Friday, June 5, 2009

Another curry post

The other day when I wrote about curries I didn't mention my personal favorite, Choo Chee Seafood Curry (#35 on True Thai's menu). Choo Chee curry is always made with seafood in Thailand so you can't have Choo Chee Curry with beef or pork — only with seafood!

Despite being seafood only, Choo Chee curry is not really a different kind of curry. It's made with coconut milk and red chili peppers so it's really just a specific kind of red curry. True Thai has many different kinds of red curries:

  • F. Red Curry with Kabocha Squash
  • 30. Red Curry
  • 34. Pineapple Curry
  • 35. Choo Chee Curry
  • 36. Grilled Seafood Curry
Earlier I told you how little Anna had to mash, mash, mash the chili peppers whenever my mom made curry for us. I did not tell you about how we also made our own coconut milk. No, you do not milk the coconut! I will admit however that once when I explained this process to a friend from Wisconsin, she told me that making coconut milk sounds a lot like making butter!

Coconut milk is not the liquid inside of the coconut. That is coconut juice and it is a very popular drink in Asia. explains how to make coconut milk:
Coconut milk is made by squeezing the grated flesh of a coconut with some hot water resulting in a rich white liquid that looks very much like cow's milk.
That is a very short description of a very long process. Little Anna's job was to grind and shred and squeeze and squeeze the coconut until my mom would finally approve of my work. She would then let the coconut milk stand until the "coconut cream" separated and rose to the top, just as cream rises to the top of whole milk. Coconut milk's top layer is very fatty just like dairy cream, and it was that coconut cream that my mom would use to make curry with.

If you have ever ordered True Thai's Lemon Chicken Soup to go and then let it sit in the refrigerator, I'm sure you have noticed how the coconut cream separates and rises to the top. (Shake the container vigorously before heating and serving!)

While all of True Thai's recipes (except one) are top, top secret, I will share with you a link to Sucheela's blog, in my tiny kitchen, and her recipe for Choo Chee Gung (shrimp curry). I found this blog last night and while it's not really about Thai cooking Sucheela is Thai and we Thai can't help but talk about our food now and then.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

True Thai loves new grads!

So very many groups coming to True Thai for a dinner celebration lately! Parties of up to 30 grads, friends and family but thanks to the new expansion we have met this challenge, even when we haven't gotten a call in advance (always appreciated). I'm glad to say that our wait staff and kitchen crew have stepped up and helped make each celebration a success!

When I graduated from Berea College I didn't have a big party but I remember how much the support of my friends meant to me. If you thought I looked young in that picture of me with my first car, take a look at me standing next to my friend Sue!

Sue taught me how to type, something I've tried to avoid doing ever since. You can see another graduation picture of me at my Flickr account in the personal photos set.

We don't take pictures of our customers but we do notice that you seem to take a lot of pictures of each other. Feel free to email me if you'd like to share a picture from your special celebration at True Thai. I will post all of them to Flickr and maybe even some to this blog!

Later I will post a picture of me at my very first job. I hope that's a part of the graduation process that all our celebrating guests will get to enjoy as well despite these "interesting" times we are living in.

As for life after graduation, first you gain weight, then you gain your fortune, then you pay someone to help you lose weight! And, if you're lucky, the people you pay to help watch your fortune won't help you to lose it as well. More on these topics in subsequent posts but now more than ever it is clear to me that June is graduation month in Minnesota!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drunkard's Noodles (#54)

Wikipedia calls them Drunken Noodles and says this:
Drunken noodles (or Pad Kee Mao, less frequently Pad Ki Mao or Pad Kimao, Lao: ຜັດຂີ້ເມົາ, Thai: ผัดขี้เมา) is a Chinese-influenced dish that was made popular by the Chinese ethnics in Laos and Thailand. It is a stir fried noodle dish very similar to Pad see ew, but with more flavor. It is made with rice noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, meat or tofu, bean sprouts, and various seasonings. Chili and basil give rise to its distinctive spiciness. There's another "Drunken" dish, Drunken fried rice or Kao pad Kee Mao.
My mom liked to make Pad Kee Mao in the morning with fried egg. I was taught to translate Pad Kee Mao into Drunkard's Noodles. I think my translation is correct because these are noodles for drunks and Wikipedia's "drunken" noodles sounds as if the noodles are tipsy.

Drunkard's Noodles are supposed to be very spicy. My mom would say it should make you sneeze but the point is that they should be hot enough to help sober up a drunk. It's commonly served on the street which just happens to be where you find the most drunks in Thailand.

Here is a picture of me holding some Drunken Noodles:

I must be honest: this isn't a good picture of Drunken Noodles. You can hardly see the noodles!

Now I know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking, "What about Drunken Rice?"

Yes True Thai does have Drunken Rice on our menu, but we call it Holy Basil Fried Rice (#63) because we thought one drunk on the menu was enough.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

True Thai's handmade envelopes

When you buy a gift certificate from True Thai, we put it in a special rice paper envelope. My sister Mem, an ER Nurse in Thailand, makes each one by hand so yours may not look exactly like one of the envelopes pictured above, but it will be just as beautiful!

In Thailand we believe everything should be beautiful. True Thai gift certificates are for when you want to give someone a beautiful experience and not just a gift.

One important thing to remember! If you ask us to mail the gift certificate for you, we cannot use these envelopes because they are too delicate. Even inside of another envelope they would be damaged. Besides, isn't it best when you give gifts in person?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yellow, Red or Green?

Every day someone calls to ask the difference between our curries and why so many colors.

Did you know that curry powder was invented by the British? It's true! When they would return to England after living in India, they wanted to be able to enjoy curry so they figured out how to make it into a powder. Also known as masala powder, it is usually yellow due to the presence of so much turmeric.

In Thai cuisine we do in fact use turmeric in our yellow curry [แกงกะหรี่]. Green curry [แกงเขียวหวาน] gets its color from the green chili pepper paste we use, and red curry [แกงเผ็ด] gets its color from red chili pepper paste.

OK, so why don't we call Masaman curry Orange curry? That is because Masaman curry is borrowed from the Muslims, and it gets its orange color from cinnamon and tamarind which you don't notice so much because the potatoes and peanuts help give Masaman curry its mellow taste. Panang curry is also of Muslim origin, and its name comes from Penang, Malaysia.

True Thai's curries are as authentic as we can possibly make them. Lime leaves are essential, and all the best Thai restaurant curries have these small leaves. They are there for flavor but they are very hard so don't try to eat them! It only takes a few to make a big difference in the flavor of your curry and that is a good thing because they cost about $45 a pound wholesale.

Wikipedia has lots of good information about Thai curries if you want to learn more. Or you can just stop in for your curry "fix," dining in, taking out or buying our curry stock to fix at home.

Sorry, but no Anna stories today. I did not work in the curry mines as a child, or go into the jungle to harvest lime leaves. I did however do forced labor mashing chilis with a pestle for hours on end in my mother's kitchen. Mash, mash, mash. I think a curry mine would have been easier.

Did I mention that I posted a new picture to Flickr?