Green Chicken Curry (gaeng khiao wan gai)
We are now onto Week 8 of our Friday Lunchtime Thai Menu. If you have just joined us, we are trying to buy a meal every Friday for four people that will only cost us not much more than $3. Sounds impossible? Not if you live in Thailand. Thai Street Food is both cheap and delicious. The first dish on our menu today is a classic example. It is a chicken green curry which is among the favourites of many foreign tourists. Believe it or not, this dish only cost 20 baht and tasted just as good as from a restaurant.
I often cook green or red curry at home as it is quite simple. I also like making up my own recipe for this but here is the traditional method of cooking. First add the green curry paste to the pan of hot oil. You can buy this ready made down at the market. When it becomes fragrant, gradually add the coconut milk. If you are Western you will now be asking for exact measurements. But, in Thai cooking you use your gut feeling. Keep stirring until a green oil surfaces to the top. Next add the sliced chicken. You could also use beef or pork. Remember, Thai people don’t use knives so everything has to be pre-cut to bite size. At the same time you should add the kaffir lime leaves. These should be torn just before adding so that the fragrance is released immediately. Once it is cooked through, transfer to a pot. Add the remaining coconut milk and season with sugar and fish sauce. Bring it back to the boil. Now add the eggplants that have been quartered. Sometimes the pea eggplants are added but I find these too hard. I usually add frozen garden variety peas instead. Once the eggplant is cooked, add sweet basil leaves and the red chilies. Now it is ready to eat!
Fried Chicken with Basil Leaves (gai pad gra-prow)
This is a favourite among Thai people and is often bought in shops as a one dish meal topped with a fried egg. I think the minced pork version is more common, though this chicken one is just as good. When you buy as a meal with rice it will cost about 25 baht. You might need to add an extra 5 baht for the fried egg. As we bought without rice it cost us only 20 baht. This can be a very spicy dish so you might like to say “pet noi” which will result in the cook not using so many chillies. The ones used in this dish are the small variety and can be very hot. A small handful is used. In Thai these are called “prik kee noo” which translates as mouse dropping chili. To cook, use a mortar and pestle to ground the chilies and garlic. Then add to hot oil until fragrant. Add the chicken and stir until done. Season with fish sauce and sugar. Some recipes add oyster sauce too. Now add the holy basil which gives it a very distinctive taste. Also add a sliced spur chili. It is now ready to eat.
Salad (salad khaek)
I guess we will have to start blaming you, our readers, for not allowing us to have balanced meals on Fridays. I would have much preferred to have a stir fried vegetable dish with the above. But, we are not allowed to repeat and are trying our best to come up with unique menus each week. This next one is called “salat khaek” which could be translated as Indian style salad. Though I think only because mayonnaise is not used for the dressing. Here they use a spicy peanut dressing similar to the one used for the satay pork dish. In this picture you can also just see some white bean curd which was actually quite nice. They sell these in plastic bags by the side of the road for only 20 baht.
Coconut Jelly Dessert (wun gati)
I don’t normally eat Thai desserts as I find them too sweet. But it is alright once a week in the interest of research for this series of blogs. This first one is a hardened version of my all time favourite “khanom tuay”. The lady selling this one comes during the day ringing her bell. If I can catch her I will share some pictures with you. This version is called “wun gati” which is a coconut jelly. The green colouring is natural and comes from the pandanus leaf which is often used in desserts.
Grated Coconut Pudding (kanom sod sai)
This is one of those surprise desserts that you buy wrapped in a banana leaf. You will need to ask what is inside unless you like lucky dip! This one is called “khanom sod sai” though sometimes you might hear it being called “khanom sai sai”. The brown filling in this one is shredded coconut though you will sometimes find alternatives. The pudding is sticky rice with a topping of coconut cream and rice flour. This is then wrapped in a banana leaf and put in a steamer for about ten minutes. Four of these cost about 10 baht so it is worth experimenting.
I hope you enjoyed looking at our meal as much as we enjoyed eating it. Come back next Friday to see what we will eat next.