It’s somewhat surprising, but Pad Thai, despite being one of Thailand’s national dishes, is from Vietnam. Originally influenced by Chinese cuisine, the dish was relatively unknown in Thailand until the 20th century. It actually was part of a Thai government campaign in the 1940s to create a national dish that both reflected the Thai spirit and also increased rice noodle production to help propel their economy. There’s a really interesting history of the dish to be read here.
This recipe is a long time coming, and something we’ve been cooking for years. For a while I was content with pre-made sauces like Mae Ploy’s, but I was never happy with its high sugar content and the fact that it has MSG in it. So I decided to work out how to make it from scratch, and I couldn’t be happier with the resulting product. This is the real deal.
And to make things even more interesting, for this particular photo session I thought it would be neat to try out Cappello’s gluten-free, grain-free fettuccine noodles instead of our usual rice noodles, and I was surprised by how well they worked! Instructions on how to make them with traditional rice noodles and zucchini noodles are included as well.
Like I had mentioned in my Panang curry paste recipe, Panang (also spelled พะแนง, Penang and Phanaeng) curry is a mild Thai curry that gets its name from the Malaysian island of Penang. It is similar to Thai red curry but is richer and creamier, and typically uses crushed peanuts as a major part of the dish (I personally use cashews). It is often served with beef, pork, chicken or shrimp in Thai restaurants in the United States, although beef is the traditional meat used in this dish. We love to make this curry with all of these meats, but typically we use chicken for its taste and texture.
Panang (also spelled Penang and Phanaeng) curry is a mild Thai curry that gets its name from the Malaysian island of Penang. It is similar to Thai red curry but is richer and creamier, and typically uses crushed peanuts as a major part of the dish (I personally use cashews). It is often served with beef, pork, chicken or shrimp in Thai restaurants in the United States, although beef is the traditional meat used in this dish.
While the pre-made Panang curry pastes from Maesri and Mae Ploy are both excellent, they are more spicy than I would like. Reducing the amount of paste used or adding extra coconut milk just makes for a bland meal, so I decided to develop a mild Panang curry paste of my own that could then be adjusted for spiciness. As an added bonus, my recipe is also free of added sugar, unlike the pre-made pastes!
Click here to see this paste in action, in my Chicken Panang recipe.
Satay is a dish that originated in Indonesia, and can be found in many Asian restaurants as an appetizer. It’s basically meat on a stick, so it has a universal appeal. Making an authentic satay dish is easy, provided you have access to the ingredients (galangal, turmeric, and lemongrass in particular).
Satay sauce is primarily a dipping sauce in the United States, but it takes on a different role in Southeast Asia, where it originated; in addition to being a dipping sauce, it is used as a general purpose condiment to provide depth to dishes, and is the pivotal ingredient in many dishes such as gado-gado in Indonesia. In Australia, it’s a flavor you can have added to kebabs (to delicious effect, I might add), and is used as a condiment in many parts of Europe as well.
Because peanuts are not Paleo-friendly, I replaced the peanuts with a combination of walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts. Surprisingly, you can’t really tell that there aren’t any peanuts in this sauce – it’s the combination of shrimp paste, garlic, coconut milk, and palm sugar that really give this sauce its signature taste. If you have no restrictions on peanuts, I made no other substitution so you can just throw them back into the mix.
If you’ve eaten at a Thai restaurant, you’ve probably had sticky rice. In many parts of Southeast Asia (Laos and Northern Thailand, for example) eating with your hands is still totally cool, and sticky rice is how they get the job done.
Sticky rice is also referred to as “glutinous rice” but that doesn’t mean it has gluten – it simply refers to its glue-like texture. It can also be labeled as sweet rice or mochi rice. It also comes in short or long grain varieties – the rice I used is short grain.
I like Thai green curry. It tastes fresh. I like adding to its natural freshness by using partially-cooked vegetables, whose crunchiness really complement the soft chicken.
Let me warn you that the curry paste I used in this recipe is significantly more spicy than I thought it would be. If you’re down for some spiciness, this dish should hit the spot.
Satay is a dish that originated out of Indonesia. It’s basically just marinated, skewered, grilled pieces of meat. It’s most commonly found with chicken or beef, but like Japanese yakitori, you can find all sorts of weird varieties as well if you look hard enough. This is my shrimp version.
The most critical ingredient for this dish is turmeric, which gives the meat its yellow coloring. It’s somewhat hard to find but you’ll only need to get a small container, because a little bit goes a looong way.