Thursday, June 11, 2009


Fruit lovers should be sure to read Nancy Ngo's article in the Pioneer Press on superfruits.

When I was growing up we had 200 mangosteen trees and ten pomegranate trees in our fruit orchard in Thailand. We grew the mangosteens as a cash crop but kept the pomegranates for ourselves. Mangosteens paid for my plane ticket to the United States to go to college at Kentucky Business College. I am very fond of mangosteens.


Our farm had 400 acres but a third of the land was for rubber trees. On the rest of our farm we grew fruit and vegetables. In addition to mangosteens and pomegranates, we grew rambutan, durian, mangoes, papayas, and lychee fruit. I would consider all of these to be superfruits except maybe for the durian which the Japanese and Taiwanese would pay high prices for because they were considered to be super-aphrodesiacs!



More on the vegetables later. The durian will also get their own post because there is nothing else quite like durian!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A family secret

Anna's Fried Bananas

My great grandmother Mai was a street vendor who sold fried bananas. She was known throughout the region for her fried bananas which were made with a recipe she learned when she was a young girl in the early 1880s. Relatives and neighbors were always asking us for her recipe because they were the very best fried bananas.

Great grandmother Mai was very old when I was growing up but she was still selling fried bananas until well after she turned 100. Sometimes I got to help her after school. I would make bags out of newspapers like they use to serve fish and chips in England. If there were banana leaves I would make containers from them, pinning the leaves together with bamboo slivers.

The bananas were fried in the biggest wok I have ever seen. It could fry one-hundred bananas at a time. My great-great grandfather made the wok for her. It was too large to fit inside a restaurant kitchen but it was just big enough that she could meet the enormous demand for her fried bananas with only the one wok.

Great grandmother Mai always ate one fried banana every day and she lived to be 107. When she died I was holding her left hand and my mom was holding her right hand and together we kept Mai's recipe secret. At the funeral people were still asking for her recipe and when my mother died in 2000 they asked again. I'm sure they will do the same at my funeral but it won't do them any good because it's a family secret!

Monday, June 8, 2009

True Thai vs. Applebees

You may have read about this but Applebee's just won an Xtreme Eating Award from the Center for Science in the Public Interest for their Quesadilla Burger. The Kansas City Star's Steve Rosen described the Quesadilla Burger this way:
Take a bacon cheeseburger and insert it into a quesadilla. What do you get? A "monstrous marriage" of 1,820 calories, 46 grams of saturated fat, and 4,410 mg of sodium.
Omigod! That is more calories than I eat in a day! Here is how Applebee's responded to the award:
"We provide our guests with a range of choices, from those that are better for you to those that are more indulgent, and guests have the option to customize their orders to better meet their individual needs."
Well if you have an individual need to eat an 1,800-calorie fat burger, here is how much True Thai you could have had instead:
  1. 1 Thai vegetarian spring roll with dipping sauce (there are usually 2 in an order) [267 calories]
  2. 1 bowl of Tom Yum with shrimp (this is less soup than we usually serve) [86 calories]
  3. 1 order of chicken fried rice [405 calories]
  4. 1 order 7-Vegetable Rainbow Medley [474 calories]
  5. 1 order Pad Thai with shrimp [571 calories]

That's 1,803 calories for an appetizer, soup, fried rice and two entrees which all combined have only 7 grams of saturated fat vs. 46 for the Bacon Quesadilla artery-clogger, and 2,689 mg of sodium compared to 4,410 mg for the Applebee's Today Is A Good Day To Die Burger. (Half of our salt came from the soup, by the way. If you have to limit your salt do not order soup!)

And if you ate a cup of plain jasmine white rice instead of fried rice you would save another 177 calories, not to mention a fat gram and 600mg of salt.

I am not speaking as a restaurant owner now, I am speaking as a Public Health Nurse. DO NOT EAT QUESADILLA BURGERS! If the corresponding amount of Thai food would fill a bowl bigger than your head, maybe it's too much burger!

I also need to admit that True Thai has never spent any money to find out the exact calory counts for our dishes. With 80 items on the menu that many lab tests would bankrupt us, but these charts should be fairly close.

Holy Basil!

Basil is in many, many Thai dishes but that is not why there is basil in so many of True Thai's entrees.

My mom grew her own basil in our garden and she put it in almost everything which is why True Thai uses basil in so many of our our entrees. It's kind of funny but the more I think about it the more I realize that True Thai is really just Anna's Mom's Thai!
Basil is excellent in stir fry dishes because it imparts a wonderfully intense flavor to everything you pair it with. That's what a chef would say, but a cook like my mom would just say that basil is good for you. A lab researcher (which is what I used to be a long time ago) would tell you basil is good for you because it is an excellent source of Vitamin K, as well as being rich in iron, calcium, Vitamins A and C, potassium, manganese and magnesium.

There are four nations that make heavy use of basil in their cooking: Italy, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Needless to say I like Italian, Lao and Vietnamese cuisine a lot!