I thought about posting this type of curry all the way at the end of the series, but I changed my mind, because Thanksgiving is coming up. Last year I gave you a red curry with roasted duck recipe that you can use leftover roasted turkey to make. This year I want to give you another recipe before Thanksgiving to cook your birds with.
You can use this recipe to cook your turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, or use it with the leftover turkey as well. Massaman curry is actually very well known, because it was listed on CNN Travel as the #1 most delicious food in the world in 2011. If you remember, Massaman curry is the king of curries, or perhaps the king of all foods! (As CNN Travel said.)
Massaman curry is a hybrid curry. It probably has Persian or may be even Indian influence, since it came into Thailand during the Ayuthaya Era around the mid-1600’s. I believe the origin probably to be Persian more than Indian because Thailand, or Siam at that time, was a hub for all the traders from all around. The Persians were the better sailors compared to the Indians, and we have documents stating we did trade with them.
This is the most use of “spices” in a Thai curry paste. This curry maintains the strong influence of the East Asian spices in it, different than the rest of the curries that you already known from my blog. Which curry was the original curry? How and who blended them together with the Thai curry remains a mystery.
Some would say that the other possibility for the origin of Massaman curry was from Thai Moslems, who called the curry “Salaman”. If that is true, it’s quite possible that the spice wasn’t Persian-influenced but rather would be Indonesian-influenced. The reason that this is also possible theory is because there is no Massaman curry with pork as a choice of meat.
Islamics in Thailand are clustered in the south, where my parents’ families resided, so I know a lot about their cuisine, and they cook their curry differently than the northern/Buddhist Thais. Eventually I will show you how my grandmother made her Massaman curry, but this time it will be the recipe that is believed to be the one belonging to the Royal cuisine.
Massaman was served among the Thai curries as a part of the set menu in the Thai Royal cuisine, as we, the Thais, saw proof of in some older literature dated back in the early 19th century. But from the mid-17th century, the Authaya era, to the late 18th century, the Rattanakosin era, where Bangkok is the capital city (Bangkok was established in 1782), we really don’t have documents to show the development of the Massaman curry.
The taste of Massaman curry is combination of three flavors: salty, sour and sweet, all blended perfectly with the “spices”. The saltiness is from the shrimp paste, salt and fish sauce. The sweetness is from palm sugar. The sour taste source is the one variant, depending on if the curry is made according to the “Royal cuisine” or the “commoner cuisine”. That’s how I’ve been taught.
What’s the difference? The typical sourness would come from tamarind pulp. So the “commoner” Massaman would have the taste of only tamarind. Sadly, some of the Massaman served in Thailand these days doesn’t even have the sour taste anymore, let alone the Massaman at the Thai restaurants all over the world, yet it still the most delicious food in the world!
The Royal cuisine would add fruit to the curry. Most of the time the fruit would be pineapple, which is abundant in the region. Pineapple doesn’t only give the curry its sour taste but also helps break down the tough proteins of the meat as well. The enzymes in pineapple will make the meat more tender.
There is another sour factor. This is from a citrus juice called Som-Sah ส้มซ่า, the Seville orange or bitter orange. Can you guess that the Royal cuisine version has more complex flavors than the one that uses only tamarind? Also, sometimes you will see cashew nuts in the curry instead of peanuts.
First, I want to tell you that there are three important things to remember when you make authentic Massaman curry:
#1 There are no green parts of leaves in this curry. If you see many bowls of Massaman curry and you want to pick the authentic one out, rule out the one that contains green pieces of vegetables. No cilantro, no kaffir lime leaves, no green onion, no Thai basil…NO GREEN IN MASSAMAN.
#2 There will be red oil floating on top of the curry. Why? Because Massaman curry contains many dried spices, and remember what I told you about how to cook the curry paste in the episode How to make a pot of Thai curry. You need to cook the curry with some oil in order to draw the flavor out from the dried spices.
The oil can be the coconut oil that was released from the coconut milk (the best), or by just using coconut oil if you don’t have coconut milk that can “break”. The oil is the key flavor of Massaman.
I normally don’t like a curry with thick layer of oil floating on top, but Massaman is the exception. In order to make the meat in the curry tender, the meat also needs to be simmered in the curry for quite a while. We normally don’t simmer them together with the coconut cream. We do it in the “watery” part of the coconut milk, or what we call “the tail” of the coconut milk, to prevent the coconut cream from breaking into too much oil.
#3 There is ABSOLUTELY NO GINGER OR CURRY POWDER IN THE MASSAMAN CURRY OR CURRY PASTE.
If you want to use pre-made Massaman curry, please skip this section and go to the cooking Massaman curry section
Massaman is the most complicated curry paste to make, due to many its ingredients and the fact that the spices need to be roasted. Some households even roast the shallots and garlic too.
Massaman Curry Paste Ingredients: (This yields about 1 – 1-1/4 cups of finished curry paste)
Shallots, sliced 2/3 cup
Garlic, sliced 1/2 cup
Red California Chili, soaked, de-seeded, and cut into small pieces 1 cup
Lemongrass, sliced 1/3 cup (If you can use only the purple part, use only 1/4 cup. I used my backyard lemongrass and I didn’t have enough, so I added the green part to it and used a little more)
Galangal 2 tablespoons
Cilantro root (Coriander root) 1 1/2 tablespoon
Shrimp paste 1 1/2 tablespoons
Salt 1 teaspoon
Coriander seeds 3 tablespoons
Cumin seeds 1 1/2 teaspoons
White peppercorn 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg (ground) 1-1/2 teaspoons
Mace 1-1/2 pieces
White cardamom (whole) 7 pieces
Cinnamon (ground) 1-1/2 teaspoons or 1 inch long stick
Clove (whole) 7 pieces
1) Roast all the spices with medium-low heat until they are fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
2) Put all of the roasted spices and herbs together in a blender and puree them.
If this is the first time you’re making Thai curry paste, you probably won’t recognize the different result. But if you’ve made fresh Thai curry paste (following my recipes) before, you’ll notice that when you open the blender’s lid the aroma that comes out is different than most other curry pastes. It has a much stronger spice fragrance. So aromatic! Even though it isn’t going to smell like Indian curry, it much stronger than Kaeng Kua, for sure.
Once you have the curry paste, then you are ready to roast your bird. I used a game hen because two of us can’t eat a whole turkey, and chicken is quite scary right now with the outbreak of salmonella that hasn’t been resolved yet (even with organic chicken).
One cornish game hen (Mary’s organic) about 2lb
Massaman Curry paste 3-4 tablespoons
Coconut milk 2-3 cups
Potatoes (I used russet potatoes, but this is your choice) quartered or cubed 1 – 1 1/2 cups
Onions, 2-3 small to medium size, cut in 8 pieces (The best really would be the tiny onions that you can just cut in half and every layer remains attached, even after two hours of abuse.)
Roasted peanuts or cashew nuts 2/3 cups
Salt 1 teaspoon
Palm sugar (or brown sugar) 1/4 cup
Tamarind pulp 2 – 3 tablespoons (This depends on how concentrated your tamarind pulp is)
Fish sauce 1/4 cup
Lemon juice 1-2 tablespoons
Sour fruit of your choice (optional) cubed 1 – 2 cups (see note #2)
White cardamom (optional) 4 pieces
White cardamom leaf (optional) 4 leaves (It usually comes in the same bag of the white cardamom pod)
1) If you plan to make Massaman with turkey, just re-calculate the above portions based on the weight of your turkey. The listed amounts are the ingredients for a 2lb. bird. (Note that the curry paste ingredients up above will be sufficient for a good size turkey, 8-10 lb.)
2) Choice of fruits, all should be sour and firm
- Kiwi (do not cut them up–they will disappear in the curry; use whole)
- Sour Mango; I’ve used the Mexican mango that already turned yellow before, but I don’t recommend the green mango.
- Tomato (Can be halved or whole, but only add to the curry at the end or they disintegrate)
- Grapes (Same rule as tomato)
- Peach (Sour and firm yellow peach only. Do not use white peach)
- Hibiscus flower
I never use any citrus or berry in Massaman curry because they can’t stand the heat. The stone fruits will get soft or even mushy by the end of the process, so pick carefully or add them at the very end.
1) Clean and prep the bird. I de-boned the Cornish game hen that I used because my husbanditor doesn’t like to pick tiny little bones out of his food. (I have to keep him happy, you know, or you guys will have to figure out my Thainglish!)
2) Stuff the fruit, potatoes and some onions inside the bird. I used apples and potatoes, and only added the pineapple to the broth for no good reason. I should have stuffed the cavity with pineapple chunks so the bird would have some pineapple flavor, and put the apples in the broth. But…but…but I just though the whole pineapple ring would look pretty on the plate…only if anyone can see it!
3) Truss the bird.
4) Cook the curry paste. Do you remember how to cook the curry paste? With Massaman curry you need to cook it longer, with slightly lower heat.
I used medium heat and once it bubbled, continued to cook it for at least 5 minutes.
If your coconut cream doesn’t break after 5 minutes of cooking, just add coconut oil to the mix.
The longer you cook it, the more the spices release their flavor in the oil. If the coconut milk or coconut cream gets dry, add more.
5) Once the curry paste is cooked, add the bones and more water (or broth), add the extra spices, then season the curry. I don’t use the extra spices with the bird but I do if I cook beef Massaman.
WARNING: For a bigger bird, cook a very, very thin curry with less coconut cream. You shouldn’t put ALL of the curry in the roasting pan because the coconut milk will start to break, and the longer you roast the more it will break. You don’t want to end up with a gallon of oil in the pan, so the proportion of water to coconut cream is different, but use the right amount of curry paste for flavor. Once you take the bird out of the oven you will add more coconut cream or coconut milk to the dried-up curry and adjust the taste again.
6) Pour some curry INSIDE the bird so the stuffing has some flavor and put the bird in a roasting pan, breast side up.
Add more onions, potatoes and fruit all around.
Pour more curry over the bird. The right amount is the curry covers about half to 3/4 of the bird. The longer you roast, the more liquid you add. You can also add more liquid as you see fit.
7) Cover the roasting pan with foil, then put the pan in the oven and roast for 1.5 hours at 350 F convection for a Cornish game hen. For the last half hour take the foil off. (I forgot to take the foil off, so I had to roast it for two hours.)
Chicken (3-5 lb.) should be roasted for at least 2.5 hours. If you roast a full turkey, I recommend preparing the bird and the curry the day before and roasting it at least 8 hour for an 8-15 lb. turkey, then place the bird inside the oven (covered with foil) at 300F for another two hours on Thanksgiving day.
For the bigger birds, you can start with the breast-side down and half way through flip the breast-side up. Make sure to add the water or broth to keep the curry from drying.
Seriously, I’ve never roasted a turkey bigger than 15 pounds, so I really don’t know the exact time, but adding another 40% to the normal time should be good. The longer cooking time is to ensure that the meat not only reaches the cooked point, but is tender and falls off the bones. You have to make sure that the bird stays simmering in the curry so it won’t get dry.
8) At the last half hour or an hour that you try to brown the bird’s skin, unless you have more curry sauce left in a separate pot, you can add the nuts in this pot too. I did. I like to have extra sauce, and you will need to re-season the curry anyway after the bird is cooked.
8) Once the bird is cooked until tender, take it out of the oven. Put just the bird in a deep plate that can hold a decent amount of liquid, so you can put the curry in there too.
Re-season the Massaman curry again with the curry from the pan, which has already mixed with the juice form the bird. Add the peanuts or cashew nuts to the curry at this time. You might want to add coconut milk, water, or broth. Then adjust the final taste of the curry to your preference. Heat, let the curry bubble, then pour the curry over the bird.
10) It’s done! You can serve it with cucumber salad, A-jad. I added chopped pineapple to my a-jad too. Serve with steamed rice, bread, naan, puff paratha, scones, biscuits or couscous.
This is not the traditional way of making Massaman curry at all. I just wanted to give you this recipe as a choice for your Thanksgiving feast. Back in the day, when I didn’t know that turkey took at least 5 hours to cook, I invited a friend of mine to a Thanksgiving dinner and put the turkey in the oven at 3pm when the dinner time was 5pm…Yikes! We ended up eating dinner at 9pm. I was glad my friend, Melissa still loved me after that!
The next time I cooked turkey, of course I was nervous, so I made Massaman turkey. I already calculated the amount of cooking time and the time I needed to prepare all the other side dishes, and then decided to cook the bird the night before, just in case, you know. If I failed, I’d still have time to fix the situation. It was also the first time cooking Thanksgiving feast for my boyfriend’s (at the time) family.
Everything came out so perfect! I was surprised myself. Well, Massaman curry is better the next day anyway. Everyone LOVED my Massaman turkey. Even though, behind the scenes, my ex-bf had to beg his cleaning lady to come and clean his 300 sq.ft. kitchen and arrange the dining room on Thanksgiving morning! Yes, as you might expect, my second time cooking turkey and cooking for twelve people, I made the kitchen condition look just like a hurricane had just swept through. In fact, a hurricane attacked seem gentle by comparison.
How is authentic Massman curry made?
1) You simply cook the meat of your choice, cut into a big chunks, with thin coconut milk until the meat is tender and falls off the bones. (I have only used beef, chicken, lamb, duck, and game hen so far. Never used pork or seafood with Massaman yet.) Chicken and game hen take about 1.5 hours, duck about 2 hours, beef and lamb about 2-3 hours. Add your potatoes to the pot in the last hour.
Remember how to make fresh coconut milk from shredded coconut that I explained it earlier. The skimmed coconut milk, or the “tail” part, is probably come from the third or fourth round of adding warm water to the shredded coconut and squeezing the milk out or the coconut milk that was left after the coconut cream was skimmed out. The milk will be very very thin near the consistency of water.
If you are not making your own coconut milk, you can mix the coconut milk from the can with water in a ratio of coconut milk : water of 1:8.
2) Cook the curry paste as I described above and add it to the meat pot.
3) Add onions, fruit and season the curry to your preference.
4) Wait until the curry is back to boiling again, add the nuts, either peanuts or cashew nuts. Once the curry is back to a boil, it’s ready to be served.
Well, talking about oysters, I was so lucky to be in NOLA during oyster season. (Please, see my last post “Off the Beaten Path Part I” for the best oysters from Pascal’s Manale for the completion.) I LOVE oysters, especially really fresh ones. In New Orleans oysters don’t have pearls in them like the rest of the country so, they are cheaper. (I hope you know that I’m BSing) No, it’s not THAT, but oysters there are so inexpensive.
I have to make sure that they charged me right because when I ordered oysters someplace else, it would be $2-3/ each. In New Orleans it is $5-7/ half dozen! If that is still too much for you, how about $9-14/dozen. I was in oyster heaven (maybe the oyster thought it was hell, but I haven’t heard that directly from them, though).
So, which oyster bar Chef Markvs told me to visit
The first one is the old school oyster bar on Magazine St. You probably know which one I’m about to tell you. Casamento’s is the first one. By the way they said “Our Fried Seafood is Gluten Free!” and also served “Gluten Free Beer”. I seriously don’t need anything gluten free but I think it is pretty in trend right now to let you know about THAT.
WHERE: Casamento’s Restaurant
4330 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70115
Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Thursday – Saturday 5:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Closed June, July and August and all Major Holidays
(Sometimes they close in April-August. If they can’t get good oysters, they won’t open their doors)
Walk in or you can try calling.
Also this place is CASH ONLY
WHAT: Oysters, baby!
And don’t miss the oyster stew.
I didn’t get a chance to eat their grilled oysters this trip because they don’t’ serve that for lunch.
Another one is near by the airport. Chef Markvs told me to “Go there as soon as you arrive and leave the airport.” I didn’t have a chance to do so immediately upon my arrival, but I got there on my way to visit the Plantations and—the best thing—I stopped there to get food for my flight home.
The place is called “Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar” a little restaurant next to a market called “Fisherman’s Cove” on Williams Blvd., minutes away from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
This place is so inexpensive I though they calculated my check wrong. I ordered several items and the bill came, $20. I though ‘How is this possible?’.
So, I told the waitress.
“I had half a dozen of fresh oysters too.”
She looked at the check and pointed to the $5 item on the check and said,
“Here” Then she looked at me like, and you don’t know about this!
What do you think about fresh raw oysters at $5/half dozen?
WHERE: Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar
3201 Williams Boulevard
Kenner, Louisiana 70065.
WHEN: Daily from 11am – 10:30pm.
HOW: Just walk in. I don’t even know if they take any reservations.
WHAT: All kind of seafood. I love their fresh oysters and turtle soup.
Talking all about seafood / soul food here, what about beignets, you may ask. Of course I ate beignets, but not at the Cafe du Monde this time. They reminded me of the Thai style “Pa-Tong-goh” ปาท่องโก๋, the Thai/Chinese fried dough and “O-Youa” โอยัวะ, hot coffee (of course with roasted tamarind seed mixed in with the coffee beans).
Chef Markvs told me about another coffee place out of town called “The Morning Call Coffee Stand”, another coffee house that has a long history and used to be in French Quarter competing with the famous Cafe du Monde for over hundred years, until 1974. They moved to this new location.
WHERE: The Morning Call Coffee Stand
Directly behind Lakeside Mall
3325 Severn Avenue
WHEN: Open 24 Hours – 7 days per week
Closed only on Christmas Day
HOW: OpenTable or call but not necessary
I’ve found that I liked the beignets there way more than Cafe du Monde. They make them lighter, meaning more open crumb (as shown) and the taste of it is better. I will have to try to make them one of these days when I’m not on the road as much.
What is more interesting than beignets is they served savory dishes as well.
I am debating about what to post! I’ve been to many great places lately: Toronto, New Orleans and next I will be in Las Vegas, Dallas, Rhode Island and New York City. So I don’t have a lot of time in my kitchen but I’m still enjoying good food. If you are following me on Instagram or my Facebook page (link), you probably already know about a few places
The Toronto trip was in early October, but I just came back from New Orleans, so I think I”d rather let New Orleans cut in line this time when my memory is still fresh.
I’ve been to New Orleans many times and never miss the chance to go there when the opportunity presents itself. I can easily say that NOLA is officially my second favorite city in the US. Oh oh…do not trying to guess which city is my most favorite. I’m afraid that you would easily guess it right. I will visit that city right after Thanksgiving and you will know for certain then. (Shoot, I already revealed that it’s not my home base, Manhattan Beach or Los Angeles!)
Since I’d already been to NOLA many times before and did all the French Quarter, Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde and the whole nine yards, this time I wanted to do it differently. I wanted to explore all the local favorites instead of staying in town.
With the help of my hero, Chef Markvs, who was born and raised there in the city of New Orleans and not only that, he’s worked as a chef at many of the restaurants there. He gave me a comprehensive list of restaurants to visit on my five-day trip.
Wait…I can only eat two meals a day, or three meals max! What will I do in between meals is another interesting question. If I don’t want to walk around the French Quarter, NOLA has many other things to offer, but I’d already done most of them. There was one thing I did a long time ago, nearly 14 years ago, which was a tour of the plantations along the Mississippi River. That was so interesting. I set out to do it again on this trip, since I had to rent a car to go to places around town to eat anyway. I can kill two birds (or more) with one stone.
Wait…did I leave out the important part of this trip? Halloween! I am going to be in New Orleans for Halloween! Yikes, this city is spooky year round, do they really need Halloween? I guess there should be a way for the kids there to get their whole year supply of candies, of course, and beyond that, the citizens LOVE a party (No, we really can’t tell that about you guys at all…)
The winner restaurant this trip is called Jacques-Imo’s. The restaurant has this tag line advertising their restaurant, right underneath their name:
Yet, they do not take reservations for parties under 5 people, and people are willing to wait hours for a table! The first night we went at 9pm and got a table within ten minutes. We went there again with a group because we loved it so much. We strolled in after 8:30pm with our group of five and they told us it would be 90 minutes, but we got a table in about half that.
8324 Oak Street, New Orleans, LA (Up Town)
Monday – Thursday: 5pm to 10pm
Friday and Saturday: 5pm to 10:30pm
HOW: Walk-in only unless you have party of five of more then you can call to make a reservation (weeks in advance, please)
WHO: Jacques Leonardi and his wife Amelia
WHAT: They will bring the best corn bread to you. This is how they look like. Do not let this go to waste. They are so good. The outside was so crispy. My husband thought they were fried.
Shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake is a must. This is a savory appetizer that you shouldn’t miss. It’s like shrimp bisque married an andouille sausage quiche and had shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake as their first-born…LOL…It just tasted like the bisque in a denser form. You have to try it for yourself.
Deep-fried roast beef Po-boy with gravy. This is another very interesting dish. It’s like a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich on ecstasy!
Fried grits with white corn and tasso. Another delicious dish that I never tasted anywhere else.
Shrimp Étouffée with rice
Blackened Lamb Sirloin
Rack of lamb with creole mustard sauce and red flannel hash
Along with the “Lousy Food” that I could eat again for the second, third or forth round, the decoration is spectacular.
Paintings on the wall, murals and interesting choice of chairs and tables.
They are not afraid to put customers on a pickup truck bed. I guess if you wouldn’t mind getting your picture taken just like these two cuties that I asked to take theirs.
Do you know the “New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp”? The one that has no ketchup or horseradish but is soaked in flavorful, buttery but spicy sauce, comes with the head and shell still on and is served with a baguette. That’s what I’m talking about. The white Gulf shrimp from Louisiana are so sweet and smooth with the unique sauce that I love to dip the baguette in.
Have you ever wondered who originally thought of these? And Where do NOLA residents go to eat BBQ shrimp when they don’t cook them at home? The answer is Pascal’s Manale, the New Orleans legacy.
WHERE: Pascal’s Manale Restaurant
1838 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans, LA (Milan)
Monday – Friday 11:30am – 9:00pm
Saturday 5:00pm – 10:00pm ISH
HOW: Reservation on the website which is through OpenTable or Call
Fresh oysters (I’ve heard that the Oyster Rockefeller and Oysters Bienville are good but I don’t want my oysters cooked)
Crabmeat & Scallops over pasta
I’m not showing the fresh oyster on this post
The next post already up “Off the Beaten Path Part II: Oyster Bars and Beignet” you will get to see PLENTY of them!
Sorry for being a disappearing blogger last week. I just came back from Toronto and am trying to catch up. This month and next month I’m hitting a heavy traveling period, but maybe I will have more culinary adventures at restaurants to share with you.
In the meantime, let’s make stir-fried clams with Nam Prik Pao.
Even though I like to eat clams, I hate cleaning them, so I normally didn’t cook them very often until I found these treasures: “previously cooked, wild caught” clams frozen in the frozen section at the Asian market. I don’t get how I could have missed them for this long.
Just to make up for all the time that I never cooked them, I went clams crazy. Spaghetti a la vongole, stir-fried clams with fermented soy beans, clams with white wine sauce, etc. The favorite one at my house is this one: spicy stir-fried clams with Nam Prik Pao.
I already introduced you to Nam Prik Pao before in the pork floss shortbread and Tom Yum Goong. The ingredients of my homemade Nam Prik Pao are: fried dried red chili, fried shallots, fried garlic, tamarind paste, shrimp paste, palm sugar, and the last ingredient that makes my Nam Prik Pao different than the store-bought one is dried shrimp. All of the ingredients, regardless of how they were cooked or fried before, are to be mushed with a mortar and stir-fried in vegetable oil.
Thai people use Nam Prik Pao as a condiment in many dishes and also as a sandwich spread, believe it or not. I make my own Nam Prik Pao so I can get the chili heat level just the way I like it, extremely mild…haha, and make sure that no MSG “accidentally” falls into the jar. (The recipe is still on a “procastinatable recipe list” but I will get around to it maybe after I post the sixth recipe using it…)
Clams stir-fried in Nam Prik Pao is surprising popular at my house. Why am I so surprised?
Because it contains many “stink” factors. Dried shrimp sure don’t smell like flowers, shrimp paste…ahem…errr…really smells like fermented rotten seafood (of which you can drop the word “fermented” and the leftover words are still not that far off from describing the paste smell). Also fried garlic and fried shallots don’t really smell like melted cheese either.
I don’t know if you ever came across this funny news story (funny to us, the Thais) about “Burning Chilli Sparks Terror Fear”, in which a Thai restaurant in Soho caused a terror alert in London because they were just making their own Nam Prik Pao. The police thought they were under chemical attack!
Nam Phrik Pao is probably the most difficult paste to find. If you don’t spot it at your local Asian grocery, I would recommend going online. The Temple of Thai carries about 3 different brands Mae Anong, the brand used by many Thai restaurants, Pantainorasingh, this is a milder one and Mae Pranom, the old brand, quite spicy. Amazon also carries the Mae Pranom brand, too.
Before you even start, you need to clean the clams. Even the frozen ones need to be soaked in a lot of cold water until they’ve all opened again. Discard all the closed ones. Toss them around in the water to make sure that the excess grains of sand all fall out of the shells. Your teeth don’t need to be sanded down in the process of dining.
Ingredients (for 1)
Clams, still inside the shells but already cleaned, 2 cups (1 lb.)
Nam Prik Pao 1-2 tablespoons
Chopped garlic 2 teaspoons (2 large cloves)
Sliced red jalapeño chili 1-2 pods (I am being brave and didn’t de-seed them.)
Water 2 tablespoons
Fish sauce or soy sauce 1- 2 teaspoons
Oyster sauce 1 teaspoon
Sugar (brown) 1- 2 teaspoons
Oil 1-2 tablespoons
Fresh Thai basil leaves, a handful or approximately 1/2 cup
1) Heat oil in a wok over medium high heat until it’s hot with faint smoke.
2) Add chopped garlic in the hot oil, toss and turn until it releases its fragrance. The garlic should look nearly golden.
3) Add sliced chili and stir until the chilis are cooked.
oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of water, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of sugar and use a spatula to break the paste and mix them together until there are no lumps left. Taste it to see if you like the flavor, adjust the taste with more fish sauce, sugar and Nam Prik Pao if necessary. I actually didn’t measure the exact amounts. I just estimate them.
If the sauce gets dry, add more water. This is your final seasoning.
5) Add the clams and increase the heat to the highest.
Toss around really quickly. If you are using the fresh clams, close the lid over the wok and shake, or toss until all the clams are cooked. If you are using frozen clams, toss them really fast until they’re all coated with the sauce.
6) Turn off the heat and add the basil leaves. Toss a few times until the basil leaves wilt a little, then put everything in a bowl. You can serve it with a bowl of steamed rice or a slice of toast. I even made a bread bowl for it because the left over sauce usually causes a fight if I don’t have enough bread to mop up the sauce!
But if you like pasta, boil the pasta while you are making the clams, and toss the cooked pasta in once you finish cooking the clams.
I was just in San Francisco last week and tried this restaurant for the first time, believe it or not. I normally do not like to blog about restaurants who has already received a Michelin star or stars because most people already know about them. Just buy the Michelin guide or search on the net, you will find those restaurants that are already approved by so many professional people in the food industry. I can’t say that it’s my “discovery”.
There are many more reasons for not wanting to blog about Michelin star restaurants. One of the minor reasons is I don’t want to have a “snob blog” that I taste and praise only the well-approved, pricy or even over-priced restaurants that you really have to break the piggy bank to go to on a “special occasion”.
La Folie has been well known for a long time–the restaurant opened its doors in 1988! I have to admit that I wasn’t that excited to go. I though it was probably another one of those “stiff manners” French restaurants. Can you tell it wasn’t my idea to go to this restaurant in the first place?
My husband’s friend Ali, who is a regular customer at La Folie, recommended this place and even made sure to slip us in to the reservation book on short notice. Thanks to Ali, I don’t know how long in advance you need to make a reservation.
Right after we were seated, our waiter approached, and his manner was so smooth without being stiff, I decided that I would take pictures of every course, just in case, still not believing I’d have anything much to write about the place.
Even though I like all kind of foods and French food is also one of my favorites, but I don’t write about it that often. There are so many courses until, toward the end, I’m normally beyond full and I don’t even want to look at the pictures of the dishes I took during the meal. Let alone going back to the restaurant again in the next few months, or even years.
I just want to tell you that La Folie is quite different. The atmosphere is so cozy even in the formal set up. I didn’t feel like I was being “watched”, and we didn’t have to wait too long for the next course. The waitstaff were walking around doing their thing and when we needed something, they showed up, just like magic.
Our waiter, Trey, was excellent. He expertly explained about the foods, gave us some idea about what to expect and left us to decide. The portion of each course was “traditional”, he warned us early. They don’t do “tiny decor on the big plates”, and they only serve five courses or less. Not the twenty-five-course-one-bite-each style.
Our waiter told us that we may only need four courses, but we wanted to have the full experience so we decided to go for the full five courses. We finished most of each course, and still want to go back there to try something else! Everything was excellent. You can see the pictures as a proof, but I took pictures under the dim lights with my little compact camera so they didn’t come out as great, but as I was looking at the pictures I wanted to go eat there again.
Pricing at this restaurant is totally reasonable. OK, in the month of September, 2013. The price for five courses is only $100 per person. I think the four course was $90 and there is a three course choice as well. Also, the tasting menu, which is a five course fixed choice, chosen by the chef, is only $110! This is really, really reasonable for the kind of food they served! I spent more than this at a sushi joint, easily. I was really surprised.
At the end of the night the chef, Roland, who was just finishing in the kitchen (I guess) showed up in the dining room, and he didn’t mind taking picture with us too. I almost whispered to him “Your foods are so amazing, you don’t even need to make the rounds to greet us. You can stay in the comfort of your kitchen and we will still be coming back for more of your food.”
Haha…it’s just my personal theory, that the chef doesn’t really need to greet the diners unless he knows them in person OR he wasn’t so sure about the food he served. Then he should come out to see what the diners thought. I’ve dine at a place where the chef/owner was considered a “celebrity”. He came out to make his greeting round at 8pm. I was wondering, “Who’s cooking then?”.
WHERE: La Folie
2316 Polk St., San Francisco 94109 (between Green & Union St. in Russian Hill)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (OMG aol.com still exists? Now you know how long they’ve been there!)
Web site is www.lafolie.com
WHEN: Monday – Saturday 5:30pm – 10:30pm
HOW: Online reservations are available at OpenTable.com
WHO: Roland Passot and his wife Jamie
Amuse bouche roasted fig Gorgonzola spiced walnuts. (on my instagram)
Second one. Coddled egg yolk with cream, leek and potato crisp and brioche stick (that is the photo at the top of this blog)
Third: smoked salmon lollipop with marscapone cheese and caviar and pickled carrots.
Cauliflower and lobster soup
Vanilla roe over oyster,
kafir lime roe over scallops
and brandy roe over kampachi sashimi
You might have thought that this is bone marrow…but that’s not correct.
Rabbit rib rack (pretty tiny)…
with the liver,fried and placed over leeks
Shaved Italian black truffles over both the quail and rabbit
Kaeng Panang is another gravy-like kaeng—the Thai description of the consistency would be Khloog-khlig ขลุกขลิก. This curry normally only contains meat and no vegetables, except for the chiffonaded kaffir lime leaves and thinly-sliced red peppers on top. Kaeng Panang is one of the Thai curries that has strong influence from Indian curry, even down to the ground roasted peanuts to make the curry thicker.
My Indian friend told me that the Northern Indian curry uses ground nuts to make the curry thick, but there is no shrimp paste, lemongrass or galangal in Indian curry. Those are purely Thai from the beginning. We just added the “spices”, (remember what we consider as spice from my earlier blog) after we adapted the Indian curry to our cuisine.
The origin of Panang is quite funny. I’m referring to an article written by the former Thai Prime Minister Kukrit Pramoj who’s quite knowledgeable in Thai history by his family of origin (Royal descent) and from his vast study of Thai history. He’s not only a great writer but also a great cook. This article was written in Siam Rath newspaper dated September 1st, 1972.
The word “Panang” is derived from the ancient Khmer language that was adopted by the Thai, meaning “cross” mostly referring to leg position, like sitting cross-legged (on the floor). In the old time there was a way of cooking grilled chicken by crossing the chicken’s legs and setting the chicken upright instead of halving the chicken open and cooking it on the grill. The chicken that sat cross-legs up on the grill would be bathed with a curry paste that contained ground roasted peanuts in the paste then mixed with coconut cream. It would be brushed with the same mixture over the whole cooking time on the grill. This is a dish called “Gai Panang” or chicken Panang, due to the position of the chicken on the grill.
Later on, the method had been simplified by cutting the chicken into big pieces and cooking them in the curry in the pot over the stove instead of over the grill. This is the origin of Panang curry.
If you look it up on Wikipedia, the information there about Panang curry is WRONG. Someone has claimed that Panang curry originated from Penang Island in Malaysia, the way it appears on the site right now. I keep correcting it, but the dude who desperately wants the Panang curry to originate from Penang Island is quite relentless. He or she has the same level of desperation as another person who wants PadThai, which had clearly originated in Thailand by a Thai former Prime Minister, to originate from Vietnam!..Stop stealing other nation’s famous dishes, guys. Your countries already have many interesting and delicious dishes as it is.
First of all, to people who think because Panang curry and Penang island have similar pronunciation there should be some relation between the two: this is completely FALLACIOUS THINKING. Panang is pronounced “Pa-Naing”. “Pa” is pronounced with the “ah” like in the word “pathetic”, a very short “a” sound that almost ends before it even fully comes out of your mouth. The “a” in Nang is pronounced like “ai” in the word “air”. That’s the correct pronunciation of the curry by the Thais.
Let’s see how the Thai pronounce the Island’s name, Pe-Nang. “Pe” is pronounced just like “pee”, yes, that yellow pee, long “e” sound. Nang is pronounced more like “ung” than “ang”, like in the word “hung”. So “Pee-Nung” is the pronunciation of Penang island in Malaysia to the Thais, and that is way far from the pronunciation of Pa-Naing the curry.
Often you will see Panang spell, Panaeng, Phanang or even Phanaeng too.
On top of that, someone else is dragging the Peranakan tribe, who live in the south of Thailand , into the mix. Peranakan people associate themselves with the Chinese. Peranakan cooking is derived from Chinese cuisine, mixed with just a hint of Indian spice through the Malaysian or Indonesian influence, but Panang curry is not part of Peranakan cooking. Panang curry also isn’t typical southern Thai food of which the closest area to the Peranakan group, but is more from the central part of the country.
Back to the curry itself. When I was living back at home in Bangkok, I only had Panang curry made with three types of meat: beef, chicken, and the special one that I loved, roasted duck Panang. That’s it. Panang curry paste is the type of curry with spices, coriander seed and cumin seeds. The reason for the spices is to cover up the “meat smell” or game smell of the meat.
Thai people always have a way to cover up the trace of meat; lemongrass, galangal, garlic, and shallots not only enhance the flavors of the dish, but also cover the fishy smell of the seafood, but Thai couldn’t cover the game smell of the meat until the Indians (who really came from India) showed them how.
The modern day Panang has expanded to many different types of meat, and also includes seafood! Yes, I’m surprised. Personally I think the curry paste itself with spices is a little too much to put on seafood. The spices cover up the seafood flavor. I prefer my seafood with ChooChee curry more than Panang curry.
Back in the day, when I was still a personal chef, cooking for special occasions, my clients often requested Panang curry to be served with either salmon, shrimp, tuna or, quite often, scallops. During the taste test, I would present the requested seafood with both Panang and Choo Chee curries and more than half of them would pick the Panang curry over the Choo Chee curry.
Some of my clients who had quite a fine palette would detect the difference in the curry right away without my explanation, but they still picked Panang over the Choo Chee, which I found out was because they liked the roasted peanuts more than roasted coconut. That made so much sense to me. Some of them even asked if I can remove the spices but keep the roasted peanuts. So I would make the Panang curry paste without spices (no coriander and cumin), but put in roasted peanuts instead of coconut if I want to make seafood Panang.
There are two different ways of cooking Panang curry.
1) Traditional Panang curry with meat or poultry: You will cook the meat WITH the curry. Slow cook, simmer, stew or whatever you prefer to call it. You add water or the water part of the coconut milk to cook with the meat until it’s tender.
2) Modern Panang curry with seafood: You will make the curry paste WITHOUT coriander and cumin, but keep the roasted peanuts. You then cook the seafood the way you want: poached, boiled, fried, sautéed or grilled. Then cook the curry separately and pour it over the seafood, just like the Choo Chee curry.
Also, there is another “Easy Recipe” or cheating recipe, all the way at the bottom, too.
Ingredients (for 2)
Meat of your choice about 12-16 oz. Sliced or cubed to a bite-size.
Panang curry paste about 1/4 −1/3 cup (see Note #1)
Coconut cream 1-1 1/2 cup (see Note #2)
Water or the water part of the coconut milk 1 cup or more (Note #2)
Fish sauce (or just salt, if you don’t like it) 2-4 tablespoons (depend on how salty is your curry paste)
Palm sugar (or brown sugar for substitute) 1-2 tablespoons
Chiffonaded Kaffir lime leaves for garnish
Julienned red chili for garnish
1) You can buy Panang curry paste of use the recipe from the Advance Red Curry Paste here. Or you can buy red curry paste and mush the roasted peanuts to the mix.
2) Do not shake the can of coconut milk before you open it. The hard white part at the top is the coconut cream. If the coconut milk you bought has been shaken or isn’t separated, put the whole can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for an hour. You should have the coconut cream floating up on the top and clearer liquid at the bottom. Scoop the cream off to cook the curry paste with and reserve the water.
If you squeeze your own coconut milk then reserve all of the water part.
If the cream doesn’t float, I recommend changing the brand of coconut milk next time. It contains either too much starch or binding agent.
For those of you who want to use SEAFOOD–shrimp, fish, scallop, crab, anything that swim or crawl in water–please refer to the method of cooking Choo Chee curry paste here.
If your choice is meat–beef, chicken, duck, goose, pork, lamb, goat, anything that lives on dry land–follow this method.
1) Cook the coconut cream in the wok or pot over medium-high heat until the coconut cream breaks and gives you coconut oil.
For those of you who can’t separate the coconut cream out of coconut milk and have to use coconut milk, your coconut milk will not break and give you oil because the manufacturer added starch to stabilize the coconut milk. In that case add coconut oil in your coconut milk. (If you are wondering why we have to do this, go back to my earlier blog. I already explained why.)
2) Add Panaeng curry paste into the coconut cream,
reduce the heat down to medium and stir continuously for at least two-three minutes until the curry paste releases its aroma.
If the contents get dry, add more coconut cream or coconut milk.
I stir-fried mine for 4 minutes. Because of the roasted peanuts in the curry paste, it will burn much easier, so do not stop stirring.
3) Add meat to the wok
and stir until the curry paste coats all the meat.
4) Add the water part that you separated from the coconut milk to get the liquid level until it covers the meat and heat until it boils, then turn the heat to low and simmer until the meat is tender.
If you are using chicken or duck, half an hour to forty five minutes should do it.
If you are using beef or lamb, one to one-and-a-half hours for thinly sliced meat, two hours or longer for cubed, and over three hours for the shank.
If you are using pork, one hour should be enough.
The water will reduce over time, so make sure to add a little bit more. I only add 1/4 cup if it gets too dry. The water doesn’t need to cover the meat at all times. You can stir and churn the pieces of meat around for them to get cooked evenly. Do not add too much water. We want the curry to be thick, not watery.
5) Once the meat is tender you can season it with fish sauce and palm sugar.Taste it to see if you like the taste, adjust it to your preference. Remember that the curry paste has salty shrimp paste and salt, so do not put ALL of the fish sauce in at once. Add it a little at a time. Do not add sugar in the beginning because it will take longer for the meat to be tender, because sugar will make the meat tougher.
If you don’t like the smell of fish sauce, only use salt.
6) Turn off the heat, plate it and garnish with chiffonaded kaffir lime leaves and julienned red chilis.
You can eat it with steamed rice, roti, toast, bread or vegetables.
Or stuff popovers with it!
Meat of your choice, sliced or cubed, or your seafood choice about 12 oz- 1lb.
Peanut butter 2-3 tablespoons
Coconut milk 1 1/2 – 2 cups
Fish sauce 2-4 tablespoons OR salt (only 1 teaspoon)
Palm Sugar or Brown Sugar 1-2 tablespoons
Coconut Oil 1-2 tablespoons
If you still want to bother with the garnish, please see the choices of garnish from the full recipe above.
1) Add coconut oil to the coconut milk and start cooking the curry paste for at least 2-4 minutes in the pot or wok over medium high heat. Add more coconut milk if it gets dry.
2) If you are using MEAT or POULTRY, add it
and stir to coat the meat with cooked curry paste, and heat until the meat is cooked on the outside (seared, essentially, to lock in the juices). Then add more water to the wok until liquid covers the meat,
heat until the contents boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook until the meat is tender. (Look for the approximate cooking time and how to add more liquid in the Method#4 above).
If you are using SEAFOOD, cook your seafood separately (fry, boil, grill, microwave, etc…) in another pan or pot.
3) MEAT: Once the meat is tender,
season with fish sauce or salt, and sugar. Adjust the taste to your preference, then add the peanut butter. In this step you would lose the oil that floats on top of the curry, but it still tastes great.
SEAFOOD: In the curry pot, add more coconut milk and start seasoning the curry with fish sauce (or salt) and sugar, then add the peanut butter. Adjust the taste to your preference. Pour the sauce over cooked seafood.
You are done, and the Panang is ready to be serve. You can garnish it with chiffonaded kaffir lime leave and jullienned red chili.
Before we start with the recipe, I would like to give you a little piece of information about Thai Kaeng. There are two types of soups in Thai cuisine. One is “Tom” and one is “Kaeng” . Tom, as in “Tom Yum” or “Tom Kha” , is a type of soup that doesn’t need “Krueang” (เครื่อง), the paste made from herbs and spices, created either as a curry paste or just a simpler “Thai Trio”, which consists of garlic, pepper and cilantro root.
The character of “Tom” (Tom=boil) is soup-like, either using coconut milk as a base or water (or soup stock), with chunks of herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, shallots, etc… It could be just one of them or many. You can see these recipes for Tom Yum Goong , Tom Kha Lobster for a better understanding. Tom Yum is the soup, i.e, water, base, and Tom Kha has the coconut milk base.
There are more Tom, such as Tom Khlong ต้มโคล้ง, Tom Jued ต้มจืด, Tom Som ต้มส้ม, Tom Sab ต้มแซ่บ, and I’m sure there are more that I forgot. I will get around to these sometime later.
Now back to the other soup, Kaeng. “Kaeng” is also a soup with either a water (stock) or coconut milk base, but most Kaeng needs a paste to kickstart the flavor. That’s why we’re making the curry paste, or “Krueng Kaeng = the blend of herbs and spices as a base of a soup” (เครื่องแกง) here.
This distinction I’m making may not exactly be a rule. I am not sure, because this is what I have been told from my aunts (many of them) from whom I learned the basics of Thai cooking by observing them cook. But I’ve already seen a lot of exceptions already. Kaeng Choo Chee and Kaeng Panaeng are the first two exceptions, because both have a gravy-like curry when most Kaeng are the soup-like curry, as I explained in the previous blog.
Choo Chee curry is always paired with seafood, (even though I think it would be more accurate to call them swimming foods!) The seafood is cooked separately however you like—poached, grilled, steamed, fried or batter-fried—then the Choo Chee curry is poured on top.
I’ve never seen Choo Chee curry served with land animal meat. I guess it’s because the curry paste doesn’t contain any spice that Thai people like to add to cover the “game” smell of land animals. A good Choo Chee curry will have a very prominent coconut smell with some red coconut oil on top.
Ingredients for 2
Kaeng Choo Chee curry paste 1/4 cup (Note #1)
Coconut cream 1 cup (Note #2)
Coconut oil (or other vegetable oil if you can’t find it) 1-2 tablespoons; THIS IS OPTIONAL, in case you can’t get coconut cream. Please read Note #2 for a better understanding.
Seafood–your choice; just enough for two people. I used 2 pieces of wahoo fish, about 12 oz. total.
Palm sugar 1-2 tablespoons
Fish sauce 2-4 tablespoons
Chiffonaded Kaffir lime leaves 1 tablespoon (about 2 -3 leaves)
1) You can either use the Choo Chee curry paste made with the instruction from my earlier blog “Advanced Red Curry Paste” or you can buy the ready-made one. If you buy the ready-made curry paste, check if it contains roasted coconut. If it doesn’t, you should add it to the paste. Instruction for this is also in my last blog.
2) Do not shake the can of coconut milk before you open it. The hard white part at the top is the coconut cream. If the coconut milk you bought has been shaken or isn’t separated, you can try putting the coconut milk in the refrigerator for an hour. You should have the coconut cream floating up on the top. If the cream doesn’t float, I recommend changing the brand of coconut milk next time. It contains either too much flour or binding agent.
The reason that I use only the coconut cream is because I don’t want to spend my evening boiling down the water from the coconut milk. If you have no way to separate them, you can use the coconut milk as is, but know that your curry is either not going to “break”, giving you coconut oil, or you might have to boil it for a while longer to get the proper consistency. No big deal.
1) Clean and prepare the seafood of your choice. I fried my wahoo fish.
2) Put coconut cream in a pot or a wok, set it over medium high heat and wait until the coconut cream is bubbling and, if your coconut cream can “break” and give oil, wait until that happens.
If you’re using coconut milk that has a stabilizer such as xanthan gum, gour gum or some type of flour added, the coconut milk will never break. In that case, I suggest you add about 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil in your coconut milk.
If you want to know why I am so insistent on the coconut milk breaking, please visit the “Thai Curry Paste Episode III: Making a Pot of curry” to see why.
3) Add the curry paste to the wok and lower the heat to medium.
You don’t want to burn the roasted coconut flakes in the curry paste. Fry the curry paste until it’s back to bubbling again and continue to stir for the next two minutes.
Add more coconut cream if the contents get too thick.
4) Add the fish sauce and palm sugar, mix until they’re well blended and taste the sauce. Adjust the taste to your preference.
5) Pour the sauce over your prepared seafood.
6) Add the chiffonaded kaffir lime leaves and sliced red chili on top.
Choo Chee can be served with steamed rice, bread, or roti, and cooked vegetables. Delicious!!
The next I’ll tell you how to make Panaeng curry–don’t miss it!