Category: Thai (Page 2 of 2)

Too Asian: Yes, I Am Cooking More Asian Food & Yes, It’s Short Ribs

“Bev, I just want to make sure that the whole thing is not too Asian, ’cause that’s not my style.” 
Those who followed this past season of Top Chef will remember the infamous moment when Heather sternly forbade Beverly from cooking “too Asian.”  Despite the fact that Heather only cooked “rustic American food.”  And that Sarah mostly cooked Italian food.  Or Italian food gone anti-griddle wack.
Sarah also scolded Beverly, steering her away from cooking those damn short ribs again.
I’m more like Beverly that I’d like to admit.  I’m kind of awkward.  I’m Korean.  I cook and eat a lot of Asian food.  I run into walls.  I drop things.  I have a tendency to be spacey.  And I have an announcement.
Things are about to get all Asian up in here.  And they’re going to involve short ribs.  

Traditionally cut galbi short ribs don’t grow on trees in this neck of the woods.  In the fall, I found frozen Korean short ribs at the Everyday Mart for $40 a box.  For my budget, they were pricey, but turned out as good as versions I’ve tried in Korean restaurants.
This weekend, I had a $6 package of non-Korean short ribs in my freezer and I was determined them into galbi.  Fortunately, their long soak in galbi marinade rendered them silky and succulent.

Because this cut of meat is usually slow-cooked, I cut them into slices and soaked them for 18 hours in galbi marinade, to break down its connective tissue.

I served the short ribs along with lettuce for wrapping, julienned carrots, tart kimchee, gochujang, and Thai sticky rice.

Thai rice is usually steamed in a traditional metal pot and basket set.  Sticky rice is a delightful treat for a tired palate.  Plus, it’s a fun, moldable tool to transport food to mouth.  A pot and steamer basket will run about $10.

Both are available at the Asian & American Market in Fargo, ND for $13.  Look for glutenous or sweet rice from Thailand.  I found several varieties at the Asian & American Market ranging from $6-14.

I know what you are thinking. Don’t. 

This meal is definitely slow food.  Plan to marinate your kalbi overnight and soak your rice the morning of.

Marinating Your Galbi
I used the same galbi marinade recipe from my post Flipping Amazing Galbireducing the quantity for my short ribs.  Feel free to vary from the recipe and, as always, add more or less ingredients to taste.  This time around, I reduced the sugar, honey, & soda and added two, thinly sliced Thai chilies.  The Asian pear is essential to tenderizing the meat.

My lovely sea foam green bowl.

1/2-1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 Asian pear, grated with juices (available at Hornbachers)
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 onion, peeled and grated, with juices
1 Tablespoon of grated ginger (you can leave the skin)
2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of honey
2 1/2 Tablespoons of sesame oil
1 Tablespoon of ground cayenne pepper or fresh chilies
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Lemon-lime soda, about 20 ounces

Simply, mix the ingredients together and add the short ribs.  Marinate in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.

To cook, drip off the extra marinade and cook on a hot grill or pan until the meat reaches your desired level of doneness.

Serve with Thai sticky rice, julienned vegetables, gochujang, kimchee, and lettuce for wrapping.

To Make Thai Sticky Rice
Pour as much sticky rice as you need into a large bowl.  Rinse until the water is mostly clear.  Swish the rice around in the water and gently pour out the water, repeating a few times.

Allow the rice to soak in the clear water for at least four hours.  Since I hadn’t made sticky rice for years, I enjoyed this refresher from Blazing Hot Wok whose author recommends soaking while at work.

Fill the pot with a few inches of water and heat to medium-high.

Drain the rice and pour into the steamer basket.  Place the basket over the pot and cover with a lid.

Steam the rice for about 10-15 minutes after the water starts to boil.  Gently shake the basket and try to flip the ball of rice so the other side can steam evenly.  Keep tasting the rice until its texture is tender but not mushy.

When its finished, place in a bowl and cover with a towel.  You can also buy a traditional basket for holding cooked rice.

P.S.  The oldest 27-year old is now on Twitter.  You can follow me @JeniEats.  

Two Leela Thai Impressions

We’re hopelessly hooked on Thai food.

And we miss our favorite remedy for a tired Friday evening, take-out from Bangkok Thai Deli, hidden inside a nondescript Asian grocery store in St. Paul’s Frogtown.

While we were home during Thanksgiving, we indulged in Jake’s favorite peanuty Pad Thai and spicy seafood curry.  I still think about the chewy strip of coconut rice we shared, freshly hacked from a bamboo tube with a cleaver.

One of the first questions to which we sought answers when we moved to Fargo was where to go for Thai food.  Several individuals suggested Thai Leela, the first Thai restaurant in North Dakota.

Our initial visit occurred soon after we moved, when we were living amongst mountains of boxes.  We chose the usual Pad Thai with chicken, but ordering the next two dishes proved to be challenging.  I was informed the online menu was outdated and the items I requested were no longer offered, including a mock duck stir fry with Thai basil.

“Is Thai basil different than regular basil?” asked the employee.  I settled for any type of spicy stir fry with tofu and vegetables.  We also ordered the Black Pepper Garlic Saute with Beef, extra spicy.

As we paid our tally, the employee enthusiastically repeated “It’s going to be so damn good!”
Jake declared the Pad Thai (bottom left) his second favorite rendition.


This version of Pad Thai was not over-dressed in sauce.  Even better, the sauce was not too sweet and the dish contained pleasing amounts of green onion, chicken, and scrambled egg.

The Black Pepper Garlic Saute with Beef (upper right) and fried tofu stir fry (below) were also nicely flavored.  To my delight, the tofu stir fry did, indeed, include Thai Basil.

We enjoyed the freshness of the vegetables and minced garlic in the beef, though neither dish was especially spicy.  The sauces tasted of savory umami, but lacked the fish sauce flavor or fermented funkiness we have grown to love.

Leela Thai: Take Two
The Thai food craving hit more recently, so we returned to Leela Thai.  I inquired about some kind of spicy stir fry with mixed meats.  A slight language barrier, combined with my surrounding acoustics at Target complicated the process.  Therefore, when the employee suggested a dish, I replied “ok.”  Our tally before tip was $24.73.

Over time, Jake has grown accustomed to the following conversation:

Jake: “What did you order?”
Jeni:  “I don’t know.”

Another variation:

Jake: “What did you order?”
Jeni:  “Blank
Jake: What’s in “Blank?”
Jeni: “I don’t know.”

This happens often; sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

The Pad Thai with chicken was less appealing than our first visit as it lacked tangy sauce and the noodles looked and tasted anemic.  I dearly missed the scorching kiss of wok breath that makes stir fry dishes so compelling.

The seafood curry was more flavorful.

Similar to the stir fry dishes from our last visit, the light sauce tasted wonderfully savory.  I had requested the dish extra spicy (emphasis on extra spicy), with a result that was spicier and funkier than our first visit.  However, it still wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped.

The vegetables were fresh, the squid was tender, and the shrimp were snappy.  My least favorite part of the dish were the mussels on the half shell which tasted dry and chewy.  I don’t play mussel roulette.

The seafood curry equalled two small servings with no hope for seconds.  I realize seafood is an expensive protein choice, but would have loved to eat more filler vegetables.

Our takeout box of rice was loosely packed and partially filled (or partially empty).  You decide.

In conclusion, we were more satisfied with our first visit to Thai Leela.

I’m not in love with Thai Leela, but certainly would not necessarily remove it from our rotation.  Though, we’d also like to return to Samurai and try the Thai restaurant in Moorhead.

Leela Thai Cuisine
1450 25th Street SW
Fargo, ND 

On’s Thai Kitchen: My first, non-ammoniated crab.

May 15, 2011
On’s Thai Kitchen
1613 University Ave W.
St. Paul, MN 55104

Deprivation can lead to some strange fascinations.

My mother viewed cooking more as a necessity than pleasure.  She began to enjoy trying different recipes when I was in college.  I never saw a real onion or clove of garlic until I experimented in my own kitchen laboratory in college.

During my childhood, I grew up reading cooking magazines and watching cooking shows on television.  I watched Lidia Bastianich and Rick Bayless on PBS, Great Chefs of the World on the Travel Channel, and Anthony Bourdain in A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network.  I used to bike ride to the Galaxie Library and borrow 10 cookbooks each visit.

As a result, I have longstanding fascinations with certain foods that developed from a childhood of admiring, not tasting.  Examples of my food fascinations include shellfish such as bivalves, lobsters, and crab, eggplant, lamb chops, and stinky cheeses.  On a related sidenote, a couple years ago I was convinced I had gluten allergy (which I don’t) and remained gluten free for most of a year.  I now have a residual bagel obsession.

On Sunday, Jake and I embarked on what began as a quest to eat my first whole, bone-in fish.  A few people on Chowhound recommended choosing a fish from the menu at On’s Thai Kitchen.  I quickly abandoned my quest for a fish once I noticed crab.

Thai iced coffee, $3
Jake ordered a Thai iced coffee.  Overall, I enjoyed the strong coffee flavor.  I am a fan of adding sweetened condensed milk to coffee and tea, but the sweetness almost bordered on “cloying.” 
Beef laab, Thai Style, $7.99
We ordered this beef lab at a medium-spicy level.  We considered the laab to be satisfying spicy, meaning sweat inducing but not inedible.  The laab contained a generous portion of beef and fresh vegetables and herbs.  I especially enjoyed the intense lime flavor and savoriness of the toasted rice powder.  I have tried laabs with various protiens from Bangkok Thai Deli, True Thai and Amazing Thailand and prefer On’s version.  
Sticky rice, $3
For an extra charge, you can order a basket of sticky rice to eat with your laab.  
Pad-phong ga lee, $16.99
Pictured above is a stirfried dungenous crab in a yellow curry sauce with green onions and scrambled eggs.  I adore this crab.  The curry was warmly spiced and sweet.  The crab was plumply filled with flaky meat that was easy to remove from the shell.  Typically, yellow curries aren’t my first choice, I but slurped as much sauce as I could from the crab shell and spooned it over the accompanying rice.  
The first time I ordered my own crab was this past winter at a local, high-end restaurant.  A chilled, whole dungenous crab was offered as the evening seafood special for a similar price.  The small crab’s meat was sparse and dry and tasted strongly of ammonia.  I will think twice before ordering a seafood special.  
On a nostalgic visit to Red Lobster, I was turned off by the crab legs’ ammoniated flavor.  
On’s Thai Kitchen provided me with a warm and succulent crab do-over.  
Pad Thai with chicken, $8.99
Jake wouldn’t be Jake if he didn’t order Pad Thai with chicken.  All of the ingredients were cooked well and the vegetables were fresh.  If you enjoy a sweeter Pad Thai, you may enjoy this version.  Our preferences lie with peanuty versions that are more savory than sweet and have a thicker sauce, like you would find at Bangkok Thai Deli.  
All in all, I had a lovely dinner at On’s.  The service was warm and friendly and I welcomed the curried crab like a gift.  There are many other interesting menu items I haven’t seen before and a whole, fried, three sauce fish I would like to try.  
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