This dish brings yet another angle to celebrate the essence of Thai cuisine. The Thais dare pairing ingredients, which at first seem to be unmatchable, strong players with opposite characteristics, white turmeric and salted prawns, and guess what? It works beautifully!
The pairing actually has the intention to enhance the differences in flavor and texture, creating a playful dish, both in taste and in presentation. The delicate thin cut white turmeric juliennes with its crunchy-apple like texture matched well with the just made salted prawns chunks which still maintain some of their intrinsic sweetness.
It will not be an overstatement to say that banana trees accompany Thai people from their birth to the afterlife. Starting with the decorative objects made out of banana leaves newborns receive to invite protective spirits, and continues their entire life with the endless uses for banana leaves, trunks and fruits; finally ending with the female spirit ghost, maae praai taanee (แม่พรายตานี), who resides in banana trees and Thai beliefs.
In the Thai language, lon (lohn; หลน) means to simmer. In this ancient style dip, minced pork and fermented shrimp paste, along with smoked-charred dry fish, chilies and other aromatics, are slowly simmered in rich coconut cream to create a deep, multi-layered – yet subtle and silky – dip; a dip which is then lightly seasoned with just palm sugar and fish sauce. The dip is served with an array of fresh and fried vegetables, tempura-like cakes, crispy small fishes or tiny transparent salt-water shrimp. For a dish with so many subtle flavors, there is surprisingly little fuss.
Relishes are perhaps one of the most ancient forms of Thai food. Served with rice and some fresh vegetables normally picked from fences around the house. However, Thai simplicity is never blend.
nam phrik phao is designed to store well, almost indefinitely, and The Thai touch of ancient wisdom guarantees that besides being nutritionally balanced it is very delicious and clearly possesses its own unique personality.
The first Thai restaurant in London was opened during the 1960’s by HRH Princess Jurairat Nasiriman (1910-2000) (พระเจ้าวรวงศ์เธอ พระองค์เจ้าจุไรรัตนศิริมาน), the granddaughter of HRH King Mongkut (Rama IV). Princess Jurairat chose to offer this salad on the menu and named it “Salad of Thai Milkweed Flower”. (Other names: Cowslip creeper, Telosma Cordata).
This fresh and tasty salad is so vibrant and easy for us to enjoy, it takes in the very basic flavors, sweet, salty, hot and sour and wrap them in a creamy coat of reduced coconut cream. The milkweed flower buds retain their crunchiness and their pleasant fragrance with only a gentle and very quick blanching in sweet boiling water.
This recipe comes all the way from India through the northern Burmese border. The masala spice mix is still sold in small packages with retro looking prints that seem to forever exist.
There is no way in a recipe to communicate what’s going on in here; a thick red chili paste marinate, that bursts in orange turmeric color, provides the perfect seen to the tender, almost falling apart, pork meat.
The sweet leading sour coconut cream based sauce, enriched and thickened with fragrant freshly roasted peanuts and golden beans are a wonderful coat to dress the sweet shrimp meat. The aromatics are being extracted in every possible way, by roasting, and frying, boiling and reducing, pounding and grounding. All the culinary methods are being fully employed to guarantee an absolute real first class dish.
If you want to start some real Thai cooking going at your home, have the time and access to all the ingredients, than I really want you to try this dish. The building blocks of flavors work so well here and it will open you a great window to see the beginning of what is possible in Thai cuisine.