Chinese

Maa ouan is a Thai appetizer with clear Chinese characteristics. It resembles the filling of khanohm jeep dumplings (ขนมจีบ), the crab and pork meat fillings of haawy jaaw (ฮ่อยจ๊อ), or the shrimp and pork meat mix of haae geun (แฮ่กึน). Minced pork and shrimp meat are seasoned with garlic, coriander roots, white peppercorns and salt, then mixed with duck egg and a bit of coconut cream, placed in small ceramic cups (thuay dta lai, ถ้วยตะไล), and steamed. It can be served either as a starter, an hors d'oeuvres, or even as a side dish to curries.

This dish can be found both in Thailand's streets food stalls and in the menus of the high stars restaurants. The spicy stir fried is a perfect choice to the drunken man’s plate, it, with it's kick, helps the whiskey run down the glass and offers a wicked sauce to accompany the sophisticated squid's filling made of airy pork married with sweet shrimp. The mixture of pork and shrimp filling maintains moist and tender texture which is further enhanced by the surprise crunch from water chestnuts.

This Thai spicy catfish recipe gives catfish a new and fabulous spin. You can either use farmed or game fish with the same phenomenal results. The intensity of the wild ginger combined with aromatic fresh peppercorn will turn even muddy flavor fish into a delicacy.

Slice the fish are first, then role it in flour and deep-fry it to a crispy crunch. Quickly stir-fry the crispy fish with wild ginger and the peppercorns releasing their aromatic oils, creating wonderful flavors. While seasoning with light soy sauce and oyster sauce, our fish is now regaining heavenly moisture without losing its tempting crispiness.

This dish (Khao Soi Recipe) takes us back in time to the mid-19th century. The trade caravans were trailing the jungles of northern Thailand along the ancient routes between India and China. Those long caravans were carrying wealth of exotic goods, leaving rich aroma of spices and the sweet scent of opium as they passed.

The men on this long line of between fifty and one hundred mules would be Yunnanese Muslim Chinese, who dominated the trade routes and began to settle in Chiang Mai and the main towns of north Thailand at that time.

The food culture of Phuket, like its architecture, blends western colonial, Hokkien Chinese with Muslim and Thai motifs. The Hokkien Chinese who arrived from Singapore and Malaysia introduced Muu Haawng to the repertoire of the Phuket Thai style cuisine (bpoon dteh ; ปุ้นเต่).

It is very similar to the Teochew style Phalo, but here there is no use of Chinese five-spice powder, instead it is relaying only on soy sauce, sugar, garlic and black pepper to create a thick gravy that color the pork with a caramelized shiny red and tempting sheen.

The whole point of salting fish as a preserving method to the Thais goes back way before refrigeration and that is why slated fish is so deeply rooted in the Thai cuisine.

The salting process produces a new ingredient that is different and equally good to the original. The method is simple, the clean fresh fishes are rubbed with plenty of salt and let to dry in the sun.

Best quality fish is the sole factor of a great final product. That is why I was so excited the other day to find at the market a rare offering of salted queenfish (ปลาสละเค็ม ; bplaa sala khem). These fast predators are not commercially fished. Praised for their superb quality meat this game fish offers a challenge to catch both to the fisherman and the foodie alike.

In this straightforward and rewarding stir-fried dish, I am using boiled salted duck egg, available from Asian markets, as my flavoring assistant. During stir-frying, the egg yolk dissolves to a velvety sauce that softly coats the squids, and complimenting their ocean’s flavor. The alternate reds and greens strips of the vegetables emerged from the buttery yellow sauce are tempting for a taste.

The original version uses three egg yolks – a bit too much for a health conscious person like me. Therefore, I am using only one whole egg, both the egg white and the egg yolk. I tune down the white’s sharp saltiness with an additional portion of sugar, and compensate for the color lost by adding a spoon of commercial chili sauce to improve. The resulting is a well-balanced dish with the right texture that stands up in this healthy version against its original with a winning smile….

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