Saturday, December 24, 2005

My Christmas Dinner - Thai Style

The kitchen looked like a bomb exploded!

I made little seafood cakes (Haw Mok Thalay) in banana leaf cups for appetizers (very delicious!).

For the main course a crispy fried pomfret with a mango salad toppi
ng, decorated with cashew nuts. And a green chicken curry with rice.

Then for de
ssert a steamed acorn squash custard (one of the best desserts i ever made) and a few sticky rice cakes with banana.
Merry Christmas!

Seafood Cakes

for 2 people:

for the banana leaf cups:
1 big banana leaf (Whole Foods often carries them)
4 whole thai basil leaves

for the topping:
80 ml coconut milk (from a can or powder)
1/2 teaspoon rice flour
2 very thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves
2 fresh, deseeded and thinly sliced red chili
4 cilantro leaves

for the seafood mixture:
50 g boneless white fish fillets, cut into very thin slices (i used Orange Roughy)
50 g fresh shrimp, peeled and cut into tiny pieces
50 g squid tubes, cut into tiny pieces
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon fish sauce
150 ml coconut milk
10 g finely chopped thai basil leaves (horapa)
very thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves

for the spice paste:
2 hot red chilies, dried
2 big cloves of garlic
2 slices galangal (thai ginger)
1 slice regular ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated kaffir lime rind
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro root
5 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon seasalt
1/2 teaspoon dried shrimp paste, roasted


Start by making the banana leaf cups. With scissors, cut 8 circles out of the banana leaf, each with about a 15 cm diameter. Put two circles on top of each other. Make a fold along the edges about 4 cm tall and secure it with a toothpick. Do this 4 times for each cup at equal distance from each other. Cut the toothpicks to the same height as the cups. This is a bit a tedious process, but you'll end up with those cute banana leaf cups. If you don't want to do this hassle, you can use small ceramic cups (heatproof!) which are about the same size. Put one basil leaf into each cup.

Now grind all the spice paste ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle. Mortar and pestle are crucial if you're serious about thai cooking. You can get nice and big ones at Silom Supermarket. In a seperate bowl, mix all the ingredients for the seafood mixture together, adding coconut milk last bit by bit.
Now combine this seafood mixture with the spice paste and mix well.

Fill the banana leaf cups with the mixture and steam the cakes for about 15 minutes. You can use a rice cooker for steaming (very convenient) or boil some water in a big pan, put some kind of grid or anything else the cakes can sit on onto the bottom of the pan.

While the cakes are beeing steamed, mix coconut milk and rice flour (f
or the topping) in a small pan. Bring to a boil and constantly stir until the mixture thickens. Once thickened, remove from the heat and let it cool.

After the cakes are finished, put a spoonful of
the topping mixture onto each cake and decorate with the kaffir lime leaves, red chili and cilantro leaf. Put the cakes into the steamer for one last minute, then serve! Ouff...

This sounds like a lot of work (it's not so bad besides the banana leaf cups), but it's worth it!

Fried Pomfret with Mango Salad

for 2 people:

the fish:
1 pomfret (Ranch 99 usually has them)

1 cup oil (for deep frying)
2-3 tablespo
ons tapioca flour (optional, also from Ranch 99)

for the mango salad:
1 unripe mango, roughly grated (mango should be as hard as possible)
2 shallots, sliced
2 fresh chilies, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons fish sauce
juice of half a lime
2 tablespoons roasted cashew nuts


Clean the fish, scale it on both sides with a sharp knife. Rub tapioca flour all around the fish. Set aside.

Add all ingredients for the mango salad in a bowl. Mix well. If it's not salty enough, add more fish sauce, if it's not sour enough, add more lime juice.

Deep-fry the fish preferrably in a wok. Fry
it until it's crispy and golden on both sides.
Take the fish out of the pan and drain as much of the oil as possible.

Put the fish on a plate, arrange the mango salad on top of the fish and decorate with the cashew nuts.
To get the fish meat off the bones, scrape it with a spoon.

Green Chicken Curry

for 2 people:


1/2 pound chicken (i prefer thighs, you can also use breast)
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon green curry paste
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
100 g thai eggplant, each cut into 4-6 wedges
handful of thai basil (horapa)

2 fresh red chilies, deseeded and cut into strips


Start steaming some jasmin rice in a rice cooker (hopefully you have one, they're great!).

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet. Quickly fry the chicken over high heat without entirely cooking it (about 3 minutes total).
Put aside
on a plate.

Put 1/2 cup of the coconut milk into a large skillet. Heat over medium heat until it begins to have a bit of an oily sheen. Add the green curry paste, the kaffir lime leaves, the fish sauce and the sugar. Stir well. Bring the sauce to a boil, then add the eggplants. Reduce the heat, cut the chicken into bite size pieces and put it back into the skillet and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken is done and the eggplants are softened. At the end, add the fresh basil leaves and the chilies. Serve with steamed rice.

Acorn Squash Custard

for 2 people:


1 acorn squash (or small pumpkin)
2 eggs (the real authentic recipe uses 1 duck egg to replace 1 chicken egg)
100 ml coconut cream
50 g dark brown sugar


Cut off the top of the squash (about 1/4 of the height) and scoop out all the seeds and fibers. Keep the cut-off part as a lid. Also cut the squash a bit at the bottom to make it stand stable.

Put eggs, coconut cream and sugar into a bowl and mix very well until the mixture is frothy. Again, my great mixer from Betty Bossi did a wonderful job!

Pour the mixture into the squash and fill it as much as possible. Put the "lid" back onto the squash and place the whole thing into a steamer (rice cooker or big pan, just make sure the squash doesn't directly sit in the boiling water).

Steam for about 30 minutes. The squash should have softened quite a bit and the cream inside should have hardened. Remove from the steamer and let it cool. Put the w
hole dessert into the fridge for a few hours before serving. To serve, either directly eat it with spoons from the squash (romantic dessert for two?!), or cut the squash into thin (about 1 cm) slices and put on plates.

Sticky Rice Cakes

for 2 people:


80 g sticky rice (sometimes called glutinous rice or sweet rice), soaked in water for 1 hour
150 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
little bit of salt

20 g dried red beans, soaked overnight then boiled until soft
1 small ripe banana (baby bananas work great for this)
2 pieces banana leaf (from Whole Foods), cut into about 10 x 25 cm stripes


Drain the rice. Put rice, coconut milk, sugar and salt into a large, non-stick skillet. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and cook until all the coconut milk is absorbed by the rice (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Make a pile of rice, red beans and banana slices on each banana leaf. Use up all the ingredients for both banana leaves. Roll up the leaves and make the mixture inside nice and firm while rolling.

Put the rolls into a steamer and steam for about 25 minutes.

Before eating, unwrap the rolls (discard the banana leaves) or cut them first into smaller pieces (just like sushi rolls).


At 9:44 PM, Blogger Jenne said...

I found your site by following a link from Kazu's Bolt City page (I knew Kazu in college - we worked at the newspaper together). I love the idea of a cooking blog! Awesome idea!

At 12:02 AM, Anonymous catia said...

yumm! Fried Pomfret with Mango Salad!
Dan, beautiful photos and execution! Thanks for sharing wonderful recipes, I will be checking in often for cooking tips. :)

At 1:05 AM, Blogger Dan said...

thank you so much, girls!
nice to hear you enjoy it...
please check back often!


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