Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What I ate in Thailand

Before I left for my trip to Thailand, I did a lot of research...on food. I rewatched the Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations" episode from Chiang Mai, I read up on some top foodies' best places to eat, and packed a bunch of stomach distress medicine in my suitcase. Upon arriving in Chiang Mai, all of this preparation went right out the window.

While food in Bangkok and Phuket was good, none of it compared to the food I ate in Chiang Mai. I found it was best to just "wing it" in Chiang Mai. Yes, I checked out Trip Advisor for some general restaurant recommendations, but that really only worked for some of the more upscale restaurants. And when I say "upscale" I'm not necessarily talking about fine dining, but places with white tablecloths, that are indoors (maybe even with air conditioning!). Other times I just opted to find one of the random silver pots on the street and point to one of them and just see what I got. And I'm happy to report, everything was wonderful.  Here is my culinary adventure through Chiang pictures. I'll follow up with several of the recipes I learned to make in my cooking class over the next two weeks. Enjoy!

This was a lovely panang curry with jasmine rice from one of the nicer restaurants (W by Wanlamun) I dined in which doubles as a culinary school. It was a short walk from the guesthouse I was staying in and I ended up eating their twice. They had a very inventive approach to how they presented food, even offering up veggie spring rolls up in shot glasses.
But this pananag curry was my favorite dish there. While I felt like it could have been a bit more spicy, the flavors were a nice balance and the chicken was cooked perfectly.  For more food envy, here is their website:

One of the regional Northern Thai/Burmese specialities, which can be found in large pots along the street and in most of the restaurants, is called Khao Soi. Khao Soi is a curried noodle dish that usually includes chicken or pork, noodles, and the occasional stray vegetable. The dish is topped with crunchy noodles and served piping hot.

In short, it's like taking an indian curry (which tends to be runnier than Thai curries) and putting on top of rice noodles. Delicious. And from what I understand from my guidebooks, not a dish you can find very easily in Thai restaurants in the states. But I will definitely be on the lookout for it.

A trip to Thailand would not be complete without sampling some of the street foods. The smells are overwhelming as you walk through the night markets. There are a lot of exotic dishes out there, and to be honest, I'm not sure what it was I was eating half the time, but it was usually meat on a stick like these guys. For 10-20 baht per skewer (somewhere around 75 cents each) you have your pick of sweet street meat.
While most of what I ate over there consisted on meat, rice and noodles, there was the occasional opportunity to satisfy any sweet tooth I might have. This beautiful bit of street food, the roti, is the Thai version of a crepe. This was filled with banana and nutella. Divine.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of the food I enjoyed on my trip. The next few entries will include pictures and recipes from the Thai cooking class I took while on my trip.


Monday, October 29, 2012

White Bean Chicken Chili

I'm back!!! And ready to wreak havoc in the kitchen like the Frankenstorm is wreaking havoc on the East Coast.

After 24 hours in flight back to the states, I arrived last week exhausted, but absolutely thrilled about my trip. Thailand was a true culinary masterpiece from fine meals, street food, and a cooking class, I'll have a lot to share over the next week or two. But in case you've been living under a rock, we're in a severe weather advisory here in DC and what better way to hunker down for cold, wet weather than to make a hearty chili.  So here's what I made yesterday. More savory than spicy, this is great for this weather. And I'll be eating it until I lose power.

White Chicken Chili (serves 6)



  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 TB ground cumin
  • 1 TB fennel seeds
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 TB flour
  • 2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 11/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 


    In a duth oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
    Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Ladle the chili into serving bowls and sprinkle wit parmesean cheese and chopped parsley.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Leaving on a Jet Plane

    Tomorrow, I leave for a 2 1/2 week trip to Thailand. This means the blog will be on a bit of a hiatus because I wasn't organized enough to cook ahead and drum up some posts. But considering I'm going to an amazing culinary location, and have plans to take a 7 hour cooking class, you better believe I'll have some awesome posts for when I get back.