Thai Impressions

DSC_0508Thailand was never a place I wanted to visit. I yearn for some destinations, dream of them, plan holidays in future years but Thailand has never made that list. Not sure why.

Then, my mother in law bought a house there, and suddenly it was the next destination. That was four years ago and we have just been back for our second holiday. How do I feel about the country now? I could live there, permanently, without giving it a second thought! Why? Well, the list is long but topping it….it has to be….it has to be:

  • The Food. It has to be the food that tops the list! The colours, the flavours, the philosophy under which meals are prepared, the scents that tickle your nostrils and massage your palette. Amazing. If you dare to let go and try things that look strange; things that come out of odd leaves, containers and pots then you are in for a treat.
  • The People. Respectful, not pushy, at peace, not stressed, happy, kind, accommodating. Always a smile, always ready to help. We have a lot to learn in the west
  • The Weather. Average 30 degrees C in February. Nice. No further comment.
  • The Activities. Diving, kite boarding, snorkelling, go-karting, fishing, cooking classes, animal shows, morning market, night markets, fish markets, walk-in streets, trekking to tops of water falls and skinny dipping in them, riding elephants…. We did all of these and could easily have done more.

We took a few hours worth of cooking lessons from a fabulous Thai lady who ran a much acclaimed Thai Restaurant in Australia for 20 years. Short, stout, strict, and bossy as anything, but passionate about ingredients. About when to stir and when to leave, about pestle and mortar, about using every little bit of the raw materials – out of respect for both nature and the client who is to eat the dish. From the lesson came three dishes and I will share them on the blog. Mouth-watering yet so simple and quick to cook!

Before I start recipe writing I want to share my favourites pictures from our trip. Hopefully they will draw you in and let you feel just a little of the magic that is Thailand. It truly is a place where your soul can rest and re-fresh; when you have time to think and focus; a place where stress does not seem to exist and most importantly, to a food lover like I am, a place where the food you find at little road stands is simply divine and different. Where the best local restaurants are nothing more than a wok on fire and you walk through the chef’s living room to be seated. Completely different; completely fabulous!

Enjoy the gallery….and share your experiences! Have you been to Thailand? What was your best bit?

Pomegranate #5 – Curry!

I am ending the pomegranate series on a high! This is absolutely stunning – rich and deep in flavour while still being fresh and incredibly healthy.

Indian in its flavour, rather than Thai, it does not have all the fat that comes with coconut milk and is also less spicy – brave children will like this one!

Prawn and Pomegranate Curry

(adapted from Food and Wine magazine recipe)

Seeds of half a pomegranate (tips on how to remove these here)
1/2 cup water
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 tsp curry powder
1 red chilli, chopped (omit if making for children)
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
500g prawns
Handful coriander
 
  • Place pomegranate seeds and water in a cup
  • Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and add chopped onion and curry powder – stir until the onions turn soft (3-5 minutes)
  • Add the garlic and chilli and stir
  • Add the pomegranate water mix as well as the chopped tomatoes and season with sugar, salt and pepper – the sugar is primarily included to counteract the acidity that comes with tinned tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatoes you can leave out the sugar
  • Cook for about 15 minutes stirring often
  • Add the prawns and let them cook with the mixture for about 3 minutes – you want them cooked but not hard. If using pre cooked prawns simply add for about a minute before serving to ensure they heat through
  • Just before serving, stir through half of the coriander
  • Serve by laying large ladlefuls on a plate – with either brown rice or naan bread – and sprinkle coriander and a few pomegranate seeds over it for presentation
  • Savour it! Glorious!

Chilli and Lemon Prawns

This is stunning! The combination of flavours is perfect! Probably one for the grown ups unless you have a chilli loving child!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp runny honey
Handful of fresh parsley
1/2 an onion
3 cloves garlic
Small piece of cinnamon stick – about a third
1cm ginger root grated
1 fresh chilli – large red one – or several of the tiny red ones
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 stick of lemon grass cut into smaller pieces
Salt to season

Olive oil to cook

  • Place all ingredients except prawns, lemon juice and zest and lemon grass in a food processor and blend until finely chopped
  • Add lemon zest, juice and lemon grass pieces and stir by hand
  • Peel prawns leaving tail on – remove any veins. Place in glass or ceramic bowl and pour over the sauce (stir to cover evenly). Season slightly with a bit of salt.
  • Place in the fridge for 2 hours to marinade
  • Before frying -remove lemon grass
  • Heat oil in pan/wok and add prawns. High heat – stir fry for 5 minutes
  • Serve with sticky rice, on top of sald or with the lemon linguini (in recipe section). Hey, they are so good you can even eat them as a snack on their own – but that might just be a bit indulgent….

Lemon, Honey and Garlic Roast Chicken

Full of flavour and really crisp – perfect Sunday meal or playdate food – thrown in the oven and spend time with your family while it cooks!

1 whole chicken
4 jacket potatoes choped into 8 pieces each
2 lemons
Lots of garlic cloves – to taste of course
Fresh rosemary
Runny Honey
Sea Salt/Pepper to taste
  • Take your chicken and rub it with lots of salt and pepper. Leave it for an hour or so in the fridge.
  • Preheat oven to 190C
  • Chop the potatoes and place in a pot of cold, salted water – bring to boil and drain once boiling. Let them steam dry for a few minutes then shake around in pot to make slightly fluffy…adds to crispiness!
  • Get your chicken and shake off excess salt. Place it in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil and honey. Rub this into it. Sticky job! Let the children do it!
  • Place a whole lemon and some garlic cloves inside the cavity of the chicken.
  • Put it in the oven and cook for 40 minutes
  • Take out chicken and add potatoes to the dish – any liquids from the chicken are great for basting it with as well as coating the potatoes with!
  • Sprinkle rosemary onto chicken and potatoes
  • Place remaining garlic cloves in between potatoes
  • Cut the remaining lemon into small quarters and place into the tin
  • You can add a splash of white wine to the tin also – not necessary though!
  • Put everything back into the oven and cook until chicken is done – usually another 40- 50 minutes depending on size
  • Meat should pull away from chicken easily and juices run clear if stabbed
  • Enjoy! I love to eat the roasted garlic with the chicken as it has a lovely sweet flavour when warm. It is gorgeous on fresh bread…yummmmmyyy!