Friday, 24 March 2017

One-bite wrap - 'Miang Kham' - เมี่ยงคำ






A favourite of King Rama V, this delightful leaf wrapped, one-bite sized dish of coconut, and other traditional Thai flavours, is well-worth a look.


The following photo is based on one from The Taste of Oregon.com - with Thanks.



Preparation: - around 40 minutes (once you have everything ready to go)


Ingredients for filling:
  • 300 gms x peeled small prawns
  • ½ cup x unsalted Peanuts - pref. roasted
  • 1 cup x Shredded Coconut - toasted
  • 1 x lime - reserve rind - discard pith
  • 2-3 x Thai Bird's Eye Chillies - finely chopped
  • ½ x Shallot - finely chopped
  • Small piece Ginger
  • Lalot/ or Pepper Leaves (bai chapluu) - to suit - say, 12


Ingredients for Sauce:
  • 1 tblspn x Shrimp Paste, roasted until fragrant
  • 60 gms x fresh Galangal, cut into a fine julienne, and roasted til fragrant
  • ¼ cup x grated Coconut, roasted until lightly brown
  • 2 tblspns x table Sugar
  • 1 tblspn x Tamarind purée
  • 230 gms x Palm Sugar - broken up
  • 60 gms x Shallots, peeled - roughly chopped
  • 1½ tspns x fresh Ginger, sliced
  • 230 gms x Palm Sugar - broken up
  • 300 mls x Water
  • Salt For seasoning
  • 115 gms x small dried Shrimps


Method:
for sauce -

Blend, or pound the shallots and galangal, until fine. Add roasted shrimp paste, dried shrimp, ginger, and coconut, and continue until smooth, adding water, up to 100 mls, during the processing/blending stage.

Remove the mixture and place in a pot with 1.5 cups (200-220mls) water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, add palm sugar and table sugar, then reduce heat and simmer, wait until reduced to 1 cup or a bit less.

Taste, and adjust by adding a bit of salt. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.


For the filling -

Finely chop lime flesh and rind, and place it, together with the coconut, prawns, ginger, peanuts, chillies, and onion, in separate small dishes, or on a tray. Present the sauce in a small bowl, adding it to the tray, with Lalot / Pepper leaves, then encourage everyone to serve themselves.

To assemble, place a little of each onto centre of a leaf, wrapping tightly to enclose.


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Black (Forbidden) Rice






Black rice, along with many other foods, was, at least in the Chinese dynasties of Ch'ing (Qing) and Ming, an item of food, which was only for the consumption of the Emperor, his royal family, and people lucky enough to have favour. It was forbidden to the general population, because it was believed to have special qualities of long-life and health. No one else was allowed to eat these foods without approval from the Emperor. Life threatening consequences were a reality, for those caught eating these foods without permission.


It has the darkest bran layer of any whole grain rice - the bran layer is where the 'goodness' is. Black rice also contains a class of antioxidants called, anthocyanins.

It has been shown by genetic studies, that as early as 10,000 years ago, a single crop of rice realised the two major varietals of rice - an Asiatic and an African.


Just thought you'd like to know what you have the opportunity of eating - before someone changes the rules, and eats the lot! haha


See also: Black Rice in Coconut Milk.



Preparation: - Rinsing and soaking the rice, before cooking, will help to bring the cooking time down. As a general rule, black rice should be cooked with two cups of water to every one cup of rice, and it will need to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, after soaking, or up to 60 minutes if you cook unsoaked rice.


Ingredients:
  • 3½ cups x Water
  • ½ tspn Salt
  • ¼ tspn Pepper

Method:

Add water; bring to a vigorous boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the rice is tender (but still a little chewy in the center) and the liquid is absorbed, generally in 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Gently stir and serve.


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Friday, 10 March 2017

Some of the Chillies, and Peppers, used in Thai Cooking





Without chillies, in their various types, Thai cooking would not be the 'Thai Cooking', we all love - at least it wouldn't be to me. I love them - from the small 'mouse-dropping'(aptly named?) 'phrik khi nu' - พริกขี้หนู, to the larger, milder, red 'phrik chi fa' - พริกชี้ฟ้า.

Different chillies, fresh and dried, are used in different dishes and sauces throughout Thailand. The hot Bird's eye chili, phrik khi nu, is used extensively throughout Thailand, and is about the most common, while the milder red chili, phrik chi fa, is used more as a vegetable.


As I wrote in a series of 2 posts, in October, 2015, different regions like their food, either sweeter, saltier, hot, or milder, and use chillies to suit.




As you can see, there are quite a few choices, and if you go to Thailand, or learn to cook Thai, you'll appreciate the different varieties and their uses.


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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Is Asian Street Food Safe, to Eat?






How many times have we heard of someone who has suffered from variously named illnesses, such as Bali Belly, Bangkok Belly, Thailand Tummy, Delhi Belly, or whatever? I know I have been on the receiving end, and it's not funny! But, is it just the food? Is it the cleanliness of the food stall? Or, is there some other culprit?

One of the most stupidly ignorant things I have ever heard is that Asian people are so used to their foods, and the way they are prepared, that they do not get sick. What a load of rubbish! Asian people do get sick from much the same causes / reasons, as Westerners. In fact, they die, too, from lack of decent Medical Services.

I have not travelled all over Asia, nor have I eaten at all street stalls, but when I did, I was extremely selective - and I never ate from a stall which I did not watch for at least 15 minutes, to see their 'hygiene' techniques, and from where, and how, their ingredients were sourced, and how they prepared the food, and even then, it was nearly impossible to protect myself.


Most times, if food contains 'bugs' which will make you sick, or are no good for your body, your own digestion system will, generally, reject them. In other words, your stomach will select reverse gear, and you'll vomit. However, it's the sly little pathogens, which can trick your system, and get through the security net, giving you the belly from hell that you do not want - or worse!

Most of those pathogens, such as Cyclospora cayetanensis, E-coli, Trichinella spiralis or Campylobacter jejuni, vary in their causes, potency, and in their effects on you.

For instance, Cyclospora cayetanensis causes gastrointestinal upsets, and is transmitted through food, or water, which has been contaminated by human faeces. Human Faeces? (****!) I had a friend who got really crook from a 'tummy bug'. It prompted me to think!

E-coli lives in the intestines of cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. It can get into the water system through animal faeces and can infect humans through improperly cooked and handled meat. Symptoms go from a mild flu-like ailment all the way up to kidney failure, and even death. How many times do you see the farm cattle, such as the buffaloes, wallowing nearby? Does the water come from the same source? Mmmm?

One of the worse pathogens, is Trichinella spiralis which is a worm that is transferred to humans from infected Pork. People who become infected start out with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and watery stools. Then, the face very often becomes puffy and swollen, especially around the eyes, and headache and even delirium occur. Five percent of those infected die. Survivors may take six months to re-cover and be left with permanent heart or eye damage. Was the pig killed in a registered abattoir, or 'on the farm'?

Newer pathogens are discovered as new techniques are developed. Campylobacter jejuni is now the most common bacterial cause of diarrhoea in industrialized countries. Caused by contaminated raw foods it is the most common pathogen in poultry. It brings on fever, headache, muscle pain, diarrhoea, and nausea; in extreme cases it leads to arthritis, blood poisoning, meningitis, inflammation of the heart and other organs, and paralysis.


So, with all those 'bugs' able to get you, and the various ways they are transported to you, is it any wonder that some people get sick - and after they have arrived back in their home country?

I got very sick, back in 2001, from eating watermelon. It was suggested that a common practice of some farmers, was to use a large 50 mls syringe to inject additional water into melons, to increase their weight, and therefore, the prices they got at the market. Unfortunately, for me, and I suppose many others, the water used, was not from a healthy source. I spent one week in Thailand's Hat Yai hospital, then, when they gave up and could not help me any further, I flew home to Australia, to seek medical attention, and recover. I was OK, about a week later.

Leafy vegetables are washed, but what is the water like? Where does it come from? I bet there are not many roadside stalls using bottled water to rinse-off food. Has the stall-keeper washed his/her hands properly after ablutions? Was the meat kept chilled? Was the cutting-board cleaned properly after cutting-up the raw chicken, when they prepared your salad?

I am currently watching a program series on TV, about Asian Food, presented by English Chef, and Writer, Rick Stein. He is travelling through Asia - places like Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, and apart from the fact that he is an extremely well-known chef, and should know better, he really is an enigma. I believe he has been to Thailand many, many times, yet, not only can't he say 'Thank you', or 'delicious', in Thai, he eats 'willy-nilly' from food markets, and stalls. I expect that one day, we'll read about him in the papers.

In summary, roadside stalls, and street-vendors are generally, OK. Look at them. Check them out. Ten extra minutes won't hurt. Don't you be the same as many people. Don't spoil your holiday with a trip to the hospital and a week, or more, in bed - wishing you were dead! It will happen. It's just a question of when.

The roadside stalls may well serve great food, and be well worth the experience, as I found out on many occasions, but then again, so is Russian Roulette, I suppose, - if you win!


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Fresh and Un-fried Spring Rolls





These delightful tasties, are, essentially, a Salad-type meal. They are Spring-Rolls made without the normal frying/cooking, (although the pork mince needs to be cooked, prior to making them).

Simply done, they are an easy meal to prepare, and won't leave you feeling full, - (unless you eat as many as I do).

The finished product...



Quantity: - As desired

Preparation: - min. 30 minutes





Ingredients:

  • Some x Rice Paper Wrappers - dip briefly in a bowl of cold water, then remove excess
  • 300 gms x Pork Mince
  • 1 cup x Ground Peanuts
  • 150 gms x Sweet Pickled Radish
  • 2 x Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tbsn x Parsley Roots - Grind in Mortar, with the Pepper
  • 1 tspn x Pepper - Grind in the Mortar with the Parsley Roots
  • 1 tbsn x Canola Oil
  • 3 tbsn x Sugar






*phrik nam som ...




* Salad leaves as per choice, though I would suggest Lettuce, Parsley, Bai Horapa, and Pepper Leaf - Bai Chaapluu.


Method:


Pork Mince... Put the Oil in a pan with the Garlic and fry it off, briefly. Add the Parsley and Pepper mix. When issuing a good, fragrant aroma, add the Pork Mince and cook it. When cooked, add and stir in, the Sweet Pickled Radish, Sugar and Peanuts. Briefly allow them to heat up, then remove it from the heat, and allow to cool.

Then simply, briefly, dip a Rice Wrapper in cold water, shake the excess water from it, and start to wrap your Spring-Rolls, as per Photo. Start with a little Pork Mince, wrap it a little, then a leaf of lettuce, a Pepper leaf, some Parsley, some Bai Horapa, (Sweet Asian Basil), maybe, even some more Pork Mince, then wrap fully, turning the sides in to seal the Roll. Easy!


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