There are few things that make me happier in this world than sitting around a campfire at night with dear friends, fingers sticky from flaming marshmallows and melting chocolate, as we talk and laugh and tell crazy stories. So I was a very happy girl at my cooking group Monday night when we did just that after our scrumptious Thai feast.
My friend Jenny spent several years in Laos and is a wiz at making authentic Thai food. I loved watching her whacking away at massive green papayas, turning them into slender shreds before pounding them up with green beans and hot peppers. She even let us novices have a try at walloping the papaya and I confess it was quite a marvelous stress reliever.
As she shredded away the rest of us busied ourselves with our dishes, and downed glasses of the oddest looking drink I’ve had to date: Basil Seed. They advised me to drink with my eyes closed, but I was a brave little soldier and peered curiously at what looked to be fleas bobbing about in my glass. They are basil seeds enclosed in a gelatin bubble (think tiny tapioca) floating in a juice-ish concoction that tastes much like cream soda. I liked it!
We picked clean my platter of fresh spring rolls, stuffed with lime shredded chicken, basil, mint, cilantro and vermicelli. We dipped them in spicy peanut sauce so yummy I could’ve happily slurped it like soup.
The first time I had green papaya salad I was startled because I was expecting something sweet and cooling instead of spicy. This time I was prepared! Jenny told us she would only put half a pepper in the first batch of green papaya salad for our North American palates. Since we were all snuffling and tearing after just one bite, I can only imagine how spicy HER bowl was. Wowsers! It was good though, especially with handfuls of sticky rice to wrap each bite in.
Darren and Jon made two different versions of Pad Thai. Darren’s was dark and rich with tamarind sauce and shrimp.
While Jon’s was light and sprightly with lime and chicken. Both were delicious.
Kat made creamy and spiced Thai Iced Tea and brought wonderfully sweet and tender sesame rolls…
…and fresh, juicy lychee for dessert.
We rode out a fierce rain in the hot tub (is there a better way to wait out a heavy rain??), then clustered round the fire pit with coat hangers, marshmallows, graham crackers and 70% dark chocolate.
It was a beautiful night.
Krista’s Thai Peanut Sauce
1 1/2 cups creamy natural peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
3 gloves garlic, minced
- Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Taste. Add more hoisin sauce if not sweet enough.
Krista’s Fresh Spring Rolls
8 round spring roll sheets
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 bundles vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and cooled
- Pour lime juice over chicken and stir to coat.
- Soak one spring roll sheet in warm water 5-10 seconds. Place on clean counter top.
- Down center of sheet place shredded chicken. Top with vermicelli noodles, mint, basil, and cilantro.
- Grasp edge of sheet closest to you and fold over mixture, tucking edges under. Fold each end piece over, then continue rolling until spring roll looks like a burrito.
Darren’s Pad Thai
(From Alton Brown)
1-ounce tamarind paste
3/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
4 ounces rice stick noodles
6 ounces Marinated Tofu, recipe follows
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup chopped scallions, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 whole eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons salted cabbage
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
3 ounces bean sprouts, divided
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped, divided
Freshly ground dried red chile peppers, to taste
1 lime, cut into wedges
- Place the tamarind paste in the boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
- Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
- Place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Once the other ingredients are measured out into separate bowls, drain the water from the noodles and set them aside. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch wide strips, similar to French fries.
- Press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce. Stir to combine.
- Place a wok over high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers, then add the tofu. Cook the tofu until golden brown, moving constantly, for no longer than 1 minute. Remove the tofu from the pan to a small bowl and set aside.
- If necessary, add some more peanut oil to the pan and heat until shimmering.
- Add 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble. Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, cabbage, shrimp, and 2/3 of the bean sprouts and peanuts. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total.
- Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining scallions, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serve immediately with the ground chile peppers and lime wedges.
Darren’s Marinated Tofu:
6 ounces extra-firm tofu, not silken
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- Wrap the tofu firmly in a tea towel. Place the wrapped tofu into an 8-inch cake pan. Top with another cake pan and weigh down with a 5-pound weight. (Bags of dried beans or grains work well.) Place in refrigerator and press for 12 to 15 hours.
- Place pressed tofu in a 2-cup container. Combine soy sauce and five-spice powder and pour over tofu. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove the tofu from the marinade and use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.
Jenny’s Papaya Salad
(From Thai Food Cast)
1 clove of garlic
2 chilies – or as much as you like.
¼ cup roasted peanuts
½ cup tomatos
½ cup green beans
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 cups of shredded green papaya
- Shred green papaya
- Slice tomatoes
- Chop green beans
- Slice Lime
- Put garlic and chili peppers into mortar, smash it into small pieces
- Add peanuts, smash it into small pieces
- Add palm sugar, pound it until it mixes well together
- Add lime, fish sauce, pound it until it mixes well
- Add green papaya and green bean and pound until it mixes well
- Garnish with roasted peanuts
Jenny’s Thai Sticky Rice
(From Visit Chiang-Mai Online)
Kat’s Thai Iced Tea
30 bags of black tea
seeds from 5 black cardamom pods, freshly ground
1 T. star anise, freshly ground
2 large coffee filters
1 T. tamarind concentrate (could probably substitute 1 t. tamarind paste)
1 large saucepan full of water
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
- Tear open the tea bags, and empty the contents into two large coffee filters, along with the star anise and the cardamom.
- Tie the coffee filters closed with food safe twine. (I just used the string from one of the tea bags I had previously emptied.) Basically you’re making two really big tea bags.
- Bring the large saucepan of water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium high and steep tea bags for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, leaving the tea bags in, and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Fill a tall glass 2/3rds full of ice cubes.
- Pour the tea into the glass through a strainer. It should be a dark orange colour.
- Float over the top of a spoon, about 1 T. of evaporated milk, and 1 ½ T of sweetened condensed milk.
- Serve with an iced tea spoon so guests can mix in milk themselves.