Despite the increase in food prices, we somehow managed to stay within budget for our weekly Friday Thai Lunch in the Paknam Web offices. The curry today is one of my favourites and is easy to cook as long as you can buy the curry paste ready made. In Thai it is called “gaeng ga-ri gai”. The word “ga-ri” comes from the same language root as our own “curry”. If you are wondering, “curry” comes from a Tamil word and so therefore suggests that this aromatic curry has an Indian origin. The curry paste has more spices than the average Thai curry. Ingredients include dried chillies, shallots, garlic, galangal, lemon grass, ginger, coriander seeds, comin seeds, curry powder, salt and shrimp paste. You can cook this dish with either chicken or beef. The other main ingredient is the potato. I like eating this dish with what the Thai call a “roti” rather than with rice. The side dish is traditionally cucumber relish. We bought this one for only 20 baht, though at the shopping mall, this curry with roti is about 40-50 baht.
This is a good dish that uses the transparent wunsen noodles. It seems easy to cook and I will try one day. What you have to do is fry some coriander roots, ginger, peppercorns and onion in a wok until fragrant. Remove these and then add the mung bean noodles to the wok together with a seasoning of salt, sugar, light soy sauce and oyster sauce. Add the shrimp and keep tossing so that it doesn’t burn. Now place all the ingredients into a clay pot. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes. This dish cost us 25 baht.
I wouldn’t eat this dish by itself but it is a good accompaniment with something else. The Chinese bitter melon is a bit like a light green cucumber though larger and it has knobbly skin. To prepare, you need to cut open and remove all of the seeds. This one is stuffed with ground pork, but you sometimes see a vegetarian version with a mushroom mixture. This dish was 20 baht.
This Thai custard with pumpkin is very delicious but I will have to be careful not to eat too often. That is the problem with many Thai desserts as you will put on weight if you are not careful. The way they cook this is very clever. They first clean the outside of a pumkin and then cut a trapdoor in the top. The seeds inside the pumpkin are then scooped out. The Thai custard is made up of a mixture of eggs, sugar and coconut cream. You then stir this mixture together with some pandanus leaves. Once the sugar has dissolved, it is strained through cheesecloth. The pumpkin is then placed in a bowl and the mixture is poured in. The trap door is then put back and it is all then steamed for about 40 minutes. Once it is ready, the mixture should have hardened. It is now cut into wedges about three inches thick. Each wedge costs about 20 baht. Make sure you try this the next time you are in Thailand.
More Thai food on our menu at paknam.com next week.