Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Thai Party Time!
Last weekend we celebrated the birthday of a good friend. The idea was to have a Thai inspired meal and the obligatory bucket of KFC! As you can see his daughter was quite pleased with the spread. Frank and I made the majority of the dishes, as that was our gift to the birthday boy. A quick note on the "bucket". We seem to always have one now at our parties. I am not sure how this tradition began, but in fact it isn't a party without it. The secret to this Thai party is that most of the dishes I learned from my Lao mother in-law. In particular the Laap. It's so easy to prepare. The downside is that it is a lot of prep work, but I have never had a bad batch so it's definitely a keeper in my book! The rest of the dishes are as follows; Lemongrass Marinated Flank Steak, Thai Crab Salad, Chicken Lumpia (Store bought. I need to try and make these, but the ones we bought were really good!), Coconut Shrimp from Trader Joe's (also tasty), fresh mango with mint and pineapple. One thing that is also a "must" have at any event is the crudities platter, which at this one also served as a vehicle for the Laap. Oh, and of course Jasmine rice.
A word of note on the Laap. You can use any meat you like as long as it's in small ground pieces. Last night I made a "vegetarian" version with ground "Quorn" which is a fungus based protein. It ends up tasting like a version of Laap made with pork! It's not a true veggie version as I still used fish sauce, but if you know of a good alternative then try it out! Chicken Laap recipe follows:
1 lb ground chicken
2 tbsp canola oil
3-4 garlic cloves minced
2-3 stalks lemongrass minced
2 tbsp ginger minced
3-4 scallions chopped
3-4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1 cup each fresh basil, mint and Thai or Vietnamese basil coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce (this is really based on personal taste so add a little and then see if you think it needs more)
chili paste or fresh Thai chilies to taste
1/4 cup ground toasted glutinous rice
1. Stir fry the chicken in oil until cooked through then set aside to drain off any excess fat and liquid.
2. Briefly stir fry the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Combine with chicken in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add fish sauce, lime juice, chili paste and toasted rice to taste. Don't add all the liquid at once. Try it with about half of the amounts first as the quantities I have given are based on my taste preferences. You may like yours saltier or more sour.
4. Set the mixture sit for a minimum of 1 hour.
5. Just before serving, taste to adjust the seasoning and add the fresh herbs and scallions.
6. Serve with sticky rice or plain rice and cucumber slices and lettuce.