Here is a summer dish that showcases the wisdom of creating complex flavors through simplicity. Using just lightly salted semi-dried snakehead fish, golden deep-fried shallots and a sweetening agent (either sugar or coconut), we create a condiment that partners perfectly with pieces of sweet juicy watermelon.
Naam phrik lohng reuua (น้ำพริกลงเรือ) - Literally translated as “boat embarking chili relish”, this particular boat seems to have drifted a long way from port and these days, the actual dish served in Thai restaurants is far away from the original version. We want to tell you the real story behind this dish and to present you with the original version’s recipe in its true character – as if the boat is still moored at the dock.
Thai red curry is a broad term describing any curry that is red in color, although variations exist among the dish’s ingredients or their ratios. Today’s menu features a Thai red curry paste to which we add higher quantities of coriander root and kaffir lime zest; this creates a more aromatic character that will enhance the smokiness of the grilled pork meat and the mild sweetness of the unripe green bananas.
Khanohm jeen yee poon is an appetizer consisting of a small roll of fermented rice noodles laid on a green lettuce leaf and topped with a slice of cucumber and cooked shrimp and pork belly, dressed with sour-sweet and salty fried chili jam, sprinkled with roasted peanuts and decorated with coriander leaf and a thin julienne of fresh red chili pepper. A squeeze of fresh lime juice is applied just before eating the dish.
For the khanohm jeen saao naam version that we present today, we turn again to the writing of Thanpuying (Lady) Gleep Mahithaawn for her unique take on the dish. Her version is quite similar to the common recipe encountered nowadays, but Lady Gleep enhances it with more ingredients, elevating the dish yet another notch to the level of a majestic masterpiece.
Gaaeng Ranjuaan is spicy, sour, sweet and salty beef curry seasoned with no more than fermented shrimp paste chili sauce. It should be served steaming hot, and must possess three distinct flavors, similar to fish Tom Yam soup. These modest ingredients and an intensely-flavored curry emerge from a story about love, things lost in translation and…leftovers.
Sweet and sour fruit slices are served with a nutty, sweet-savory peanut sauce condiment that balances the fruits’ natural tartness, and decorated with coriander leaves and julienned fresh long red pepper for a sophisticated finish. The paste-like condiment is typically made from the Three Kings of Thai cuisine (coriander root, garlic and ground white pepper) fried together with chopped shallots, minced pork belly and shrimp meat, along with crushed roasted peanuts, and seasoned with fish sauce [or salt], and palm sugar.