Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thai and Lao Food: Tangy and Hot

Source: NY Times

IT is a long way, Kwan Bellhouse said last week, from planting rice in her parents’ paddies in northeastern Thailand to roasting it in Kwan Thai, her small restaurant here in Rockland County.

“Only the smell is the same,” she said, as the raw grains turned from starched white to dark brown, and the lime leaves and lemon grass fronds she added to the kata (a wood-handled wok) curled and singed. The roasted rice and herbs would be ground into a smoky, nutty powder that gives depth to her larb gai, a dish of chopped chicken, mint, basil and red onions dressed with lime juice and ground red chilies. (The dish is sometimes spelled laab, lob or lop.)

“We never get tired of eating larb, 24 hours a day,” she said. Ms. Bellhouse’s “we” refers to the people of Isan, a rural section of Thailand where she grew up, and where her parents still grow purple, jasmine and sticky varieties of rice.

Isan borders on Laos, and regardless of modern political boundaries, the people of the region have traditionally shared a language, a climate (hot, steamy) and a love for two foods: larb and green papaya salad, made from the crisp, pale green flesh of unripe papayas mixed with garlic, lime juice, tomatoes and chilies.


I've never tried Thai food! I'm afraid it's too hot and my tongue doesn't handle spices well. I might try to make it, with less spices but then it probably won't be as good.

Here are the recipies.

Chicken With Lime, Chili and Fresh Herbs (Larb Gai)

Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum)

7 comments: said...

Did you know that you are really pretty? No I mean really really pretty. Too pretty for my world.

My world:

Degenerasian said...

Noi tam bay :P

There's no such thing as someone being too pretty for someone else!

lucky6666 said...

you are extraordinarily pretty. But a woman who doesnt like thai food? I am afraid we could never be compatible.


Degenerasian said...

Lucky: I never said I don't like Thai food! I've never had it cause I'm afraid that it's too hot!

Walk-Minh Nguyen said...

Thai and Lao food can get really hot, but you can always vary the level of spicy-ness. You can larb gai a little more tangy and sweet, rather than hot.

It's better to work your way up to authentic Thai food.

I love spicy food and when I visited Thailand, I couldn't get enough of the food. Thai iced tea is a favorite of mine, too.

Degenerasian said...

Cool, there are a few Thai restaurants in town I may experiement. Hopefully not too spicy.

Kev: Is Thai Ice Tea as good as Vietnamese Ice Coffee? :)

Walk-Minh Nguyen said...

Oh, Vietnamese iced coffee vs. Thai iced tea...hard decision.

On really hot days, Thai iced tea is best because you don't have to wait to mix the milk in with the tea...

On other days, Vietnamese iced coffee is good when you have time to wait for the coffee to drip into the cup and then slowly stir up the condensed milk and hot coffee, and then carefully pour it over the ice in the glass.