food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘thai food

green curry mussels

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These green-lipped mussels were delicious cooked in a Thai green curry and served over fat egg noodles.


For the green curry, a home-made paste is the best but when I’m in a hurry I use store bought curry paste. Fry the paste in a little coconut fat until fragrant then add 1 large diced eggplant (aubergine) and a little water. Cover and cook until the eggplant is softening then add some baby corn and cook until tender. Add a can of coconut milk and some frozen peas and bring to a simmer without covering as this might curdle the coconut milk. In another pot cook your noodles. Balance the seasoning of the curry with Thai fish sauce and sugar to taste then add the cleaned and de-bearded mussels. I added a few prawns (shrimps) as well. When the mussels are cooked, place the drained noodles onto a platter and pour the curry over the noodles. Garnish with plenty of fresh coriander (cilantro).


Written by michelle picker

April 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

duck red curry with lychees

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This classic Thai curry, often made with Chinese style roast duck, is a popular restaurant dish. I used fresh pan-roasted duck breasts in this version, although I cheated with a bought curry paste.


To make the curry, fry 2 tablespoons of red curry paste in some coconut oil until it’s fragrant. Add 1 – 2 cans of coconut milk and 6  kaffir lime leaves and allow it to cook until thickening slightly. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Score the skin of your duck breasts and salt liberally. Place them (skin side down) in a cold, heavy, oven-proof fry pan and turn the heat on, cooking over low to medium heat until the skin is crisp and the fat is rendered. Pour off the excess fat from time to time (this will keep well in the fridge and can be used another time). When the skin is crisp and the fat rendered, turn the breasts over and cook in the oven for just a few minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, take the duck out when the temperature reaches 63ºC (145ºF). Rest the duck for 5 minutes while you finish the curry. If there are any juices in the pan, add them to the curry along with 10-12 pitted fresh lychees or a can of drained lychees. When the duck is rested, cut it into pieces and add it to the curry. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped Thai basil and serve immediately with plain or coconut rice.

Written by michelle picker

August 8, 2016 at 5:48 am

black rice pudding with grilled bananas and coconut turmeric sauce

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Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, grows wild in the forests of South and Southeast Asia. It is widely used as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. Slightly bitter, musky and earthy tasting, it adds an interesting dimension to this dessert from David Thompson’s Thai Food.


For the black rice pudding, soak ½ a cup of black sticky rice and ½ a cup of white sticky rice overnight. Place in a heatproof bowl and steam for 3 hours, making sure to replenish the water often. If you’re in a hurry, try a pressure cooker. When the rice is soft stir in 1 cup of sugar, a pinch of salt and some pandanus leaves. Allow to rest until the sugar has dissolved and the pandanus leaves have released some flavour. For the grilled bananas, cut your bananas lengthwise and steep in some water acidulated with lime juice. In a wide saucepan combine 1 cup of coconut cream, a pinch of salt, 1 cup of palm sugar (or coconut sugar), 1 knotted pandanus leaf and 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh turmeric (if you can’t get fresh turmeric, use one teaspoon of ground turmeric). Now grill the bananas briefly and immerse in the sauce for 10 minutes. When ready to serve, remove the bananas and grill again until golden. Serve with the rice pudding and the coconut and turmeric sauce.

pork and pomelo salad + apple and green bean salad

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Pomelo (citrus maxima) is an original fruit which not only looks like a very large grapefruit but tastes like a mild and slightly sweet one too. It’s a native to Southeast Asia, hence this deliciously salty and sweet Thai style salad. The pomelo I bought weighed 1.13 kilos (2½ lbs)!


Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and fry 2 finely diced brown shallots and 2 finely diced fresh red chillies until the shallots are soft. Add ½ a cup of coconut milk and bring to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of dark soy (caramel) sauce, 1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce and 500g (a little over 1 lb) of thinly sliced pork. When the pork is cooked, remove it to a plate to cool and reduce the remaining liquid until only 1-2 tablespoons are left. Peel the pomelo and remove all of the pith, breaking it into small pieces. When the pork and sauce are cooled, combine them with the pomelo and ½ a bunch of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro).

In contrast to the sweet pork and pomelo this apple and bean salad is sharp and refreshing.


Make julienne of 2 large green apples, ½ a large cucumber and 6-8 radishes.  Combine with 200g of thinly sliced green beans. In a small food processor or mortar and pestle combine 3 cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt, 2 – 4 fresh red chillies, 2 tablespoons of dried shrimp and 3 tablespoons of roasted peanuts. Process or pound into a coarse paste then add 1 large chopped tomato, 2 tablespoons of palm sugar, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, a heaped teaspoon of tamarind paste and 1½ tablespoons of fish sauce and process briefly. Combine with apple mixture and allow it to rest for 10 minutes or more before serving.

baked whole snapper

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Australian snapper is a soft, delicately flavoured fish but it stands up well to these robust Thai flavours and lends itself well to baking.


Preheat your oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Take the cleaned and gutted whole fish, season with salt and pepper and stuff the cavity with ½ a cup of fresh holy basil (Thai basil) leaves. Heat some peanut oil in a large fry-pan over high heat until smoking then quickly brown the snapper for approximately 30 seconds on each side. Place the fish in a roasting pan and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily. Meanwhile add some more peanut oil to the same frypan over medium heat. Stir in 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger (or galangal if available), 2 small sliced red chillies and 1 seeded and diced red or yellow pepper. Cook for a few minutes until the pepper has softened. Stir in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons of water and 2 seeded and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until thickened to your liking. Pour the sauce over the snapper and garnish with extra holy basil leaves. Serve with steamed rice.

*recipe by Chili Spice on allrecipes

Written by michelle picker

March 26, 2015 at 5:55 am

scallops in coconut sauce with fresh basil

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Here’s a really quick and easy meal which is still luxurious and impressive.


From a can of coconut milk take the thick coconut cream and melt it in a wide saucepan over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon of Thai roasted chilli paste in soya oil (you will find this at any Asian store which sells Thai food products) and stir to combine. Add 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass (either bruised or finely diced if you don’t mind the texture), 2 kaffir lime leaves and 1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce. Simmer until thickened a little. You can set this sauce aside while you cook any other dishes for this meal. When the rest of your meal is nearly ready, reheat the sauce and add 500g (17½ oz) of fresh scallops. Allow them to just cook through so that they remain soft and plump. Turn off the heat and stir in a generous handful of fresh basil leaves.

Written by michelle picker

November 1, 2014 at 5:35 am

whole barramundi in banana leaves + asparagus salad

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David treated us to this wonderful Thai meal recently.

barramundi-in-banana-leavesFor the marinade process these ingredients in a food processor: 1 brown shallot, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 sliced thumb-size piece of galangal (or ginger), 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, a handful of basil leaves, ½ a can of coconut milk, 2 finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, 1 finely sliced red chilli, 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and the juice of ½ a lime. Marinate the fish  for 10-15 minutes then wrap it in banana leaves (you can buy these at Asian stores). Make sure you go around the fish more than once to contain all the juices and tie well. Place the parcel into a dish and cook either over a barbecue or in a moderate oven. Whole fish (we had barramundi) will take much longer then fillets. If you are unsure of the cooking time, open the parcel and test with a fork. Unwrap at the table and serve with coconut rice.


Our fish parcels were accompanied by this delicious Thai asparagus salad.


Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus (the spears will naturally snap at the right place). Mix together 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 4 minced cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and 1 minced fresh red chilli. Place the asparagus in a flat-bottomed dish or bowl. Pour the marinade over. Use a spoon to distribute the marinade over the length of the spears. Allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes. Lightly brush a barbecue or hot grill with oil and grill the asparagus until it is lightly browned and slightly withered on the outside, but still crunchy in the middle.

Recipes by Darlene Schmidt.

Written by michelle picker

July 22, 2014 at 5:59 am