3 Cozy, Delicious Thai Recipes to Try at Home
Toronto restaurateur Nuit Regular shares the secret to great Thai cooking in her first cookbook, Kiin.
Toronto’s Nuit Regular’s first cookbook, Kiin: Recipes and Stories from Northern Thailand, teaches newbies how to replicate her insanely flavourful, delicious food at home. In this excerpt, she shares three soupy recipes guaranteed to brighten a dark winter day.
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Image credit: Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott
Tom Yum Goong
Spicy and Sour Soup with Shrimp and Tom Yum Paste
When I was young, one of the first pastes I taught myself to make was for Tom Yum Soup. I had read about this paste in the food section of a magazine I found one day. I wrote down the ingredients and method, and after I made it a few times, I corrected the parts I did not think worked in the paste until I created a recipe that was perfect for me. The spicy and sour notes of this full-flavoured soup work so well together and perfectly complement the soft texture of the shrimp. With a fresh, citrusy taste to invigorate your taste buds, this soup is a must-try for those who like exciting tastes. It is no mystery why this is Thailand’s most popular soup.
- 2 cups water
- 2 stalks lemongrass, lightly bruised and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 5 thin slices galangal
- 9 unpeeled Thai garlic cloves (or 3 peeled regular garlic cloves), lightly bruised
- 3 medium shallots, cut in half and lightly bruised
- 5 fresh magrud lime leaves
- 1/3 cup Tom Yum Paste (recipe below)
- 10 fresh or thawed frozen medium shrimp (size 21–25), peeled, deveined and cut in half lengthwise
- 6 ounces (170 g) oyster mushrooms, roots cut off, torn in half lengthwise
- 5 cherry tomatoes, cut in half crosswise
- 1 tablespoon Tamarind Paste (recipe follows, or store-bought)
- 1 tablespoon Thai cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
- 2 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 stalk fresh sawtooth coriander, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 to 3 fresh bird’s eye chilies, lightly bruised
- In a medium pot over high heat, bring the water to a rolling boil. When the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and add the lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots and lime leaves. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir in the tom yum paste and boil for another 5 minutes.
- Without stirring, add the shrimp, oyster mushrooms and tomatoes. Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Make sure to wait until the shrimp have had a chance to cook before stirring.
- Stir in the tamarind paste and cane sugar and cook for another minute. Stir in the fish sauce and lime juice. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cilantro, green onions, sawtooth coriander and chilies. Ladle into bowls and serve.
Nham Prik Pao
Tom Yum Paste
Makes 1/3 cup
Make sure to use large dried shrimp. The smaller shrimp tend to be saltier and will change the flavour of the paste.
- ¼ cup large dried shrimp
- 1 tablespoon + ¼ cup sunflower oil, divided
- 3 to 5 large dried red spur chilies
- 3 tablespoons unpeeled Thai garlic cloves or thinly sliced peeled regular garlic
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon Tamarind Paste (recipe follows) or store-bought
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- In a small food processor, pulse the dried shrimp until they look stringy, almost like floss. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil. Add the chilies and cook until the chilies turn dark red and the skin starts to plump up and looks smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the chilies to a stone mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, you can use a small food processor.)
- Return the pan to medium heat. Add the remaining ¼ cup sunflower oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked but not crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. The shallots will start to look transparent. Remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the garlic and shallots to the mortar with the chilies. Leave the oil in the pan.
- Pound the garlic and shallots to a fine paste. Add the paprika and pound to mix.
- Return the pan to medium heat and allow the sunflower oil to heat up for 1 minute. Scoop the paste out of the mortar, add to the oil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp floss, tamarind paste and coconut sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sugar is fully dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Nham Mha Kham
Makes about ½ cup
Tamarind paste can be a little bit tart, but it is never overpowering. It brings a slight pucker to your lips but perfectly complements any spicy dish. You are sure to enjoy the out-of-the-box flavour this paste adds. Tamarind paste is commonly used in northern Thai dishes.
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup (80 g) seedless sour tamarind (dried or block)
- In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a rolling boil. Break the tamarind into small pieces and drop them into the boiling water. Boil for 3 to 4 minutes. The heat breaks down the tamarind pulp and makes it easier to separate the fibres. If using dried tamarind, it will start to expand. If using a tamarind block, it will absorb the water and start to soften.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large bowl, pressing out every bit of liquid and paste. I recommend using a large bowl to help minimize the mess. Make sure to scrape the paste off the underside of the sieve and mix it into the liquid. Discard the pulp in the sieve. Allow to cool before using. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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Image credit: Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott
Stir-Fried Flat Rice Noodles with Gravy
Thai cuisine is a true melting pot of Asian flavours. Immigration brings in many dishes from all over the world, and to those, we add some Thai spices and local vegetables to create a meal that is the perfect combination of cultures. This Thai noodle dish gets its special flavour from the gravy-based dishes of China. But we put our twist on it by adding sour, sweet, salty and spicy flavours to create our very own delicious Thai version. Instead of pork, you can use beef, chicken or tofu. Note: You’ll need to marinate the pork for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- 7 ounces (200 g) pork shoulder blade, cut into long strips about 1½ inches wide
- Standard Meat Marinade (recipe below)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or cornstarch
- 10.2 ounces (290 g) fresh flat rice noodles (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Thai oyster sauce, divided
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons minced unpeeled Thai garlic cloves or peeled regular garlic, divided
- 3 tablespoons coarse soybean paste
- 2 cups chicken broth or no-salt-added store-bought
- 2 tablespoons Thai cane sugar, more for serving
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon thin soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce, more for serving
- 4 stalks Chinese broccoli, leaves and peeled stalks cut into 2-inch pieces on the diagonal
- White pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons store-bought Pickled Chili Vinegar, for serving, or to taste (optional)
- In a medium bowl, combine the pork and standard meat marinade. Mix with your hands. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- In a small bowl, stir together the water and tapioca starch, making sure to work out all the lumps. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the rice noodles, sweet soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the oyster sauce. Mix well with your hands, separating the noodles as you go.
- Heat a medium wok or skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons of the sunflower oil and 1 tablespoon of the minced garlic, and sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant, 10 to 20 seconds. Stir in the noodle mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium pot over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons sunflower oil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons minced garlic and the soybean paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, increase the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil. Use your hand or tongs to drop in pieces of pork one at a time so they don’t stick together. Do not stir. Cook until the pork no longer looks pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cane sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, white vinegar, thin soy sauce and fish sauce. Mix well.
- Now that some time has passed, the water and tapioca mixture will have separated. Stir it again and then stir the mixture into the soup. Simmer until the soup thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Chinese broccoli and cook until the leaves wilt, about 1 minute.
- To serve, divide the noodles between 2 large bowls. Ladle the soup and its contents over the noodles. Sprinkle with white pepper to taste and the chili powder. Add more chili powder, cane sugar, fish sauce and some pickled chili vinegar (if using) to taste to dramatically change the taste of the noodles
Nham Mhak Nua Sud
Standard Meat Marinade
Makes enough to marinate 2/3 to 1 pound (300 to 450 g) of meat
People always ask me what my secret is for good food. It is very simple: I make sure I put my time and energy into bringing out the best in each ingredient. Even if I have a perfectly tender piece of meat, I will always use this marinade, as it brings out the natural flavours and adds another level of taste. I learned this marinade from my aunt, and I still use it almost every day.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- In a medium bowl, combine the water, vegetable oil, tapioca starch and salt. Stir until the salt and starch have fully dissolved.
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Image credit: Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott
Khao Soi Gaihen
Chicken Drumstick Curry with Egg Noodles
When Thai people travel to the north, this is the food they go searching for. It is an incredibly popular dish. The first time I ate this dish, it changed my world. I had thought all noodles were white, but seeing yellow curry egg noodles for the first time, and tasting the difference, was a delicious shock for me. The combination of this silky-smooth curry, unique spices, chewy noodles and the crunch of the crispy noodle topping results in the ultimate Thai comfort food.
Curry paste ingredients:
- 3 small dried red bird’s eye chilies
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 black cardamom pod, seeds only
- 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 5 dried red spur chilies, seeded, cut into ½-inch pieces, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes until softened and squeezed dry
- 2 cilantro roots with 3-inch stems or 10 cilantro stems, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced lemongrass
- 1½ teaspoons coarsely minced galangal
- 3 tablespoons coarsely minced unpeeled Thai garlic or peeled regular garlic
- 3 tablespoons coarsely minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon Thai shrimp paste
- 2¼ cups sunflower oil, divided
- 6 skin-on chicken drumsticks, washed and patted dry
- 1 pound (450 g) fresh egg noodles
- 1 cup thick part of coconut milk
- 2½ cups well-shaken coconut milk + 2½ cups water, well combined (to make thin coconut milk)
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- 4 cups water
- 2 tablespoons store-bought Garlic Oil
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- ½ cup packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/3 cup packed coarsely chopped pickled mustard greens, rinsed, squeezed dry and cored
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped shallots
- 2 lime wedges
- Store-bought Roasted Chili Oil
- To make the curry paste: Using a stone mortar and pestle, grind the dried red bird’s eye chilies, salt and black cardamom seeds to a powder. Add the yellow curry powder, coriander seeds and turmeric, and grind to a fine powder. Add the dried red spur chilies and grind to a paste. One at a time, and grinding to a paste after each addition, add the cilantro roots, ginger, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots and shrimp paste. Set aside.
- To make the curry: In a medium pot over high heat, heat 2 cups of the sunflower oil. When the oil is hot, deep-fry the chicken drumsticks, 3 at a time. Fry on one side for about 3 minutes, then turn to cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. The skin should be golden brown. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the oil and transfer to a rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Keep the pot of oil over medium heat.
- Place 2 bundles of the egg noodles on a plate and separate the noodles with your hands. Add the separated noodles, a few at a time, to the hot oil and deep-fry until the noodles are light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the noodles to a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat until all the separated noodles are cooked.
- In a medium pot, combine the remaining ¼ cup sunflower oil and the curry paste and mix well before turning on the heat. Once mixed, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes. This will bring out the fragrance of the curry. Stir in the thick coconut milk and cook until the coconut milk starts to thicken and bubble, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken drumsticks and cook for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, stir in the thin coconut milk and bring to a boil. When boiling, cover and cook for 45 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup of the curry sauce and the coconut sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved, then stir into the pot. Stir in the Thai fish sauce and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- In another medium pot over high heat, bring the water to a rolling boil. When the water is boiling, add the remaining noodles and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. The noodles should be al dente, like pasta. Drain and rinse in warm water. Divide the noodles between 2 large soup bowls. Add 1 tablespoon garlic oil to each bowl. Using a fork, stir to mix well to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
- To serve, scoop 1½ to 2 cups of the curry sauce with 3 drumsticks over each bowl of noodles. Top each with about ½ cup of the deep-fried noodles. Sprinkle with green onions, cilantro, pickled mustard greens and shallots. Squeeze lime wedges on top and drizzle with roasted chili oil to taste.
Courtesy of Penguin RandomHouse
Excerpted from Kiin: Recipe sand Stories from Northern Thailand, by Nuit Regular. Copyright 2020, Nuit Regular. Published by Penguin RandomHouse Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
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