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Yul Brynner’s Chicken Yellow Curry

Yul Brynner's Thai Chicken Yellow Curry
No thinking person would ever take the words of Anna Leonowens as the singularly, unquestionably authoritative source of information on mid-18th century Siam much less regard the musical the King and I, or the film adaptation thereof, as historically accurate—or even factual. But can one learn to make Thai food from legendary actor Yul Brynner?

That was the question on my mind as I began leafing through The Yul Brynner Cookbook: Food Fit for the King and You, the book Brynner co-authored with Susan Reed, which I had recently discovered—three decades after it was published. 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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