Traditional Thai

By now you have probably realised that we absolutely love cooking Thai food, inspired from my personal travels in Thailand when I was backpacking and returning years later with my wife.

I still remember my first ever meal in Thailand back in 2007, I touched down in Bangkok, jumped straight in a taxi to my hotel on the Khao San Road and before I even checked in I dived straight into a little restaurant. At this point, I’d never even tried a green or red curry back in the UK so I was starting from scratch with Thai food.

I asked the waiter what he would recommend and he said everyone has green curry… so don’t have that. He talked me through some traditional dishes and I settled on a papaya salad, a massaman curry and a large Chang!

When the food turned up I was a little apprehensive as it wasn’t what I was expecting, but after that first bite, I was absolutely hooked. It was like nothing I had ever tasted and I knew straight away I’d love the food.

This was also my first impression of Thai people and I was blown away by their hospitality and friendliness. I ended up sitting in the restaurant having Chang after Chang and then the waiter joined me for one and he told me all about Thailand, I told him about my travel plans and the UK and we sat talking for hours.

As I got up to leave I was a little light on my feet – it was a long flight and I’d like to say jet-lag was kicking in, nothing to do with all the Chang so he even helped me into the hotel over the road, carrying my bags.

I returned the next day, and the day after where he guided me through all of the local dishes, and most importantly, introduced me to Pad Krapow Gai (or Chilli Chicken and Basil in English) my most favourite Thai dish.

What I didn’t know was that the waiter who I had made friends with was actually the owner of the restaurant. I did return to visit him on my way home months later and again enjoyed my final Thai meal there with a coconut milkshake, a fitting end to my time in Thailand.

Anyway, I have been heavily influenced to cook Thai food, recreating the more authentic dishes and that leads me to this weeks feast… Papaya salad, chicken satay, tom yam soup and Thai red curry. If you are going to give this a go at home I really hope you love it as much as we do!

Chicken Satay

Ingredients

  • 400 tin of coconut milk
  • Skewers

For the Satay Marinade

  • 600 g chicken thighs or breasts – cut to 2cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Thai Peanut Sauce

  • 2 tbsp red curry paste
  • 180g natural peanut butter, smooth
  • 50g white sugar
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 185ml water

Method

For the Satay Marinade 

  1. Mix together the chicken and Marinade with 1/4 cup of coconut milk, then set aside for at least 20 minutes, or overnight.
  2. Thread onto skewers – I do 4 to 5 pieces each.
  3. Heat 1.5 tbsp oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Cook skewers in batches for 3 minutes on each side until golden

For the Peanut Sauce

  1. Place remaining coconut milk and Peanut Sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Stir to combine then simmer, stirring every now and then, for 5 minutes.
  3. Adjust consistency with water – it should be a pourable but still slightly thick sauce.
  4. Cover with lid and keep warm while cooking skewers.

To Serve – Pour some sauce into a bowl and sprinkle with some peanuts

Papaya Salad

Ingredients

For the Dressing

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 2 bird’s eye chilli pepper, sliced

For the Salad

  • 1 medium green papaya, Julienned (link to the video of how to cut)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 whole cucumber, julienned
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed mint leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp chopped and toasted peanuts

Method

  1. Prepare the dressing: Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Preparing the papaya: Julienne the carrot, cucumber and papaya (insert video)
  3. To serve: In a large bowl, mix the green papaya, carrots, cucumber, mint and chopped peanuts. Pour in the dressing that has been marinating and toss to coat the vegetables with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Tom Yam Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 2 birds eye red chilli peppers, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • 950 ml vegetable broth
  • 5 lime leaves (or bay leaves and the zest of one lime)
  • 240ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts or 400g chicken thighs
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar syrup (or caster sugar)
  • salt (to taste)
  • freshly chopped coriander (to garnish)

Method

  1. Trim off the top third and very bottom of the lemongrass stalks. Using the side of a knife, press down across the stalks to bruise the lemongrass and release the oils. Chop each stalk into 4 pieces and set aside.
  2. Add the chilli peppers, garlic, and root ginger to a mortar and pestle and grind into a paste. Set aside.
  3. Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the lemongrass and cook for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chilli pepper paste and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until fragrant.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, lime leaves*, coconut milk, and soy sauce and stir to combine. Add the onion and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and stir to combine. Cook for 15 minutes more, until the broth has reduced.
  6. Add the lime juice and agave and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Garnish with coriander and serve.

Thai Red Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 2 White Onions
  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 tbsp Red Curry Paste
  • 1 Tin Coconut Milk
  • 1 tsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 tsp Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Fresh Chili or Chili Flakes

Method

  1. Cut the peppers and onions into large chunks and dice the chicken ready to cook, put to one side
  2. Add the coconut milk and the red curry paste to a pan, stir well and bring to the boil, then add the vegetables and gently simmer for 10 minutes
  3. Add the diced chicken and caster sugar and simmer for 10 minutes more, until the curry sauce has reduced slightly and has a thicker consistency
  4. Serve in a warm bowl with a sprinkling of fresh chopped chillies or chilli flakes

Wash these down with a nice bottle of Chang and you’ll feel like you have been transported to Thailand!

If you like these traditioanl Thai recipes you should check out some of my other Thai recreations from my previous blog: A Taste of Thailand

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