Tasty Tuesdays – tham eng
Tham eng – to do something your self. That’s exactly what I learned to do on Monday night this week – something myself. Do what yourself, you ask?
Most of you know already how much I enjoy cooking and baking, pretty much anything having to do with the kitchen and sharing what comes out of it. About a month ago, one of my teachers, Awd asked if she could have the recipe for a soft cookie I’d made and shared at school before – Snickerdoodles. She then passed the recipe along to a friend of hers, Puk, who was the one that wanted it in the first place. After her first couple of tries not turning out the way she wanted, as well as not knowing what these particular cookies were supposed to turn out like anyhow, she requested that Awd bring me to help her. You see, cookie-making is not something every housewife knows how to do, like most in America or other Western cultures. If you are a baker by trade, you know how to bake; however, cookies and pastries are not an inherent part of Thai food culture, so she needed my help to get started.
In exchange for my help in making the cookies, Awd offered to then teach me how to make whatever Thai dish I would like. After having been my first teacher upon arrival in Lopburi, and hearing what my favorite foods were, she already knew that I would ask for Phat Priaw Waan – the item I wrote about in last week’s edition of Tasty Tuesday – and then she added in some Krathiam Prik Thay for Brook. You can only imagine what fun I had with these ladies, swapping recipes and cooking techniques across languages and cultures! Granted, after almost 4 hours of communication in nothing but Thai, lots of repetition and explaining of words I didnt understand (of course using other Thai words I already knew!), I was exhausted. But it was totally worth it.
Okay, so are you ready to learn some Thai cooking? Let’s go!
1. To make Phat Priaw Waan (Sweet & Sour Thai-style), you must first prepare your fruits & veggies – essentials are tomato, cucumber, onion, green onion, and pineapple. We added mushrooms to ours, and carrot can be added as well.
2. Chop up some fresh garlic, and fry it with a bit of oil in a wok or pan until tender.
3. Add your choice of meat, cut into thin strips or pieces – we used chicken this time.
4. After meat is thoroughly cooked, add the tougher veggies – onion, cucumber, mushroom – and cook til tender, adding a few more drops of oil if needed.
5. Add ingredients for the sauce – fish sauce, ketchup, palm sugar, a splish of vinegar (white or rice are fine), a splash of soy sauce, and a dash of a Thai spice blend I don’t know how to write the name of (similar to poultry spice mixes we have back home, where we know what to use them for, but not exactly sure what all is in it!). Before stirring sauce into the pan, add remaining veggies and fruit – the juice from the pineapple helps round out the sauce. Taste and adjust flavor of sauce however you like. Cook until warmed through and tender.
6. Serve it up with rice and whatever other dishes you like!
Now you know how to make Phat Priaw Waan – Sweet & Sour Thai-style. I didn’t take pictures of the other dish, Krathiam Prik Thay, because there weren’t really any steps to take shots of! All you do is choose your meat (chicken, pork, or beef), chop it into thin bite-sized pieces and place it in a bowl. Crush and chop a handful (yes, I said a handful) of fresh garlic cloves and mix in with raw meat. Add a few drops of oil and a generous amount of ground black pepper, then allow the bowl to sit for a while as you prepare everything else for your meal – it’s really not an exact science, as you can see. Once you think the flavors have melded enough to suit your taste, toss the entire mixture into a hot wok or frying pan with a little bit of fish sauce and oil, then cook through. Serve over rice with fresh cucumbers, and you’ve got a quick and delicious meal!