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Gingko Nuts

Kasma Loha-unchit, Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

My Mother and Gingko Nuts

Today is the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. I spent the morning cracking and peeling gingko nuts – a nourishing, medicinal food that mother absolutely loved. During the last several years of her life, she was frail and unable to walk or stand for very long. So every time I went home from across the ocean to visit her, I would bring a big bag of gingko nuts and we would spend precious hours together sitting by the dining table after breakfast cracking and peeling them.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Cracking Gingko Nuts

Cracking gingko nuts

Using a stone pestle, I would gently tap the ridge of the pistachio-sized nuts to crack them and mother would peel off the shell and as much of the paper-thin membrane encasing the kernels as she could. The shelled kernels were then soaked in water to loosen the parts of the membrane that tightly hugged the soft, edible flesh. After the nuts were all cleaned, they were boiled in water sweetened with a little bit of raw sugar or wild honey and that would become her late afternoon snack or a light dessert after a light evening meal. Simply prepared, the nuts retained their delicious flavor and delightful, soft-but-chewy texture. There would be plenty left for many more servings over the course of my visit. Mother always looked forward to her bowl of gingko nuts – they gave her tremendous satisfaction and comfort, while at the same time, nourish her in the evening of her years.

Gingko Nuts

Gingko nut close-up

Cracking and peeling gingko nuts took time, but what better way to spend countless, precious hours with my elderly mother that I would always treasure. We talked and laughed and told stories, but most of the time, we were just silent, cherishing every moment of just being with one another. This activity was the last food prep and cooking activity I shared with my mother, and whenever I crack and peel gingko nuts, I will always remember the many timeless mornings spent with her preparing one of nature’s great healing foods – as well as all the times in my life that I had spent with her preparing nourishing foods for the family and, in the process, learning from her the secrets of cooking, which I now share with my cooking students.

Like my mother, I love both the taste and the texture of fresh gingko nuts. When cooked right, they are soft and chewy, somewhat remiscent of sticky rice. Although the nut has a slightly bitter taste, to her and me and everyone else who loves gingko nuts, it is not unpleasant and is a reminder of its medicinal properties.

Gingko Nuts

Gingko nuts soaking in water

Technically speaking, gingko nuts are not really nuts but the seeds of the gingko tree (Gingko biloba, commonly known as the maidenhair tree). They bear no resemblance whatsover to other nuts in texture, flavor or nutrition. They taste more like some kind of legume or vegetable. Although many Asian markets in the Bay Area carry refrigerated, vacuum-sealed bags of peeled and cooked gingko nuts, these taste awful and should be avoided. Buy only the whole, unshelled gingko nuts from dried goods stores in Chinatown. They look a lot like pistachio nuts in size, color and form, but are pointy at one end. In fact, during her first trip to the United States some forty years ago, mother almost mistook pistachios for gingko nuts. She was very excited to see what she thought were cracked gingko nuts in a supermarket, until she took a closer look. Of course, she quickly learned to love pistachios as well.

Cooked Gingko Nuts

Cooked gingko nuts

I prefer to buy gingko nuts from bulk bins, rather than already bagged in net bags in some Asian grocery stores. That way I can see the individual nuts more clearly and select ones that are large and white and not broken, discolored, moldy or mildewy on the outside of the shell. When cracked and shelled, the kernels inside should be plump and cream-colored; after they’re cooked, they turn a lovely bright yellow color with a radiant sheen. It takes a little work to crack and peel gingko nuts, but it’s well worth the effort and, to those who like to cook and eat healthy foods, this prep work can be a therapeutic activity.

Gingko nuts were introduced into Thailand by the Chinese and all gingko nuts sold in the country are imported from China. Thailand is too hot and tropical a country to grow the temperate-climate gingko tree. The city of Bangkok, which had its beginnings as a Chinese trading post a few hundred years ago, is said to have the largest Chinese population of any city outside a Chinese country (i.e., China, Taiwan, Singapore). In the Old Market (Talad Kao) of Bangkok’s Chinatown, there are many stores selling gingko nuts, both whole unshelled and peeled and cooked. (See picture, below right.) They are also available in many of the city’s shopping centers and marketplaces which have stores or stalls that carry Chinese goods. Chinese restaurants around the city feature dishes made with gingko nuts, including stews, soups, stir-fries and desserts. Often, gingko nuts are cooked in a rice congee along with chestnuts, lotus seeds, red dates and medicinal roots, bark and herbs. They are not only delicious but very nutritious.

Gingko Nut Dessert

Gingko nut dessert - Oni Pae Guay

Gingko nuts have made their way into a few Thai sweet snacks and desserts, which are adapted from the Chinese. One such dessert, called Oni Pae Guay (using the same Chinese name of a common Chinese dessert), is often on the dessert menu of many large Thai restaurants. It takes the form of a creamy, smooth and sweet, mashed taro paste (but less sweet than the Chinese version), topped with slices of cooked Chinese red dates and a few gingko nuts, with the added Thai touch of a salty-sweet coconut cream sauce. Another sweet snack is a soupy pudding of job’s tears (another healing food native to most of East and Southeast Asia – a grain reminescent of barley and often called “pearl barley”), accented with gingko nuts and strips of slivered young coconut meat, cooked in young coconut juice flavored with pandan leaves (a medicinal herb in traditional Thai herbal medicine prevalently used to flavor and color many Thai desserts). This fusion Thai-Chinese dish is both a delicious and healthy snack/dessert. In tribute to my mother and her love of gingko nuts, I introduced this dessert just a little over a week ago in my new Advanced I evening cooking series to commemorate her passing a year ago this month.

Gingko Nuts

Gingko nuts in Bangkok's Chinatown

Gingko nuts are a medicinal food in much of the Orient. They are an excellent antioxidant, rich in vitamins, micronutrients and amino acis, and have become known for their anti-aging properties. Other benefits include improving circulation to the coronary artery and the brain, sharpening of the memory and aiding in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. In traditional Chinese medicine, gingko nuts have been used for thousands of years to strengthen the lung and kidney meridians. They are used as a “yang” kidney tonic to increase energy, reduce the frequency of night-time urination and incontinence, relieve bladder irritations, and reduce excess mucus in the urinary tract and excess vaginal discharge. A tea made from boiling the nuts is used to treat lung weakness and congestion, including coughing with an excess of phlegm, wheezing, and asthma. They are also used to treat hearing loss, dermatological disorders and psoriasis. I particularly like this passage in an article on Chinese healing herbs: “Long-term consumption helps nourish yin, maintain youth, fight aging, expand capillaries, improve metabolism, promote ruddy and healthy look, provide extra energy and grant longer and healthier lives.” But there is a caveat: don’t eat the kernels raw and don’t eat too many in one sitting (7 for children and 15 to 20 for adults) as they can have a toxic side effect for some people.

Now, whenever I peel gingko nuts, I will always remember my mother, who taught me how to cook, who taught me how food is medicine and the first line of defense against illnesses, and who introduced to me a host of exotic ingredients that I still use today and pass on to my cooking students. Her legacy lives on.


Written by Kasma Loha-unchit on October 9, 2013

Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Thai Cooking Class

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

The Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Thai Cooking Class offered by Kasma Loha-unchit in Oakland (San Francisco Bay Area) is a chance to spend a week learning how to cook delicious, authentic Thai food and to feast on the results of your learning. It is roughly equivalent to Kasma’s Beginning and Intermediate Evening Series cooking classes with some advanced class thrown in. There are no pre-requisites.

First up here is a slide show of all of the dishes taught in the class. It’s followed by the Beginning/Intermediate Class menu and at the bottom are links to details, schedules, a blog and photos of the class.

In the Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Thai Cooking Class, students are introduced to nearly all of the main Thai ingredients and cooking techniques – the basics of Thai cuisine. You will be taught how to balance flavors to create authentic Thai food in a series of tasting exercises. You will learn how to use the mortar and pestle to make both simple pastes and complex curry pastes. Although you will learn around 45 different recipes, what your are really learning is how to cook Thai food with or without a recipe.At the end of each day, you’ll have a multi-course Thai feast, the fruits of your learning and labor. You will not find tastier Thai food anywhere in the United States.

The slideshow below will show you some of what you can look forward to when you take this class. (Note: You can check the current Thai cooking class schedule. In 2014 it is being offered from July 7 to 11 and August 4 to 8.)

(You may need to wait a bit for the slide show to load.)


Slideshow
Kasma’s Beginning/Intermediate Class Dishes

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Miang Kam
Garlic-Peppered Shrimp
Garlic-Peppered Pork
Calamari Salad
Massaman Curry
Salmon Green Curry
Oyster Sauce Broccoli
Hot and sour Cucumbers
Steamed Jasmine Rice
Bananas in Coconut Milk
Fried Shrimp Cakes
Cucumber Relish
Pork Salad
Hot and Sour Prawn Soup
Fish Mousse
Basil Chicken
Long Beans
Tapioca Pudding
Chicken Coconut Soup
Mussel Salad
Panaeng Curry
Crisped Whole Fish
Stir-fried Eggplant
Morning Glory
Brown Rice
White Sticky Rice
Black Sticky Rice
Mee Krob
Duck Noodles
Chilli Sauce
Garlic Noodles
Pad Thai Noodles
Rad Nah Noodles
Fried Bananas
Grilled Chicken
Green Papaya Salad
Steamed White Sticky Rice
Chicken Satay
Pork Satay
Shrimp Satay
Peanut Sauce
Cucumber Salad
Grilled Sea Bass
Dipping Sauce

Day 1: Miang Kam (Tasty Leaf-Wrapped Tidbits)

Day 1: Garlic-Peppered Shrimp (Gkoong Tawd Gkratiem Priktai)

Day 1: Garlic-and-Pepper-Encrusted Pork (Moo Tawd Gkratiem Priktai)

Day 1: Spicy Calamari Salad with Lemon Grass, Mint and Lime Sauce (Yam Bplah Meuk)

Day 1: Massaman Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Pearl Onions (Gkaeng Massaman Gkai)

Day 1: Salmon Poached in Green Curry Sauce with Thai Eggplants and Thai Basil (Gkaeng Kiow Wahn Bplah Salmon)

Day 1: Stir-fried Broccoli with Thai Oyster Sauce (Broccoli Pad Nahm Man Hoi)

Day 1: Hot and Sour Wok-Tossed Cucumbers and Tomatoes with Shrimp (Pad Bpriow Wahn)

Days 1 & 2: Steamed Jasmine Rice (Kao Hawm Mali)

Day 1: Fragrant Bananas in Coconut Cream (Gkluay Buad Chi)

Day 2: Savory Fried Shrimp Cakes Served (Tawd Man Gkoong)

Day 2: Sweet-and-Sour Cucumber Relish

Day 2: Spicy Northeastern-style Chopped Pork Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice (Lahb Moo)

Day 2: Hot and Sour Prawn Soup (Dtom Yam Gkoong)

Day 2: Curried Mousse of Red Snapper in Banana Leaf cups (Haw Moek Bplah)

Day 2: Spicy Basil Chicken (Gkai Pad Gkaprow)

Day 2: Stir-fried Long Beans with Roasted Chilli Sauce and Thai Basil (Tua Yao Pad Prik Pow)

Day 2: Tapioca Pudding with Water Chestnuts and Coconut Cream (Dtakoh Sakoo)

Day 3: Chicken-Coconut Soup with Galangal and Oyster Mushrooms (Dtom Kah Gkai)

Day 3: Spicy Mussel and Scallop Salad with Aromatic Herbs and Crisped Shallots and Garlic (Yam Hoi Malaeng Poo Gkap Hoi Shel)

Day 3: Panaeng Beef Curry with Home-made Curry Paste (Gkaeng Panaeng Neua)

Day 3: Crisped Whole Fish Topped with Chilli-Tamarind Sauce (Bplah Rad Prik)

Day 3: Stir-fried Eggplant with Chillies and Thai Basil (Pad Makeua Yao)

Day 3: "Red-Flamed" Morning Glory (a favorite Thai vegetable) (Pak Boong Fai Daeng)

Day 3: Steamed Jasmine Brown Rice (Kao Hawm Mali Dtam)

Day 3: Coconut-Flavored White Sticky Ricewith Mangoes (Kao Niow Mamuang)

Day 3: Black Sweet Rice Pudding with Toasted Coconut and Sesame (Kao Niow Dam)

Day 4: Glazed Crispy Noodles (Mee Krawb)

Day 4: Anise-Cinnamon Duck Soup Noodles (Gkuay Dtiow Nahm Bped Dtoon)

Day 4: Crushed Chilli Sauce for Duck Noodles (Nahm Jim)

Day 4: Garlic Noodles with Barbecued Red Pork (Thai-Style Pasta Salad) (Bamee Haeng Moo Daeng)

Day 4: Thai-style Stir-fried Noodles (Pad Thai)

Day 4: Pan-Fried Fresh Rice Noodles Topped with Chicken and Asian Broccoli Sauce (Gkuay Dtiow Rad Nah Gkai)

Day 4: Fried Bananas (Gkluay Tawd)

Day 5: Thai-style Marinated Grilled Chicken with Sweet-and-Sour Chilli Dipping Sauce (Gkai Yahng Sohng Kreuang)

Day 5: Hot-and-Sour Thai-Style Green Papaya Salad (Som Dtam Thai)

Day 5: Steamed White Sticky Rice (Kao Niow Neung)

Day 5: Chicken Satay (Sateh Gka)

Day 5: Pork Satay (Sateh Moo)

Day 5: Shrimp Satay (Sateh Gkoong)

Day 5: Spicy Satay Peanut Sauce (Nahm Jim Tua)

Day 5: Hot and Sour Cucumber Salad (Yam Dtaeng Gkua)

Day 5: Charcoal-Roasted Striped Bass in Banana Leaf (Bplah Gkapong Pow)

Day 5: Hot and Sour Chilli Sauce (for Striped Bass)

Day 5: Thai-Style Coconut "Macaroon" Cakes (Kanom Bah Bin)

Miang Kam thumbnail
Garlic-Peppered Shrimp thumbnail
Garlic-Peppered Pork thumbnail
Calamari Salad thumbnail
Massaman Curry thumbnail
Salmon Green Curry  thumbnail
Oyster Sauce Broccoli thumbnail
Hot and sour Cucumbers thumbnail
Steamed Jasmine Rice thumbnail
Bananas in Coconut Milk thumbnail
Fried Shrimp Cakes thumbnail
Cucumber Relish thumbnail
Pork Salad thumbnail
Hot and Sour Prawn Soup thumbnail
Fish Mousse thumbnail
Basil Chicken thumbnail
Long Beans thumbnail
Tapioca Pudding thumbnail
Chicken Coconut Soup thumbnail
Mussel Salad thumbnail
Panaeng Curry thumbnail
Crisped Whole Fish thumbnail
Stir-fried Eggplant thumbnail
Morning Glory thumbnail
Brown Rice thumbnail
White Sticky Rice thumbnail
Black Sticky Rice thumbnail
Mee Krob thumbnail
Duck Noodles thumbnail
Chilli Sauce thumbnail
Garlic Noodles thumbnail
Pad Thai Noodles thumbnail
Rad Nah Noodles thumbnail
Fried Bananas thumbnail
Grilled Chicken thumbnail
Green Papaya Salad thumbnail
Steamed White Sticky Rice thumbnail
Chicken Satay thumbnail
Pork Satay thumbnail
Shrimp Satay thumbnail
Peanut Sauce thumbnail
Cucumber Salad thumbnail
Grilled Sea Bass thumbnail
Dipping Sauce thumbnail

Beginning/Intermediate Class Menus

Monday, Day 1, Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Class

  • Miang Kam Tasty Leaf-Wrapped Tidbits (a very tasty finger salad, snack or appetizer – common street food in Thailand)
  • Garlic-Peppered Shrimp (Gkoong Tawd Gkratiem Priktai)
  • Garlic-and-Pepper-Encrusted Pork (Moo Tawd Gkratiem Priktai)
  • Spicy Calamari Salad with Lemon Grass, Mint and Lime Sauce (Yam Bplah Meuk)
  • Massaman Chicken Curry with Potatoes and Pearl Onions (Gkaeng Massaman Gkai)
  • Salmon Poached in Green Curry Sauce with Thai Eggplants and Thai Basil (Gkaeng Kiow Wahn Bplah Salmon)
  • Stir-fried Broccoli with Thai Oyster Sauce (Broccoli Pad Nahm Man Hoi)
  • Hot and Sour Wok-Tossed Cucumbers and Tomatoes with Shrimp (Pad Bpriow Wahn)
  • Steamed Jasmine Rice (Kao Hawm Mali)
  • Fragrant Bananas in Coconut Cream (Gkluay Buad Chi)

Tuesday, Day 2, Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Class

  • Savory Fried Shrimp Cakes Served (Tawd Man Gkoong)
  • Sweet-and-Sour Cucumber Relish
  • Spicy Northeastern-style Chopped Pork Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice (Lahb Moo)
  • Hot and Sour Prawn Soup (Dtom Yam Gkoong)
  • Curried Mousse of Red Snapper in Banana Leaf cups (Haw Moek Bplah)
  • Spicy Basil Chicken (Gkai Pad Gkaprow)
  • Stir-fried Long Beans with Roasted Chilli Sauce and Thai Basil (Tua Yao Pad Prik Pow)
  • Steamed Jasmine Rice (Kao Hawm Mali)
  • Tapioca Pudding with Water Chestnuts and Coconut Cream (Dtakoh Sakoo)

Wednesday, Day 3, Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Class

  • Chicken-Coconut Soup with Galangal and Oyster Mushrooms (Dtom Kah Gkai)
  • Spicy Mussel and Scallop Salad with Aromatic Herbs and Crisped Shallots and Garlic (Yam Hoi Malaeng Poo Gkap Hoi Shel)
  • Panaeng Beef Curry with Home-made Curry Paste (Gkaeng Panaeng Neua)
  • Crisped Whole Fish Topped with Chilli-Tamarind Sauce (Bplah Rad Prik)
  • Stir-fried Eggplant with Chillies and Thai Basil (Pad Makeua Yao)
  • “Red-Flamed” Morning Glory (a favorite Thai vegetable) (Pak Boong Fai Daeng)
  • Steamed Jasmine Brown Rice (Kao Hawm Mali Dtam)
  • Coconut-Flavored White Sticky Ricewith Mangoes (Kao Niow Mamuang)
  • Black Sweet Rice Pudding with Toasted Coconut and Sesame (Kao Niow Dam)

Thursday, Day 4, Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Class

  • Glazed Crispy Noodles (a snack or appetizer) (Mee Krawb)
  • Anise-Cinnamon Duck Soup Noodles (Gkuay Dtiow Nahm Bped Dtoon)
  • Crushed Chilli Sauce for Duck Noodles (Nahm Jim)
  • Garlic Noodles with Barbecued Red Pork (Thai-Style Pasta Salad) (Bamee Haeng Moo Daeng)
  • Thai-style Stir-fried Noodles (Pad Thai)
  • Pan-Fried Fresh Rice Noodles Topped with Chicken and Asian Broccoli Sauce Gkuay Dtiow Rad Nah Gkai)
  • Rice Vermicelli Cooked in Spiced Coconut Cream Sauce (Mee Gkati)
  • Fried Bananas (Gkluay Tawd)

Friday, Day 5, Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Class

Fieldtrip to Asian Markets – 8:00 a. m. to 10:30 a. m.; class 10:30 a. m. to 5:30/6:30 p.m.

  • Thai-style Marinated Grilled Chicken with Sweet-and-Sour Chilli Dipping Sauce (Gkai Yahng Sohng Kreuang)
  • Hot-and-Sour Thai-Style Green Papaya Salad (Som Dtam Thai)
  • Steamed White Sticky Rice (Kao Niow Neung)
  • Chicken/Pork Satay (Sateh Gkai/Moo)
  • Shrimp Satay (Sateh Gkoong)
  • Spicy Satay Peanut Sauce (Nahm Jim Tua)
  • Hot and Sour Cucumber Salad (Yam Dtaeng Gkua)
  • Charcoal-Roasted Striped Bass in Banana Leaf (Bplah Gkapong Pow)
  • Hot and Sour Chilli Sauce (for Striped Bass)
  • Thai-Style Coconut “Macaroon” Cakes (Kanom Bah Bin)

Note: You may have noticed that the Thai transliteration of the dishes is slightly different for the photos in the slideshow and the menu. Please see A Note on Thai Spelling and Pronunciation


Beginning/Intermediate Weeklong Class Links

Note: All links open in a new window.


Written by Michael Babcock, October 2013

Intermediate Thai Cooking Class Overview

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

The 4-session Intermediate Thai Cooking Series offered by Kasma Loha-unchit is taken after the Beginning series. First up here is a slide show of all of the dishes taught in the class. It’s followed by the Intermediate Class menu and at the bottom are links to 4 blogs, 1 on each of the classes. Please enjoy!

In the Beginning series, which is a pre-requisite for the Intermediate Series, students are introduced to most of the main Thai ingredients and cooking techniques – they learn the basics of Thai cuisine. The Intermediate Series introduces more ingredients and new techniques, such as how to fry a whole fish; students learn how to use the mortar and pestle to make basic pastes and more complex curry pastes. Many of the dishes are spicier in the Intermediate series and, as tasty as the food is in the Beginning Series, it’s even tastier in the Intermediate.

The slideshow below will show you some of what you can look forward to when you take this class. (Note: You can check the current Thai cooking class schedule.)

(You may need to wait a bit for the slide show to load.)


Slideshow
Kasma’s Intermediate Class Dishes

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Soup
Noodles
Fish Close-up
Mussel Salad
Chicken Salad
Shrimp Cakes
Fish Curry
Stir-Fried Eggplant
Miang Kam
Panaeng Beef Curry
Seafood Dish
Tapioca Pudding
Grilled Chicken
Green Papaya Salad
Chicken Satay
Satay plus Salad
Peanut Sauce
Fried Bananas

Chicken Coconut Soup with Galanga (Tom Ka Gai)

Glazed Crispy Noodles (Mee Krob)

Close-up of Crispy Fried Whole Fish Topped with Chilli-Tamarind Sauce (Pla Rad Prik)

Spicy Mussel Salad with Aromatic Herbs and Crisped Shallots and Garlic (Yum Hoi Malaeng Poo)

Northeastern-Style Spicy Minced Chicken Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice (Larb Gai or Laab Kai)

Spicy Thai-Style Shrimp Cakes with Kaffir Lime Leaves and Green Beans (Tod Mon Goong)

Sour Tamarind Curry with Fish and Vegetable (Kaeng Som Pla)

Stir-fried Eggplant with Chillies and Thai Basil (Makeua Yao Pad Prik Horapa)

Miang Kam (Tasty Leaf-wrapped Tidbits)

Panaeng Beef Curry (Kaeng Panaeng Neua)

Spicy Southern-style Stir-fried Shrimp and Squid (Pad Ped Goong/Pla Meuk)

Tapioca Pudding with Water Chestnuts and Coconut Cream (Ta-koh Sakoo)

Thai-Style Marinated Grilled Chicken Served with Sweet and Tangy Dipping Sauce (Gai Yang Song Kreuang)

Hot-and Sour Thai-Style Green Papaya Salad (Som Tam Thai)

Chicken Satay (Sateh Kai), ready to eat

Pork and Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce & Green Papaya Salad

Spicy Satay Peanut Sauce Nam Jim Tua - goes on the Satay

Fried Bananas Kluay Tod - a delightfully crunchy outside

Soup thumbnail
Noodles thumbnail
Fish Close-up thumbnail
Mussel Salad thumbnail
Chicken Salad thumbnail
Shrimp Cakes thumbnail
Fish Curry thumbnail
Stir-Fried Eggplant thumbnail
Miang Kam thumbnail
Panaeng Beef Curry thumbnail
Seafood Dish thumbnail
Tapioca Pudding thumbnail
Grilled Chicken thumbnail
Green Papaya Salad thumbnail
Chicken Satay thumbnail
Satay plus Salad thumbnail
Peanut Sauce thumbnail
Fried Bananas thumbnail

Intermediate Class Menus

Intermediate Class #1

  • Chicken Coconut Soup with Galanga (Dtom Kah Gkai)
  • Mee Krob (Glazed Crispy Noodles)
  • Crispy Fried Whole Fish Topped with Chilli-Tamarind Sauce (Bplah Rad Prik)
  • Spicy Mussel Salad with Aromatic Herbs and Crisped Shallots and Garlic (Yum Hoi Malaeng Poo)

Intermediate Class #2

  • Northeastern-Style Spicy Minced Chicken Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice (Lahb Gkai)
  • Fried Shrimp Cakes served with Sweet-and-Sour Cucumber Relish (Tawd Man Gkoong)
  • Sour Tamarind Curry with Fish and Vegetables (Gkaeng Som Bplah)
  • Stir-fried Eggplant with Chillies and Thai Basil (Makeua Yao Pad Prik Horapa)

Intermediate Class #3

  • Miang Kam (Tasty Leaf-wrapped Tidbits)
  • Panaeng Beef Curry (Gkaeng Panaeng Neua)
  • Spicy Southern-Style Stir-fried Shrimps and Squid (Pad Ped Gkoong Bplah Meuk)
  • Tapioca Pudding with Water Chestnuts and Coconut Cream (Dta-gkoh Sakoo)

Intermediate Class #4

  • Thai-Style Marinated Grilled Chicken Served with Sweet and Tangy Dipping Sauce (Gkai Yahng Sohng Kreuang)
  • Hot-and Sour Thai-Style Green Papaya Salad (Som Dtam Thai)
  • Chicken Satay (Sateh Gkai)
  • Spicy Satay Peanut Saucew
  • Fried Bananas (Gkluey Tawd)

Note: You may have noticed that the Thai transliteration of the dishes is slightly different for the photos in the slideshow and the menu. Please see A Note on Thai Spelling and Pronunciation


Intermediate Class Blogs


Written by Michael Babcock, September 2013

Yok Yor Marina Restaurant in Bangkok

Michael Babcock, Sunday, September 15th, 2013
Yok Yor Sign

Yok Yor Marina Restaurant sign

Yok Yor Marina Restaurant – ห้องอาหารยกยอมารีน่า – in Bangkok is one of the restaurants where Kasma takes her small-group tours to Thailand. It specializes in fresh seafood and we have always gotten an excellent, tasty meal there. Yok Yor Marina is situated right on the Chao Phraya river. As you sit and eat you can watch the boats go by on the river. Although it’s nothing fancy, the food is always tasty and good and there’s usually a very nice cooling breeze coming in off the river. There’s a second restaurant – Yok Yor Klongsan – nearby. (See below for address and link to a map.)

Be sure to click on the images (especially the food pictures) to see larger version. We also have a slide show of the food pictures at the bottom of the page.

Yok Yor Interior

Inside Yok Yor Marina

Yok Yor View

View from Yok Yor Marina

These two pictures show one of the tables at Yok Yor Marina where Kasma’s trip members are enjoying one of many feasts on the tour during her shorter 19-day trip to Central and Northern Thailand (Trip B) in January 2012. The interior is nothing fancy but comfortable. The other picture shows one of the many barges going past on the Chao Phraya river.

I’m going to mostly let the pictures of the dishes Kasma orders speak for themselves. In a typical meal here she would order 6 dishes and rice to be eaten family style.

Duck Curry

Roast Duck Curry

Garlic Pepper Squid

Garlic Pepper Squid

Kasma almost always orders the dish to the upper left – Roast Duck Curry. It’s a red curry with succulent duck as the meat. Quite nice. On the right we see Garlic-Peppered Squid with a dipping sauce. The squid is nicely cooked, meaning it’s tender and not too chewy. (It’s quite easy to overcook squid and turn it rubbery.)

Seafood Laab

Seafood Laab

Crab Dish

Crab Dish

Above left  we see a Seafood Laab (also transliterated as Larb), fresh, spicy (as a laab usually is) and crunchy from the toasted rice. Kasma always gets one of a couple of crab dishes here, such as the one to the upper right.

Steamed Fish

Steamed Fish

Crab in Yellow Curry

Crab in Yellow Curry

Yok Yor Marina does a very good Steamed Fish, upper left. To be good, the fish must be very, very fresh indeed: this one was. The above right Crab in Yellow Curry is quite good. Lots of liberated (from the shell) crab meat in a yellow curry sauce; succulent and tasty.

Fried Fish with Green Mango

Fried Fish with Green Mango

Sour Pork Ribs

Sour Pork Ribs

Kasma sometimes orders the Fried Fish with Green Mango that is above left. Another frequent item on the table for our groups is the Northern Sour Pork Ribs on right; the tasty, fermented meat is served with a variety of accoutrements (the shallots, greens, peanuts, garlic, often chillies), which are popped in the mouth with a piece of the rib. Yummy.


Slideshow – Some Dishes at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Duck Curry
Garlic Pepper Squid
Seafood Laab
Crab Dish
Steamed Fish
Crab in Yellow Curry
Fried Fish with Green Mango
Sour Pork Ribs

Duck Curry at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Garlic Pepper Squid at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Seafood Laab at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Crab dish at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Steamed Fish at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Crab in Yellow Curry at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Fried Fish with Green Mango at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Sour Pork Ribs at Yok Yor Marina Restaurant

Duck Curry thumbnail
Garlic Pepper Squid thumbnail
Seafood Laab thumbnail
Crab Dish thumbnail
Steamed Fish thumbnail
Crab in Yellow Curry thumbnail
Fried Fish with Green Mango thumbnail
Sour Pork Ribs thumbnail


Yok Yor Marina Restaurant
885 Somdet Chaophraya 17 Rd
Klong San Bangkok 10600
Tel. 02-863-0565-6, 02-863-1708
Service time : 11.00 – 24.00 hours
Website for Klongsan branch: www.yokyor.co.th


Written by Michael Babcock, September 2013

Grilling Seafood in Thai Cooking

Kasma Loha-unchit, Sunday, September 1st, 2013

The hot tropical climate of Thailand lends itself to outdoor cooking. Grilling (in Thai – yang or pow) is one of the methods used in Thai cuisine. This blog talks a bit about how it is used in cooking seafood (taken from Kasma’s book, Dancing Shrimp: Favorite Thai Recipes for Seafood).

Grilling Fish

Grilling fish in Nong Kai

Fish on Grill

Fish on the Grill in Nong Kai

(Click images to see larger version.)

With charcoal a main source of cooking fuel until recent times, grilling has emerged as one of the most popular ways of cooking. No restaurant is complete without a fired-up grill and no marketplace can exist without a vendor grilling something or another – whether this be catfish on a stick, or skewered meat balls.

Seafood to Grill

Seafood to grill

Restaurant Grilling

Grilling at a restaurant

Along the coast near the capital city, strings of open-air talay pow (“grilled seafood”) restaurants line the beaches, serving up delectable, super-fresh seafood caught the same day. Just about every kind of seafood is tossed on the charcoal grill; some are served simply with a spicy dipping sauce while others find their way into salads, curries and nameless other dishes. The two pictures above were taken at the night market in the coastal city of Hua Hin.

Fish on Grill

Fish grilling on a kettle BBQ

Grilling is always done over real wood coals; sometimes coconut husks and dried palm fronds are thrown in to produce extra smoke, giving the grilled foods a marvelous smoky aroma. To re-create the delectable flavors of Thai-style grilled foods, a charcoal grill or barbecue kettle is essential, along with long-handled spatulas, tongs and basting brushes as cooking aids. Grilling on a gas grill basically produces similar results as broiling, with a subsequent loss of flavor, unless pieces of charcoal or wood chips are also used.

Grilling Basket

Catfish in a grilling basket

Basket on Grill

Using the grilling basket

Seafood may be grilled directly on the charcoal grill, or in a wire cage with handle – also called grilling basket or hinged grill. This device comes round, square, rectangular or fish-shaped and comprises of two wire racks hinged together on one side to hold food between them. The grilling basket is especially useful for grilling tender whole fish with skin still attached; not only does it make turning easy, it keeps the fragile fish from breaking apart should the skin stick to the charcoal grill.

Grilling Bass

Bass grilled in banana leaves

Seafood is also wrapped in banana leaves before placing on the grill. Although the smoky dimension is reduced, the leaves enhance with their own special fragrance, especially if they are lightly charred. The seafood is usually marinated with spices before being wrapped and essentially gets steamed in its own juices. For a smokier flavor, partially unwrap, or cut an opening on the top of the leaf packet, towards the last few minutes of cooking.


Slideshow – A Few Finished Grilled Seafood Dishes from Kasma’s Classes

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Salt-Encrusted Fish
Catfish with Sadao
Shrimp Satay
Grilled Striped Bass 1
Grilled Striped Bass 2

Charcoal-Grilled Salt-Encrusted Fish Stuffed with Crushed Herbs, Served with Hot Thai Chilli-Lime Sauce (Bplah Yad Sai Samunplai Pao)

Charcoal-Grilled Catfish, "Sweet Fish Sauce" and Sadao or Neem Leaves (Sadao Nahm Bplah Wahn Bplah Doog Yahng)

Shrimp Satay (Sateh Goong)

Charcoal-Roasted Striped Bass in Banana Leaf (Bplah Gkapong Pow)

Charcoal-Roasted Striped Bass in Banana Leaf (Bplah Gkapong Pow)

Salt-Encrusted Fish thumbnail
Catfish with Sadao thumbnail
Shrimp Satay thumbnail
Grilled Striped Bass 1 thumbnail
Grilled Striped Bass 2 thumbnail

Here are some other articles on different methods used in Thai cooking.


Note: This blog originally appeared on page 79 of Dancing Shrimp: Favorite Thai Recipes for Seafood, published in 2000 by Simon & Schuster. All text is Copyright © 2000 Kasma Loha-unchit.

All photographs are Copyright © 2011, 2012 & 2013 Kasma Loha-unchit

Written by Kasma Loha-unchit, 2000

Salted Mackerel – Pla Kem

Kasma Loha-unchit, Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Among highly salted fish, my personal favorite is salted mackerel – pla kem. If you like preserved anchovies, you will most likely fall for salted mackerel, too.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Salted Mackerel 1

Vacuum-packed salted mackerel

Salted Mackerel 2

More vacuum-packed salted mackerel

Look for narrow oval steaks of salted king mackerel either vacuum-packed in plastic and either frozen or in a refrigerator, or stuffed in glass jars covered with oil. Pan-fry in a small amount of oil for a couple of minutes on both sides until well-browned and flaky. Drain from oil and sprinkle with thinly sliced shallots, thin rounds of Thai chillies and fresh lime juice. Because it is very salty, only a small bit of the mackerel is mixed and eaten with plain steamed rice. My mother and I share a fondness for salted mackerel and just a tiny piece can help us polish up a big pot of rice, feeling very satisfied!

Salted Mackerel

Salted mackerel

Salted mackerel is also used as a flavoring ingredient, such as in the Chinese steamed chopped pork with salted fish. Use it as you would salted anchovies. It makes a particularly tasty flavoring for stir-fried Asian broccoli, or broccoli rabe (see recipe below). Flake the flesh of pan-fried salted mackerel and toss in with the greens. Instead of salted mackerel, small pieces of fried, dried salted mudfish may also be used.

When working with any kind of dried and salted fish, beware of the strong fishy odors likely to be released during cooking, especially frying. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation in the kitchen to disperse the lingering fumes.


Asian Broccoli with Salted Mackerel (Ka-nah Pla Kem)
Recipe by Kasma Loha-unchit

Prepared Asian Broccoli

Prepared Asian broccoli and garlic

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Asian or Chinese broccoli (ka-nah)
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1 small piece (about 2 oz.) salted mackerel (pla kem)
  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 Tbs. Thai oyster sauce
  • 2-3 tsp. fish sauce (nam pla), to taste

Method

Starting from the stem-end, cut the Asian broccoli at a very sharp slanted angle 1/2 inch apart to make pieces about 1 1/2 inches long. Peel the bottom of the larger, more fibrous stems before cutting. For pieces with leaves attached, cut the leaves into 2-inch segments. Do not make it a point to detach the leaves from the stems; there should be pieces of stem with some leaf attached. Keep the pieces from the bottom half of the stems separate from the more leafy upper half.

Frying Mackerel

Frying salted mackerel in oil

Fried Salted Mackerel

Fried salted mackerel

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Fry the salted mackerel in the oil for 2-3 minutes on each side until well-browned. Remove from wok.

Stir-Frying

Stir-frying the Asian broccoli

Asian Broccoli Cooking

Continuing to stir-fry

Increase heat to high and swirl in the remaining oil. When it is smoking hot, add the chopped garlic, stir for 10-15 seconds, then toss in the bottom stem pieces. Stir-fry half to one minute before adding the leafy pieces. Continue to stir-fry until the leaves have mostly wilted. Sprinkle with oyster sauce and 1 tsp. of fish sauce, stir and mix well.

Broken Salted Mackerel

Salted mackerel in chunks

Adding Salted Mackerel

Adding salted mackerel to the stir-fry

Break the mackerel into small chunks and toss in with the vegetable.

Stir-fry a little while longer until the broccoli is tender, but still crisp, and a vibrant green color. Taste and add more fish sauce as needed to the desired saltiness. Stir well and transfer to a serving dish.

Serves 6 with rice and other dishes in a shared family-style meal.

Finished Dish

Asian Broccoli with Salted Mackerel

Close-up of Dish

The finished dish, up close

Notes and Pointers:

A very nutritious bitter green vegetable readily available from most Oriental produce markets, Asian or Chinese broccoli has insignificant flower buds and is prized for its deep green leaves and firm, crisp stems.

Select a bunch with small tender stems. If the stems are large, the bottom half may need to be peeled to remove the tough fibers. Cutting the stems at a very sharp slanted angle helps break up the fibers that run the length of the stalks, giving them a more tender texture. The sauce can also penetrate the vegetable better through the longer cut that exposes the interior of the stems.


Slideshow on Salted Mackerel

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.

Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Salted Mackerel 1
Salted Mackerel 2
Salted Mackerel
Prepared Asian Broccoli
Frying Mackerel
Fried Salted Mackerel
Stir-Frying
Asian Broccoli Cooking
Broken Salted Mackerel
Adding Salted Mackerel
Finished Dish
Close-up of Dish

Salted mackerel in a vacuum-pack, one variety

More vacuum-packed salted mackerel

Salted mackerel, removed from the package

Asian broccoli, cut at a slanted angle, plus chopped garlic

Frying salted mackerel in peanut oil until brown

Fried salted mackerel, browned and ready for the next step

Stir-frying the Asian broccoli and garlic

Continuing to stir-fry the Asian broccoli and garlic

The salted mackerel is broken into small chunks

Adding the chunks of salted mackerel to the stir-fry

Asian Broccoli with Salted Mackerel (Ka-nah Pla Kem)

A close up of Asian Broccoli with Salted Mackerel (Ka-nah Pla Kem)

Salted Mackerel 1 thumbnail
Salted Mackerel 2 thumbnail
Salted Mackerel thumbnail
Prepared Asian Broccoli thumbnail
Frying Mackerel thumbnail
Fried Salted Mackerel thumbnail
Stir-Frying thumbnail
Asian Broccoli Cooking thumbnail
Broken Salted Mackerel thumbnail
Adding Salted Mackerel thumbnail
Finished Dish thumbnail
Close-up of Dish thumbnail

Note: This blog originally appeared on pages 42 to 43 of Dancing Shrimp: Favorite Thai Recipes for Seafood, published in 2000 by Simon & Schuster. All text is Copyright © 2000 Kasma Loha-unchit.

All photographs are Copyright © 2011 & 2013 Kasma Loha-unchit


Written By Kasma Loha-unchit, 2000