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Jim Jum: Hot Pot Isan-Style

Isan Hot Pot
Here’s a modern-ish Isan dish that would be perfect for this time of year when the temperature is beginning to drop in the Northern Hemisphere.

Essentially Isan shabu shabu or hot pot Isan-style, jim jum (literally “dip (and) dunk”)* is not a weeknight meal; it’s not an everyday dish; it’s more of a party food which I enjoy no more than twice a year: the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas when palate fatigue from all the cheesy, buttery, creamy, and sweet dishes from the big feast from the day before sets in. Nothing fixes it like a piping hot, brothy meal like this—spicy, sour, salty, herbaceous. It hits all the parts of you that need to be hit. Having most of the friends who live locally around during that time to enjoy it with me makes it even more fun.

It doesn’t mean you can’t have it more often than that. Continue Reading →

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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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