Blood is a rich source of nutrients and is consumed throughout the world. In Thai cuisine, fresh blood is widely used. While the general assumption is that cooking with blood is associated with regional and rustic cuisine, in fact, animal blood was part of the aristocracy’s diet as well, as evident from Lady Plean Passakornrawong’s recipe for blood sausage sai leuuat (ไส้เลือด) which appeared in her 1908 cookbook “Maae Khruaa Huaa Bpaa (MKHP) (ตำราแม่ครัวหัวป่าก์)”.
Fresh blood is used to prepare blood curd (blood jelly) and sausages. It is employed as a thickener for soups and curries, added to laap and koi dishes, and is the main ingredient in raw blood dishes such as luu (หลู้ หรือ ลู่), luu phiia (หลู้เพี้ย), sohk lek (ซกเล็ก) or leuuat bplaaeng (เลือดแปลง).
Blood from different animals differs in taste, with varying levels of irony-gamey flavor. As a rule of thumb, however, the type of blood used is usually from the same main protein of the dish it accompanies. Thus, duck blood jelly is served with braised duck dishes, chicken blood jelly with Hainanese chicken rice (ข้าวมันไก่; khaao man gai), fresh cow blood for beef laap, and pig blood for pork laap.
In Thai fresh markets, the only fresh blood available is from pigs and cows; therefore, unless you butcher the chicken and ducks yourself, pig blood is the preferred fresh blood to use, as it is less gamy and somewhat sweeter than cow’s blood.
After the animal is butchered, the blood is collected. It will eventually naturally coagulate; before using it, we need to break the coagulated lumps. Nowadays, restaurants that process large batches of blood will use an electric blender – but the manual approach is superior. Massaging the blood manually does not break the blood cells, thus resulting in a better texture and a less irony tasting blood product. One can apply aromatics as deodorizing agents to mellow the gamy smell and taste of the blood.
The aromatics of choice are leaves of fresh lemongrass, pandan leaves, kaffir lime leaves, and even spring onions. A generous amount of the aromatic is added to a bowl with the raw blood and, using the hand, the leaves are pressed and massaged until all the coagulated blood is blended liquid again. The blood is then strained and kept refrigerated. To reduce the gamy blood odor that intensifies with oxidation, and also to maintain the best texture, I prefer to use the blood fresh on the same day purchased.
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- 2 cups fresh pork blood (เลือดหมูสด)
- leaves of fresh lemongrass (ใบตะไคร้สด) and/or
- pandan leaves (ใบเตย) and/or
- spring onion (ต้นหอม) and/or
- kaffir lime leaves (ใบมะกรูด)
- Prepare the aromatics and place them in a large mixing bowl.
- Pour the blood over the aromatics and massage them together until all the lumps in the blood break down and it is smooth and runny.
- Strain; keep refrigerated.