Kroeung (Cambodian Curry Paste)

6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1?2 tbsp. prahok
18 kaffir lime leaves, stems removed and sliced into very thin ribbons
12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
8 shallots, roughly chopped
6 stalks lemongrass, inner cores only, roughly chopped
1 (4-inch) piece fresh galangal, peeled and thinly sliced
1 (4-inch) piece fresh turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced

In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium. In a large bowl, mix the prahok with the kaffir lime leaves, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, and turmeric. Scrape the aromatics into the wok and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the ingredients are soft and beginning to lightly brown, about 14 minutes.

Scrape the ingredients into a food processor and let cool completely. Process the ingredients into a lightly chunky paste, stopping the machine to scrape down the sides of the food processor as you go, and then scrape the curry paste into a container.

Seal the container and store the curry paste in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Cambodian Beef Kabobs

6 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, soft inner cores thinly sliced
6 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp. ground turmeric
3 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1?2-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. honey
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 tbsp. fish sauce
6 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. sweet paprika
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

In a food processor, combine the lemongrass with the lime leaves, garlic, shallots, ginger, and turmeric, and pulse until a smooth paste forms.

Scrape the paste into a large bowl, and add the beef, honey, oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and paprika.

Toss the beef until evenly coated in sauce, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Light a grill. Thread the beef onto wooden skewers, and then grill, turning as needed, until charred and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve while hot.

Lao Soop Pak

1 C Chinese cabbage, cut in small, loose leaf pieces 7 cm (2 – 3in)
1 C cauliflower flowerets (or other white vegetable)
3 fingers sized amount of bamboo shoots, pre-cooked, finely sliced (optional)
3 long beans, cut into 4 cm (1½ in) pieces (or 10 green beans)
1 bunch sawtooth herb, three fingers-width, tailed and cut in half (or coriander leaves)
1/2 – 1 C collard greens (or bok choi ), cut in 4 cm (1½ in) pieces
2 – 3 stems dill, cut into 4 cm (1½ in) lengths
2 very large or 4 medium oyster mushrooms, torn in 1 – 2 cm (½ in) wide shreds
1 large bowlful water with 1 teaspoon of salt for refreshing vegetables
1/2 large head garlic, strung on toothpicks or satay sticks for grilling
3 or more red chillies (amount to taste or omit), strung on toothpicks for grilling
2 thin slices galangal or ginger
2 T to 1/3 C sesame seeds, dry roasted. A mixture of white and black seeds is desirable, although white alone is fine.
2 T soy sauce, padek or fish sauce (or to taste)
8 C water

Method

Prepare the vegetables as described, placing the readied ones in a large bowl. Add water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Rinse vegetables in the brine, picking off any wilting pieces. Let soak briefly.

Put fresh water into the bottom of a steamer or a sticky rice pot and bring to the boil.

Toast the sesame seeds. Place in a mortar. Pound until most of the seeds are broken. Remove and set aside.

When the water comes to the boil, tip the vegetables into the steamer, allow them to drain and then place the steamer over the boiling water. Steam for 10 – 15 minutes depending on preferred crispness.

Roast the garlic and chillies. Cool. Remove their charred skins. Add the peeled garlic, chillies and galangal/ ginger to the mortar. Pound until a paste forms. Adding a dash of salt helps the blending.

When the vegetables are ready, toss them briefly in the steamer to expel the steam. Invert the steamer over a low-sided, wide bowl. Let the vegetables cool. Sprinkle them with the pounded sesame seeds and the pounded galangal/ginger and garlic paste. Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Gently use your hands to mix the ingredients together well. Taste and adjust with sauce if needed.

Turn into a serving bowl, garnish with coriander and serve as part of a Lao meal. This dish goes well with sticky rice or can be used as a picnic dish.

Luang Prabang Watercress Salad

Salad

1 large bunch watercress (or 1 cup Chinese or regular celery leaves or 1 cup rocket)
4 eggs, hard-boiled, whites only; reserve the yolks for the dressing
2 C mesclun using whatever greens are available
1/2 C coriander leaves
1/2 C mint leaves
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
10 cherry tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes

Dressing

1/3 C light oil
4 T garlic, chopped
4 egg yolks, chopped
3 T sugar
2 T fish sauce
2 T soy sauce
4 T lime juice

To finish

1/4 C dry-fried peanuts, chopped

Method

Heat a wok or pan and dry fry the peanuts. Set the nuts aside to cool. When cool, chop.

Heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and fry until golden brown, stirring frequently so it does not burn (about 2 minutes).

While the garlic is frying, mix together the chopped egg yolks, sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce in a deep bowl or screw-top jar. When the garlic is ready, remove it from the heat and cool. Add the garlic and its cooking oil to the mixture. Whisk or shake to blend well.

Add the lime juice and mix. Taste and adjust the sugar and lime juice.

Wash the watercress thoroughly in clean water; drain and discard any thick stems. Cut cherry tomatoes in halves. If using larger tomatoes, cut into wedges about 1 cm (½ in) thick at the widest part.

Assemble the salad on a large, flat plate or in a bowl by forming a bed of watercress which is topped with the other herbs and leaves, tomatoes and sliced egg whites in a nice pattern. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and sprinkle the chopped peanuts over the whole. Serve the salad immediately, as it will quickly wilt.

Variations

For a sweeter version, reduce the lime juice; for a sourer version, increase the lime juice. Do not reduce the sugar amount. Equal or other sugar substitute may be used as a replacement sweetener.

The number of eggs can be reduced to 2 or 3. The dressing will be thinner.

Save any remaining dressing in a screw-top jar and refrigerate for later use.

Jeow Bong (Luang Prabang Chili Sauce)

3 large heads of garlic (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup shallots
1 thumb-size piece of galangal chopped into small pieces
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt
1 – 2 tablespoons dark red, roasted chilli flakes
2 teaspoons palm sugar
Water or fish sauce to thin, if needed

Roast or grill the garlic and shallots until cooked through. Meanwhile, in a mortar pound the galangal.

Peel the garlic cloves and shallots, add to the mortar along with the salt and pound to a paste. Stir in the chilli flakes. Add the sugar and pound to mix. Taste and add water, fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegetarians) or more chilli flakes.

Transfer the mixture to a small frying pan and dry fry on a very low heat for 10 minutes until rich, dark and aromatic. The flavour develops over time.

Khao Soi Meat Sauce (Lao Pork Sauce) for Soup

4 big cloves garlic
1 cup fermented soybean paste (actually 3 heaped Chinese soup spoons)
3 – 4 tablespoons (actually 2 heaped Chinese soup spoons) mild chilli powder, brightly coloured – not from bird’s eye chillies
3 – 4 tablespoons (actually 2 heaped Chinese soup spoons) coarser dried chilli flakes
750 g fatty pork such as belly pork, minced (3 big handfuls when minced), or a mix of pork and beef which is evidently especially delicious.
1 cup palm oil (or other vegetable oil, but not coconut, mustard or olive oil)
Salt to taste
MSG to personal taste
2 tomatoes, sliced in small wedges

Put the garlic cloves and ½ teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pound for a minute.

In a hot wok or frying pan, add the cup of oil. When heated, slip in the garlic mixture and fry while moving it about until the garlic is browned. Before it burns (!!), add about 1 cup of tua nao paste and stir to mix. Continue to fry together until the oil returns.

Add the two types of chilli and keep on frying, while moving the sauce around the pan.

Add the tomato slices and stir fry until the moisture comes out. The paste is ready when it smells good and the tomato has started disintegrating.

Add the minced pork, 2 teaspoons more salt (or to taste) and 1 – 2 tablespoons of MSG. (Remember, this is a very concentrated sauce expected to last a few days refrigerated (hence the oil, salt and pork fat) and to serve many people).

Keep on frying until the meat is thoroughly cooked then thin with water to a thick Western savory mince consistency. Then, um, add another tablespoon of MSG and stir to mix in. Continue to cook until the oil returns again and then transfer to a deep bowl to cool. In the cold, the fat in the sauce will solidify. It is the oil, chilli and reduced water content that preserves the sauce.

For soup:

Rice noodles

250 g pork bits

Half a pot of water (2 – 4 litres depending on how many people you have to feed, ours fed four with plenty left over. Don’t worry about the quantity because all the flavour comes from the sauce and condiments added later. This bland soup is to heat the noodles and cook the pork which is added to the dish when serving.)

Bring the water to the boil. Add the slices of fatty pork. Simmer away while preparing the accompaniments until the meat is cooked.

Accompaniments and garnish:

Finely chopped or sliced spring onions and coriander leaves, 1 tablespoon for each bowl being served

Pea or soy bean tendrils (or Chinese flowering cabbage), raw or blanched, to your taste

Lettuce, fresh

Coriander (cilantro), smallest you can get, roots removed, fresh

MSG or Soy sauce

lime wedges or juice

crunchy and feather-light beef rinds

Put two thirds of a bowl of noodles in each bowl and top it up with the boiling stock.

Add the pork, a good hit of the meat sauce (1 very heaped Chinese spoonful, 3 – 4 level tablespoons) and sprinkle over the chopped spring onion and coriander.

Each bowl is served piping hot and ready to doctor with any or all of the condiments and additional spicy meat sauce.

Tai Neua Jaew (Laotian Ginger, Garlic, and Soybean Paste)

1 knob ginger, the size of three fingers
6 big garlic cloves
15 small dried chillies, not bird’s eye chillies
3 – 4 tablespoons (2 rounded Chinese soup spoons) fermented tua nao paste or substitute such as miso or Korean fermented bean paste
3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
1 tablespoon MSG
Salt, added depending on the saltiness of the khao soi paste

Pound the garlic in a mortar with half a teaspoon of salt for a minute and then add the ginger. When the paste is well integrated and squishy, remove it to a bowl and set aside.

String the chillies on a skewer and roast over the fire or gas flame or under an electric grill until semi blackened but not immolated. Deskewer into the empty mortar and pound until well mixed and broken up.

Then add thefermented bean paste and pound again. Put the ginger and the garlic paste back into mortar, pound a bit and add the sugar and MSG until all is well mixed. Taste and adjust the levels of salt, sugar and MSG to suit your own taste.

Burmese Butter and Lentil Rice

1 1/2 cups raw split-pea lentils
2 1/2 cups raw rice
2 large onions
4 T ghee
4 cardamom pods
2 cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tsp turmeric or 1/16 tsp saffron
1 cup shelled green peas
1 T salt

Wash and soak lentils ahead of time to shorten cooking time (if using corn, boil cobs, then cut off kernels). Boil lentils until halfway done. Wash and drain rice, slice onions.

Heat ghee, add spices and let aroma rise. Add half the sliced onion. When it begins to brown, add turmeric, remaining onion, green peas, lentils and salt. Stir well. If saffron is used, dissolve in 2 T hot water and add to the 4 1/2 cups of water for the rice.

Add rice, mix well, then add 4 1/2 cups water. Cover and cook over high heat. Stir once or twice before it comes to a boil. As water is absorbed, lower heat, shake pot with lid on. Continue to cook very slowly until rice is dry and fluffy, shaking pot once or twice more.

Jaew Mak Len (Lao Grilled Tomato Salsa)

Jaew Mak Len

For grilling:
10 medium tomatoes
1 head of garlic
1 large shallot
chiles (your preference)

For mixing:
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 large handful of green onions, chopped
a glug of fish sauce
squeezed lime juice to taste
pinch of salt

First grill the vegetables, skins on, until blackened. (Laos traditionally cook over an open flame, not gas.) Peel off garlic and shallot skins, as well as the most blackened parts of tomato and chile skin.

Pound the vegetables in a mortar with a pinch of salt.

Add chopped cilantro, green onion and fish sauce; pound a bit more. Taste. Add more of anything needed. If it is too sour or bitter, add a pinch of sugar. Serve with sticky rice.

Hmong Chile-Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 T fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp MSG, optional
1-2 fresh red chile peppers, minced
1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
4 green onions, white and green parts
1 small tomato, chopped (or 6 cherry tomatoes or 15 grape tomatoes)
2 T chopped raw peanuts
1 T peanut butter

In a small bowl, mix fish sauce, lime juice, salt, sugar and MSG if you are using it. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Next, add the chile peppers, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes and peanuts. add the peanut butter and stir until the sauce is of uniform consistency.

Laotian Stir Fried Fish with Chili and Holy Basil

A healthy portion of white fish, thinly sliced in small pieces (anything that holds together well, without an overpowering fishy flavor)
Lots of garlic
Hot red chile, sliced thinly
Pinch of palm sugar
Pinch of bouillon or 1/4 cup soup stock
Drizzle of dark soy sauce
Heap of fresh holy basil

Heat the garlic and chile in a hot wok with oil. Stir. Toss in the fish and stir-fry quickly on high heat. Add a little water, sugar and soup or bouillon. Stir, then add basil and soy sauce, primarily for color. That’s it! It’s quick.

The dish should be hot, but not be overly sweet. It is similar to the Thai stir-fry with chile and basil, “but different cooking. In Thai, more oil, more sugar. In Lao, little oil, little sugar, more chile.”

Fiji Curry

8 cloves garlic
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons fenugreek
2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
3 tablespoons curry powder (I used a Malaysian chicken curry powder)
hot red chilies to taste
chopped cilantro leaves
pinch of sugar
1/2 cup plain yogurt
whatever meat or veggies you like, chopped (okra, purple eggplant, onion, yellow bell pepper and tomatoes)

Using a mortar and pestle (or food processor), mash garlic and salt. Add a bit of water to form a paste. Add cumin, fenugreek, coriander, mustard, curry and chilies. Pound until thoroughly mashed, adding water if necessary to form a paste.

Next, toss a sliced onion into a bit of olive oil and a pinch of the curry paste and cook until brown. Add the remaining paste, the cilantro leaves and enough water to cover the mixture; bring to a boil. Toss in your veggies and cook until tender, adding more water if necessary. Add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors. Just before removing from heat, stir in the yogurt. Top with additional cilantro leaves.

Mee Goreng

oil, for the pan
2 eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons kecap manis
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon sesame or shallot oil
1-2 teaspoons chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 large boneless skinless chicken thigh, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 links Chinese sausage, sliced
1/2 lb shrimp
1 lb fresh egg noodles (or cooked dried noodles)
2 cups bean sprouts
green onions/chives, cut into 2 inch lengths
tofu puffs
crispy shallots
fresh cilantro
thai chili
lime

Start off by making the egg ribbons. Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a small non-stick frying pan on medium low heat. Add a touch of oil and swirl to coat. Pour in a thin layer of egg and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan, much like a crepe. Cook, untouched over low heat until egg sets and releases. Use a rubber spatula to flip and cook for another 10-15 seconds. Remove from the pan and repeat until all the eggs are cooked. Let cool slightly, roll and slice into ribbons.

In a small bowl, mix together the kecap manis, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, sesame oil, chili sauce and white pepper. Set aside.

Heat up a generous amount of oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until aromatic. Turn the heat up a bit and add the chicken and cook until lightly golden. Add the Chinese sausage and shrimp. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through, the Chinese sausage is crispy, and the shrimp is cooked. Add the noodles, bean sprouts, tofu puffs, and the sauce and toss until everything is well coated and the noodles are heated through.

Enjoy immediately topped with crispy shallots and cilantro. Serve with lime for squeezing and chili for spice!

Burmese Beans

2 1/2 cups / 535 grams dried beans, such as pinto, navy, or cannellini
Salt
1/3 cup peanut or vegetable oil, plus more for finishing
1 sliced yellow onion
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and minced (about 1/3 cup)
3 tomatoes, diced
Pinch of chile flakes
2 green onions, sliced (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)

Rinse the beans well in a colander. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with 2 inches of cool water, and let soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Drain the beans, transfer to a 4- to 6-quart pot, and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.

Remove from the heat, stir in 2 teaspoons salt, and let the beans stand in their cooking liquid for at least 30 minutes (or refrigerate them in their cooking liquid and finish the dish the next day). Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid (you’ll have about 4 cups).

In the same pot used to cook the beans, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt and cook until the onion has softened, about 6 minutes. While cooking, mash the garlic against the side of the pot to break it down.

Stir in the ginger and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and chile flakes and cook until the tomatoes have softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the beans, another teaspoon of salt, and 2 cups of the saved cooking liquid. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the beans achieve a creamy consistency. Taste, adding more salt as desired (beans do need a fair amount, so don’t shy away from the salt if they taste flat). If the beans are too thick, stir in a little more of the cooking water and continue to cook.

Remove from the heat. (At this point, the beans can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Reheat gently before serving.) Drizzle peanut oil on top to serve, if desired. Serve with lime wedges if you want the beans to taste a bit brighter

Lemon Chicken Stir-Fry

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or trimmed thighs, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Steamed rice, for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 4 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 3 minutes.

Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil, season with salt and pepper and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, 3 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Season with salt, pepper and soy sauce.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, top with the sliced scallion and serve with rice.

Coconut Pandan Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients
1/2 cup chia seeds
1.5 cups hot water
14 ounce full fat coconut milk canned
1/2 teaspoon Pandan extract
1/3 cup sweetener or sugar

Mix the hot water in with the chia seeds. Using hot water causes the chia seeds to absorb the water and swell much faster than tap water–which means your pudding will be done sooner and you can eat sooner!

I mean, that’s really the only thing you need to know. Other than that, mix everything together, and let it chill.

The chia will make it gel and set into a pudding, and coconut milk will make it creamy, and the pandan will make it delicious.

Burmese Noodle Bowl

2 medium yellow onions
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon shrimp paste (belachan)
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 14 oz can coconut milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 packet rice noodles
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced and fried to a crisp
3 eggs, boiled and chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine
2 limes, quartered

Peel and chop the onions and garlic cloves into chunks. The size doesn’t matter as they are to be ground.

Place the onions, garlic, ginger, shrimp paste, and water in a blender or food processor. Pulse well till you have a smooth paste.

Clean and chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Wash well and drain.

Heat canola and sesame oils in a Dutch oven. Add the onion paste and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes to get the rawness out of the onions.

Add turmeric and chili powder. Stir to incorporate them into onion mix.

The chicken goes in next. Sauté the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring well to coat with spice mixture.

Add coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Stir well and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the flame, and let the soup come to a simmer. Cover the saucepan and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Fill a large, deep saucepan with water and bring to a boil on a high flame. Add rice noodles to the boiling water. Take the saucepan off the heat and let rice noodles steep in water for 20 minutes. Drain well and keep aside.

Assemble the soup with a large helping of rice noodles in a soup bowl. Top with ladlefuls of soup. The noodles should swim in coconut broth.

Add pieces of chicken. Garnish with fried shallots, chopped egg, a sprinkling of chili powder, some cilantro, and a large squirt of lime juice.

Red Curry Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 cup cilantro leaves with stems, loosely packed
1/4 cup water
1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
One 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ancho chile powder (or other milder chile powder)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 Thai chile, roughly chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
One 14 ounce can light coconut milk
One 14 1/2 ounce can chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup shredded, cooked chicken (preferably dark meat)
3-4 ounces thin dried Chinese egg noodles (or in a pinch, sub angel hair pasta)
Fresh cilantro, Thai basil, thinly sliced shallot, sliced thai chile, chile oil, and lime wedges for serving

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, water, shallot, garlic, ginger, chile powder, cumin, turmeric, and Thai chile (if using). Process until a paste is formed.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pot over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the paste and cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, lime juice, fish sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the chicken and dried noodles, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are cooked.

Divide soup between three to four bowls and top with fresh cilantro, Thai basil, sliced shallot, sliced chiles, a drizzle of chile oil, and a lime wedge. Serve immediately.