I love a certain type of cooking show. Not the ones with a warm middle aged housewiferly woman showing how to cook a meal that will stretch through 3 days, nor the one who shows 101 things to do with Ranch dressing powder. I like the ones with men in them. that Bizzar…Bizaar…Bizarre (yeah that) Foods with the guy who goes all over the world and eats sheep’s eyes and bugs and all…watching that guy eat makes everything look appetizing. I want to try a sheep’s eye after seeing him describe it’s creamy texture and delicate flavor. I want to watch Anthony Bourdain eat prawns in Spain, and what’s his name in Man Vs. Food eat a 10 pound burrito. I don’t really care for Guy Fieri, men in jewelry don’t really do anything for me. Ok Emeril annoys me as well, maybe it’s the accent. We ate at his restaurant in Atlanta once. It was really good, but I thought the walnuts were a little strong flavored to pair with scallops. The scallops, however, were perfectly cooked, tender and sweet and nicely (and daintily) seasoned.
I am a foodie. I love good food. And no, I have NO interest in going to culinary school or becoming a professional chef. Cooking is a delightful hobby and I don’t want to ruin it by going to school. Give me, however, a perfectly cooked steak, a fascinating combination of flavors (chilis and chocolate! Awesome!) and an unusual vegetable, and I am blissfully happy.
I am not a meatloaf and mashed potatoes person. I married one, and try to accomodate his tastes by occasionally cooking a pot roast, or a simple pork chop in tomato gravy, then the next day it’s Laab Nuea or grilled corn with chili lime butter, because I just can’t do Meatloaf Thursday or Porkchop and Applesauce Monday. I have 2 notebooks full of recipes, garnered off the internet and from friends, notes written in the margins, many of them used only once, because I’ll think “oh, I want to make some Cuban black beans with that pork chuleta” and instead of looking up the recipe I’ve used before and loved, I’ll look it up on the internet at CubanRecipes.com or something and get once that is a skosh off from the last one I used. You know, dark beer instead of Miller Light, or red onion instead of green. Consequently there’s 6 black bean recipes in my notebook.
Fortunately, Terry is open minded where food is concerned. He’s pretty much like that about everything, but this post is a food post. So, I’ll try something new, like the fish sauce marinated chicken that looked so good in Gourmet magazine but came out kind of salty and Not The Best Thing Ever. Everyone kind of ate at it a little, then requested that I please not bother wasting precious fish sauce on that recipe anymore. Well, I’m pretty sure that’s what they meant when they said “Bleeeagh!” He has, however, grown to love the Thai stuff, the satays and curries, and requests a couple of times a month the Laab Gai, a Thai chicken salad that’s cold and refreshing with lemongrass and a dollop of the peculiar fish sauce, served with sticky rice and raw cabbage and red onion. Tasty stuff, that.
He has even gotten into the fun of finding and choosing stuff for the weekly menus. We sit down Saturday mornings, with the internet and notebooks and all, and peruse and hunt for recipes. He likes to look at RecipeZaar, I like FoodNetwork. We’ll look first for the weather forcast. Say, this week it’s supposed to be hot and humid. So, salads are in order. Laab Nuea (Thai beef salad), grilled chicken salad, chicken salad wraps, and so on. If it’s a tight week financially (such as recently, thanks to 2 hospital stays in 3 weeks), we’ll make a couple of vegetarian meals like Tuscan bean salad with bruschetta, or pinto bean tacos. Because we all love beans and they are CHEAP.
It’s like an Event, a Family Affair, this whole food thing. CJ calls home and says “I miss your cooking”, Will calls and asks how to make alfredo sauce, David queries about the proper technique for cooking a chicken breast, and Eli inserts himself into whatever I’m cooking and insists on helping. Everyone contributes to the menu making, and once in a while they ask for meatloaf and mashed potatoes, which is fine. When I *do* make meatloaf, they always ask if it’s the kind they can put ketchup on, or if it’s Fancy Pants meatloaf. Sometimes the mashed potatoes come from a box, and sometimes from scratch with chopped herbs and real butter, because it’s good to shake things up.
Laab Gai recipe from ImportFoods.com my favorite source for Thai recipes.
This is one of our all-time favorite Thai dishes, and it is a very common dish served throughout Thailand as well as Laos. It’s quick to make and often extremely spicy, but the lime juice and mint leaves make for an exotic and splendid combination. It can be found on Thai restaurant menus in America as “chicken salad Thai style”, which might be the best description for this dish. Larb it pronounced “lawb” and that means salad. It can be made with beef (lawb nuea) or pork (lawb muu) instead of chicken. You can make a more fancy lawb by adding beanthread noodles (see our recipe for lawb woonsen). The spice mix is fairly simple but we have a ready-made larb spice package– Click here if you’re interested in our instant larb mix.
1 lb ground chicken (I use chicken breast, chop fine, then cook)
2 tablespoons sliced shallot
2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
3 tablespoons roasted rice powder (khao koor) Toast some rice in a skillet until brown, then grind until fine in a blender or coffee grinder
2 tablespoons ground Thai chile (be sure to use real Thai ground chile)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
Always serve with a good portion of fresh cabbage, and add green beans, parsley, sliced radish, cucumber, & coriander leaves if you like.
You can use ground chicken from the supermarket, or chicken ground in your food processor. Cook the chicken with 2 tablespoons lime juice in a pan over moderate heat. Stir until done. Transfer cooked chicken into medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Taste and season as desired. You might want more or less ground chile and/or fish sauce, etc. Serve with fresh vegetables (as shown) and warm, freshly-steamed sticky rice (or if you prefer you can use Thai jasmine rice). Note: if you like chicken giblets, cut them up into small pieces and cook in boiling water. Drain then add to cooked ground chicken before you add the other ingredients.
The usual way to eat this is to get a small ball of sticky rice in the fingers and use it to pick up a little lawb, then eat it with the raw veggies. You can also use a fork and spoon as a lot of Thais do.
I like to serve this with A Jad:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cucumber, peeled seeded and sliced thin
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 generous pinch of red pepper flakes
Mix together in a bowl, let sit for a couple of hours in the fridge before serving.