. One finalist per vote. One vote per account. Finalists, of course, can vote for themselves.
Please don’t vote by sending an email to me for all votes need to be cast in public on the site.
 The panel of judges include:
Bill Daley – Daley is a food and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune. He covers chefs and food personalities as well as cooking techniques and trends. One of his fields of expertise is food and beverage pairing.
Mike Sula – Sula is a James Beard-nominated food and restaurant critic for the Chicago Reader. A big fan of Thai cuisine and highly knowledgeable about the subject, Sula has written numerous articles about Thai food and Thai restaurants in the United States.
David Hammond – Hammond writes the weekly Food Detective column in the Chicago Sun-Times and produces food-related segments for WBEZ (91.5FM), Chicago’s National Public Radio Station. He is also co-founder and co-moderator of LTHForum.com, the almost 10,000 member Chicago-based culinary chat site.
None of the judges is affiliated with SheSimmers.com or its advertisers.