Today, Thai cuisine is more accurately described as four regional cuisines, corresponding to the four main regions of the country:
- Central Thai cuisine (Bangkok & central plains)
- Isan or northeastern Thai cuisine
- Northern Thai cuisine
- Southern Thai cuisine
This week we are highlighting a popular dish found in Chiang Mai/ Northern Thailand: Kao Soi noodles with Chicken. We made our own fresh noodles and curry paste. You can buy both of these already prepared, but you’ll lose some of the authentic taste.
Chef’s Notes: Kao Soi Noodles with Chicken
We now have five cookbooks in our home library on Malaysian and Thai cuisine, and each one offers a slightly different version of this famous noodle-curry dish. For instance, some use fresh garlic, some not. Some are spicy and some not. The recipe we chose to make calls for 1/2 cup of palm sugar (4 oz). The final taste was a little too sweet for us; I would definitely cut the sugar back to 1/4 cup the next time we make it. I know that 1/2 cup of fish sauce sounds like it would be too much, but we found the taste to be just right. It’s interesting to know that Thais use fish sauce instead of table salt in their recipes. If you adjust the sugar, you may also want to adjust the amount of fish sauce as Thai cooking is all about balance.
In the U.S., we tend to brown our meats before braising them while the Thais do not; they just throw the meat into the sauce and let it cook. You’ll have to decide for yourself as to your preference – either way is fine. If you want to brown the chicken, do that first, then add the curry paste and spices, according to the recipe.
In most Thai recipes, it’s all about the fresh condiments. Make sure to have these on hand:
- Shallots (sliced)
- Fresh limes (sliced)
- Fresh chilies (sliced)
- Preserved/pickled vegetables – a must! (we found ours in a jar)
- Crispy egg noodles (deep fried fettuccine noodles)
Thai Cuisine: “Turtle Eggs”
Also on our travels, we fell in love with another common type of Thai cuisine that’s commonly found on the street food: something the locals call “turtle eggs,” a “street food” that you find in outdoor markets. This is a slightly sweet dough made from cooked sweet potatoes and taro that is deep fried until golden brown. They are also slightly smaller than a golf ball. In the U.S. we would probably douse the cooked dough with powdered/icing sugar; surprisingly, I loved them less sweet and thought they were a perfect mid-afternoon snack.
Here’s a recipe we found to make them yourself.
Stay tuned for my next post – week 4 of my Superior class at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit!
Mary Hathaway, owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to Dinner-Diva.com for more info.