Thai-ing One On - A Supermalagorgeous Adventure

There's nothing more enjoyable than eating a home cooked meal with friends. This weekend, my dear friend Libbyloulou and I decided to venture into the spicy and fragrant world of Thai cooking. We learned a few lessons along the way, and the payoff was certainly worth it. Here's the menu we pulled together for a Saturday night feast:

- Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce
- Fresh Spring Rolls
- Pad Thai
- Red Curry Chicken
- Cucumber Salad
- Lemongrass Onion Rice

Before I describe my own contributions to the meal, I have to say that we made enough food to feed a small village. That four of us managed to polish off most of it is a feat of human achievement, and a testament to the skills of the cooks (ahem...). An impromptu visit by my uncle and his friend confirmed what we thought - this venture into Thai cuisine was a bonafide success. I also will not address the making of Pad Thai or spring rolls, but I can attest to their deliciousness. Thanks Libbyloulou!

First, let's discuss the ingredients. I think I just sat and stared, drooling, at this fresh assortment of flavours for a good ten minutes. As you can see, the coriander, lemon grass, ginger, red chillies and green onions look almost too good to cook. I also invested in fish sauce, coconut milk, Thai Chili sauce and red curry paste. Let us revel in this food porn for just a few minutes...ahh...

Whew - feeling a little hot! First, I made the chicken satay marinade. After slicing chicken breasts into strips, I coated them with:

- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 1 grated 2.5 cm piece of ginger
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp dark brown sugar

It looked like this when going into the fridge for two hours. (I'd love to show you what they looked like after, but they went so fast I didn't have time to catch them on camera.) 

Next, I made a replica of the Thai cucumber salad that I really enjoy when eating at the local Thai restaurants here in Halifax. This required chopping about a cup of romaine lettuce very thin, along with a small cucumber and small tomato, also sliced thin. I chopped two green onions, then added 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, 2 tbsp of lime juice, 2 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tbsp of sugar. After combining, this also sat in the fridge for a couple hours.

I then focused on my favourite Thai dish, Red Curry Chicken. I really had to research a number of recipes to get one that had the elements I was looking for. After combining three separate recipes, my version looked like this:

- 3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces 
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, large dice
- 2 bell peppers, large dice
- 2 minced cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp of thai red curry paste
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp grated lime rind
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped basil
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

This is a fairly easy recipe to make. After browning the chicken in the oil, transfer to a plate. Add a little more oil, and stir fry the onion, garlic, peppers and curry paste until the onion is just about translucent. Then, pour in the coconut milk. If your milk has separated, you'll need to blend the solid mass into the liquid, to make  a uniform 'milk'. Bring this to a boil, then reduce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Admittedly, I neglected to take a picture of the finished product. However, I've included nice stock photo that gives you the gist.

This is always a good point in time to make the rice. I had intended on using Jasmine rice, but found I had only basmati instead. Trust me, the Thai food police are not going to show up at your door citing 'rice violation' if you use whatever you have. The key is to add some lemon grass and green onions while cooking it. Also, don't do what I did with the lemon grass. It will add flavour, but it's not edible. So, add a stick to enhance the flavour, then take it out before serving. I chopped it, and unfortunately, it was like eating rice with wood chips. Extra fibre!

While the rice was cooking, I made the peanut sauce for the satays. I did cheat a little, by using a peanut spice pack I had in my pantry. However, you can make a scratch version by replacing the package spice with crunchy peanut butter. Add a can of coconut milk, 1/3 cup of peanut butter, 1 tbsp fish sauce, and 1 tsp of lime juice, and you have the sauce for the satays. We also liked the sauce on the rice, as well as the pad thai. To cook the satays, I did thread them on skewers. This seemed like the right thing to do, except I couldn't get enough contact on my grill pan to cook the chicken through. Off went the skewers, and then the chicken cooked perfectly. The lack of skewers didn't deter anyone -  these were devoured fairly quickly.

Actually, everything was devoured fairly quickly - so much so, that the next day, I was looking for more. With no leftovers, I scanned the remaining ingredients and found a can of crab meat in my pantry that I'd been saving for a day like this. What kind of day, you ask? A crab cake experiment kind of day. 

I'm sad I didn't make these for my guests because these have to be the best crab cakes I have ever eaten. My hubby even uttered an unrepeatable exclamation of approval, followed by 'you must make these again - like now'. Had I had more crab meat, I most definitely would have. There is only one word appropriate enough to name these: 'super-mala-gorgeous'. (This is my grandfather's word, and he only used it for outstanding culinary products). So here they are - Supermalagorgeous Crabcakes:

- 1 can drained crab meat
- 2 tbsp tartar sauce
- 1/4 cup green onions
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 clove grated garlic
- 1 tsp thai chili sauce
- salt and pepper
- 1 beaten egg
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil

To make these, combine the first 9 ingredients in a bowl with 1 cup of the breadcrumbs. Form into patties. (one can of crabmeat will make about 6) Dip the patties in the egg, and coat with breadcrumbs. Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a wok, and once at medium high heat, fry the patties until golden, about 2 minutes per side. It's important that the oil be hot enough to create a crisp coating, and warm the middle. I am salivating as I write this! Although you can serve them with tartar or chili sauce, they are so tasty that they need nothing to dress them up.

Well food nerds, this has been a long, hot and spicy post. I think I need a drink. :)


  1. Looks so goooood! Mom

  2. Ooooh...yummy. Carrie I'd love to cook with you.

  3. Dreaming of chicken satay...
    I enjoyed the Pad Thai, but I would try a different recipe next time. As for the spring rolls, it was interesting to learn how to work with the rice paper wraps. I would like to try them again with a different filling. Perhaps some chicken in a peanut sauce.
    Next time Italian?? Oh wait - INDIAN??


Post a Comment