Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)


Pad Kee Mao | Drunken Noodles | Culinary Compost RecipesThis is my rendition of a classic dish served at Plia’s Kitchen, a Hmong restaurant in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They serve wonderful South Asian cuisine. The widely-reputed silver bullet for curing a hangover, or just a late-night snack after an all-day bender, this mind-numbingly spicy recipe is a much-loved Chinese-inspired favorite in Thailand.

My wife cannot tolerate anything remotely hot, which is a real shame. To compensate, I improvised this recipe by adding only a seeded jalapeño pepper. For the authentic version, you should use fresh hot Thai red chilis, crushed in a mortar. Thai holy basil is impossible to find in my area – if you are lucky enough to source or grow some, by all means use it — it has an unmistakable peppery, complex flavor that is all but absent in Thai sweet or lemon basil.  Enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 large chicken breast
1 tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. water
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

—-

4 tbs. canola oil, divided
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed in a mortar
1″ chunk of ginger, peeled and grated
4-5 fresh red Thai chilis, stemmed, cut in pieces and crushed in a mortar
OR – one seeded, sliced jalapeño
1 tbs. Laoganma black bean chili sauce
1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1” square sections
1.5 cups fresh Thai holy basil leaves
2 large scallions, trimmed and cut at a bias in 2” sections, with greens
4 oz. rice flake noodles (1/2 8 oz. bag), soaked for one hour and then boiled for two minutes

—-

1 tbs. Shaoxing wine
1 tbs. oyster sauce
1 tbs. fish sauce
1 tbs. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. Tamari soy sauce
1 tsp. Gold Plum® brand Chinkiang vinegar
1 tsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chicken stock

 

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the chicken into small pieces (1/2” to 1”).
In a medium-sized work bowl, combine the cornstarch, water, white pepper and dark soy sauce. Add the chicken and coat well. Set aside for one hour on your counter until it warms to room temperature.

Prepare the rice flake noodles by soaking them in warm water for one hour. Drain, then add to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Time them so they are ready to add to the wok after draining.

Prep the vegetables so you have them at hand. Combine the Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, fish sauce, dark and Tamari soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, brown sugar and chicken stock in a small bowl. Mix and set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat and add 2 tbs. canola oil, swirling to coat. The oil should start to smoke. Add the cut chicken pieces and stir with a long-handled Chinese metal spatula. Cook until seared on all sides, about three minutes. Quickly remove from the wok and set aside on a plate.

Add the remaining canola oil and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the wok. Add the crushed garlic, ginger and chilis or jalapeno, and the Laoganma black bean chili sauce.  Stir-fry until fragrant, about a minute. Add the minced shallot and continue to stir for another one to two minutes. Add the bell pepper. Stir to sear the vegetables, and then add the sauce ingredients and the reserved chicken. Stir to coat. Drain and add the boiled rice flake noodles, the fresh basil and scallion. Stir well to coat the noodles and serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

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Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp


Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is a wonderful recipe inspired by some of my favorite Thai cuisine. The red curry paste packs a sucker-punch, so use it sparingly until you know how spicy it is. The addition of turmeric will intensify the color of the dish. If you cannot find lemongrass, don’t worry. The paste already has it. Adding fresh lemongrass will simply provide a more vibrant, complex flavor — remove it before serving as it is tough and will not break down.

Note that the preparation is layered in stages so the tender vegetables go in at the end — this ensures that they don’t overcook.
Enjoy, this is one of my all-time favorites.

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 tbs. peanut oil
20 small shrimp, deveined
2 heaping tbs. red curry paste (or more to taste)
1 medium shallot, minced
1″ chunk of ginger, peeled and finely grated
4 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass; trim, peel and keep only 8″ of the tender base. Crush with a meat mallet and then cut in half.
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced
1.5 tsp. ground turmeric
4 cups chicken stock
1 13-oz. can coconut milk, shaken
4 Thai birds-eye hot chilies, crushed (to taste)
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly-sliced
1 small bunch bok choy, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped (base and greens divided)
1 tbs. brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
2 tbs. fish sauce
3 tbs. dark soy sauce
1/3 of a 14-oz. package of Asian rice vermicelli noodles
Handful of snap peas – about 10
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup bean sprouts

~For Garnish:
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 scallion, trimmed and finely sliced at a bias, with greens
1 cup trimmed cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

 

DIRECTIONS:

Cut, measure and prepare the ingredients prior to cooking so you have everything at hand. Thai cuisine is known for its short cooking time.

Prepare the Asian vermicelli noodles according to package directions. Break them in half and cook until just al dente – about five minutes. Drain and reserve, covered.

While you are preparing the noodles, place a 3.5-quart heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the peanut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and saute for two minutes until pink. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the red curry paste and minced shallot to the pot. Stir constantly until fragrant; about a minute. Watch closely so it doesn’t scorch. Add the sliced shitake mushrooms and the grated ginger. Continue stirring for two minutes.

Next, add the chicken stock and increase the heat to a rolling boil. Add the turmeric, brown sugar and coconut milk. Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, jalapenos and the white part of the bok choy. Reserve the bok choy greens for later. Reduce heat to a low simmer.

Add the lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce and crushed birds-eye chili. Cook for seven to ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil, snap peas and bean sprouts at the very end. Add the prepared noodles, bok choy greens and shrimp to the pot. Stir and remove from heat. Remove and discard the lemongrass before serving.

Garnish with red onion, scallion and cilantro. Drizzle with fresh lime juice if desired.

 

Serves 4

Thai Red Curry Soup with Shrimp | Culinary Compost Recipes

Thai Lemongrass Curry Chicken


Thai Lemongrass Curry Chicken | Culinary Compost Recipes
This is a recipe inspired by one of my all-time favorites dishes featured at a local Thai restaurant. Sadly, the place closed and I was forced to reinvent it for posterity.  The flavor is intense and very complex. You will need a very sharp knife in preparing this recipe — lemongrass is a woody, fiberous stalk that is very hard to cut. The aromatic flavor of the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves are essential to this dish. Most Asian markets will carry both of these items, so you should have no trouble finding them.

If you don’t have a good wok, I highly recommend the Lodge cast-iron version. It is built like a tank and can be used indoors over a gas or ceramic electric stovetop, or outside on a charcoal grill. I love mine and it has never let me down. Order it from Amazon and save yourself about twenty bucks.

Enjoy — this is one of my favorite recipes.

 

Ingredients:

For the Marinade~
2 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1 two-inch shallot, peeled and minced
1″ chunk grated ginger root
3 lemongrass stalks – trimmed to about 8″ in length (discard the narrow green tops)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbs. fish sauce
Juice from 1/4 lime

—————-

2 tbs. peanut oil
20 snow peas
1 fresh garden red bell pepper, sliced
5 leaves fresh basil
1 tbs. brown sugar
1 tbs. dry Balti spice
2 tbs. Thai green curry paste (or more to taste)
3 scallion, finely sliced with greens
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
4 kaffir lime leaves – very thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs. fish sauce
1 can Thai coconut milk

2 cups Thai jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions

 

Directions:

Marinade the chicken at least one hour prior to preparing the meal. Cut the chicken into 3/4″ pieces and place in a bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, add the soy sauce, lime juice and fish sauce. Add the minced shallot and ginger. Trim the lemongrass to 8″ and discard the root and green tops. Hit aggressively with a meat mallet and discard the tough outer sheath, keeping the inner core. Cut into 2″ sections and then finely julienne. Combine with the sauce and pour over the chicken pieces. Stir to ensure they are evenly coated and place covered in your fridge.

Cut, measure and prepare everything else so you are ready to go – Thai recipes are known for their short cooking times.

Preheat a wok over medium heat. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat. When shimmering, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t scorch. Quickly add the chicken and discard the marinade/lemongrass. Sear until no longer pink, stirring constantly.

Add the chicken stock and fish sauce and bring to a slow boil. Add the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Stir to incorporate. Add the Balti spice, green curry and brown sugar. Stir until slightly reduced, about 3-5 minutes. Add the snow peas, bell pepper, and basil and cook for three additional minutes.

Remove the wok from the stove and place on a heavy serving trivet. Serve the lemongrass chicken over hot jasmine rice with cilantro and scallion as a garnish.

 

Serves 4

 

Thai Panang Curry Beef


Thai Panang Beef | Culinary Compost Recipes

Panang (Phanaeng) curry beef is one of my favorite Thai dishes. A local restaurant makes it very hot at my request; although traditionally, it is not as spicy as red Thai curry. Regarding the preparation, it may seem counter-intuitive to drop the raw meat in the sauce and simmer it, instead of flash-frying it first, but this is the authentic way to prepare it. Either method works well.

This recipe, like many from Thailand, doesn’t require intense heat for cooking, so you can use any commercially-made wok on a kitchen stovetop, with great results. I prefer to use a 14-pound Lodge cast-iron wok on my charcoal grill, but a ceramic glass stovetop works just as well. The wok heats very evenly, and provides a lot of surface area to work with. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools. You can also use a deep, heavy skillet.

The dish is traditionally served without vegetables, but I gotta have some color working with that spicy mojo, so I always add red pepper and a contrasting green vegetable like pea-pods or green beans. Thinly-sliced serrano or Thai chilies also work well. The addition of crushed peanuts to the sauce is very traditional, influenced by Indian cuisine. You may omit them if you choose. An excellent source regarding the history of this dish can be found here. Miranti knows her stuff!

Control the heat by the amount of curry and cayenne you add. The preparation is very quick, so have everything ready and accessible before you start.

Here’s my version – Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. Angus flank or prime tenderloin steak, cut against the grain at a bias in 1/4″ thin strips
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup beef broth
4 tbs. Panang or red curry paste (the red curry is more spicy)
3 tbs. fish sauce, to taste
2-3 tbs. dark brown sugar, to taste
1 red bell or hot red chili, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
A handful of fresh pea-pods or green beans
1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Ground cayenne or Thai birds-eye chili pepper, to taste
dash of lime juice, about two tbs.
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
Cooked Thai jasmine rice

 

Directions:

Hit both sides of the beef filet with a needle tenderizer. Slice into 1/4″ strips against the grain and trim away the excess fat. Preheat the wok over medium heat. Add one-half of the can of coconut milk and stir until the fat starts to separate out, about three minutes. Add the curry paste. Cook, stirring for an additional three minutes until fragrant. Add the sliced steak. Stir to coat and cook until the exterior of the steak is no longer pink.

Add the rest of the coconut milk, the beef broth, the fish sauce, the brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Stir to incorporate and increase the heat on the wok. Bring to a rolling boil.

Next, add the red pepper, onion and pea-pods or green beans. Cook, stirring occasionally until reduced, about 10 minutes. The sauce should be very thick at this point and reduced by half.

Shut off the heat, stir in the basil and lime juice, the crushed peanuts, and serve immediately over jasmine rice.

Serves 2-4

NOTE: Traditionally, kaffir lime leaves are also called for. They are impossible to find in my area. They impart a very different flavor than basil, so if you can find them, give it a try by adding a few that are finely cut into strips.

When preparing the rice, do not add salt; the curry and fish sauce are loaded with it.

Thai Panang Beef | Culinary Compost Recipes

Thai Panang Beef | Culinary Compost Recipes

Thai Panang Curry Beef Recipe | Culinary Compost

Thai Dragon Noodles


thai dragon noodles prepared in a cast-iron wok

This is an amazing and economical dish that can be very spicy – control the heat by limiting the amount of hot chili used — but why would you want to?  The fish sauce is very traditional, but may be omitted if desired. Get everything measured and cut so you are ready to go, as the preparation only takes a few minutes.
Yum!

Ingredients:

1 8-oz. package Chinese wide Lo Mein noodles
6 cups of water
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbs. salted butter
1 tbs. soy sauce
1 dash of Asian fish sauce
1 tbs. packed brown sugar
1 tbs. Vietnamese “Rooster” chili garlic sauce or Sriracha, to taste
3 cloves minced garlic
1 Thai hot green chili, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 scallion, trimmed and cut into 1″ chunks, sliced at a bias
1/2 cup trimmed and washed whole cilantro leaves
Lime wedges for garnish

 

Directions:

In a heavy stock pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil for the noodles. Prepare 4 ounces of the Lo Mein noodles according to package directions, and cook until al dente; just over four minutes.
(One eight-ounce package is enough for two people – the recipe shown here is for a single large serving.) Drain and set aside, covered.

While the noodles are cooking, prepare the sauce ingredients by mixing the brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce and chili garlic sauce or Sriracha. Set aside.
A note on the fish sauce: A little bit goes a long way! The flavor is very intense, so use it sparingly.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy wok or skillet and add the garlic; stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and stir constantly until cooked through. Shut off the heat and add the sauce, sliced green chili, noodles, scallion and cilantro. Toss until coated.

Serve with lime wedge as a garnish.

 

Serves 1-2

thai dragon noodles recipe ingredients

Green Dragon Hot Chili Dipping Sauce


I reverse-engineered this simple dipping sauce recipe from a local Chinese restaurant, with a little help from my waiter. I was shocked how hot it was the first time I tried it. The pungency of the green Thai chili is punctuated by a heady, acrid bite that lingers on your tongue long afterward. Try with spring rolls or as a side to your favorite Asian entree.

Ingredients:

10 fresh small hot Thai green chilis
1 large chunk of fresh ginger, peeled – about 1″
2 large cloves raw garlic, peeled
Splash of rice wine vinegar

Directions:

Wash and trim the stems off of the Thai chilis. Place the chilis and the remaining ingredients in a food processor and puree. Let stand ten minutes and serve.

Serves 2-4

Thai Sweet Dipping Sauce – (Nam Jeem Guy Yang)


A versatile, basic sauce for Thai spring rolls, egg rolls or crab rangoon.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large garlic cloves, mashed through a press
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried hot Thai red pepper flakes
Slivered scallion for garnish

Directions:

In a small saucepan bring the vinegar to a boil. Stir in the sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir garlic paste and red pepper flakes into vinegar. Cool.

Serve sauce at room temperature in individual condiment bowls for dipping with scallion.

Makes about 1/2 cup.