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Sweet and Sour Red Curry of Water Spinach and Pork Belly (Kaeng The-pho) from Immm Rice & Beyond in Chicago

Sweet and Sour Red Curry with Pork Belly from Immm Rice & Beyond in Chicago
(This post assumes that you have read its prerequisite.)

When it comes to Thai restaurants in the West, the one type that brings the widest range of emotions out of me is ran khao kaeng, rice-curry shops.

They’re the ones I hope for (Rotating menu! Variety! New stuff at every visit!), look for (Why are they so hard to find in the US?), get excited about (Hooray! One just opened up in the city!), and am fearful for (I hope they won’t go out of business like the two I’d interviewed in the last 5 years…) the most.

When done right and supported by the members of their community (so the people who run them can continue to do it right), this type of Thai restaurant could become not only the most approachable but also the most variegated and interesting ‘learning center’ for those who want to know more about Thai food and sample a wider variety of Thai dishes.

But the way rice-curry shops operate in the West—and I’ll get into this shortly—can be confusing. Consequently, what’s written about them is sometimes inaccurate. And because I want them to succeed so much, seeing how they’re misrepresented or misunderstood makes me feel nervous for them at times. Continue Reading →

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Braised Brisket in Tamarind-Palm Sugar Sauce

Braised Brisket in Tamarind-Palm Sugar Sauce
I’m a big, big fan of Jewish-style sweet and sour brisket. In fact, after having tried at least 10 different recipes for it in the past decade, I’ve discovered that even the least impressive batch was delicious to me. It’s almost like you really need to try pretty hard to mess it up. Continue Reading →

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Coconut Sticky Rice with Jackfruit

Sticky Rice Jackfruit
With jackfruits popping up everywhere these days, I thought I’d tell you about this dessert/snack: coconut sticky rice with jackfruit.

Khao niao khanun isn’t nearly as popular or ubiquitous as the iconic khao niao mamuang (sticky rice with mango), but it’s by no means uncommon. And if you already know how to make the latter, you already know enough.

Start off with a fresh batch of sweet coconut sticky rice. Page 161 of Simple Thai Food explains in detail the process of making it. Then you pinch off a small bit of the rice and fill a fresh jackfruit half (you already know how to get the flesh out of a whole jackfruit) with it. The salted coconut cream goes on top. If you’re in Thailand, fried hulled mung beans would be the standard topping; elsewhere, sesame seeds would work just fine.

Once assembled, these stuffed jackfruit halves should be consumed as soon as you can. Certain things don’t taste great after having sat at room temperature for a long time (or reheated after having been refrigerated). This is one of those things.

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