I like the idea of eating salmon, but for the longest time, the idea of cooking it used to scare me to death. I can’t stand fishy tasting fish. And so, I resigned myself to ordering it in restaurants and never venturing close to it at the market out of fear that I would screw it up. I don’t remember what finally led me to buy my first sockeye fillets, but that night I learned that I didn’t just like salmon – I loved it…and it was a heck of a lot easier to prepare than I ever could have imagined.
Shown here: Broiled Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze served over buckwheat soba and edamame.
I’ve loved Thai cuisine since my first bite…longer ago than I care to admit. When I finally had an opportunity to visit Thailand, I vowed to try something new at every noodle cart, street vendor, and restaurant. Just when I think I’ve found my favorite — the dish that will make me give up all others — I discover another new love. In the summer, I crave the salads filled with vegetables, protein, and most importantly, flavor; they are satisfying without being heavy.
Trying to replicate Thai dishes at home scared the heck out of me, until I learned how crazy easy (and fast) they are. If you’re a fan of the chicken lettuce wraps served in Chinese restaurants, you should really try the bright flavors of Larb Gai, for a change your taste buds (and waistline) will thank you for. BTW, larb means “good fortune” in Thai, so what more excuse do you need for trying this?
As soon as the weather starts to get warm, I get a craving for salad. But I don’t want just any salad; I want a Thai beef salad called Yum Neua Yang Nam Tok. I confess, I’ve based my rating of more than one Thai restaurant solely on how well they balance the flavors in this salad.
Nam tok translates as waterfall, and I’ve heard the name refers to the beads of moisture that rises to the surface of the grilled beef as nears the perfect cooking temperature. Unfortunately, I always remember the story after I’m done grilling the meat. I guess I’m just too eager to eat it!
Once you use fresh basil, it’s hard to go back to the dried stuff. For a couple of dollars, you can get far more that you could need in a week at the local farmer’s market. Ashamed that I was throwing any away, I decided to grow my own in a little planter on my kitchen window sill. But, I swear that little guy sprouts new leaves faster than I can come up with ways to use them, despite my repertoire of Italian dishes. Then I remembered Thai basil, a.k.a holy basil.
Like most Thai stir-frys, Gai Paht Bai Grapao (Chicken Stir-fried with Holy Basil) comes together so quickly that if you’re planning to serve it with rice, you’ll want to start cooking the rice before you even start prepping your ingredients for the chicken, which makes it perfect for a weeknight supper. Oh, and it uses a whole handful of basil leaves, so now you have no excuses for letting them go to waste.