Tag Archives: coconut milk

Thai Cuisine

Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has not been colonized by Europeans. Thus, its cuisine is authentic and has only been slightly influenced by bordering countries or traders.

Thai cuisine is very spicy and focuses on dishes which are well balanced in four areas – sweet (usually palm sugar or coconut milk), salty (fish sauce and salt), sour (lime in several forms and tamarind) and spicy (chilies). Meals served in restaurants are accompanied by a quartet of sauces brought to the table – fish sauce, sliced chili peppers in rice vinegar, dried chili flakes, and palm sugar. Rice is served at most meals, (usually jasmine rice, but also sticky or glutinous rice) and sometimes noodles. Cucumbers are often served to cool the palate. I was told recently that additional ways to counter the spiciness is to add more rice, add sugar, or drink more beer!

Thai food was traditionally eaten by the right hand while seated on cushions on the floor, but today most Thais eat with a fork and large spoon. The fork is held in the left hand and is used to scoop or push into the spoon which is held in the right hand. Chopsticks are reserved only for noodle dishes.

The Thai pantry can be stocked from items available in the international aisle at a grocery store or a local Asian market. Lo’s Seafood in Portsmouth, NH carries Thai canned goods (coconut milk, fish sauce, tamarind paste), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fresh chilies (bird’s eye chilies or very tiny chilies are hotter than larger chilies), Thai basil and cilantro. Green, yellow and red curry pastes (hottest to mildest, respectively) can be made from scratch or purchased already prepared.

The following recipe for Chicken Coconut Milk Soup is one which we prepared at the Thai Farm Cooking School while I was in Thailand recently.

Tom Kaa Gai (Chicken Coconut Milk Soup)

Ingredients:

½ c. water

¼ cup of peeled, thinly sliced galangal or ginger

1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced into one-inch pieces

½ cup halved grape tomatoes

½ cup sliced mushrooms

1-5 bird eye’s chili peppers

1 chicken breast, sliced thinly and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 can coconut milk

2-3 kaffir lime leaves

1 stem of cilantro, finely diced

3 sliced scallions

1 T. fish sauce or soy sauce

½ teaspoon light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of lime juice

Directions:

Combine water, galangal, lemongrass, tomatoes and mushrooms in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to boil. Remove stems from chili peppers and crush open by banging down with your palm on the flat side of a heavy knife. Add chili peppers, coconut milk and chicken pieces to broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is milky white all the way through. Fold kaffir lime leaves in half along spine and remove spine of each leaf to release flavor. Add to soup with cilantro, scallions, fish sauce, sugar and salt to taste. Continue to cook over medium heat for 5 more minutes to intensify flavor. Finally add lime juice (soup will be too bitter if lime juice is added too early.) Lemongrass pieces, kaffir lime leaves, chilies and  galangal or ginger root should be removed prior to serving as they are all too tough to chew. Serves 2.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thai Chicken Curry

Spicy and filling, this chicken curry is great on a cold winter day!

Chicken_curry_rice

Ingredients:

2 T. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 t. minced fresh ginger

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips

1 1/4 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

2 T. curry powder

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

3 c. boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into one-inch cubes

Salt

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

2 T. fresh  cilantro, leaves and stems chopped finely

Directions:

Saute garlic, ginger and bell pepper in olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until softened. Add 1/4 cup coconut milk, curry paste and curry powder and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Stir in chicken, remaining coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce. Cook about 7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, stirring often. Season with salt.  Serve over hot rice. Garnish with scallions and cilantro.  Serves 4-6.

Week 17: Milk Alternatives

Milk is the best source of calcium and vitamin D for our bodies.  It promotes healthy bones and teeth too. But what if you’re lactose intolerant? Lactose intolerant means you can’t digest lactose, a type of sugar found in dairy products. What can you use on cereal in the morning or for baking? Here are some solutions for milk alternatives.

Almond Milk

almond milk

Almond milk is a beverage made from ground almonds. It does not contain any animal products, is cholesterol and lactose-free. It is slightly beige in color and often has added vanilla and sweeteners.  Historically, almond milk was used in medieval kitchens because it had a long shelf life and did not spoil.

Almond milk has less protein than cow’s milk, but it is rich in nutrients including fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, potassium, iron, phosphorus, tryptophan, copper, and calcium. Almond milk is available in unrefrigerated cartons with the Blue Diamond or Silk brand label.

Coconut Milk

coconut milk

Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from grated coconut. Coconut milk is used in many tropical cuisines and as a base for curries.  Coconut milk works well in baked goods and can be found canned or in cartons in the milk aisle. It has a high saturated fat content, but is rich in vitamins C, E, B vitamins, and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.

Rice Milk

Rice milk

Rice milk is usually made from brown rice and comes unsweetened. It is generally thinner in consistency than nut milks or soymilk, and it has a lighter, sweeter flavor that is good for use in cereal or coffee. Compared to cow’s milk, rice milk contains more carbohydrates, does not contain cholesterol nor lactose and does not contain significant amounts of calcium or protein. Commercial brands of rice milk are often fortified with vitamins and minerals.

Soy Milk

soy milk

Soymilk is not technically milk, but rather a beverage made from soybeans. It is the liquid that remains after soybeans are soaked, finely ground, and then strained. The earliest existence of soy milk is evidenced in a kitchen scene on a stone slab from China that dates to 25AD.  Soy milk is very prevalent in Asian households and is used to make tofu. “Sweet” and “salty” soy milk are both traditional Chinese breakfast foods, served either hot or cold, usually accompanied by steamed buns. One cup of unfortified soymilk contains almost 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrate, 4½ grams of fat, and no cholesterol. Although soymilk supplies some B vitamins, it’s not a good source of B12, nor does it provide a significant amount of calcium.

Resources

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com

http://www.dairyfreecooking.com

http://www.fitday.com

http://www.latimes.com

http://www.supercow.com

http://www.wikipedia.com