Appetizer Recipes

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….

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.

Here is a recipe that, according to the legend, shows the efforts of one young man to please his wife’s mother. Using only the very basic ingredients he could find in the pantry, he put together a plate that cannot fail. From the culinary aspect I mean. Because from the grammar point of view we ended up with a dish that is called…. oy vey…. yes, “The son in law’s balls”….

This salad is quick and easy to make. The dish enjoys carnival of colors and defined flavors that stand in line to tease your palate; Sour, Salty, Hot and a feathery touch of Sweet. They are all ready to play in this less than 10 minutes preparations.

The dressing is made with equal parts of lime juice and fish sauce, pinch of sugar and chilies as much as you dare. Mix just before serving. It goes well with a plate of hot white rice and crispy Thai omelette.

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.

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