3 Authentic Thai recipes that will transport you to Thailand instantly
Compiled by: Al Clapper
Peak tourist season comes with overcrowded popular destinations and if you’re like us, you would much rather pick a different destination than navigate the crowds. If you’re burning to experience Thailand’s traditional Thai massages, its legendary floating markets and their delightful Thai cuisine, but you want to sidestep the peak season (November to March), we have a way for you to at least experience a glimpse of it. We’ve compiled a list of 3 Authentic Thai recipes, courtesy of Fan Club Thailand, that will transport you there and offer you the most authentic taste of Thai cuisine from the comfort of your own kitchen. In fact, we’re confident that these sumptuous supper suggestions will keep the wanderlust at bay. For now, anyway.
Pad Thai Koong (fried noodles with king prawn)
A global symbol of Thai cuisine, Pad Thai is an incredibly popular and equally delicious dish, a complementary combination of sweet, sour and savoury flavours. A stir-fried noodle dish typically prepared with rice noodles, the mix of ingredients like fresh bean sprouts and crunchy peanuts offer a unique combination of textures. Commonly stir-fried in a wok, the duo of sauces – fish sauce and tamarind sauce – bring authentic Asian flavours to life, while the tangy lime wedges and fresh coriander add a welcome burst of freshness and the chilli a cheeky kick.
Serves: 2 people
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
250g king prawns (this also works really well with beef, chicken or vegetables)
90g rice noodles
2 spring onions chopped
6tbsp fish sauce
3tsp tamarind sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp preserved turnip (not essential, but a notably delicious inclusion which isn’t actually hard to find)
1 tsp red chilli
2 tbsp crushed peanuts
Soak rice noodles for 30 minutes in room temperature water.
Heat and season the wok. Add king prawns (or your chosen substitute) and stir fry for a few minutes.
Add eggs and stir fry. Before the eggs are fully cooked, add the noodles, sugar and turnip. Stir fry until all ingredients are mixed well and noodles are wilted.
Add the tamarind and season with fish sauce. Then add bean sprouts, green onions and the red chilli. Stir fry quickly to ensure all ingredients and flavours are combined harmoniously.
Remove from heat and serve with crushed peanuts and lemon wedge on the side and garnish with coriander.
Som Tam (Thai papaya salad)
An unmistakable Thai signature dish, essentially, Som Tam is a spicy papaya salad. Ideally, the green papaya mustn’t have ripened yet. This adds a slight crunch to the texture, but it also requires you to shred the papaya into easily digestible pieces. Now might be a good time to mention that green papaya is difficult (but not impossible) to come by in South Africa. Crunchy cucumber makes for a perfectly suitable substitute. Almost exclusively comprising fresh ingredients – with the optional exception of dried prawns or shrimp – Som Tam is quite a light meal. The complexity lies in the contrast of textures and flavours, resulting in a unique salad that boasts a tanginess with an underlying spice.
Serves: 1-2 people
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
1 large green papaya (or 2 small ones)
1 garlic clove
Handful cherry tomatoes (halved)
Handful peanuts (roasted or fried)
5 snake/long beans or a handful of French beans
1-2 Thai bird’s-eye chillies or one large red chilli if you don’t want it too spicy
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs tamarind juice
2 limes squeezed (save the empty limes)
1 tsp palm sugar dissolved in boiling water
6-8 dried prawns (optional)
Peel the skin off the papaya, cut in half and scrape out the seeds.
Grate the papaya with a Julienne peeler or grater.
Mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl. The sauce should be sweet, sour and salty.
Pound the chilli and garlic in the mortar and pestle (or mixing bowl), then add the beans and dried prawns (if using prawns). Bruise and then add the papaya, tomatoes and peanuts. I prefer not to use a comma before and.
Pour in the sauce.
With a large spoon in one hand and the pestle in the other (this may take some practice), scoop and pound until everything is well combined, and the juice of the tomatoes has made its way into the dressing.
Scoop onto a plate, making sure you get all that lovely dressing.
Serve with absolutely anything or just eat it on its own.
Beef/Chicken Massaman Curry
Massaman curry is a wildly popular dish for visitors to Thailand. What sets it apart from other Thai curries is its mild heat suitable for any palate and tolerance, its fragrant fusion of spices and its creamy, velvety sauce. The chunks of meat and potatoes add a rich, stew-like heartiness to the curry, while the roasted peanuts tease a playfully crunchy texture. The complex flavours of the spices, combined with the silky sweetness of the coconut milk, create a harmonious balance that does well to perch this Thai curry atop the tourists’ list of favourites.
For the curry paste:
1 ½ tsp of coriander seeds
½ tsp of cumin seeds
4 cardamom seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
10 whole dried red chillies, soaked to soften
6 cloves of garlic
1 stem fresh galangal
2 stems of lemongrass
1 tsp of kaffir lime rind
½ tbsp of sea salt flakes
½ tbsp of white peppercorns
1 tbsp of shrimp paste
For making the curry:
500ml can coconut milk
2 tbsp massaman curry paste
500g stewing beef steak, cut into large chunks or 600g chicken thighs/drumsticks
300g small/new potatoes, peeled
3 small onion, halved
50g roasted peanuts
4 kaffir lime leaves (optional); available from Thai shops or dried from supermarkets
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
4 star anise (optional)
1 tbsp palm or soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce (or 1/2 tbsp salt)
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Add all the ingredients for the curry paste together and mix well.
Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut milk in a large pot with a lid. Add the curry paste and fry for 5 minutes with low heat.
Then add the beef or chicken and stir-fry until well coated and sealed.
Stir in the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook at least 30 minutes for beef, or 15 minutes for chicken, until the meat is tender.
Add the potatoes, onion, lime leaves, cinnamon, sugar, fish sauce and most of the peanuts and then let it simmer for another 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and then serve with jasmine rice.
References: Pad Thai Koong: Recipe courtesy of Kim Kaewkraikhot, Chef Director and owner of the Chaophraya restaurant group, featured on www.fanclubthailand.co.uk | Som Tam: Recipe courtesy of chef, Gary Butler, featured on www.fanclubthailand.co.uk | Beef/Chicken Massaman Curry: Recipe courtesy of Thai chef, Nawamin Pinpathomrat, featured on www.fanclubthailand.co.uk.