OK, I’m exhausted but thriving on the words of so many friends on the other side who have written with unconditional support. I miss them, love them, and still worry about their safety.
But now I’m going to take you somewhere serene, to a place far away where the horizon keeps a clear, straight line.
I’m startled by the contrast between what I see in these pictures and what I have seen in recent weeks.
This is Krabi, on the Andaman Coast. We had the fortune to visit (again) many weeks ago. One day, I’ll tell you more about that trip. But for now, I want only to offer a few peaceful scenes and a recipe from Krabi’s Smart Cook Thai Cookery School, where I took an afternoon class. Most of the recipes were not specific to southern Thailand, which somewhat disappointed me, but I did manage to prepare one of the tastiest batches of chicken in pandanus I’ve ever eaten. I believe success rested in the copious quantities of pounded garlic, cilantro root, white pepper and sesame seeds rubbed over the chicken before cooking. Cilantro root is key to many Thai dishes; it’s hard to find in the West. Most markets offer only the stems and leaves, with roots gone to waste. (I suggest growing your own or asking local farmers to save those roots for you!) Recipe below. It’s a good one for summertime shindigsâ€”much on my mind these days.
Chicken in Pandanus
(Kai Ho Bai Toei)
Adapted from Smart Cook Thai Cookery School
100 g chicken, sliced into bite-sized pieces
6-7 pandanus leaves
3 tsp garlic
1 tsp cilantro root
1/2 tsp white peppercorns
3 tsp roasted sesame seeds
1 T soy sauce (or fish sauce for a gluten-free version)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
2 cups oil for frying
Using a mortar and pestle, pound garlic, coriander root and peppercorns until finely ground. Place the chicken in a mixing bowl and mix well with pounded ingredients, sesame seeds, soy sauce or fish sauce and sugar. Let sit at least one hour.
Wrap the chicken with pandanus leaves to form a triangular packet. This can be tricky. Use toothpicks to secure each wrapper if necessary. See here for a picture of how these will look. Then deep fry in hot oil over medium heat until cooked and crispy on the outside. Remove from heat and drain oil on paper towel. Serve with sweet-sour or chile sauce of your choice.