Thai

Holy Basil Stir-Fry

Pat krapao, as it's called in Thai, is a rather 'standard' dish that you'll find available in just about every restaurant and road-side stall in Thailand. My Thai friends sometimes smile at my frequent orders for this dish, since many Thais consider it a bit pedestrian - what they order when they just can't think of anything else. I like to order pat krapao frequently not only because I like the flavor, but also because it's a remarkably flexible recipe. Every cook seems to have their own variation. Some put in more garlic, some more holy basil.

Black Rice Pudding

Black rice pudding is a relatively common dessert in Thailand as well as Indonesia. It is a very warming dish, so it is usually more easily found in the cool season. The naturally sweet taste of the rice is why you find it used in desserts rather than served with main courses. Black rice has a well deserved reputation for taking forever to cook, since it's a more 'natural' grain with a strong husk. However, I've found that if I soak the rice for much longer than just the 'overnight' usually recommended, it reduces the cooking time considerably.

Spicy Tom Yum Noodles

Even though many people strongly identify the spicy tom yum soup with Thai food, the dish is actually quite rare on the street. You almost never find it among the other spicy foods at the curry stall. However, you can easily find "tom yum taste" at many noodle stalls. Either small strands of rice noodles or wheat noodles can be found tom yum style, but to my mind, wheat noodles deliver the best taste.

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Spicy Pork Salad - Larb Moo

The spicy minced meat salad known as larb is found in many different styles all over Thailand. Variations abound, as the dish can be prepared with just about any kind of meat, including duck, chicken, catfish, prawn, beef, and on and on. Sometimes referred to as Thailand's own version of steak tartar, the meat is almost always served cooked, although there are some regional variations that serve it almost raw. Unlike most contemporary Thai dishes, larb was traditionally made some hours in advance of when it would be consumed.

Thai Jasmine Pudding with Coconut Cream Topping - Ta-goh

"Jasmine pudding?" I hear you ask. Yes, well coming up with an English name for this Thai sweet was a little difficult. After all, the Thai name ta-goh doesn't have any direct translation, and it might be a bit confusing if I just used that. You might think I'd gone all Mexican on you. So, "pudding" seemed the best fit with the dish's consistency, and it is flavored with jasmine, if you can find it.

Cashew Chicken Gai Pat Met Ma-muang

As a seemingly obvious "Chinese" import, cashew chicken often gets dismissed as not really a "Thai" dish, but it definitely helps to balance out a meal that already has many spicy dishes. Although they make the dish look spicy, the dried chillies usually don't impart much heat to the rest of the ingredients. In Thailand, this dish is almost always mild, with little or no spiciness. Since they can be a bit tough, most people just push the chillies to the side of their plate and don't eat them.

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