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Two Thai Classics, Six Minutes: A Video Recipe from an Island Kitchen
Posted By Daniel Noll On February 3, 2011 @ 10:00 am In Food,Southeast Asia,Thailand,Travel,Videos | 25 Comments
Oh, Thai cuisine: complexity in flavor, simplicity in process. The flavors are so vast and so varied that the thought of cooking something so rich, so in-the-mouth dazzling is daunting, to some insurmountable.
It doesn’t need to be.
To help us get over this hump, beyond this seeming contradiction, a video. The main character in today’s episode of “you can do it, too,” is Dao. She runs a humble little kitchen on the island of Koh Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand and she cooks up a storm — a storm so perfect that we asked her if she would be kind enough to let us film her working her kitchen magic. She agreed.
As you watch the video, you may also recognize Dao as the savior from a recent post about people — some sour, some sweet. She was the sweet one — and, Like Water for Chocolate, her sweetness continually found its way into her cooking.
Together with Dao, you’ll learn how to make two of our favorite Thai dishes: Panang Seafood Curry, and Pla Muk Gra Pow (chili-basil squid stir-fry). Before we roll the video, a little secret: if you can get your hands on a few of the key ingredients (becoming more accessible by the day), the rest of this Thai cooking thing becomes easy. Sense the flow and surrender your need for kitchen precision and you will begin to unlock the beauty that is Thai cuisine.
Forgive us for the imprecision in the recipes below, but we drafted these from watching Dao at work. As you see in the video, she doesn’t measure anything. The idea is to experiment with small amounts until you arrive at the perfect combination.
Dao’s Panang Curry
Dao’s Chili Basil Squid Stir-Fry
Late last year when we retreated to Haad Yao beach on the northern side of Koh Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand for a return visit, we noticed that the area had seen even more development since our previous visit in 2007. At first we were disappointed by the Thai food options. Many restaurants muted their dishes in spice and flavor in favor of what they believe foreigners prefer. Then we found Dao at her little road-side restaurant with a simple chalkboard menu of classic Thai dishes. We chatted, asked questions. She was up for making just about anything.
This was easily some of the best, high-value Thai food around. Each dish cost 60 BHT ($2).
We ate at Dao’s almost every day (we don’t even know the name of her restaurant, if it even has one) and never tired of her cooking. If you visit and show some interest, she’ll even make off-menu dishes from Isan, the area in northern Thailand where she comes from originally. Her fish larb with sticky rice was fabulous.
We’re on Koh Samui (the island next door to Koh Pha Ngan) for a few more days and one of our friends has offered to take us into her kitchen to learn how to cook some more Thai food.
Which Thai dishes would you like to learn how to make?
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