Category Archives: Thai

Back in the saddle

curried minted grilled shrimp 4>

It was so polite, the way she said it. You shouldn’t feel obligated to bring anything. But we’ll be putting out cheese and olives and such, and there’s always room for an appetizer. As if I thought I might be imposing, if I actually decided to bring something. Like I was afraid one more dish might cause the table’s legs to buckle, like some overburdened pack horse.

As soon as I realized we were actually going out—to an engagement party, at someone else’s house, with the express intent of talking to people whose conversations just might veer off the too-worn path of dirty diapers and breast milk—I knew I had to bring something that looked fancy. Not so much because I wanted to spend tons of energy in the kitchen, but because I felt ready to buzz again. Ready to spin from the sink to the cutting board to the stove and back without thinking about it.

The buzz happened, albeit slowly. I started with a square of banana leaf from the freezer, and little twirly bamboo skewers–the ones I’ve been hoarding in my kitchen drawer for probably the better part of a decade. These, I thought. I’ll put something on these.

curried minted grilled shrimp raw

It wasn’t the least bit complicated. I gave a couple pounds of shrimp a quick bath in curried coconut milk, then threaded them onto the skewers and grilled them. On a whim, instead of stirring together a separate dipping sauce, I plunked the marinade on the stove, where it simmered and bubbled and (surprise!) caramelized into a sticky, spicy, faintly sweet glaze for the shrimp. I brushed it on the shrimp, so I didn’t have to bother with transporting a dipping sauce, or watch people juggle baby kebabs and sauce and cheese and olives and champagne flutes all at once.

curried minted grilled shrimp brushing

And it was all really that simple. I made a great appetizer, and brought it to a party.

On the way there, I looked at my husband with a broad grin. We’re on time, I said. (We’re not typically late people, but we’re often late for these friends.) And we’re bringing food and a baby. I told Jim I felt like I was back in the saddle again.

So, okay, it took me five (wait, six) days to type this recipe. And thinking back, I remember I did realize, halfway through cooking, that my t-shirt was on inside-out and backward.

So what? The shrimp tasted really good.

Onward and upward.

curried minted grilled shrimp 2

Curried Minted Grilled Shrimp with Caramelized Coconut Glaze (PDF)

Here’s a two-for-the-price-of-one sort of recipe: the marinade, sharp and sweet with red curry and coconut milk, makes for tasty, mildly spicy grilled shrimp. Simmer the marinade down, though, and the coconut milk caramelizes, making a pleasingly sticky glaze that’s fancy and beautiful but not actually messy. This dish is great for a party; because you brush the sauce right onto the shellfish, it also travels quite well.

You’ll need about 3 dozen small (4” or 6”) skewers; be sure to soak them in water for about 30 minutes before threading the shrimp on, to avoid burning.

TIME: 45 minutes active time, plus marinating
MAKES: About 3 dozen skewers

2 tablespoons roasted red curry paste
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
2 pounds shrimp (16-20 per pound size), peeled and deveined, tails removed
6 kaffir lime leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh mint, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
3 dozen small (4” or 6”) skewers
Vegetable or olive oil, for the grill
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon honey

Place the curry paste in a large mixing bowl. Add about a quarter of the coconut milk, and whisk until blended. Add the remaining coconut milk, whisk again, then add the shrimp, lime leaves, cilantro, and 1/4 cup chopped mint. Stir to coat and refrigerate, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. While the grill heats, thread 2 shrimp on each skewer, so each skewer goes through each shrimp twice, reserving the marinade in the bowl as you work. Lightly oil the grill and cook the shrimp in batches for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until just pink and slightly charred.

While the shrimp cook, transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces to about a cup of liquid and darkens as the coconut milk caramelizes. Stir in a pinch of salt and the honey, then strain the sauce (through a fine mesh strainer) into a bowl. When the shrimp are done, brush the sauce onto the shrimp on both sides. Sprinkle the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of mint, and serve warm or at room temperature, with extra sauce on the side, if desired.

curried minted grilled shrimp 1

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Filed under appetizers, gluten-free, recipe, shellfish, Thai

Green curry shellfish soup, and a quick demo

Yup, here I am.

I don’t want to be here.

It’s Sunday afternoon, and we have friends visiting, and I’m holed up by myself in my office, writing a recipe for a spunky, just-right spicy, wondrously comforting shellfish soup that I enjoyed so so much last night, but really don’t feel like reliving. Especially not now, when I could be finishing Sunday. This morning was so relaxing, so calm, doing yoga, wandering out for brunch, running into friends at the farmers’ market. But I came back to blog, and today I want to punch my computer.

Where is January 1st? I’m done with November. December, too, actually. Today I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Instead, I see construction workers. They’re two guys inside my brain, peering into an almost-finished tunnel, then looking at the road above it. Joe says “Hey look, that road works just fine!” and Bob says “Ayuh. ” (I think Bob is from Maine. Translation: Yes.) “Guess we didn’t need to start this thing after all.” Joe nods slowly. Ugghhh.

The other thing is that I am seriously mourning my camera. It’s just at camp, I keep telling myself. It’ll come back. God, I hope so.

But it turns out my husband’s camera has some nifty features, like the ability to make movies, which I’ve started abusing with some success. Note that while I may be a perfectionist in some arenas, perfection isn’t so high on the list when it comes to home video. But if you’re a total shellfish novice, it might help.

Ever wonder what to do with all those little hairs sticking out of your mussels? Or why scallops have little white things on them sometimes? Oh, I am so here for you:

Here’s a little more scallop education, from Madeleine Kamman:

Each scallop is made of a large number of vertical fibers held together by a circular membrane, to which is attached a small tendon called the foot of the scallop. In any size scallop the food must be removed because it becomes terribly tough as the scallop cooks.

I’ve always known the foot as the tab, and have also heard it called the tab foot. In any case, it’s usually whiter than the rest of the scallop, and you need to get rid of it.

So have at it. Buy the shellfish listed below, or go crazy – add squid, maybe a few big spot prawns, or a cubed filet of a lighter white fish, like bass, cod, or tilapia.

Spicy Shellfish Soup 3

Spicy Shellfish Soup with Coconut, Lime and Ginger (PDF)
Recipe 315 of 365

Here’s a soup for the days you feel like raiding the fish market. Clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops are poached in a fragrant, sour-spicy broth that’s quick to make (and a good way to clear the ol’ sinuses). Serve with plenty of good, crusty bread for mopping up the broth.

You can alter this recipe for a fish-phobic audience by omitting the fish sauce, using chicken stock instead of clam juice, and substituting shredded meat from a rotisserie chicken for the shellfish. You can also add leftover rice or quick-cooking vegetables, like snap peas or asparagus, to the broth just before serving.

TIME: 30 minutes (start to finish)
MAKES: 4 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon green Thai chili paste (or to taste)
1 can light coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
2 cups dry white wine
1 (8-ounce) container clam juice
Juice of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt
16 manila clams, rinsed (about 1/2 pound with shells)
8 large mussels (about 1/2 pound with shells)
1/2 lb. medium (41/50) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 scallions, green and white parts, sliced into thin rounds
1/3 lb. small bay scallops, tabs removed

Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and garlic. Stir until beginning to soften, about two minutes. Add the ginger, and cook another minute or so, stirring. Add the chili paste, stir to combine, then add the coconut milk, fish sauce, white wine, clam juice, lime juice, and sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt, if necessary.

Add the clams and mussels to the pot, cover, and let cook 3 minutes. Add the shrimp, stir, and cover again for a minute or two, until all the clams and mussels have opened. Stir in the cilantro, scallions, and scallops (which will continue to cook in the hot broth all the way to the table), and serve immediately.

Spicy Shellfish Soup 1

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Filed under gluten-free, recipe, shellfish, soup, Thai

One snazzy slaw

Done with tomatoes. For now. And back to real life in Seattle, soon.

Red Cabbage Slaw with Cashew, Lime, and Basil

Red Cabbage Slaw with Cashew, Lime, and Basil (PDF)
Recipe 225 of 365

“Slaw” usually evokes minimally-flavored vegetables clumped together with mayonnaise, but this is about as far from that as you can get: thin slices of cabbage, bell pepper, and scallion are dressed (but not bound) with a bright, tangy, slightly spicy vinaigrette that echoes the flavors of Southeast Asia. Add chicken, snap peas, shredded carrots, cilantro, or mint, if you’d like.

TIME: 30 minutes total
MAKES: 6 servings

1 small red cabbage (about 1 pound), quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, quartered, seeded, and cut into 1” strips
3/4 cup red or white scallions (including green parts), very finely chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 – 1 teaspoon sriracha (Thai chili-garlic sauce)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt
1 cup roasted, salted cashews, finely chopped

Place the cabbage, peppers, and scallions in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and sriracha until the sugar has dissolved. While whisking, add the canola oil in a slow, steady stream, and whisk until combined. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, add the basil, and season with a little salt. Just before serving, stir in the cashews.

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Filed under recipe, salad, side dish, snack, Thai, vegetables, vietnamese

Spoon Theory

Susan wrote me with a great link to a poignant, touching post on living with a chronic illness. The author referenced Spoon Theory, which I hadn’t heard of but serves as a more tangible tool for explaining how Lupus feels than perhaps The Wolf does. Do me a favor: read it (or put it in your pile), then come back here.

I have many more spoons than Christine does, and reading about her twelve made me realize how much I’ve forgotten about those first few awful months, and how lucky I am to have escaped them. I probably have about fifty spoons today, and although I haven’t had to use them for small daily activities (buttoning shirts, walking down stairs, blowdrying my hair) in a few years, I’ve also tended to take on things that use up multiple spoons at once, or spend a week’s worth of spoons in a day. This is what has to stop.

I have the luxury of earning spoons back, like accruing secret weapons in a video game. A nap is worth a spoon; a good nap is worth two.

These past few years I’ve been running with my (relatively large) bouquet of spoons, all heavy antique silver spoons with curls and flowers on the handles, glancing backwards as if there’s some spoon-eating Pac-Man coming after me, scooping up what I drop with those v-shaped jaws and taunting me until I have a chance to pant in the corner of the screen while the game starts over.

I haven’t forgotten to tell you about the dinner in Boise – I’ve just been trying to think of how to explain it, and Spoon Theory is perfect.

Here’s how the dinner works: every year, my friend Melanie (who you will one day know as a great Idahoan winemaker) and I auction off a wine pairing dinner at an event that raises money for the ski racing club we both participated in as kids. Someone buys the dinner (for $2500 this year) and I design a menu. She pairs wines to my courses, typically digging deep into the knowledge of the Chateau Ste. Michelle wines she acquired while she was a winemaker there. This year, we had the opportunity to include her first vintages of viognier and rose from her own winery, Cinder, which were wonderful. (I’m sure she could describe them more intelligently.)

This year was a seated 5-course dinner for twelve people, and it went relatively flawlessly. I’d have preferred if the client’s brand-new Wolf range hadn’t had a layer of primordial ooze on the bottom of the smallest oven that I neglected to see when I preheated it, the smallest of three, if you’re not counting the warming drawer or the convection-equipped microwave. But no one seemed to notice the smoke, thank goodness, and the lamb was just the rosy shade I’d planned. And because my saintly father had taken the day off of work to help me wash dishes and shell (grooooaannn) about 500,000 fava beans, I was completely calm and organized by the time the guests arrived, and dinner pretty much went off without a hitch. As the last course went out, I swelled inside, riding a self-congratulating wave of pride in my work, excitement about the evening, and inspiration for future meals. It was bittersweet, though. As I stood at the counter drying dishes while the guests moved into yet another after-dinner bottle, I felt sad to have let go of something that makes me feel so successful.

But 18 combined hours in that sweet, sweet kitchen used a week’s worth of spoons. The next morning, after a fitful night of sleep, I crept down to my parents’ living room couch and curled up next to a dog, semi-conscious, not yet able to approach a coffee cup because the dexterity necessary, what with the cream, the sugar, the spoon, and all that, seemed entirely too complicated. I felt like a fern growing backwards, curling back down toward the ground. Now, almost a week and ten hours of sleep a day later, I’ve rebounded.

So yes, the dinner went well. But it was my last personal cheffing job, maybe ever, which was deflating and depressing and disappointing. I like doing it, but alas, I am a spoon counter (albeit a lucky one), and I’d prefer to spend my spoons on other things. Melanie looked crestfallen when I told her that next year, when Cinder will finally be releasing a full palate of food-friendly wines made from Idaho grapes, I won’t be volunteering.

The next night, when my father was looking for a way to explain to another parent that I wouldn’t be awake and available to transport teenagers at 2 a.m., he simply said, “my daughter is sick.” It was simple, and effective, I suppose, but hearing him say it out loud for the first time made my heart break, because I knew it was hurting him to say it. Maybe Spoon Theory will travel far enough that he’ll be able to say “she doesn’t have enough spoons to pick them up” and that will be that. Because that’s what he meant, I think.

My husband asked me if he could be a spoon, and I told him yes. He can be many, many spoons.

Here’s one for a tired night. If chopsticks hurt your hands, just use a fork, dammit.

One-Spoon Stir-Fry

One-Spoon Stir-Fry with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Snap Peas
Recipe 137 of 365

This is “Thai food” reduced to its easiest form, with flavors reminiscent of true yellow Thai curry but none of the techniques or ingredients that can make the process tiresome. I call it “one spoon” because according to Spoon Theory, you sometimes only have one spoon’s worth of energy to use on dinner (and I think this applies to everyone, not just those with Lupus). This an easy one for me, as long as I have someone to help me open that frustrating Thai chili paste jar. Serve it over brown or white rice, or rice noodles.

I used one teaspoon yellow Thai chili paste, but you could use red or green, also. Look for it in the Asian food aisle of your grocery store.

TIME: 20 minutes
MAKES: 2 generous servings

3/4 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can ask your fishmonger to do this, plus remove the tails, if you don’t want to hassle with them while you eat)
1/2 pound (about 1/2 bunch) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2” pieces
1/2 pound sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons yellow Thai chili paste
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Place shrimp, asparagus, and snow peas in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle oil over all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the curry paste together with about 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk until all the lumps disappear. Whisk in the remaining coconut milk, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shrimp and vegetable mixture, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until the shrimp have begun to curl and are almost all pink on the outsides. Add the coconut milk mixture, increase heat to high, and simmer 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro (or just plop it on top of each bowl, like I did) and serve over rice or rice noodles.

Switched to a fork!

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Filed under commentary, kitchen adventure, Pasta, recipe, shellfish, stir-fry, Thai

Phad Thai Noodles

I wish pad thai wasn’t so likeable. Its popularity crested like a bad fad, but unlike Hypercolor shirts, I still love it every time. Why should I be embarrassed to order it at a Thai restaurant, then? Somehow I can’t. I feel the server’s judgmental eyes searing through my skull, wondering if I’m a real eater. Ordering pad thai seems like the ultimate cop-out, like I’m a kid again and there’s only one thing on the entire menu that sounds even remotely appealing. Like if I ordered it, I’d have to explain myself.

A lingering pad thai craving steered me toward these noodles. There’s nothing particularly Thai about them (they’re made with spaghetti and cashew butter, for goodness’ sake). In fact, with lime, cilantro, and fish sauce, they’re more Vietnamese than anything (but please don’t call this Vietnamese food). My husband dubbed them phad thai, pronounced like “fad” to make fun of how much I love noodles in anything nutty, and it stuck.

Most importantly, they’re delicious. With plenty of deep cashew flavor and a little heat, they have what it takes to cure my pad thai craving when I don’t have the ingredients for pad thai or the guts to order it in.

Phad Thai Noodles 1

Recipe for Phad Thai Noodles
Recipe 64 of 365

Feel free to substitute cooked shrimp for the chicken. And make plenty – they’re delicious the next day straight out of the fridge.

TIME: 35 minutes
MAKES: 4 servings

2 large chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup cashew butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chopped scallions (green and white parts)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus limes for garnish, if desired
1 – 3 teaspoons sriracha, Chinese chili paste, or other hot sauce
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 pound dried spaghetti
1/2 cup whole roasted cashews, chopped

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. When the pan is hot, add the oil, then add the chicken and cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred the meat. Cover with foil to keep warm.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the cashew butter and the boiling water in a large mixing bowl. Allow the water to melt and soften the cashew butter for about 5 minutes, then use a fork to stir the two together until the mixture is smooth. Stir the scallions, ginger, soy, brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, hot sauce (to taste), and cilantro into the cashew butter to make a sauce, and set aside.

Salt the pasta water, and cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Place the pot over low heat, add the cashew sauce and shredded chicken, and toss with tongs until well combined and the sauce is warmed through. Stir in the cashews, and serve warm, garnished with lime wedges, if desired.

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Filed under chicken, Pasta, recipe, Thai, vietnamese

Brothers and sisters

Yesterday we drove to Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort to watch my sister race giant slalom. She did really well, despite the blizzard conditions, bringing home a trophy (or two?) for the weekend.

On our way home, we stopped at Grandma’s house in Portland for dinner. When she announced she was making curry, I imagined her throwing spices pell-mell into the pan, without any regard for their age or character. But curry for her meant simmering onions, carrots, and chicken in some broth and adding a sauce made from bouillon-style cubes of curry paste. It was to traditional Indian curry what Kraft Mac’n’Cheese is to the homemade kind – perhaps not the most gourmet, but certainly tasty enough and just the right amount of cooking for her.

The whole experience reminded me of my survey from a few months ago. Many respondents mentioned that as much as they’d like to make gourmet ethnic food every night, they just can’t be bothered to buy all the right ingredients. Sometimes pre-fab foreign flavors are they way to go. My brother, who falls into the chasm of cooks caught between laziness and grad school poverty, insists that there should be a need-based guide to seldom-used pantry ingredients like allspice and walnut oil, so that when your recipe calls for, say, rice wine vinegar, you could look up rice wine vinegar in the guide and decide whether buying it will actually prove cost-effective in the long run and really change the flavor of your foods or whether you should just skip it.

Anyway, with my grandmother and my brother (and questions about how to use the Thai chili paste I put in a recipe last week) in mind, I made a dinner that’s pretty cheap, pretty simple, and spicy enough to make you sweat a little.

Simple Thai Chicken & Rice

Recipe for Simple Thai Chicken and Rice
Recipe 50 of 365

Here’s a quick, simple approach to “Thai” food, made with prefab chili paste and not too much else.

As an alternative to mixing the sauce into the rice, you could stir-fry vegetables, mix them with the sauce, and serve them with the chicken over plain white rice.

TIME: 30 minutes, including rice-cooking time
MAKES: 4 servings

1 cup long-grain white rice, such as basmati or jasmine
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon green or red Thai chili paste
2 packed tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced

Begin cooking the rice according to package instructions. About 20 minutes before the rice is done cooking, begin cooking the chicken.

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chicken breasts and cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the chicken releases from the pan easily. Flip the chicken over, turn the heat down to medium, and cook another 5 minutes or so on the second side, or until the breasts are well browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the coconut milk and the chili paste to the pan, whisk until the chili paste has completely dissolved, and increase the heat to high. Simmer the mixture for 3 minutes, then stir in the cilantro and scallions. Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with the sauce, and skooch the chicken over to one side of the pan. Use a big spoon to scoop as much of the spicy coconut sauce as possible out of the chicken pan and into the rice. Stir the rice to distribute the sauce. Pile the rice onto a serving dish, put the chicken on top, and scrape any remaining sauce on top of the chicken. Serve immediately.

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What’s in a name?

It drives me crazy when people lump food into ethnic categories to which the dish in question has no *real* ethnic ties. Like when I see recipes for things like Thai Chicken-Corn Chowder, made in a slow cooker. First of all, I think I’d be hard-pressed to find a Thai grandma who uses a Crock Pot, and I doubt any true Thai cooks make a habit of combining potatoes, frozen corn, and pre-trimmed chicken breasts with their pre-fab Thai chili paste from a jar.

But hey, that’s fusion, I guess. And it would be more difficult to sort through recipes with names like Typical Boring Shortcut American Corn Chowder Made Better with Kid-Friendly White Meat Chicken, Simmered with Coconut Milk and Red Thai Chili Paste to Present the Illusion that some Thai Cooking Skill was Required.

So I named it Thai Chicken-Corn Chowder.

This soup should freeze well, just make sure to cool it completely (like over night in the refrigerator) before packing it into containers.

Recipe for Thai Chicken-Corn Chowder
Recipe 39 of 365

There’s no better way to feed a crowd than with a warming, exotic-tasting chowder that doesn’t need much babysitting! Look for red Thai chili paste in the ethnic aisle of your local grocery store. This recipe is meant for adults—if you’re serving kids, think about starting with about half the chili paste. If you love spicy foods, start with a full tablespoon of paste.

TIME: 30 minutes, plus slow cooking
MAKES: 8 – 10 servings

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in to 1” pieces
2 large onions, cut into 1/2” pieces
1 pound celery, cut into 1/2” half-moons
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2” pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
4 cups (about 1 liter) chicken broth or homemade stock
2 teaspoons red Thai chili paste (or more, to taste)
1 pound bag frozen corn
2 14-ounce cans light coconut milk
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2” pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place the chicken, onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper, ginger, and 3 cups of the chicken broth in the slow cooker. Mix the remaining chicken broth with the chili paste in a small bowl with a whisk, until no lumps remain. Add the spice mixture to the slow cooker, and stir all the ingredients together.

Cook for 6 hours on high (the chowder can be kept on warm for a few hours until dinner time, if needed).

Add the corn and the coconut milk to the chowder, and stir to combine.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water just to cover the potatoes. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes and add to the chowder.

Stir in the cilantro, and serve hot.

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Thaiku Haiku

Last night we ate at Thaiku, on Ballard Ave. The pelting rain had put me in the mood for soup, so I chose Guay Tiow Bed, which now that I think about it sounds a lot like “go to your bed,” which is what I should have done with my own version of Thai noodle soup. It was described on the menu as “rice noodles with sliced duck in a rich anise, cinnamon, and sweet soy broth.” The noodles were overcooked to the point of mush, the broth, while probably once delicious, was lukewarm, and the duck’s skin didn’t have enough crispiness to be edible (this from someone who almost always eats the fat with the meat), so I spent the better half of the meal with my fingers in the soup, picking off the skin. At least it wasn’t hot enough to burn myself.

I think I have enough inspiration in me for a haiku for the duck, which didn’t deserve to die for this dish:

duck in a cold bath
I pluck your rubber skin off
pray for your next life

Only after writing this do I look at the take-out menu to double-check my spelling of the dish. Right there on the menu cover, it says:

thaiku
desire food with fire
where taste and poetry make
culinary zen

I do not feel the Zen.

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