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Grape-Shrimp-Cashew Salad (ยำองุ่นกับกุ้งและเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์)

The Thai people don’t use grapes in savory dishes, including salads, very much. In fact, the only savory dish containing grapes I had growing up was an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad my grandmother used to make which was similar to this one. She’d take some sour green grapes, peel them one by one, and make a quick salad out of them and whatever leftover meat we had in the fridge (mostly grilled chicken breasts, because members of our family were the type that fought for chicken butts but pretty much ignored the breasts). The herb that usually went into Grandma’s grape salad was usually fresh mint or cilantro, because we always had too much of both in the garden.

I had thought nobody else but our family made grape salad until I came across the book, Rattanakosin Dishes (1982), which includes a grape salad recipe by M.L. Terb Xoomsai, one of Thailand’s culinary greats. I don’t have the book with me at the moment, and I no longer remember what exactly goes into M.L. Terb’s grape salad. I do remember, though, that there are grapes, shrimp, young ginger, and toasted cashews. So I thought I would try to recreate M.L. Terb’s version based on a faint memory; I could have made my grandmother’s grape salad, but it came in so many forms that nailing down the ingredients would prove difficult. Continue Reading →

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Spicy Duck Salad (ลาบเป็ดอีสาน) Isan-style by Bangkok Royal Restaurant in Lyon, France

Thai spicy duck salad by Bangkok Royal Restaurant in Lyon, France
Three of my colleagues who were in Lyon, France, last week, decided to try out Bangkok Royal, said to be one of the best Thai restaurants in the city. They were so impressed with the dinner that they went back the next day to interview the owner and the chef. Here’s the scoop, composed by me according to their account. ~ Leela

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Lotus in Thai Cuisine and Culture

pomelo shrimp salad in lotus petals
Somebody asked me a couple of weeks ago what my favorite Thai vegetable was. Based on his loud “Huh?”, I guess he wasn’t prepared for my answer, “Lotus stems.”

Before we get to lotus stems and what can be made with them, let’s talk about the incredible versatility of lotus. How incredible is the incredibly versatility of the incredibly versatile lotus? Very incredible — you know, this … incredibly versatile lotus. Continue Reading →

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