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Baked Chicken and Leek in Turmeric-Coconut Sauce

Baked Chicken and Leek in Turmeric-Coconut Sauce
The house I grew up in was only a short distance away from Kasetsart University, one of Thailand’s premier colleges known for forestry, agriculture, and food science. And we never missed the school’s annual fair, a large outdoor exhibition/farmers’ market/food fair where you’d get to see a wide range of produce and plants and sample delicious things.

My dad, who grew orchids as a hobby, would look forward to finding new types of orchid to add to his greenhouse; my mom, who was deeply fascinated by cold-climate crops (especially beetroots), would look forward to buying and figuring out a way to cook unfamiliar “Western” produce; I, who loved food on sticks, would look forward to walking around the fairground with grilled meatballs or grilled pork on bamboo skewers in my little hands.

Kaset Fair, as the event is called, was a big deal. At least to us. Continue Reading →

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Simple Thai Food: Beef Shank Matsaman Curry (แกงมัสมั่นเนื้อน่องลาย)

Beef Shank Matsaman Curry from Simple Thai Food Book by Leela Punyaratabandhu
To continue the series of photo-based posts from Simple Thai Food, here’s matsaman (massaman) curry made with beef shank.

I made this with fresh coconut milk from a mature coconut which I grated with the coconut bunny and extracted myself. Because of this, the coconut fat splits more readily and the curry broth, though certainly rich and full-bodied, doesn’t have the creamy, homogenous appearance that it usually does when canned or boxed coconut milk is used.

I didn’t have any yellow or white onions around when I made this batch of matsaman, so I went with the tiny pearl onions I had in the freezer. To compensate for the undersize onions, I –and, trust me, this made perfect sense at the time– cut the Yukon Gold potatoes into larger-than-usual chunks. But now I’m looking at the size disparity between the two, and I’m just as confused as some of you may be. None of this affects the taste, though.

Lastly, if you look closely, you will spot tiny little ivory/light golden-colored (or are they black and blue?), Siamese cardamoms which are used routinely in Thailand (I’ve mentioned them in the glossary), at least in the central Thai version of the curry. If you can find them, by all means, use them. If not, green cardamoms which you can find at most Middle Eastern and South Asian grocery stores will work just fine.

You can find the recipe for beef shank matsaman curry on page 108 of Simple Thai Food.

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Southern Thai Pork Rib Curry (แกงพริกกระดูกหมู)

Southern Thai Pork Rib Curry
The assumption is often that Thai curries are spicy dishes with thick, creamy coconut-based curry sauce – so much so that questions along the lines of, “How could you possibly call that a curry?” always come up whenever I introduce any dish the Thai recognize as a “curry” that happens to contain no coconut milk. The central sour curry comes to mind; the southern sour curry as well. Then there’s a central version of the so-called “jungle curry” I’ve included in Simple Thai Food that, as far as the Thais are concerned, is a full-fledged curry even though it has absolutely no coconut. Continue Reading →

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