Hello all beautiful people out there! I am so sorry for the lack of posts; I’ve started a new job on a yacht that is in its last month of its build before getting launched in September. So right now life is more about kitting out a kitchen/galley than cooking in one. I am having so much fun though and hopefully you will have some new recipes to read soon. In the meantime, here are a few photos from my neighborhood here in the beautiful Netherlands.
The best thing about making a long journey from east to west is the jet lag (as long as you don’t have to work I should ad). I love sleeping in in the mornings – you know that feeling of the absolute right temperature underneath your duvet, you are awake but just enjoying resting with your eyes closed or maybe you are finishing that book that you’ve been trying to read for the last six months – you get my point!? Now here comes the jet lagged bit, since I never wake up before my alarm I never get to enjoy those magic moments in bed, yes I admit Im a exceptionally good sleeper and if I don’t get woken up I just keep on sleeping BUT when jet lagged … I wake up early!! Oh the joy, this morning I opened my blue at four o’clock and got time to be cozy in bed and could go for a early walk before the rest of the house got up!
During my walk I also got reminded of how beautiful Sweden is in the summer time. The sun on my back made it almost warm enough to take my sweater of and I didn’t even mind sneezing every few minutes (hay-fever) because the beauty of all those green plants around me.
Happily I returned home a few hours later with a bouquet of Lily of the valley and fresh strawberries – it doesn’t get more Swedish summer than that!
The strawberry is a highly nutrient dense fruit, with such huge amount of healthy substances that they are included in the list of so-called “superfoods”, tasty and packed full of nutrients.
Anti-anemic – Strawberries can help prevent and fight certain types of anemia, due to their high content in folic acid, which is essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin, the protein in red cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Anti-cancer – Strawberry is included in the list of top “superfoods” that help lower cancer death rates. This is because of the very high content of various anti-oxidants with flavonoids that work synergistically and more powerfully against oxidation and preventing damages caused by free radicals in our body.
Anti-coagulant – Strawberries contain moderate amount of acetylsalicylic acid, the same active ingredient found in aspirin. Although the amount of acetylsalicylic acid found in strawberries is not enough to relieve influenza symptoms, it can be actually helpful to thin blood and prevent blood clots formation, thereby reducing the work of the heart and improving its function.
Anti-inflammatory – Anthocyanidin is a unique flavonoid that makes strawberries a very powerful protector against inflammatory conditions such as asthma, gout, artherosclerosis, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time it protects against intestinal bleeding.
Brain and mental health – It has been shown that, besides having an anti-anemic effect, folic acid found in strawberries can help improve memory, concentration and the brain’s ability to process information. It is also essential for preventing brain defects in babies during pregnancy.
Digestive health – Due to their high content in vitamin C, strawberries stimulate the secretion of salivary and gastric juices, thereby improving the digestion of starchy and protein foods. In addition, fiber contained in strawberries effectively reduces constipation and cleans the colon, with a beneficial detox effect for the body.
Diuretic – The high content in potassium found in strawberries enhances diuresis, which contributes to detoxifying the body, as well as regulating blood pressure.
Heart health – Anti-oxidants found in strawberries, and especially vitamin C and anthocyanidins, may help protect arteries from damage, as well as preventing the formation of blood clots within blood vessels.
Immune system – Strawberries are very rich in vitamin C, which plays a key role in enhancing immune system function, as well as in preventing and fighting infectious diseases such as flu and cold.
Mood – Eating strawberries and drinking strawberry juice stimulate the release of serotonin, which improves mood and is responsible for a feeling of relaxation and a general sense of well-being.
Source juicing for health.
Kaffir lime leaves
Widely used in spicy Thai soups and curries, either cooked whole, together with the dish, and/or finely shredded and added before serving. If you can’t find fresh kefir lime it can be substituted with dried kefir lime leaves but these need to be soaked before use.
Thai sweet basil
A variety of the sweet basil with a taste of anise. It is used in different curries such as red and green curry and often also served separately. One of the primary medicinal uses for basil is for its anti-inflammatory properties. This effect stems from eugenol, a volatile oil in basil that blocks enzymes in the body that cause swelling, making basil an ideal treatment for people with arthritis.
Holy basil has a distinctive scent of clove and reddish tipped leaves. It is used, for instance, in the well known Kraphao mu (minced pork fried with basil).
You will recognize it by its light green stem and it’s lemony flavor. It is used in soups, salads and curries – especially those containing seafood.
The leaves are seen often as a garnish in many Thai dishes. It is indispensable for Tom yam soup and has also been found to remove heavy metals like mercury, aluminum, and lead from the body.
The roots of the coriandrum sativum are often used in curry pastes and certain soups such as Tom yam kung.
Either served raw (shredded or diced) with dishes such as Miang kham and Khanom chin sao nam, in certain chilli dips, or in stir fried dishes of Chinese origin. Ginger can be kept in the freezer, after defrosting just squeeze the juice out of the root.
For over 2 thousand years Chinese medicine has recommended the use of ginger to help cure and prevent several health problems. It is known to promote energy circulation in the body while positively increasing the body’s metabolic rate.
The perfume-like scent and flavour of the galangal root is characteristic for many Thai curries and spicy soups. Like ginger, galangal can be kept in the freezer. Among many other health benefits Galangal contains anti-inflammatory properties and therefore is beneficial in the effective treatment of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This yellow coloured root is often used in dishes of Muslim/Southern Thai origin and in Northern Thailand for Northern style curries. The outer skin need to be removed before use. This root can also be stored in the freezer! Recently turmeric has hit the headlines because of claims that curcumin, which is the main active constituent of turmeric, could help prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Besides being used cooked or fried, garlic is used raw in many dips and salad dressings. I’m pretty sure that you know that garlic is good for you but did you know that in order to maximize the health benefits, you should crush the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. Doing this triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.
Used extensively in many Thai dishes such as curries, spicy soups and salads. The outside layer is discarded together with the straw like top. It’s is used finely chopped in curry pastes or sliced in soups, drinks or in teas. Lemongrass, or citronella as its also called, is well known for its calming effect that relieves insomnia or stress. It is also popular as a non toxic insect repellant.
There are a number of different types of chilies in Thai cooking. Young chillies are green in color and are spicier than the red ones that are ripe. To determine the spiciness of chilies you also have to look at the size, smaller chillies are spicier than large ones. One of the most commonly used chilies in Thai cuisine is the Bird’s eye chili. This small chilli is one of the spiciest, even the red ones has a proper punch in them! The Thai name literally translates to “mouse-dropping chilli”
Medium sized chilies, jalapeño chili, are used for their colour when making pastes and may be uses instead of the small ones if you don’t want your dish too spices.
Large chilies are mainly used in stir fries and as a decoration.
Thai cuisine often uses fresh (green) peppercorns in stir fried dishes and in certain curries such as Kaeng pa (so-called Jungle Curry).
Black and white pepper
Used in pastes, sauces and condiments. From ancient times, black pepper is one of the most widely traded spices in the world and is the most commonly used spice in the western world. Black pepper helps in transporting the benefits of other herbs to different parts of body so don’t be shy, take a few extra laps with your grinder before enjoying a nutrient rich salad!
Thai shrimp paste
Made by fermenting ground shrimp and salt. It has a pungent aroma and is used in red curry paste, and in the famous chili paste called nam phrik.
Tamarind comes from a tree and looks like brown long beans, inside you will find seeds and tangy flesh. There are two types of tamarind, sweet and sour. The sweet kind is eaten as a fruit and the sour one is made into a juice and is used in cooking. These day you will find tamarind paste in many western food stores and this can be diluted and used as a substitute, as well can lime in lemon.
Oyster sauce is of Chinese origin. It is used extensively in vegetable and meat stir-fries.
Thai fish sauce is a very aromatic and strong tasting fish sauce which can be made from different types of fish and seafood. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in Thai cuisine and imparts a unique character to Thai food. If you are vegetarian or allergic to seafood you can use a light soya sauce as a substitute.
Dark soya sauce
Thai “dark” soya sauce is similar to the dark Chinese soya sauce (which is more common is our western supermarkets).
Light soya sauce
Thai “light” soya sauce is similar to the light Chinese soya sauce.
Yellow soybean paste
Yellow soybean paste has a sweet and salty taste which is more “earthy” than that of soya sauce. It is used, for instance, in the dish Phak bung fai daeng (stir-fried water spinach).
Hello beautiful people, please let me apologize straight away for the lack of blogging, life kind of got in the way and stirred me around a bit. But don’t worry I’m out on the other side and feeling strong and ready to take on the world again!
I haven’t only been ducking for the curb balls of life lately, I’ve also spent many hours of my days learning to cook Thai food. And let me tell you. Its been sweet, sour, salty and spicy – a wonderful experience! I’ve really missed chopping fresh produce while traveling so this was exactly what I needed – holding a massive knife, the Thais don’t mess around – and create beautiful taste explosions.
And don’t worry, obviously I will share some of my new knowledge with you and I thought a good way to begin is to give u a great recipe of the most known Thai dish out there – the green curry. At school we used chicken in this dish but swap or deduct what ever you like. A little advice from me is to take out the meat completely, the coconut cream make this such a rich dish you won’t miss the meat.
For making the green curry paste, you will need:
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
Roast all the dry ingredients in a dry wok pan until brown but make sure to not burn anything, if you do throw everything away and start over. The easiest way to avoid this is to roast each ingredient separately, for example cumin seeds will get brown before coriander seeds.
1 teaspoon of galangal – finely chopped
3 tablespoons of lemongrass – finely chopped
1 teaspoon of kefir lime peel – finely chopped
2 tablespoons of coriander root – finely chopped
2 shallot onions – finely chopped
1 clove of garlic – crushed
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1 teaspoon turmeric – finely chopped
20 small green chillies
1 big bunch of sweet basil
Start with grinding the dry ingredients in a mortar using a pestle until you have a powder, the add all the fresh ingredients and pound for about 10 minutes until the paste is smooth. This is where the muscle power comes in and if you haven’t chopped your fresh ingredients fine enough you will definitely pay for it here!
I so strongly recommend you to put some effort and time into making your own curry paste, you really can’t compare the end result to one that is made with store-bought curry paste. But if you can’t find the ingredient or have a broken arm that keeps you for the pounding I’ll recommend the brand May Ploy. But let me say it again – make your own!
This curry paste will last a week in the fridge but can also be frozen and then last up to six months. (A good tip is to use the good ol’ trusty ice-cube tray to give you the right amount of paste each time.) Another way is to first fry your paste in oil, use a natural vegetable oil, and fry until the aroma is released and the paste is slightly changing color. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and use the remaining oil from the pan to cover your paste. It will keep like this in the fridge for up to three months but I can almost guarantee that the paste will be used before it goes off!
Ok so now for the real deal, the green curry goodness served in a bowl with or without some fluffy rice on the side (brown or wild rice gives wellness points).
Green curry with chicken – Kheo Wan Gai – แกงเขียวหวานไก่
For four portions you will need
300 g chicken breast (thinly sliced)
250 ml coconut cream (keep 2 tablespoons aside to use as a garnish )
250 ml coconut milk
100 g green curry paste
3 egg plants (the Thais are using small unripe eggplants but this can be substituted with our purple kind)
40 g palm sugar (optional)
30 ml fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves (torn into pieces discarding the stem)
30 g sweet basil leaves
1 red chilli (big, sliced)
Put the thick coconut cream into a wook and fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the coconut oil begins to separate out. Add the green curry paste and fry until the aroma is released (about 1-2 minutes). Add the chicken and cook until the outside of the chicken turns white. Then add the thin coconut milk and when it is boiling add the egg plants, simmer until the egg plants are slightly soft. Then add the palm sugar along the edge of the wook so that it melts easily and add the fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and half of the basil leaves.
Turn off the heat and serve garnished with the red chillies, the remaining basil leaves and remaining thick coconut milk.
You would think that a weekly Sunday market would be a smaller affair but no, the Chiang Mai Sunday market is huge. Around seven, after a day in front of our computers, we slowly got ready to go outside the guesthouse premises to have a look at the market stands and maybe find some food. I was shocked, in one afternoon the whole inner town had changed into a massive venue with one market stall after another, musicians and young girls dancing on the streets and every temple courtyard was filled with food stands where you could find almost anything you can imagine – fantastic! Chiang Mai’s spell on me is getting stronger, how am I going to be able to leave?
So we have spent three nights and two full days here in Chiang Mai and the city has really charmed the both of us. It has a spiritual essence about it with Buddhist temples around every corner and you are just as likely to bump into a monk as a fellow traveller on the street. If you like me are searching for healthy foods, but on a backpacker budget, you won’t be disappointed either as you can find organic cafe’s and healthy fruit smoothies all around old town. We found our favorite lady here that serves us our breakfast every morning – in one smoothie she puts one banana, one mango and the juice and meat from half a coconut – blend that together with a handful of ice (no sugary syrup!) and you are set for hours!
If I was going to give any fellow traveller a good advice from our experience here so far is to rent a motor bike and buzz up the mountain and walk the 200 steps up to the Buddhist temple there. Yesterday we got up really early and was there before seven. For one hour we where the only visitors, it was so nice walking around without noisy tourist and as the clock went past eight the place slowly filled with local people praying as they walked around the grand stupa in the middle of the temple grounds.
The credit for the photo of me at the bottom of the steps goes to Chris Geiler. Have a look at his blog for some more wicked shots.