Tag Archives: Thai Food

How about Thai tonight, honey?

I wonder what is it about Thai food that gets most people’s gastric juices churning?  Is it the nam plaa (fish sauce), the spicy taste of red chillis or the mixture of sweet, tangy and spice all mingled together?

I had the pleasure of dining with a friend,  passionate foodie and fellow blogger mny at a Thai eatery of her choice.  Kawan kawan, let me tell you this: I was so very excited that the pavlovian tendency to salivate was immediately activated with the memory of eating dishes like Phad Thai and Tom Yam Kung as soon as I alighted at Montparnasse métro on my way to Thai Panthong.

It was a hot and humid day, one of the record hottest days in Paris since the late 1800s, I was told.  The air around the Montparnasse area was stifling.  It almost reminded me of being back in Asia.  I was sweaty, hungry and terribly lost.  For those of you who’ve been to Montparnasse, you’ll know what I mean.  When you exit the grey monstrosity of  le station Montparnasse-Bienvenue, you’re faced with an open space that almost causes one to be a little agoraphobic.  You’re basically in a square with roads going in every direction, left, right and centre. Added to that, there are about one hundred people moving at super sonic speeds on their way to somewhere else, whilst you are looking lost and deserted.  Which way do you turn?  I knew that I had to get onto the Aveneu du Maine in order to find rue de l’Ouest, number 37 (or was it 28?)  but the Ave de Maine is a very long street as most streets in Paris are. Do I take a left or a right to get onto rue de l’Ouest?  My imap for some reason didn’t help that day, so I took a risk and asked a Parisian news vendor for directions.  Well, as you may have guessed, his answer was the proverbial shrug of his Parisian shoulders which left me nonetheless wiser.  I should have bought a magazine, it occurred to me later, maybe then, he’d have pointed me the right way.  Haven’t I learnt that in order to get my back scratched I have to scratch the scratcher’s back in return?

All my hard work at finding the resto paid off when I finally ran into Panthong to find mny seated zen-like waiting for me.  The perfume of Asia arrested my attention and I was immediately at peace.  Familiar aromas of spices, wok-fried ingredients and the fragrance of rice assaulted my nostrils.  What a place! I knew it would be authentic just from all the smells mixed in the hot humid air.

We perused the menu and settled on Som Tam Poo for starters.  I’m a fan of green papaya although not of the mature variety.  This salad is a NE Thai dish made with nam plaa, chillis and lime juice mixed with dried shrimps so small you hardly notice they’re there.  I wanted to try the version with crab as I’ve not had that before.

Som Tam - So yum!

The crab was really a baby one marinated in nam plaa.  It’s so tiny that it was served still in its shell.  Those little beige puffy things were deep fried pork crackling, dehydrated so that they kept their crunchiness.  It was so divine that I had 3 of them. I know it’s not great for cardiac conditions but what the heck! It was too sedap to stop at one…. and besides, pork fat is meant to give one shiny smooth skin as the mainland Chinese girls will tell you.

I wanted some sort of Thai curry for the main course and veered between the Green Thai Duck Curry and the Red King Prawn Curry.  It was a difficult choice but I decided to stay on the seafood theme and ordered the Chou Chi Kung  – a dry red curry with King Prawns.

Chou Chi Kung

The dish tasted every bit as vibrant as it looked.  Creamy coconut sauce over barbecued King prawns garnished with cilantro (coriander) and chives.  It married well with the Khao Niew served in a bamboo basket.

Sticky Glutinous Rice

Mny fancied something spicy.  She settled for phad khii mao.  This simple but flavoursome noodle is wok fried with minced pork (chicken will work too) snow peas, sliced chillis and whole pepper corns.  It’s so easy to magic up even a drunkard can make it, so the story goes.  And so the name of this dish stuck for khii mao means drunk in Thai.

Funny,  I thought, the Italians have spaghetti alio olio– long pasta tossed in olive oil infused with garlic – and the brits have the kebab.  In Britain, drunken nights out are followed by a naan or pitta bread wrapped with slivers of grilled lamb smothered with chilli and garlic sauce eaten en-route home.  One is so drunk and hungry that this rather generous parcel of yumminess is devoured before the key even gets through the key hole or one’s tongue starts to smart from the heat of the chilli sauce.

Drunkard tossed noodles

If the phad is still not fiery enough, you can always accompany it with this:

Nam Plaa with Chilli and lime juice

All good things are sugared coated, a favourite saying I’ve often heard.  So it is only natural that our lunch ended with dessert.  I had bananas in a sesame flavoured coconut milk.  This is really one of my favourite Thai desserts, next to mango with sticky rice.  I had to forego that since I’ve already had quite a bit of glutinous rice.  The coconut cream was both savoury and sweet, akin to the beurre salé, so famous in Paris patisseries.

Creamy Coconut milk with Bananas

My partner in crime ordered the bualoy sarm see – little taro balls in 3 colours immersed in coconut milk.  This was equally delicious.

Bualoy Sarm See

During lunch, the conversation veered from events happening in and around Paris, what our children were up to at school and the recent floods in Thailand that caused many to be homeless and the rice fields to be ruined.

Mny had a brainstorm that night.  She decided to organise a Charity Luncheon at a Thai resto to raise funds for her country folk.  This luncheon will take place on November 14th, just after the Toussaint holidays.

Kawan kawan, if you can, please come and support this good cause.  All the proceeds will go towards helping the needy in Thailand.  We will eat Thai, drink wines that have been specifically selected by a resident wine connoisseur that pair with Thai flavours and be in the company of friends.  Place your reservations in the comments box below.

Thai Panthong Restaurant (closed Sundays)

37 rue de l’Ouest, 75014 

01 43 22 03 25

Charity Luncheon:

Date: Monday, November 14th from 12:30pm
Venue: Im Thai Restaurant
8 Rue de Port Mahon 75002
Metro Opera

An Angelic Farewell

Yesterday I had to prepare a salad for a pot luck luncheon held at AH’s home where she was preparing to pack up and take off to Shanghai.  It was her special way of opening up her home once again so that her friends can come together for one more pot luck before she finally leaves Paris.  AH had been an angel to many women during her sojourn in Paris, bringing them joy and laughter whilst still busy decorating her homes (yes, homes),  shopping, cooking and taking care of the daily things that mothers and grandmothers have to see to even when their children have grown up, flown the nest and have children of their own.  For AH, she has to do this long distance. Think of the logistics this involves, kawan kawan – having to deal with crises in different time zones is mind boggling indeed.  Not that AH has many crises to deal with, she is blessed with 4 wonderful and beautiful children and one gorgeous grandson who adores her.

But pot luck lunches are as pot luck lunches are: you have to bring a dish to share! And this being an all Asian ladies pot luck lunch, the dishes had to be Asian, of course, in keeping with the theme.  Imagine my excitement, kawan kawan!  I was salivating before the lunch hour even approached.  Asian pot luck lunches are ze best, in my books!  Real McCoy Asian dishes!  Yummmmms!  What could bring me more joy?

What do I bring?  I drew the straw for a veggie dish.  Hah!  That is really up my street, me being the 5 fruit and veg queen.  So I decided to make my version of a Thai shrimp/prawn/gambas salad.

This was what I purchased for the dish:


First, I marinaded the prawns with a clove of minced garlic, Shoashing wine (you can use sherry), chopped coriander/cilantro, a dash of soya sauce and a couple of turns of the salt mill of salt with a squeeze of lime juice from half a citron vert. Look:

Marinaded prawns

I also added a sprinkle of Piment d’Espelette.  Remember that?  But use chilli flakes if you can’t find the piment.  Then I set the prawns aside whilst I washed the salad leaves and chopped up the celery sticks (I used about 6 stalks)  and fennel.  The fennel is best sliced very thinly.

I also bought some cooked shrimps/prawns/gambas to mix with my raw prawns. I sautéed the raw prawns in some olive oil, adding more Shoashing wine to create a jus.  When the prawns were just cooked enough (you don’t want them too cooked), I transferred them to a dish and proceeded to coat the ready cooked prawns with the juices left in the pan.  This way the cooked prawns will not taste too bland.  I find it quite strange to find prawns that are ready cooked in Europe. I first discovered this when I arrived in England 20 years ago.  In Asia, all seafood is sold raw because the point is that you want to cook them yourself, no?  In any case, prawns in England, France, Italy and Spain (that is, Europe) come cooked. Raw prawns are more expensive, if you can find them (these days, not difficult) and you have still to cook them, so inconvenient for some people with busy lives. That I can understand.  And to be honest, the cooked prawns taste quite good and is an easy ingredient to throw over a salad and into fried rice.

I decided to mix the two types for this salad.  Nothing smells as good as raw prawns sautéed with garlic and olive oil.  Prawns when cooking just emit this aroma that reminds me of Sunday mornings when my mother is making a stock from the shells and heads of the prawns that she’d washed and prepared for lunch.  The stock, which infuses the house with its prawny perfume, she will add to the Hokkien Prawn Noodle that she will be cooking later.  That, kawan kawan, is Sunday morning bliss!

Well, as some of you may know, I try to emulate the food smells of Asia as much as I can in my European kitchens, both in London and Paris.  And yesterday, my Parisian cuisine smelled almost close to home.  This was what I cooked:


That had to be set aside to cool before being added to the salad.

Every salad has to be dressed.  The elegance of a salad is in its dressing.  To go with the Asian theme, I made a salad dressing from sesame oil, soya sauce, lime juice, black vinegar and sweet Thai chilli.  I also added half a teaspoon of my father’s secret recipe chilli sauce.  He DHLed me a bottle a month ago and I am taking my time to go through it.  This sauce is made from a guarded family recipe which unfortunately I cannot share.  Let’s just say that its easy enough to make but you really have to get the proportions of lime juice, sugar, salt, ginger and garlic right.  Daddy has made it through the aghak aghak way for many years until he discovered through this guess-guess method that measurements make better chilli sauces. It’s all a science, kawan kawan.

Here are the ingredients for the dressing:

Salad Dressing

There is no need to add sugar since the Thai chilli is already sweetened.  The lime juice is important as limes feature prominently in Thai cuisine.  I used half a lime in this dish because there is already Chinese vinegar added.  And this is the result:

Voilâ! Salade Aux Crevettes à la Thailande (tweaked)

Don’t forget to toss the salad with the dressing first before adding the prawns.  I also retained the prawn juices and added it to the salad to enhance the flavour.  I really liked it and so did the ladies who lunched.

I hope you enjoy this wonderfully easy to prepare salad too, kawan kawan.  This is the best time of the year to enjoy salads with spring in the air and summer fast approaching.  Tell me what you think.