Thursday, March 18, 2010

True Thai Kimchi?

I've been reading The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth and taking notes. While many Thai favorites are included (fresh pineapple, baby greens, spinach, green tea, cashews, bitter melon, persimmons, papayas, mangoes, limes, coconut, bananas, snow peas, tomatoes, hot peppers, onions, mushrooms — actually, it might be easier if I listed True Thai foods not in this book!), I am very intrigued by one item from Korea, kimchi (also kimchee, kim chee).

Andrew L. Rubman: "This Korean fermented cabbage concoction spiced with capsicum provides healthy stimulus and therapy for the stomach and is often beneficial to those with gastritis, reflux . . . . "

Jonny Bowden, the Ph.D. who wrote this book, says that fermented foods are almost always good for you. Why? Because fermented food contains lactobacilli bacteria which boosts our immune system and fights inflammation.
"Kimchi is a superstar in the world of healthy has demonstrated antioxidant, antimutagenic, and anticarcinogenic activities. Pretty darn impressive for a sometimes smelly little cabbage dish. Kimchi also contains high levels of vitamins (vitamin C, the B vitamins), minerals (calcium, potassium, and iron) and dietary fiber."
I think by now you may have already guessed where this is going. Yes, this Friday we are putting kimchi-fried rice in our lunch buffet! We've been experimenting with it in the kitchen and have found that the flavors of kimchi blend very well with Thai fried rice. The only difference is that it is crunchier due to cabbage and extra onion.

But this is not a Thai dish so I do not know if we'll ever add it to the menu. Frying kimchi with rice is not my invention either. The Koreans have been eating kimchi for 3,000 years now, and have invented every kind of kimchi dish imaginable. They call their kimchi fried rice kimchi bokkeumbap.

I think I will call mine Thai-chi!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Green curry for St. Patrick's Day!

This year I decided to do some research into St. Patrick's Day to see if True Thai could get in on the action. I was very surprised to learn that St. Patrick's Day is not so much a drinking holiday in Ireland (where they call it Lá Fhéile Pádraig). I was not surprised to learn that my American friends are wrong about other aspects of this venerable Western holiday as well.

From 1903 until the 1970s, pubs were closed on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland! They did not hold a parade in Dublin until 1931 (the first U.S. St. Paddy's Day parade was in 1737). The Irish began to take this holiday a bit more seriously in 1996 and have since parlayed this once minor Irish holiday into a 4-day excuse for taking money from tourists.

Yes, the American version of St. Patrick's Day is about as authentic as Chow Mein is Chinese! But that will not stop St. Paul from having its 159th consecutive St. Patrick's Day parade this Wednesday.

To honor our Irish American friends, Anna O'Prasomphol Fieser will be featuring green curry, green melon, green beans and other green foods in our Wednesday lunch buffet. We will also serve green jasmine tea. Actually, jasmine tea is more yellow than green, but we will not be adding green dye to our tea!