Thursday, June 25, 2015

Khoa Tom Moo / Thai Rice Soup with Pork

What is your typical everyday breakfast like?   Egg dishes? Quick toasted bread, muffins, bagels, croissant, and coffee? Quick oatmeal?  Or a healthier version like fruit smoothies?    I guess you all might say the same thing, “all of the above.”   Right?   It’s understandable that most of us have to get up early every morning and get ready to go for work which left us no time to make a decent breakfast that we can just sit down and slowly enjoy it every bite as it should be the way to start out every morning, except for the weekend.  But when the weekend arrive, what do you make for your family for breakfast, really?   Let me guess.  Scramble eggs, crispy bacon, toasted bread, and coffee.   Right?   The same things of what you’ve been having all week, except you can take time to appreciate and enjoy it more.   

Well, have you ever tried a healthy alternative besides your typical breakfast?  Like Thai style breakfast?   If you said no, then you really missed something crazy good if you were one of those people who couldn’t go a day without breakfast.

Khoa Tom Moo or Thai rice soup with pork is a typical Thai breakfast that I grew up eating it before heading off to school.   All the kids love it and adults savor it.   It is the kind of breakfast that will fill your stomach and keep you full until lunch time.  Khoa tom or rice soup can be made with pork, chicken, fish, or even seafood which they are equally good in my opinion.  But Khoa tom is not just for breakfast in Thailand even it is meant to be that way.  Some people prefer eating khoa tom for dinner and after have been heavily drinking all night long to sober up before heading home which is usually at 2 or 3 am in the morning just like people living in the US would go for a burger after the long night drinking.

 Anyway, I make khoa tom at home a lot especially in the winter because the hubby loves it so much and he’d prefer khoa tom to scramble eggs any day even when it’s in the summer months.   

Just to be cleared, khoa tom in Thai is basically just cooking rice with lots of water as it becomes rice soup.    You can use uncooked rice which will take longer, or you can use leftover cooked rice (I prefer) which will save you ton of times from the beginning to finish.   My recipe used Chinese celery leaves which traditionally preferred, but cilantro or green scallion can also be substituted and they work perfectly fine.   Thus, the crispy fried garlic is a must for this kind of khoa tom.  But if you don’t like garlic, I’m sorry to say, “You will miss the whole lots!”    

What you need:   2-4 servings
1 1/2 cups cooked white jasmine rice
6 cups chicken stock
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1 tsp. sugar (optional)
A pinch of salt to taste
6 oz. ground pork
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 cup Chinese celery leaves, chopped
Crispy fried garlic
Fresh ginger, julienned
Hard-boiled egg -- optional
Condiments: fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and chili pepper flakes

1. add soy sauce and ground white pepper into the ground pork and mix well, set it aside.
2. add chicken stock in a medium pot and set it over medium high heat
3. as soon as the pot start to boil, add carrot and celery. Let it boil it boils for a couple minutes
3. start to scoop out the ground pork with a spoon about a bite size ball and add into the boiling pot. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and sugar to taste.
4. add rice and let it continues to cook another 3 minutes or so.  Turn off the heat
5. add chopped Chinese celery leaves
6. serve khao tom moo with a teaspoon (or more) of crispy fried garlic and a teaspoon (or more) of fresh julienned ginger
7. seasoning with condiments as you prefer.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mango Coconut Pudding

The weather is heating up with clear skies and plenty of sunshine since yesterday.  Well, I guess summer has started in LA.  It’s soooo awesome.  And when it’s summer, it means there are plenty of fresh summer produces and fresh fruits out there in the supermarkets and farmer markets around city.  I'd be like a little kid in a candy store every single time when I see all the colorful fresh strawberries, blueberries, peaches, melons, and yellow gold manila mangoes.  I become a fruit hoarder all the sudden. 

I bought home some manila mangoes with the plan of making mango cake.  But my mood has changed due to the warm sunny outside.  Nobody wants to heat up the house with hot oven in this kind of weather, right?  Making something cooler like Mango coconut pudding would be more suitable. 

This pudding is inspired by sweet sticky rice and mango, a popular Thai dessert of the summer.  I have made it before and thinking of making it again if I can find sweet Thai mango like nam dok mai that is usually used specifically for this dessert.  Anyway, this pudding is quick and easy, and it takes little time to make.  But it’s required at least two or three hours to chill and set before serving.

So, you need to plan ahead if you want this dessert to be ready after your dinner tonight.

What you need: for 5 servings
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup mango puree (from 2 small manila mangoes)
3 tbsp. sugar – it depends on how sweet the mangoes are
2 tsp. gelatin powder
3 tbsp. water
A pinch of salt
Mango cut in cubes for garnish

1. mix the gelatin powder with water and let it set aside for 10 minutes
2. add coconut milk in a medium sauce pan, sugar, and bloomed gelatin over low heat for approx. 7 minutes or until it gets bubbles.  Take off the heat and whisk in the mango puree to mix well

3. strain the mixture for smooth texture

4. pour the pudding in serving glasses. Let them set in the refrigerator at least 2-3 hours

5. garnish with mango cubes, serve, and enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Thai Steamed Curry Chicken / Hor Mok Kai

It’s such a beautiful sunny in LA today.  I guess summer has arrived even though its official date hasn’t started yet.  Walking around in my backyard in the sun checking out my persimmon tree full of the baby green persimmons gave me a feeling of recharged.  I just can’t wait till October when they all will be ready for picking.

But right now let’s talk about today’s dish.  Today I made hor mok kai or streamed chicken curry.  

This Thai dish, hor mok, is traditionally made with white fish meat that cooked and served in a cup made from banana leaves which lending the dish a lovely aroma, plus gives the dish an amazing presentation.  Personally, I love this dish but rarely make it at home.  I’ve got to blame on the process of making it.  From finding the banana leaves and trying to make it a cup that capable of holding the fish curry inside is just too imitated to me.  Truth is, I have learned how to use banana leaves in cooking from my mother when I was little, and the process of making banana cups for steamed fish curry was no exception.  Making a cup from banana leaves take a lot of practice to make it looks perfectly round if you are not a crafty person (+ lazy bones) like me.   It’s a shame just thinking about it!  Sorry mom!    Thanks to the ramekins that come in handy and useful for this purpose.  I just cut banana leaves in 2x4 inch rectangle pieces and laid two pieces of them down at the bottom of each ramekin just to get the aroma effect from it.  Easy, right?   But don’t be limited by what I am saying. If you are a crafty person, go ahead and make your own banana cups for the sake of authentic cooking!   If I have more time, I would absolutely make them in heartbeats.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, hor mok is traditionally made with fish.  These days, however, hor mok is made possible with mixed seafood which famously cook in a young coconut, salmon, and pork.  Honestly, I’ve never seen it’s made with chicken!  So I say, why not?    Now at the bottom of each cup you will add some vegetable such as cabbage or Thai basil leaves before filling the cup with the curry.  In my case, I used kale leaves since I had them available on hand which I blanched them first and squeezed out the excess water before distributed them in at the bottom of each cup.


When I told the hubby that I would be making hor mok for dinner, he was delighted!  Let’s eat! 

What you needfor 4 servings
1 lb. ground chicken
1 cup coconut cream, cold
3 tbsp. red curry paste
1 egg
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
7-8 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
A handful Thai basil leaves, chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 cup kale leaves, chopped and blanched – or using cabbage
Some banana leaves – if available

For topping
Mix 1/4 cup coconut milk with 1 tbsp. rice flour or cornstarch and set aside.
Thai basil leaves
2 tbs. thinly sliced red chili or red bell pepper

1. Blanch the kale leaves for 5 minutes and squeeze out all the excess water, and set it aside.
2. prepare the ramekins by cutting banana leaves about 4 x 2 inches and lay then on the bottom of 4/10 oz. ramekins (see picture), and set aside.  *if banana leaves are not available skip this step.

3. In a large bowl, add ground chicken, red curry paste, egg, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, coconut milk, and then whisk to mix well for smooth texture.  Add kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil leaves, and red bell pepper into the mixture and stir to combine.  

*some notes: the curry mixture has to be kept chill so all the ingredients adhere together. If the mixture is too warm, chill it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes before steaming.  
4. Add blanched kale leaves in the bottom of each ramekins about 1 or 2 tablespoons.

5. Fill each ramekins with curry chicken mixture.

6. Top a spoonful of the mixed coconut topping on each cup

7. Steam on high heat for 18-20 minutes. When they are cooked, garnish each cup with Thai basil leaves and red chili pepper slices.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice and enjoy!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fresh Strawberry with Greek Yogurt Cake

  Living the Southern California I expect the sunshine all year round.  Do you?   What is it about May grey and June gloom anyway.  So silly!  I need my loving and warming sunshine baaaaack!   Anyway, ain’t no sunshine in LA lately, and today is no exception. The air is a little bit cool with some big fluffy clouds over the town that seems like it’s going to rain to make us the Californians happy a little.  But it didn’t.  Meh!  

Anywho, after I finished my second cuppa coffee, I decided to bake a quick dessert cake for the sweet tooth hubby since I had a box of fresh strawberries in the refrigerator waiting to be eaten for a few day now.  

I used cake flour for this cake because I’ve learned that cake flour produces softer texture cake.  But all-purpose flour can absolutely be used.  I used Greek Yogurt in my cake instead of milk, plus fresh squeezed lemon juice which helped adding the depth to the cake.  As the result, the cake came out so moist and soft, or I’d say it literally melted in my mouth!  It was a perfect dessert after dinner when served with some more fresh strawberries and a drop of cool whip on the side.  Icing was not necessary at all.  I was not the one who like dessert that much but I kept nibbling on the cake while trying to take photographs of it.  And the piece for my prop was gone!   The hubby had a big piece after dinner and I thought he was licking the plate cleaned!   No. I didn’t go over the top on that. 

Why don’t you try to make one and let me know if you agree, or not! 

What you need: for 8-inch round cake pan

1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp. butter, soften
2 large eggs
3/4 cup Greek Yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cups fresh strawberry, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. sugar for sprinkle on top of cake
Some fresh strawberries to put on top of cake
Cool whip and fresh strawberries to be served with the cake
Some powdered sugar for dusting on top of the cake – optional

Preheat the oven at 350’F

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside
2. Beat butter and sugar with a handheld mixer on medium high speed until fluffy and pale in color. 
3. Add one egg at a time and continue beating until well combined. 
4. Add Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and continue beating until the batter has come together and smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Fold in chopped strawberries.
6. Pour the batter in the well-buttered 8 inches round pan. Gently arrange some cut fresh strawberries on top of the batter however you like, then sprinkle sugar evenly on top of the cake.
7. Bake at 350’ F for 40 minutes just for the top of the cake turns slightly golden and the insert comes out clean.
8. Let the cake cool completely before dusting some powdered sugar on top of the cake.  Serve the cake with some more fresh strawberries and cool whip.  Enjoy!   

Monday, June 1, 2015

Baked Whole Fish with Dill and Lime Sauce

OMG!  It’s June.  We’re half way through the year already!  Where did all the time go?  It seems like the New Year was just yesterday, and I am still in the lazy mode because my plan of cleaning out all the clusters has gotten nowhere.   If you are anything like me, there are little piles of clutter all over the place.  There are things that I think will come in handy later when I ever need it, but guess what?  It never does.  I need to reboots my organizing system as soon as possible before the year ends, otherwise, you can call me a hoarder from now on.  

Anyhow, back to my dish of the day – Baked Whole Fish with Dill and Lime sauce.  I had made a similar dish before, Pla Neung Manao, and I still wanted to eat it again. This time I bought a whole striped Bass and had the fishmonger at the market cleaned out all the guts for me before I brought it home with a bunch of fresh dill.  Ohhh…have I ever told you how much I love dill.  This dish is easy to make, to bake actually.  The dressing or the sauce that is used to pour over the fish after it baked has a little heat (or a whole lots if you eat that little pieces of chili like i did) from crushed fresh Thai chilies and garlic with a little zest of lime juice and an awesome smell of dill.  You don’t even need any extra dipping sauce. This dish is good to be served with steamed white rice as a light healthy dinner meal.  I can actually eat the whole thing by myself.   

Would you try it?

What you need:
1 (2.5 lbs.) Whole Striped Bass, well cleaned and
1 pk. Enoki mushroom or any kind (use as much or as little as you like)
1 bunch fresh dill
4 cloves garlic, crushed
A quarter of white onion, sliced
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, sliced

For the dill sauce:
1/4 cup finely chopped dill
3 cloves garlic, finely mined
3 tbsp. canola or olive oil
2 limes or 1/4 cup lime juice
4-5 Thai red and green chili, mined
A pinch of salt and ground black pepper to taste
> whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.

1. Preheat the oven to 400’F  
2. Lay the baking sheet with foil. Place the fish over and seasoning lightly with a pinch of salt and ground pepper on both sides.
3. Stuff the crushed garlic, ginger, and dill into the fish empty stomach
4. Lay the slices of onion over the fish
5. Scatter the mushrooms around the fish
6. Cover the fish with a piece of aluminum foil and bake for about 20 -25 minutes
7. When the fish is cooked, pour the dill sauce all over the fish and serve immediately.

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