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Fermented Beef Short Ribs (แหนมซี่โครงเนื้อ)

This dish could have been relegated to one of the posts in the remix category. But that seems unfair to these tender, crispy, fatty, sour, garlicky short ribs. Something this good deserves its own post.

Preparing beef short ribs this way isn’t common in Thai cooking, and I kind of surprised myself as I picked up some beautiful beef short ribs from the butcher when the first thought that came to me was that I should ferment them. But with the experiment ending up so well, this has officially been filed under ‘Things to Make Every Month.’

All you have to do is follow the instructions in my earlier post on soured pork ribs, substituting beef short ribs for pork rib tips. After the fermentation, wash off all the garlic and rice bits, simmer the short ribs in a pot of water (just enough to cover the ribs) for about one to one and a half hours to tenderize them. (To keep the meat on the bones, simmer gently and don’t stir them around too much). Then fish the tender ribs out of the liquid and sear them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until the exteriors are crispy and golden brown.

[Added: November 7th, 2011 – Since then I have found that the best way to cook the fermented short ribs is to cook them sous vide then sear them crisp before serving. Cooking the ribs sous vide allows them to get tender without the fermented flavor leaching out into the cooking liquid. Another good way to tenderize the ribs without losing the fermented tang is to braise them long and slow in the oven with just enough water to cover them. Cover the pan with a piece of foil the entire time, then remove it toward the end to allow the liquid to evaporate and form a sticky “sauce” coating the ribs.]

The end result will somewhat remind you of the Italian porchetta or Mexican carnitas — albeit beefy and with the fermented tang. This is perfect eaten with warm jasmine rice or sticky rice.

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Baby Bananas in Heavy Syrup (Kluay Khai Chueam กล้วยไข่เชื่อม)

This classic Thai dessert is great warm, at room temperature, cold, or topped with crushed ice. It’s also pretty easy to make. You need baby or nino bananas, though; regular cavendish bananas turn all mushy and weird in the simmering syrup.1 And don’t skip the coconut cream topping; it is the vehicle for the saltiness that this sweet dessert desperately needs.

Baby Bananas in Heavy Syrup (Kluay Khai Chueam กล้วยไข่เชื่อม)
Printable Version

10 under-ripe baby bananas2, peeled and soaked in salted water for 5 minutes3
1.5 cup water
1.5 cup granulated sugar
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons rice flour or 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

  • In a pot (wide enough for 10 baby bananas to float in a single layer and deep enough to hold half a gallon of water), mix together the water and sugar; bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Drain the bananas and gently add them to the syrup; adjust the heat to achieve a gentle simmer.
  • Simmer the banana in the syrup, undisturbed, for 8 minutes. Do not stir the bananas around or they will lose their shape and become “fuzzy” on the outside.
  • With the tip of a knife or a wooden skewer, gently flip over each banana and continue to simmer for another 8 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Let the bananas cool in the syrup to slightly warmer than room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, make the topping by whisking together the coconut milk, flour, and salt in a small pot. Heat and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil and thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fish out the bananas from the syrup and place them on a plate. Drizzle the coconut cream topping over the bananas.
  • 1 This is why traditionally only nino bananas (Kluay Khai) and burro bananas (Kluay Nam Wa) and never cavendish bananas (Kluay Hom) are used to make this dessert. Having said that, I’ve used cavendish before solely out of necessity and, though it didn’t yield optimal result, it wasn’t abominable. If you really can’t find nino or burro, which can be hard to find, feel free to use cavendish. Pick ones that aren’t so ripe; otherwise, they fall apart on you after cooking.

    2 They should be about 50% yellow and 50% green.

    3 Do not skip this step. The salted water will help remove much of the sticky substance on bananas that are under-ripe. Failure to do this will result in unsightly brown spots on the cooked bananas. A tablespoon of salt for every quart (32 fluid ounces) of water should do.

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    Nam Prik Pao Recipe (น้ำพริกเผา) – Thai Chilli Jam

    Pretty much everything that is (hopefully) useful, practical, and relevant which I can tell you about this wonderful Thai ingredient has been said in my post on how to use Nam Prik Pao in modern Thai cooking. And since I will not go into its historical background (as the purpose at hand is to create the kind of Thai chilli jam that is used in contemporary Thai cooking), the only thing left to talk about is how to make this versatile condiment at home.

    The following two methods of making Nam Prik Pao are what I have been using. Both have their pros and cons. Continue Reading →

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