September 16, 2005

thai cuisine night

My version of Pad Thai. A favorite pancit alternative. A craving for something sweet, salty & spicy which is what Thai cuisine is all about. Pad Thai just requires one indispensable ingredient, bean sprouts. Without it I guess it's just not right. My husband's allergic to shrimps, I can't use them but boiled chicken strips work quite well. Don't forget the finely chopped or grated garlic, lots of them! Chopped cilantro, sliced scallions and chopped toasted peanuts or walnuts ( I used walnuts) are good to sprinkle on top right before serving.
The fresh-picked ingredients for this thai-inspired dish, I'm proud to say, are mostly harvested from our backyard. I have since acquired small pots of kaffir lime and lemongrass from a specialty nursery around here. Kaffir lime isn't easy to find, not available at the Home Depot or other gardening stores. We're just lucky to have found it. The dish calls for thai basil leaves but I substituted pepper leaves which we have a lot of. Pepper leaves I thought would work since we Filipinos know how good they are in Tinolang Manok ( chicken soup with pepper leaves & ginger ) and what a good substitute! The pepper leaves complement the richness of the coconut milk and blended well with the other flavors. A very colorful & comforting dish.
Thai cuisine has always been one of our favorites. The coconut milk in this dish mixes well with plain jasmine rice. I like the rice to soak up the rich sauce so I prefer this dish as a rice topping. Very thin beef strips work well, cooks fast, perfect for a quick meal. When I was younger, I never cared for dishes with coconut milk, I must admit I've missed a lot. It was only lately when my sister-in-law (who grew up in Quezon province where coconuts are plenty) started cooking guinataang langka (young jackfruit with coconut milk) that I began to like it. Now I like anything with coconut milk. My husband has absolutely no problem with Thai cuisine, he likes anything that's spicy. I usually chop up additional chilis to serve on the side for him.

Bibingka Mix which comes in a box available in Philippine or Oriental stores is what I used to make these muffins. Additional sour cream, about 2 tbsps., made them lighter & fluffier. I just made a mistake setting the oven temperature a bit too high, causing the muffin tops to brown quickly & set before the center was done, but I quickly turned the heat down to 350 degrees and I guess was able to save them from burning. It would have probably risen more if I got the setting right in the first place. These muffins were a perfect snack or dessert with our tea later.

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