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Mike Sula and Spicy Thai Lao Egg Rolls from Spicy Thai Lao Restaurant, Chicago

An Interview with Chicago Reader Restaurant Critic, Mike Sula, and an Egg Roll Recipe from Spicy Thai Lao Restaurant in Chicago
James Beard Award-winning journalist Mike Sula has been writing for the Chicago Reader for 20 years, covering various topics in various formats and styles from short blog posts to long-form features. One of the city’s most respected restaurant reviewers, Sula scours the nooks and crannies of Chicagoland in search of stories to tell you. Sure, he has a reputation for both being difficult to impress and being very capable of vividly articulating why certain things don’t impress him. But if you have followed his work for several years, you will know that Sula is actually impressed with a lot of things.

Sula is also a writer whom I deeply admire. He has always been generous with his help and advice whenever I, a relatively new writer, ask him for it. I have always felt grateful for that. And I would like to dedicate this post to him.

But, first, I asked Sula a few questions. Continue Reading →

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Sichuan Peppercorn-Ginger-Butter Shrimp aka M’s Shook Shrimp

Spicy Buttered Shrimp
A long trip of traveling to different parts of Thailand and East Asia was responsible for my absence of late from the blog. But then it’s also the guilty party who has given me many recipes, ideas, and stories to share with you in the weeks and months to come. So I hope you’ll forgive me (big, toothy grin; head slightly tilted to the left; ten rapid blinks).

This recipe, for example, was picked up during a brief stop in Bangkok; it came from my friend M (to understand this post better, you really should read this older post about M first).

Knowing I was in town, M called and informed me of a new dish he said was a mashup between a Chinese shrimp dish that his mother-in-law often made and my dried pepper-butter shrimp (which isn’t a traditional Thai dish; no need to write me). He added that it was so good that he always whipped it up whenever he got his wife mad, because once it was put on the table, ahem, she could never stay mad. Tender shrimp with buttery, aromatic sauce that goes beautifully with warm jasmine rice is conducive to marital harmony, M argued. Besides, it’s kind of hard to be angry when you sit at the dinner table peeling shrimp with your hands and sucking the delicious juices out of their heads. In all seriousness, though, Leela, this is good stuff, he said.

You see, according to the way my brain interprets things, that was a dinner invitation right there. So that afternoon I showed up at M’s condo with fresh ingredients and asked him to demo the dish. This is what happened. Continue Reading →

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Sweet Potato Fritters from Simple Thai Food Book

Sweet Potato Fritters from Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu

© Erin Kunkel/Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House

I have recently written another article about GFB, the woman behind these sweet potato fritters as well as many other fried things I have yet to introduce you to. The article also includes instructions on how to make them.

Halloween would have been a more appropriate time to run this story — any story about GFB, actually. But it’s a long way away and I would like you to give this recipe — one of my personal favorites from Simple Thai Food book — a try now.

So if you’re not the type that gets scared easily, please move on over to Wall Street Journal Scene Asia.

You’ve been warned.

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