Tag Archives: kaffir lime

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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Week 49: Citrus Fruit

Variety of fruits

Citrus fruit and plants are known by the name agrumes, which means bitter fruit. Citrus fruit originated in Southeast Asia or Australia thousands of years ago. The three original species in the citrus genus that have been hybridized into most modern commercial citrus fruit are the mandarin orange, pummelo and citron. All common citrus fruits (sweet oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes, and so on) were created by crossing those original species. Christopher Columbus, Ponce de Leon, and Juan de Grijavla carried various citrus fruits to the new world in the late 1400′s early 1500′s. Today Florida, California, Arizona and Texas are the major producers of citrus fruit in the United States.

Citrus fruit is grown on large shrubs or evergreen trees 15-40 feet tall which bear fragrant, white flowers. The trees thrive in a consistently sunny, humid environment with fertile soil and adequate rainfall or irrigation. The fruit has a peel (also called the zest), a bitter white pith and juicy segments with a discernibly tart flavor derived from a high level of citric acid. The fruit is ripened on the tree.

Medicinal Uses

Oranges were historically used for their high content of vitamin C, which prevents scurvy. An early sign of scurvy is fatigue. If ignored, later symptoms are bleeding and bruising easily. British sailors were given a ration of citrus fruits on long voyages to prevent the onset of scurvy, hence the British nickname of Limey.

The vitamin C in citrus fruit helps produce collagen, which provides structure and elasticity for your skin and tendons. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals before they damage healthy cells, which prevents inflammation that can lead to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.

After consumption, the peel is sometimes used as a facial cleanser.

Citrus fruit intake is associated with a reduced risk of stomach cancer. Also, citrus fruit juices, such as orange, lime and lemon, may be useful for lowering the risk of specific types of kidney stones. Grapefruit helps lower blood pressure because it interferes with the metabolism of calcium channel blockers.

Studies also show that citrus flavonoids may improve blood flow through coronary arteries, reduce the ability of arteries to form blood clots and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which is an initial step in the formation of artery plaques1.

Culinary Uses

Citrus fruit can be eaten fresh, made into or added to beverages, marmalade, used in salads, as garnishes, or squeezed over vegetables, seafood or meats.

Types of Citrus Fruit

bergamot orange

Bergamot orange – This is a small acidic orange, used mostly for its peel. Used in Earl Grey tea.

blood orange

Blood Orange – These are sweet, red fleshed oranges and are very popular in Europe.

tangerine

Clementine, Tangerine or Satsuma – Thin skinned and sweet, these come out of their skins easily.

calamansi

Calamansi lime – The very sour calamansi looks like a small round lime and tastes like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. It’s very popular in the Philippines.

citron2

Citron – This lemon-like fruit may be the progenitor species of modern lemons and limes. The peel is very thick, and the white, spongy portion of the peel is edible.

grapefruit

Grapefruit – Grapefruit is thought to be a hybrid of pummelo and sweet orange that occurred naturally somewhere in the Caribbean between the time of Columbus’ voyages and its introduction to Florida in 1809. They are a large, slightly tart with a rind that is mostly yellow, and often tinged with green or red. Grapefruits are categorized by the color of their pulp: red, pink, or white.

Kaffir-Limes

Kaffir Lime – Thai cooks use these golf ball-sized limes to give their dishes a unique aromatic flavor.  Kaffir limes have very little juice, and usually just the zest is used.

key limes

Key Lime – These are small, round, and seedy, these turn yellow when ripe.

Kumquat

Kumquat – These look like grape-sized oranges, and they can be eaten whole. The flavor is a bit sour and very intenseThey peak in the winter months.

Lemon

Lemon – This very sour citrus fruit is rarely eaten out of hand, but it’s widely used for its juice, rind, and zest. One lemon yields about 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice.    Lime – When buying limes, select specimens that are dark green, smaller, thin-skinned, and heavy for their size.

Limes1

Lime – Small and green, limes have uses other than adorning your cocktails. Lime extracts and lime essential oils are also used in perfumes, cleaning products, and aromatherapy.Orange

Orange – Florida oranges are juicier, and better suited to squeezing, while California oranges segment more easily and are better for eating out of hand.

pomelo

Pummelo or Pomelo – This species originates from southeast Asia where it is as common as grapefruit is in the USA. It is much larger and thicker-peeled than grapefruit, but said to have milder flavor.

Seville orange

Seville or Bitter Orange – These are too bitter for eating out of hand, but they make a wonderful orange marmalade and the sour juice is perfect for certain mixed drinks.

tangelo

Tangelo (Honeybell )- This is a hybrid between tangerine and grapefruit. Large, bell-shaped, they are available during the winter and are very sweet and juicy.

ugli fruit2

Ugli Fruit – This grapefruit-mandarin cross looks like a grapefruit in an ill-fitting suit. It’s sweet and juicy, though, and simple to eat since the peel comes off easily and the fruit pulls apart into tidy segments that are virtually seedless.

 

Resources

www.ask.com

www.foodsubs.com

www.fruit-crops.com

www.healthyeating.sfgate.com

www.thefruitpages.com