Archive for the ‘ Thai Cuisine ’ Category


Every once in a while I’ll spend a Sunday afternoon making some Thai curry paste. Like I mentioned in my recipe for panang curry paste, a quick trip to the Asian market for a few hard to find ingredients and about an hour in the kitchen with your mortar and pestle will set you up for a good month of authentic Thai cooking at home.

As far as I’m concerned, this stuff is money in the bank.  It keeps for a  up to a month in the fridge and is perfect for pulling together a bona fide Thai meal in minutes.  Stir-fry the paste, some meat and a few handfuls of seasonal vegetables in your favorite wok, add in some stock, palm sugar, fish sauce and Thai basil, throw it all on top of some sticky rice and you’ll be set up for some truly delicious eating.

Unlike a red, green or yellow curry, phrik khing is considered a “dry-style” curry, free of any coconut milk.  Instead, the paste is fried in oil and moistened with a bit of stock to create a sauce that clings to the protein and veggies.  The resulting dish can be characterized as smooth and a bit peppery with fragrant notes of galangal and lemongrass throughout.

So, next time you’re looking for something to cook on a lazy Sunday afternoon, consider making some homemade curry paste and look forward to reaping the rich culinary dividends of delicious Thai meals in the weeks that follow.

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Thai Chicken Pizza

When I told everybody I was making a barbecue chicken pizza for my website, people asked me why I wasn’t making Thai chicken pizza instead.  Truthfully, I didn’t realize it was such a beloved item on the California Pizza Kitchen menu.  I’ve always loved them — in fact, I almost ate my weight in the frozen version while I was in college — but I never realized that other people shared my same propensity.  For me (and apparently pretty much everyone else), there is something undeniable about the combination of aromatic peanut sauce, green onions and carrots, all  piled high on a chewy crust and topped with cheese. Not at all Italian, totally un-Thai, just “American” grub at its most adaptive.

The best part of making this particular pizza at home is you can get as creative as you want. I left off the usual bean sprouts, but you could certainly add them for extra crunch. And no need to break out the crushed red pepper flakes.  Here I use sriracha chili sauce to add a little bite, but of course, if spicy’s not your thing, feel free to leave it off. A sprinkling of freshly chopped Thai basil in addition to or in lieu of the cilantro (for those cilantro-haters out there) would be a perfect compliment to the sweet, salty flavor of the peanut sauce. No matter how you top it, if you like peanut sauce, you’ll love this pizza. Plus, no tipping necessary when you’re cooking out of your own kitchen.

Continued reading Thai pizza recipe . . .


Thai Peanut Sauce

For me, peanut sauce served as a definitive gateway flavor into what would be come a lifelong addiction to Thai cuisine. Having grown up on a steady diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it wasn’t until I first tasted the peanut sauce that accompanied my Mom’s chicken satay from the Thai spot in our mall food court that I came to realize that peanut butter could be used in savory dishes as well. To my young developing palate, peanut sauce was at once exotic and familiar.  Salty, sweet and rich with warm Thai spices, the run-of-the-mill skewered chicken soon became a vehicle for what I really wanted: the sauce.

I’ve made many versions of peanut sauce over the years and have come to recognize this rendition as my go-to, all-purpose recipe.  Used as a dip, tossed with rice noodles or as a condiment for jasmine rice, I’m sure you’ll find this sauce has many amazing applications.  While some recipes include everything from soy sauce and grated ginger to garlic and chili sauce, this particular version gets it’s nuance and depth from aromatic Thai curry paste.  Along with a few other simple yet flavorful ingredients, it’s the paste that takes this sauce to the next level and lend it that authentic taste.  It goes without saying that a fresh, homemade curry paste will render an exceptionally fragrant final sauce, but if you’re strapped for time, store-bought red curry paste from a jar makes a perfectly suitable alternative.

Continue reading peanut sauce . . .


Panang Beef Curry

Ah, the good ol’ days: when spending 30 bucks on Thai takeout was just your typical Wednesday night. Now, income-less, Thai food along with Chinese and pizza seems like quite the luxury. These days I’m making my own Thai food, and to be honest, not missing a thing.  At home, I make Thai food the way I like it.  Very spicy, fairly salty and just a little sweet. Such is the beauty of having curry pastes sitting in your freezer ready at your disposal.  What seems like an exotic and esoteric cuisine on the surface is actually fairly simple to prepare at home.

I like to think of panang as a great beginner curry for those that are new to Thai cuisine.  Reminiscent of everybody’s favorite peanut dipping sauce which accompanies the ubiquitous satay, panang is at once both bright and aromatic while at the same time, rich and comforting.

I’m lucky enough to live in San Francisco where I can find pretty much anything I need at any of the many Asian markets.  However, if you love Thai food and can’t find a store that stocks such items as palm sugar, lime leaves, or good Thai coconut milk, check out for everything you need (and then some).

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Panang Curry Paste

Maybe I watched too many episodes of The Naked Chef when I was younger, but in my mind, there are few kitchen activities more satisfying than giving a handful of aromatic herbs and spices a good pounding in a large, heavy mortar. Handmade pesto is great and whole-toasted spices don’t last a second in the bowl of a nice granite model, but for me, it’s in the act of making Thai curry paste that Iget the most out of one of my simplest kitchen tools.

Making curry paste the authentic way is a tactile and fragrant experience. In fact, things oftentimes get so aromatic that Lauren practically has to lock herself in our bedroom to avoid the pungent odor of toasted shrimp paste – an essential component of true Thai curry. Here I’ve included a recipe for a paste to create one of my all-time favorite curries: panang. Citrus notes dominate due to the heavy use of lime zest, lime leaves, coriander seeds and lemongrass.

While some of the key ingredients might be hard to track down and the overall process requires a fair amount of prep, as Victor Sodsook points out in his cookbook, True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking, curry pastes are “like money in the bank.” An hour of hard work will pay off with intense, complex flavor in future dishes. Couple this with the fact that many pastes last weeks in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer, and you have a culinary resource that lends completed dishes a taste that will seem like it’s taken hours to build.

Check back tomorrow for recipe that puts this amazing paste to good use; Panang Beef Curry.

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