I’m sitting on pins and needles WAITING, waiting, waiting in Italy to get a copy of Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine!!!! The release date is around the corner, June 17th to be exact, and pre-release copies are in route! My publisher has seen a copy of the new book and is raving about it but I have not yet seen it and I’m so totally beyond excited to hold a copy in my hands! I have loved the experience of writing all of my books but this book, doing the research, the cooking and testing and tasting, Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine is BAM, wow, epic, I honestly believe my best book ever besides the now classic first book, Everyday Paleo.
Traveling to Thailand is what made this book come to life and although the internet is like having the entire world at your fingertips I suppose I could have easily written a Thai cookbook without ever leaving the comfort of my own home; however, it wouldn’t have been the same. No amount of virtual research compares to the experience I had while working side by side with the many Thai chefs and home cooks that I met while visiting the amazing country of Thailand.
I’ll share with you now one little tidbit of knowledge that I learned on day one of my trip. Thai food is very special. Thai dishes are only true Thai dishes if you use the correct key ingredients. For example, if you make Tom Ka Gai and you use regular ginger instead of galangal, you really aren’t making Tom Ka Gai. It might look like Tom Ka Gai, and even have similar flavors, but you can NOT call it Tom Ka Gai. Nope, can’t do it. Does this mean that you should never use substitutions for the ingredients that make a certain Thai dish truly Thai? No way, you SHOULD use subs if needed, but you shouldn’t pretend it’s the real deal. I love this concept. This is staying true to tradition, to a culinary idea that food rich with culture shouldn’t be slapped together and called something it really isn’t.
Another part of Thai cooking is the tools used to make Thai food. Mortars and pestles are imperative in making authentic Thai food. Do you have to use them? Of course not, and in the book I offer alternative ways to make the salads, curry pastes, bases for stir fry sauces, and well, just about everything, without using a mortar and pestle but the importance of having these tools was hammered home time and time again with each person that I had the honor of cooking with while inThailand. A quick example of the importance of using a mortar and pestle for curry paste: a granite mortar and pestle should be used because the granite is heavy enough to pulverize the tough ingredients into a paste. Furthermore, the granite keeps the ingredients cool in order to prevent overheating and therefore oxidation of the ingredients and the flavors blend rather than change due to unnecessary heat caused by something like a food processor. Should you NOT use a food processor to make curry paste? Absolutely not, but it’s important to honor Thai culture and understand that what you are making will still taste amazing and still be fun to make, but won’t be the true traditional Thai way. Honor, respect, understanding, learning, and growing, all part of life and all important aspects when exploring cultures other than your own.
So, that’s just a tiny touch of what I learned while in Thailand. Never mind the experience of simply being there. The extremely kind people, the beauty, the smells; good and bad, the humid sticky weather that changes to paradise once you hop on a scooter and race around like mad on tiny sun drenched islands, freedom from constant media bombardment, tastes, sites, sounds, and cultural differences like I’ve never ever seen before. Giant Wats (temples) springing up out of lush jungles, bare feet in restaurants and stores, bartering, laughing at nothing, running wild on wet sand, eating food so hot I cried with pain and joy and disbelief; all at the same time. Thailand. I share all of this with you in Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine with a huge emphasis of course on the FOOD. There is nothing like Thai food. Nothing, and to be able to make this awesome cuisine at home is the gift I wanted to give to you and I’m darn confident that I have accomplished that with this book.
Now, for a few fun giveaways!!!! I told you about the importance of the mortar and pestle and there are two types that are used in Thailand: The first is a granite mortar and pestle for things like curry pastes and breaking down other tougher ingredients for various recipes, sauces, etc. They also use either a wooden or clay mortar and pestle for making things like papaya salad or cucumber salad, in order to gently mash together lime, chiles, dried shrimp and a touch of sweetness along with fresh veggies and fruits to bring alive the flavors of the specific dishes you will be making.
1) One lucky person is going to win a set of one granite and one wooden or clay mortar and pestle and you will be ready to cook out of Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine!!! With a set like this, you really won’t need much more in your kitchen arsenal (except a wok) to start cooking authentic Thai food!
2) Two lucky people will receive 1 gallon of Palm Shortening from Tropical Traditions – the only palm shortening I recommend and an amazing oil for deep frying (an important part of Thai cooking).
3) Finally 3 lucky people will win a signed copy of Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine!!!!
To enter, please do just one of the following and as always, no purchase necessary to win:
1. Email your proof of purchase from Amazon or Barnes & Noble to email@example.com.
2. Prepare one of the sneak peak recipes that I offer at the end of this post, take a picture of it and share it on your facebook page along with a link to Everyday Paleo Thai Cuisine on Amazon and tell me that you did so below in comments (and if you can link to where I can see it but not required if your Facebook is set to private).
3. Name three reasons why you want this book and share those reasons along with a link back to this post and/or my book on Amazon and post below to comments that you did so (and if you can link to where I can see it but not required if your Facebook is set to private.)
Alrighty, that’s all folks! Now enjoy the following recipes and a few pictures from our amazing trip to Thailand!!
Thai Seafood or Ground Meat Salad
This delicious and fresh staple from northeastern Thailand is found in many variations all over the country. It’s also referred to as laab. I first tried it at Enjoy Bistro in Bangkok, and the spicy, yummy, tart goodness was a huge hit. Adjust the spiciness and fish sauce to your taste and always serve it with fresh raw veggies.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes Serves: 2 to 3
1/4 cup chicken broth (omit if using ground pork or beef)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or leaf lard (omit if using prawns)
5 large prawns or 1 cup ground pork or beef
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 shallot, sliced lengthwise
5 to 7 kaffir lime leaves, chiffonaded
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons rice or coconut vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
Fresh Thai basil, for garnish Cucumber slices, for garnish
Long beans or green beans, for garnish Green cabbage, shredded, for garnish
In a small saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a simmer and add the prawns, green onions, cilantro, shallot, and kaffir lime leaves. Poach, stirring frequently, until the shrimp is pink and firm. Drain off the stock and transfer the cooked shrimp, veggies, and herbs to a small mixing bowl.
Add the lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, red chili flakes, and mint leaves to the shrimp mixture and combine well.
Garnish with the basil, cucumber slices, long beans, mint leaves, and shredded green cabbage.
Ground Pork or Beef
In a wok, heat the coconut oil or lard over medium-high heat.
Add the ground pork or beef and cook until the meat is browned.
Remove from heat and immediately add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and serve. Garnish with basil, cucumber slices, long beans, mint leaves, and shredded cabbage.
Sweet and Sour Chicken and Coconut Soup
Tom Ka Gai
This is Thai comfort food at its finest. I love—adore, actually—this simple, delicious, sweet and tangy soup. There is something truly magical about the sweetness of coconut milk, the tartness of kaffir lime leaves, and the light, delightful flavor of lemongrass, and this soup harnesses all of these amazing ingredients to yield a burst of flavor in every spoonful.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 7 to 10 minutes Serves: 2
1 cup Coconut Milk
1 cup chicken broth or water
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces (bend the stalk in several places prior to cutting to release the flavor)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced galangal (or ginger)
3 straw or white mushrooms, quartered
3 to 4 kaffir lime leaves, stemmed and torn in half (or 1/2 teaspoon lime zest or to taste)
1/2 chicken breast, chopped
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 white onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 small tomato, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Chile Oil for garnish (optional)
In a wok or soup pot, bring the coconut milk and chicken broth to a boil.
Add the lemongrass, galangal, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, and chicken and stir well.
To the simmering soup, add the maple syrup and salt to taste, stir, and add the onion and tomato.
Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
Garnish with the cilantro and chile oil if desired and serve.
Photo Credit: Michael Lang