Bitter gourds have long been prized in Asia for a trait considered a defect in cucumbers: bitterness. We tend to believe that anything bitter is medicinal and, in this case, we could be correct. The bitter gourd is said to cure a wide range of ailments – from gastrointestinal conditions to cancers, and from diabetes to HIV. Also known as bitter melons, bitter gourds are pale green, with an irregular, warty surface. Typically, they are eaten following an initial treatment to remove some of the bitterness; often they are stuffed, to complement their somewhat eccentric bite.
Thai food recipes by preparation techniques
Blessed are the Thais for their unique attention for details. They do no spare efforts in creating intricate work of arts and their cuisine harmonizes flavors of robust ingredients in ingenious recipes.
However, there will be days that even the Thais would crave for an easy, simple, cheap and tasty meal – a laid back, quick and down-to-earth menu – The Omelette, Usually served over rice, with Chili & Lime Fish Sauce (phrik naam bplaa) or as a side dish for a multi course meal.
Great Thai omelette must have crisp borders and soft center. Endless tips and tricks were born in the search for a foolproof method of making the perfect Thai Omelette. Some will secretly add lime juice or baking powder, a drop of water or even frying the egg whites separately.
Tom Yam is a type of soup with distinct sharp hot and sour flavors, scented with pleasant citrusy aroma.
Tom Yam is known to seduce many westerners to fall in love with Thailand, its people and food. Many trips memories to Thailand were written in diaries, others are etched on film but all are stained by the Tom Yam charm.
I still remember with vivid colors my first bowl of Tom Yam, in the night market of the old neighborhood on a hot night in a ragged, unfashionable part of Bangkok. Where the smell of cooking and the glare of florescent lights decorated the alley where JeMoi used to own a restaurant, a very simple and very good one, decorated with cheap bamboo chairs and peeling orange walls. I would enjoy watching the streets of the early night turning into mornings, eating, drinking and sweating. It was hard to say if I was sweating from the hot and humid weather, the cheap whiskey or JeMoi’s spicy food. I still smile when I think of her, standing by my table with a winning smile, as if she knew how much I enjoy the food.
A quick and tasty dish from the hot mouth of the dragon with only three ingredients! Flowering Chives, Pork Liver and Garlic.
Flowering Chives are all year round favorites for their mild garlicky flavor, and can be purchased inexpensively at almost any Asian market.
In Thailand we like to fry them with pork, pork liver or shrimp. These flowering chives are actually the unopened bud stems of garlic chives, also known as Chinese chives.
Here is a quick, tasty dish that allows me to be genuinely emotional: from the tears I shed each time I chop the mountain of shallots…to my delighted grin when I behold the beautiful, deep amber color flaunted by the chicken after less than 15 minutes of preparation – a hue that one might expect to see only in a gourmet magazine photo…
Naem is a fermented sausage made with pork, pork skins, cooked sticky rice (glutinous), fresh garlic, salt, sugar and bird’s eye chilies. The sausage is wrapped in banana leaves or synthetic casings, and fermented for 3-5 days at about 30 degrees (C) and 50% humidity. The fermentation process enables the growth of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, mostly lactobacilli, which accounts for the sourness of the sausage. The salt acts as an inhibitor – preventing the meat from going rotten, allowing the lactic acid bacteria and yeasts to feed on the rice and sugar, and fermenting the meat to perfection.
Cured pork is made by fermenting a mixture pork meat, cooked pork skin julienne, salt, garlic and cooked sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. During the summer we leave the wraps unrefrigerated until a rich savory and slightly sour flavor develops. This method of preserving meat goes back to the days before refrigeration was widely used. In this Northern style recipe I use homemade cured pork, though any commercial product from your local Asian store will do just fine.