Simple Thai Food: Chicken in Brown Sauce on Rice (ข้าวหน้าไก่)


Khao Na Kai - Chicken in Brown Sauce over Rice from the Book Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen
I’ve been wanting to start a series of photo-based posts featuring dishes, or samples of family meal ensembles, that you can create from Simple Thai Food (which I’m sure my long-time readers have a copy of). I hadn’t had a chance to do so until now.

Debuting the series is one of my top favorites in the entire repertoire of what the Thais refer to as “one-plate meals”: khao na kai (also informally spelled khao na gai).

This is one of the old-fashioned Thai-Chinese dishes that are very well known among those who are deeply familiar with Bangkok. My generation grew up eating this; our parents and grandparents loved it so much that even though they had to herd their kids and grandkids into the car and drive to specific restaurants on the other side of the city for good versions of it, they never hesitated (I know, because I was one of those kids).

Not all comfort foods are easy to make as, to be ‘comfort,’ they often require long, slow cooking. Not this one where the active cooking time is less than 15 minutes. The ingredient list is pretty darned short as well. It’s one of those things that seem so ordinary that some people probably look at and go, ‘What’s the big deal?’But looks can be deceiving.

A simple recipe for it can be found on page 146 of Simple Thai Food. Feel free to top it with a crispy fried egg (page 194) and/or add some dried, sweet Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced and seared crisp, as done by one old Bangkok-based restaurant.

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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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Salted Chicken Shreds ไก่คั่วเกลือ

Salted Chicken Shreds
Last November marked the 6th anniversary of SheSimmers. I’ve been doing this thing for six years. And though it doesn’t feel that way to me, that’s a long time. In most relationships, this is long enough for people to feel so comfortable with each other that even certain bodily functions no longer present an issue. Don’t worry; I’m not going to do anything in your general direction — at least not yet. All I’m saying is that I now feel comfortable enough around you guys to post things that I was once afraid might cause you to avert your eyes. This thing you’re looking at, for example. You can see why no poets have ever compared it to a night of cloudless climes and starry skies or declared it more lovely and temperate than a summer’s day. In fact, is there even a way to make it look cute? Stack it up like brownies and tie it with 3-colored raffia? Slap a few Hello Kitty stickers on it? I don’t think so.

But actually, now that I think about it, I did this once before. Remember four years ago when I wrote about salted/fermented soybean paste? That was the only time on this blog I’d ever described something as aesthetically-compromised. (I didn’t say she was ugly, though; I just said she was no Helen of Troy.) What happened next? Many of you have fallen in love with khao man gai (RTGS: khao man kai), a dish whose success rests on this condiment. Well, these chicken shreds are no different. So even though you may hesitate to make room in your life for something that looks like this, I’m asking you to trust me that this dish could very well become your new best friend. Continue Reading →

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