Royal Thai Cuisine

Chef Thapakorn Lertviriyavit (Gorn) brings us a rare perfumed and colorful starter [salad] dish that was rediscovered in a cookbook written by a former governor of Nakhon Ratchasima (พระยานครราชเสนี – สหัด สิงหเสนี), which contained a recipe that called for rose petals, called ‘Yum Gularb’ or ‘Rose Petal Salad’. But I’d prefer to rename it, ‘Yum Gleep Kuppatchka’. You will soon understand why….

This recipe would probably change your perception about the term “salad”, maybe because its dressing has a multi layered, curry-like personality, rather than the common sour vinaigrette-like dressing, or maybe because it takes some good few hours to prepare, somewhat longer than simply opening a bag of hydroponic greens.

This salad is the fruit of the dedication of court ladies from aristocratic households, that for centuries perfected and elaborated on the art of cooking through detailed and calculated process, to create sophisticated dishes that are not only delicious but also very healthy and visually pleasing.

These ladies made a very large commitment for small things, and they attended all their time and efforts to make minor things better and getting the small things just right.

It is believed that this dish was introduced to the Siamese royal cuisine in the middle of the seventeenth century by Portuguese traders. Later, along with other egg yolk-based golden sweets like the golden drops (thong yot ทองหยอด), golden flowers (thong yip ทองหยิบ) and golden threads (foi thong ฝอยทอง), these royal desserts were passed to commoners outside the court.

For the marzipan filling I am using, beside the mung beans, both the flesh and the water of fragrant young coconuts. It gives a rich, sweet and almost nutty flavor which works perfectly with the silky texture of the mung beans and the creamy golden egg yolks coating.

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.

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