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.
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.
Here is a rustic sour soup recipe that is very light on ingredients.
The broth is made by boiling dried smoked and lightly grilled freshwater fish. It is seasoned to the sour spectrum of the palate with the use of no more than tamarind. Semi ripe tamarind fruits were used in the early days as tamarind trees were grown in the backyard of almost every Thai home but tamarind water and leaves will just as well work a treat.
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.
Curry shops are for the busy businessman and the hungry traveler a real must. They offer a selection of the most attractive and appetizing food you can think of. This is the Thai version of fast food, even faster than in the west.
So here is a wonderful little lunchtime dish that goes well with yet another bowl of steamy hot rice, that comes of directly from the curry shops common repertoire.