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Adventures in Thai Cooking

October 26, 2009

In the past year, Thai food has become one of my favorite cuisines. This week, since I’m now living in New York with access to real Thai ingredients, I decided to give it a try myself. With some trepidation I embarked on a two course meal: Tom Kai Kai, my absolute favorite Thai dish, and shrimp with coconut milk over cous cous. (The recipe was orignally for rice, which is a hell of a lot more Thai than cous cous, but I had a lot on hand and wanted to use it instead).
I already had chicken, mushrooms, chicken stock and cous cous on hand, so I headed down to Chinatown to the Thai grocery store called Bangkok Center Grocery on Mosco St. This unassuming hole-in-the-wall had everything, including a grandfatherly owner who was very accomodating to my embarrassing whte girl questions (Is this fish sauce? Is this a good stalk of lemongrass? What are kaffir lime leaves anyway?) And all of the ingredients were surprisingly cheap. The most expensive ingredient were the kaffir lime leaves (at a whopping $3…and I included the half pound of shrimp I got at a market in that list), which only came in a big pack when I only needed about three leaves. However, they’re crucial to the Tom Kai Kai soup; as soon as I opened the package I immediately recognized them as the most present seasoning in the dish).

An hour before my goal eating time, I went to work, and an hour later everything was finished. To my delight, it was a very easy process and, drumroll please, it tasted delicious! And like Thai food!

I wish I could tell you where I got the Tom Kai Kai recipe, but I adopted it from about a dozen recipes I found around the web:
What You’ll Need

-chicken breast
-1/2 cup of coconut milk
-1 cup chicken stock
-1 stalk of lemongrass, halved
-a couple of mushrooms
-3 tbsp fish sauce
-1/4 tsp sugar
-a few kaffir lime leaves
What To Do
1. cut chicken into pieces and cook
2. combine coconut milk, chicken stock and lemongrass in a saucepan and bring to a boil
3. add chicken, mushrooms, fish sauce and sugar and bring back to a boil
4. reduce heat and add lime.

That’s it! How easy is that? For the shrimp dish I wanted to add some pineapple, but forgot it when I was grocery shopping. But here’s the recipe, a combo of a recipe from College Cooking and something I swiped from some magazine.

What You’ll Need

-half dozen shrimp (you won’t even need all of these, I left some out for a cocktail shrimp snack)
-half an onion (I find a shallot is also a good substitute)
-a tomato
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-cous cous or rice
-diced pineapple

What To Do

1. saute shrimp over medium heat and remove.
2. dice onion, tomato and garlic and throw them (along with pineapple, if you have it) into the saucepan and cook down to a sauce. Cook to a boil and remove from heat.
3. in the meantime, cook your cous cous or rice according to package directions
4. combine shrimp with sauce to boil, cook for two minutes. add salt, pepper and coconut milk, then remove from heat.
5. dish rice or cous cous onto plate, pour juice on top then place shrimp on.

Originally written May 23, 2009

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