templeofthai Temple of Thai Cooking News
Home-style Thai Recipes, About Thai Food, and Reader-only Sales
  Sa-wah-dee-kah (greetings!),

Welcome to our monthly Thai cooking newsletter. This month's read about lemon grass-what it is, how to prepare it and store it. Try an authentic Thai Peanut Sauce recipe from cookbook author Kasma Loha-unchit, which uses fresh lemon grass and a host of Thai spices.

Note that the sale prices here are available only through this newsletter, so please forward to a friend or visit an online version of this page here (NOTE: AOL users please cut and paste this url into your browser address bar): www.templeofthai.com/news/nov2002.html


READER-ONLY SALES (prices good through 12/01/02):

Carving Set Fruit & Vegetable Carving Set
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Kiwi peeler Our carving knife set includes all the essentials you need to create beautiful vegetable and fruit carvings just in time for the holidays.
The Step-by-Step Vegetable and Fruit Carving Book shows in detail how to create both simple and intricate carvings. Great gift for culinary students, caterers or amateur chefs.
*Order now and receive a FREE Fruit/Vegetable Peeler. Visit our site for more details. 

rice baskets Colorful Sticky Rice Serving Baskets
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This colorful trio of traditional Thai baskets is delightful in the kitchen or living room. Serve sticky rice the traditional way at home or use them throughout the house for storing small items. Visit our site for more details.

mortar pestle Granite Stone Mortar and Pestle
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Easily grind spices, fresh herbs, and garlic. You will find this tool essential for authentic Thai cooking, especially curry paste. Carved from natural gray granite stone, this set will last a lifetime. (Yes, it's the same one the Naked Chef uses!) Visit our site for more details.

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Everything for Thailand's most famous noodle dish, Pad Thai is here in this kit!Visit our site for more details.

Thai spices New Ground Thai Spices
normally $1.99/1.75oz
limited time only $1.49

New spices! Dried Holy Basil Leaf, Palao 5 Spice Powder,and Ground Grachai (Rhizome). And in limited quantities only: Dried Kaffir Lime Peel. Visit our site for more details.

lemon grass About Thai Food - Lemon Grass

Lemon grass (dtakrai): This bulbous, tropical grass is a favored herb in Southeast Asian cuisines with a lemony essence. In Thai cooking, it is used to flavor soups, salads and curries. To prepare, cut off the woody root tip of each stalk. Remove and discard the loose, dry outer layer(s).Usually, the top third of the stalk is dry and fibrous and, if so, should be trimmed off. For simmered dishes, cut the trimmed stalk at a very sharp angle into inch-long pieces. Smash with the blade of a cleaver to bruise. For salads, cut with a sharp knife into very thin rounds. For curries, cut the stalk into thin rounds before pounding in a stone mortar to reduce to paste. Wrap well in plastic before storing in the refrigerator to keep the stalks from drying out.

Text Copyright © 2000 Kasma Loha-unchit in Dancing Shrimp: Favorite Thai Recipes for Seafood. See pages 62 & 63.
For more cooking tips like this see Kasma's excellent web site thaifoodandtravel.com. 

Kasma, Dancing Shrimps

Kasma's Thai Peanut Sauce
Sorry, but this authentic recipe from cooking instructor and author Kasma Loha-unchit, does not use peanut butter. If the list of ingredients seems too long, just omit some of the spices and adjust the final taste.

6 cloves garlic
2 shallots
Bottom half of a stalk of lemon grass
1 tsp. minced fresh galangal, or substitute with 1/2 tsp. ground dried galangal
2 tsp. minced cilantro roots, or substitute with bottom stems
2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
5 dried red chillies
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground mace
1/2 to 1 tsp. shrimp paste (kapee)
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1 1/2 to 2 cups (or 1 14-oz can) coconut milk
1-2 Tbs. fish sauce, to taste
1-2 Tbs. palm or coconut sugar, to taste
1 Tbs. tamarind water -- dissolve a 1 tsp. chunk of wet tamarind in 1-2 Tbs. water

Cut and discard the root tip of the garlic cloves and shallots, leaving the skin on. Roast on a tray in an oven at 400 degrees until softened (10-15 minutes for garlic and 20-30 minutes for shallots). Trim and discard the bottom tip and loose outer layer(s) of the lemon grass. Cut the stalk into very thin rounds, then chop. Mince the galangal and cilantro.
In a small dry pan, toast the coriander seeds over medium heat until they are aromatic and dark brown, stirring frequently. Do likewise with the cumin seeds. Follow with the dried red chilies, stirring constantly until they turn a dark red color and are slightly charred. Grind these in a clean coffee grinder to a fine powder.
Using a heavy mortar and pestle, pound the lemon grass, galangal and cilantro until reduced to a paste. Peel roasted garlic and shallots and mashed in until well blended. Add the ground toasted ingredients, plus the nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and shrimp paste. Pound to make a well-blended paste.
Grind the peanuts in a clean coffee grinder or blender as finely as possible. Heat 2/3 cup of the thickest cream from the top of a can of coconut milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce a few minutes until thick and bubbly. Fry the spice mixture in the cream, stirring frequently, until it is well mixed with the cream and has fully released its aromas and flavors (3-5 minutes).
Add half the remaining milk and the ground peanuts. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 10-12 minutes, stirring well to blend. Add more coconut milk as needed to the consistency of pancake batter. Season to taste with fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind water.
Simmer a few minutes more, then transfer to a sauce dish and cool to room temperature before serving with your favorite grilled meats, fish, tofu and vegetables.

Notes and Pointers:
My preferred brand of canned coconut milk for this recipe is Chao Koh.

Recipe Copyright 1996 Kasma Loha-unchit. Used with the kind permission of Kasma and Michael.

For more detailed version of this recipe please see Kasma's Peanut Sauce Recipe. 

Loy Krahtong Loy Kratang, Floating Light Festival

This month in Thailand, we will be celebrating 'Loy Krathong', the Floating Lantern Festival, during the 12th lunar month. Everyone around the country will be preparing beautiful miniature floats of banana leaves, flowers, and other natural objects. Each person lights a candle on their float and sends it out onto the water, making a wish.

During the Sukothai period, over 700 years ago in Thailand, fruit and vegetable carving figured in the celebration. The legendary originator of the festival, Lady Napphawat, decorated her floating lantern with a profusion of flowers, birds and animals carved from fruits and vegetables.

This information taken in part from: The Complete Step-by-Step Vegetable and Fruit Carving book, edited by Nidda Hongwiwat, Copyright 1999.