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Recipe: Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

This dessert was one of the best things that I ate in Thailand. Not the most complex by any means, or in any way challenging. For comfort, straight forward deliciousness and a dish that makes you feel brighter about life as you leave an empty plate behind, look no further.

I ate it many times in Thailand. I couldn’t resist it. However, I usually had to order it holding my nose with a lemon sucking face while trying not not barf, for it was almost always served from stalls that sold its vicious smelly neighbour durian.

DURIAN. Does anything smell more foul? Yes, rotten meat, cadavers and sewers but durian smells of all three. It is like a demon that has digested them and is burping it for your displeasure.

Walking down the streets of Bangkok admiring beautiful colours, delicious smelling street food, watching passing monks gilded in orange robes, I would suddenly feel squeamish and sure enough shortly after I would see a durian stand. Spiky green fruit, bloated and proud. If they were a cartoon character they would have an ill fitting suit with buttons popping from their shirts.

Now, I know you will say – BUT THE TASTE! And yes, I hear the taste is amazing, but I have a fierce sense of smell and even the mango sitting nearby has a lingering taste of durian. So I could not do it. Next time, I will force myself. With a clothes peg on my nose and a doggy bag.

I have gone off track. Back to sublime mango. Cheerful, bright and sweet. Coconut sticky rice is sold as a dessert in Thailand but for me, it makes a sublime breakfast. This really is best if you can soak the sticky rice overnight but don’t worry if not, it is still worth making it. Get a rich ripe mango dripping with syrupy sticky sweetness. Alphonso mangoes are in season, and are in the shops in Tooting now, that is what I am using.

Enjoy!

Note on the recipe: all ingredients are available in Thai shops, Chinatown in London (specifically New Loon Moon which also sells fresh young coconuts and every Thai ingredient I have ever needed for Thai cooking incl recent recipes). I also spied Thai sticky rice and palm sugar in my local Waitrose. It is best to make this when you are going to eat it as the rice is best just after it is cooked. It can soak up the coconut milk and get soggy over time too.

RECIPE: Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
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Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung (a vibrant and delicious Thai soup)

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Pichit and the Prawn Tom Yum Kung that he taught me to make

I have returned to London for a short stretch, and minutes off the plane it seems, I have contracted the brutal head and chest cold that has been taking London down. I was doing so well, I have not had one cold this winter.

For relief and to fight it, I need something simple, firey and potent to blast the germs out. I also need something cheerful and bright. My life is full of lemon, honey & gingers. I now also need to introduce Prawn Tom Yum Kung soup.

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Ingredients for Prawn Tom Yum Kung

This recipe is another from Thailand from my class at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. This is an authentic recipe and is full of flavour. I think it is also the perfect thing for a cold. There are two ways of making it, one is clear and one is milk with some more firey heat. In Thailand they use tinned milk which is quite sweet and lighter than coconut milk.

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Thai blue river prawns

I am going to work on a coconut milk version, and for now share the recipe for the clear soup, which is adapted from the recipe taught to me by Pichit (in the photographs). I had to change the recipe a little to adapt to the size of our prawns and the availability of ingredients, but the taste is very similar to what I had in Bangkok and still very good.

Note on the recipe: we used giant blue Thai river prawns. I would suggest the best raw prawns that you can find. Cooked prawns will just cook further in the broth and become leathery.

You might also like to check out my recipe for Thai Seafood Green Curry from the same class.

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A slightly blurry photo of the finished soup in Bangkok – it was insanely hot and steamy there and I was just about holding it together towards the end :)

Recipe: Prawn Tom Yum Kung Soup [Read more]

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Recipe: Siri’s Thai Seafood Green Curry Recipe Step by Step with Photos

Seafood Thai Green Curry ingredients

Seafood Thai Green Curry ingredients

Green curry is misunderstood in many places outside of Thailand. Often perceived as a mild curry that you would give most chilli phobics (certainly in the UK and Ireland), it is often bland and dull, full of green peppers and mushrooms and to my mind, unless you are somewhere very good, not very interesting.

In Thailand, green curry is hot. Very hot and aromatic. Packed with flavour (which is the signature for most Thai food in my experience), you can choose the heat level you want if you make it yourself, so when we made this at the cooking school at the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market, we went for a compromise medium heat which was just perfect and not medium for our palates at all. Hot, so fresh and really delicious.

Several things make this recipe flavourful: fresh homemade coconut milk and cream, fresh pounded curry paste (you must – so much better than shop bought), the wonderful herbs and aromatics, the fish pounded to a paste with fish sauce (which Thais use instead of salt on the table) and lots of chilli.

It won’t be possible to replicate this entirely outside of Thailand but I will suggest where you can make substitutions as you go. As long as you make the paste from scratch – this is key – you will have a great dish. Everything else is a bonus.

Enjoy – it is a fantastic curry. I have adapted this recipe, but it comes from Siri, so thank you, Siri!

Note: if I don’t suggest an alternative, the ingredient is relatively easy to source via Asian supermarkets – some are online too.

Recipe: Siri’s Thai Seafood Green Curry [Read more]

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Thailand: Farm to Fork (via a Cooking Class) on the Outskirts of Bangkok

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Chung, who met us at the farm to harvest our ingredients for our cooking class

On our first morning in Bangkok we hopped on a bus and drove to the outskirts of Bangkok. It didn’t take long, maybe 45 minutes, before we arrived at a farm that grows herbs, fruit and some vegetables. We were to collect some ingredients that we would be using in our Thai cooking class not long after.

Everything grew on extended narrow beds, lined with little irrigation canals. The heat was scorching. 40 degrees centigrade plus and as we all know, the melting temperature of an Irish person is 14 deg C. I persevered with my fan, driving some air towards my face and soaking up all of the smells, tastes and colours.

Watering the crops with a little boat

Watering the crops with a little boat

It is very hot and the crops are watered using a hose deployed from a little boat which was a joy to see. I grew up in a farming area in Ireland and watering the crops was not something our local farmers had to worry about, at any time of year.

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Harvesting lemongrass

We tried lots as we went, first some papaya, which was as fresh, rich and unctuous as you would expect. Then some lemongrass which grows in tufts, like spiked fragrant doll hair. The part we use is at the bottom, but the grass itself is beautifully aromatic too. Some okra was cut and I was offered some raw, I couldn’t believe how good it was. Also a green crumpled pod that is called pea here, but is unlike and pea I have ever known.

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Chung, he rarely stopped smiling

Banana trees

Banana trees

Once the herbs were gathered we hopped on a boat to head to the cooking school. The cooking school is open air with a thatched roof to protect from the intense sun, on the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. To one side is the canal and the other a farm, it is a beautiful setting. The market itself is only open at weekends, but still boats chug along occasionally mostly selling food. The postman passed in his boat at one point.

Khlong Lat Mayom - a floating market at weekend and a cooking school, three times a month

Khlong Lat Mayom – a floating market at weekend and a cooking school, three times a month

The cooking school is divided into three cooking stations, and a different cook teaches one of three dishes. We started with a green seafood curry. Siri taught us, a cook for 30 years, this was his personal green curry recipe. In the UK people mistakenly think that green curry is mild but in Thailand it is served hot. We had medium heat, which for us is pretty firey and perfect for my palate.

Siri, who cooked green curry with us

Siri, who cooked green curry with us

Ingredients for green curry

Ingredients for green curry

Finishing the green curry with fresh coconut cream (which we made in the class)

Finishing the green curry with fresh coconut cream (which we made in the class)

Once the green curry was made we progressed to the next station to make Tom Yum with prawns, taught by Pichit, Siri’s grandson. We made two versions, I was keen to try the milky one with an extra chilli kick too. The results were great and the recipe very accessible.

Tom Yum

Tom Yum

The last recipe was Bua Loy, bean sized sticky rice flour dumplings in coconut cream with taro, sweetcorn and other bits and bobs. I had already tried these and loved them. Nee makes and sells these at the floating market at weekends.

Bua Loy, before cooking

Bua Loy, before cooking

All that was left to do was eat, the food we made was served with rice and some other dishes including a cripsy crab omelette, rice, and some beans and sugar snaps served with prawns with a mild kick.

Crab Omelette

Crab Omelette

Prawns with beans

Prawns with beans

When we were finished we hopped back on our boat and headed back in to central Bangkok, stopping off at the Artist’s House on the way. I loved this experience and will work on some of the recipes soon, making them a bit more accessible to those living in the UK.

A canal scene from the journey back to Bangkok

A canal scene from the journey back to Bangkok

Canal side house in Bangkok

Canal side house in Bangkok

If you want to do this, and I recommend you do, you will need a guide / translator as the class is in Thai. I highly recommend Ann, who guided us through it and who could organise a whole day for you, as she did for us.

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Thailand: Offering Food to the Monks in Amphawa & a Heavenly Street Food Breakfast

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At dawn, all over Thailand, the local buddhist monks travel from their temples to the markets and past shops and houses, where local people offer food / alms in exchange for blessings.

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Each monk carries a large silver lidded bowl, wrapped in orange and with a shoulder strap. When the bowl is full, they return to the temple, where the food is shared. Some monks have temple boys that travel behind them with yellow shoulder bags, so that they can carry more for them. Many of the monks are very elderly, and they can walk a considerable distance, depending on the location of the temple. The monks eat twice a day, strictly.

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I arose at 5am to offer food to local monks that might be passing my hotel. We had arranged that the hotel would provide us with some food packages containing items that might be useful (a temple I visited today had food packages that contained detergent and paracetamol). At home or at food stalls, the monks would get cooked food, ours contained several things including candles, noodles and pandan cake. I was warned not to give a full package to one monk as once his bowl is full, he must return to temple, and can’t come back again.

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I waited in the dark, for 15 minutes, no monk was spied. But then, in the distance, we saw the familiar orange robe and the gentle walk. The monks walk barefoot and with great grace. We offered him some of our food, it is important to be clear, and also not to touch the monk or his bowl. I had learned the Thai words, which I recommend you do too should you want to do it. He smiled, gave us a blessing, and then he was gone.

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It was quiet where we were so we followed, turning the corner and walking towards the floating market. Here there were many more monks, and we quickly offered all of our food, eventually buying more, freshly cooked light fried doughnuts and bananas primarily.

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As I wandered around soaking it all in, watching all of the monks walk solely and serenely down narrow streets and by the river, I spotted one coming down the river in a boat. I had been told that occasionally, when a temple is on a river, they will use a boat. It was magical, watching him row towards us, and stopping for alms as he did. We have him the last of our offering, again in exchange for a blessing, this time he gave us an amulet too. It was truly wonderful, I was struck by the generosity and kindness of this gentle tradition. It was so lovely to be part of it, if only briefly.

It was only 6am, and I wasn’t that hungry but the smells and sights of the street food had awakened a curiosity. I stopped at a stall and had a beautiful pumpkin congee with minced pork to start with (and it cost about 65p). I followed it with thoes delicious doughnuts and pandan custard (40p). It was already very hot, so I finished with an iced coffee, before progressing dreamily back to my hotel.

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What a special morning. When in Thailand, I highly recommend you participate. I plan to again, before I leave.

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A Postcard from the Floating Market at Amphawa, Thailand

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I am sitting on my balcony at very early o’clock in Amphawa, Thailand. Very sleepy and watching the sun rise over banana and coconut trees and the most beautiful tiny shipyard, where they are building four gorgeous houseboats. It is already very hot. Jet lag is deep in my bones, but I will ignore it. I am here for the Thailand Academy food trip where I am exploring in and around Bangkok for a few days with some other food writers & bloggers.

Last night, steeped in sleepiness, we went to the Floating Market. Amphawa is a small town about an hour from Bangkok and it is famous for this market. Boats and stalls line a narrow canal. The boats function as mini restuarants, issuing divine smells and displaying seafood of such bright colours. Cooked to order over coals, I wasn’t long waking up in the beautiful hustle and bustle. People are singing, everyone is eating. What surprises me most is that most of the visitors are from Thailand.

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Everyone is tucking in. So, I do too.

Now, I need your help, people. For 4 days I am with the academy but then I have no plans. What do you suggest I do? It is my first trip to Thailand and I am open to suggestion. Would love your suggestions in the comments. Thanks!

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