Lemon basil grew so lushly in my herb garden this year, and I have used it in so many dishes of which I’d previously been deprived. This year, I’ve also taken to incorporating a lot of lemon basil seeds into my diet.
I’ve drafted a post on how to prepare and the various ways in which to enjoy this wonderful albeit odd-looking food. It will be posted sometime in 2012. In the meantime, keep an eye out for basil seeds at your local Asian grocery store.
Having heard that I’d never before cooked with Nittaya curry pastes, a somewhat newcomer to the international scene, the kind folks at Temple of Thai have sent me a few samples to test-drive. And if I hadn’t liked them, I would not have added Nittaya to my list of favorite things. I really do like this brand of curry pastes, especially their red curry and massaman curry.
Apropos of nothing, I also love the fact that they call kaeng kari, “kari cury” instead of “yellow curry” which is a confusing moniker that can get on people’s nerves. But more on that later. For now, if you can find this particular brand, you may want to try it out. The pastes come in resealable plastic bags making it very easy to scoop out just what you need and store the rest without having it dry out on you in the fridge.
As a courtesy to my readers, Temple of Thai will include a free gift with every purchase of three Nittaya curry pastes. To take advantage of this offer, follow this link.
(Also, scroll down to the bottom to find out how to win a giveaway of Nittaya paste sampler pack.)
Who else stirs an egg into their oatmeal like I always do? Oatmeal with fruits and nuts is great, but without added protein, it always leaves me unsatisfied. In fact, it’s the presence of the eggs in my (prepared steel-cut) oatmeal that got me thinking that if I’d just replace the regular white or brown sugar with palm sugar or unprocessed cane sugar (or a combination of both) and use coconut milk in lieu of cow’s milk, I’d end up with hot oatmeal that reminds me of a Thai dessert.
It worked, and I’ve been making my morning oatmeal this way ever since. Don’t forget to add a tiny pinch of salt for it makes a big difference. A little bit of pandan extract in this would take you even closer to Southeast Asia, but that’s completely optional. You can leave out the eggs, but if should you choose to add them, do so towards the end. Whisk them in after you’ve taken the pot off the stove so they get cooked gently with the residual heat and yield creamy oatmeal instead of one speckled with tiny eggy bits.
Besides, there’s a point being made somewhere in there: Though not extremely difficult to make, Pad Thai is one of those dishes that the Thai people usually buy off the street instead of making at home. Too many ingredients. Too much preparation. Not economical. Those in Thailand who insist on making their own Pad Thai at home can do so (and more power to them); I’m part of the crowds that buy theirs.
I’m not a contrarian, and I have nothing against Pad Thai. Yet, the fact remains: I’ve never considered Pad Thai the quintessential representation of what Thai cuisine has to offer, and I still stand by the comment I’d made earlier in my post on Easy Thai Green Curry that Pad Thai doesn’t even make the list of my 50 top favorite Thai dishes. I don’t hate it; there are simply too many other Thai dishes that I like more.
But Pad Thai is on this list, because in the course of writing the Pad Thai series this year, I’d come to make (and eat) it more frequently and appreciate much more this internationally-adored dish. After all, when done right, it truly is a noodle dish like no other.
What you don’t know (or care to know) is that after I’d shot that top photograph for my post on Pad Ka-prao, I dragged that fried chicken egg down from atop that mound of rice and replaced it with 3-4 fried quail eggs before proceeding to eat the whole plate. I’ve been eating more quail eggs this year than ever before after updating the post on my minimalist Thai spicy fried egg salad.
Have you tried fried quail eggs? With every bite you get not just part of a fried egg but a whole fried egg — the crispy bits, the creamy bits, and everything else. Every bite.
I feel bad about promising a post on Thai-style roti, one of the beloved street foods (we’re talking carb fried in ghee, drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, and sprinkled with sugar), last year and never actually had a chance to finalize my recipe. I spent the latter part of 2011 refining the technique, though. And, as a result, I have been eating way too many rotis. I shouldn’t have, but you know …