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Our Top Twenty or So Favorite Thai Dishes

The unique feature of Thai cuisine is the mixture of 4 basic tastes -- salty, sweet, sour and pungent. Many dishes can even be described as pungent and spicy with lots of garlic, chilies, and fresh herbs. Thai food not only tastes good, but is also healthy due to its low fat and high fibre and the nutritious properties of its herbal ingredients.

Thai food is best made by fresh ingredients. Most recipes require you to make a curry paste and we have given you easy instructions on how to make this paste but if want to save time you can buy these pastes from an Oriental store near you. It won't be the same taste as you would get if you make it yourself but then again Thai ingredients are not readily available in every country but you can probably get Thai sauces in places which sell Chinese sauces. If not then we can send you the sauce of your choice with your next car.

Three unique Thai ingredients are galangal, lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves:

Here are some of our favorite dishes:

Our Favorite Soups

  1. 1. Tum Yaam (Tom Yum) Soup: Mr. Soni and Mr. Jim's Favorite
  2. Tum Kha Gai Soup: Chicken Coconut Soup

Our Favorite Entrees

  1. Sea Food Fried Rice: Sam and Sunny's Favorite
  2. Pad Thai
  3. Chicken with Basil
  4. Penang Curry
  5. Green Chicken Curry
  6. Massaman Curry
  7. Easy Thai Yellow Chicken Curry
  8. Thai Omelet

Our Favorite Desserts

  1. Thai Mango Sticky Sweet Rice Dessert: Mr. Jim's Favorite

 

Tum Yaam Soup

Tum Yaam is an incredibly delicious soup. It can be made without any meat or with any meat of your choice. Our favorites are Tum Yaam Kung (shrimp), Tum Yaam Thale (with seafood) and Tum Yaam Kai (with chicken). You can have it with beef as well. It is not only delicious but has many  health benefits. Shitake mushroom is known to fight cancer and there can be no better cure for cold or flu than the piping hot tum yaam soup. Best of all, you don't need any excuse to have this soup. It is not for the faint of hearted as it is quite spicy but you can lower the heat by controlling how much hot spices you add to the mixture. Warning: It may be addictive. I don't think any week goes by when we don't have this soup and the waiters in our restaurants always write down this soup without even asking. Once you have tasted this soup, you will know why.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups (24 fl oz/ 750 ml) chicken (or vegetable) stock  or water

1 stalk lemongrass/ citronella, sliced thinly (tough outer leaves and bulb removed) . Preferably use just the lower one-third portion and cut into 1-inch length

3 thin slices of fresh or dry galangal

3-5 kaffir lime leaves (find these in the freezer section of your local Asian grocery store)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, sliced

1-2 small green or red chillies (depending on desired spiciness), de-seeded and sliced

1/3 cup fresh coriander (or cilantro), roughly chopped

3 Tbsp. fish sauce

1/2 cup fresh shiitake or straw mushrooms, sliced thinly

12 medium or large raw shrimp, shells removed or 8 oz (250 gm) of your favorite meat

1 can coconut milk

optional:

additional Thai red chillies (left whole), plus other vegetables (like green and red bell peppers), as desired

 

PREPARATION:

1. Clean your meat of your choice and add to stock cooking in a deep cooking pot. Bring to a boil and check if meat is done. If the meat is done then strain the broth and discard any discardables keep the meat aside for latter addition

2. Place lemongrass slices in a food processor and process until finely grated, or pound by hand with a pestle & mortar and add to the broth. Tip: the upper stem and/or lower bulb can be left whole and thrown into the pot for additional flavor

3. Add garlic, chilies (including whole chilies, if using), galangal, fish sauce, shallots and lime leaves. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to let the spices infuse the broth.

4. Add the mushrooms and the meat you had set aside. Cook gently for a few minutes until mushrooms are done

5. Turn down the heat to low and add the coconut milk and further fish sauce or chilies if soup is not salty or spicy enough. You should have an equal balance of spicy, salty, and sour.

6. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, green onions, and cilantro. Pour the soup into the bowl, stir, garnish with the cilantro leaves and serve with quarters of fresh lime on the side

Please note that the lemongrass and lime leaves are for flavor only and should be avoided when eating the soup.

Variations:

· For a vegetarian version, replace shrimp with cubes of firm or deep-fried tofu, and substitute soy sauce for fish sauce. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken.

· If you prefer chicken over seafood, substitute shrimp with chicken breast (cut into bite-size pieces).

· This soup can also be made without coconut milk (replace with more stock).

· For an even healthier soup, add more vegetables (like red and green bell peppers, slices of eggplant, celery, cherry tomatoes, etc.) (step 4).

· Add rice or egg noodles for a nutritionally complete and satisfying meal.

Tum Kha Gai - Chicken coconut Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups of coconut milk
6 thin slices of galangal
2 stalks of lemon grass (cut into 1 inch strips and crush with cleaver)
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves (torn in half, not cut)
250 g of boneless chicken
5 tablespoons of fish sauce (naam blaa)
2 tablespoons of sugar
Half a cup of lime juice
1 teaspoon of black chili paste (nam prik pow)
Quarter cup of coriander leaves
5 green chili peppers (I will use red chilis)

Method 1:

(1) Combine half the coconut milk with the galangal, lemon grass and lime leaves in a large saucepan and heat to boiling. Add the chicken, fish sauce and sugar.
(2) Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Add the remaining coconut milk to the saucepan and heat just to boiling.
(3) Place the lime juice and chili paste in a serving bowl then pour the soup into the serving bowl.
(4) Garnish with the torn coriander leaves and chili pepers, and serve.

Method 2:

(1) Slice the chicken into thin strips.
(2) Smash lemon grass with the flat side of a chef's knife once and then cut into 1 inch pieces; slice galangal into thin rounds; tear lime leaves into thirds; cut chilis in half.
(3) Heat coconut milk and water in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes. Don't let it boil. Reduce heat to a medium and add lemon grass, galangal, lime leaves, chilies and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring continuously and not letting it boil.
(4) Add chicken strips and cook for 5 minutes, stirring over medium heat, until the chicken is cooked.
(5) Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of fish sauce and quarter tablespoon of sugar. stir, and continue cooking for another minute or two/
(6) Transfer to a soup bowl and serve immediately, garnished with fresh coriander leaves.

 

Pad Thai Stir-Fried Thai Noodles

One of Thailand's best known noodle dishes. It is eaten as a light meal at any time of the day or night, and is especially popular at the night markets throughout the country.

Ingredients:

8 ounces dried wide rice noodles

1/4 cup fish sauce (nam pla)

3 tablespoons tamarind juice

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled with tails on

4 garlic cloves,

finely chopped 2 shallots, sliced

1 fresh red chile, sliced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

1/2 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

1 lime, cut into small wedges

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

How to cook:

1. Soak the dried rice noodles in cool or lukewarm water for 30 minutes, or until they're limp but still firm to the touch; later cooking in the wok will soften them more. Drain the noodles thoroughly in a colander and set aside while preparing the other ingredients. In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, tamarind juice, and sugar; stir well to melt the sugar. Taste and adjust flavors to the desired combination of salty, sour, and sweet. 

2. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until it is smoking hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and quickly stir-fry the shrimp until they turn pink and are almost cooked through; 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a plate and cover to keep warm.

3. Add the remaining oil to the wok and toss in the garlic, shallots, and chili; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Push the garlic and shallots to 1 side of the wok and pour the egg into the center. Scramble the egg lightly until set, breaking it up into pieces with a spatula. Add the drained noodles to the wok, stirring and tossing quickly with 2 spatulas to separate the strands. Pour in the fish sauce mixture, tossing well to coat the noodles and keep them from sticking (if the noodles are still too firm, drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to help them cook.)  It may be necessary to reduce the heat if the mixture is cooking too quickly and the noodles stick.

4. When the noodles are in good shape, toss in 1/2 of the bean sprouts and peanuts; save the remaining for garnish. Continue to stir-fry, to combine. Return the shrimp to the wok and toss the pad thai together to warm everything through. Serve the pad thai on a platter, pile the remaining bean sprouts and peanuts on 1 side of the dish and garnish with the lime wedges and cilantro. Squeeze lime juice over each portion before eating.

 

 

Gai Pad Bai Ga-Prow - Spicy Chicken with Basil

This is a quick and easy dish which is a favorite of the people of downtown Bangkok. Sometimes it is served over rice with a fried egg.

Ingredients:

6 garlic cloves (kratiem), minced

4 shallots, minced

12 mixed green and red jalapeño peppers (prik chee fa and prik chee fa daeng),

sliced 1 teaspoon canned green peppercorns

1 tablespoon oil 1 lb (500 g) ground/minced chicken

1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)

2 tablespoons sugar 1 cup hot basil leaves (bai ga-prow)

How to cook:

1. Place the garlic, shallots,peppers and peppercorns in a mortar and mash with a paste until a paste is formed.

2. Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic paste and stir for 1 minute, then add the ground chicken, fish sauce and sugar. Continue to cook until the sauce is reduced. Toss in the Basil leaves.

3. As a luncheon dish, serve over rice with a fried egg.

4. As a dinner dish, serve separately with rice and with an accompaniment such as hot and sour shrimp soup (Tom Yam Goong)

SERVES 4

 

 

Penang Chicken Curry

Penang Curry is generally made with beef, but can be made with chicken as well. Named after a state in northern Malaysia, this special curry dish carries with it flavors and aromas of Indian and Malay cooking. With its combination of spices and fresh herbs, Penang curry is super healthy, and the red vegetables such as tomatoes and red bell (or sweet) peppers add extra vitamins, flavor, and texture to this wonderful dish. Its rich, thick sauce makes it very popular.

INGREDIENTS:

3 fl oz (90 ml) coconut milk

2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)

2 tablespoons sugar

6 kaffir lime leaves (bai ma-grood)

1 tablespoon oil

2 tablespons Penang curry paste (nam prik panaeng, see below)

8 oz (250 g) tender beef, sliced or 1 small chicken

1/8 cup sliced green bell pepper/capsicum

1/8 cup sliced red bell pepper/capsicum

1/4 cup sliced onions

2 tablespoons ground roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon coconut cream

1 kaffir lime leaf (bai ma-grood), very thinly sliced

Nam Prik Panaeng - Penang Curry Paste

The name of this curry paste shows its Malaysian origin.

4 oz (125 g) dried green jalapeno peppers ((prik chee fa haeng)

1/4 cup coriander seed (med pak chee)

1/2 cup chopped onions or shallots

1/2 cup chopped garlic (kratiem)

2 tablespoons chopped galangal (kha)

2 tablespoons kaffir lime skin (piew ma-grood)

1/4 cup chopped lemon grass/citronella (ta-krai)

2 tablespoons shrimp paste (gapi)

1 teaspoon salt

How to make curry sauce:

Place all the ingredients in a mortar and crush with the pestle to form a thick paste, or process in a blender. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid for future use - it will keep indefinitely.

MAKES 3 CUPS

GARNISH: approximately 1 cup fresh basil leaves, left whole or roughly chopped if the leaves are large

PREPARATION:

1. Prepare the curry sauce by processing all sauce ingredients in a food processor or in a mortar and pastel

2. Heat a large skillet and add the oil and curry paste. Cook for 1 minute on low heat. Return the temperature to high and sauté the beef or chicken, adding the sauce. Cook until the sauce is thick.

3. Add the sliced peppers, onions and ground peanuts. Cook for 2 minutes, then pour the mixture into a serving bowl. Top with the coconut cream and lime leaf strips.

2. Heat

Pour sauce into a casserole dish and add the chicken pieces (or beef). Mix well.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and add the tomatoes and red or sweet pepper.

Mix well, then return to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes.

Do a taste test before serving: add 1-2 Tbsp. more fish sauce if not salty enough. If too spicy, add more coconut milk or a little yogurt. If too salty, add more lime juice.

Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve with plenty of Thai jasmine rice (white or brown).

Green Chicken Curry - Gaeng Keow Wan Gai

 This curry is always spicy hot, the heat being determined by the amount of green chilies that are used. To make the dish more flavorful, 1/2 cup of fresh green peppercorns can also be added to the curry mixture.

Thai Green Curry Paste:

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coriander seeds toasted to bring out flavor, and ground
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

4 green jalapeno or serrano chilis, roughly chopped
1 green poblano or pasilla chili (optional, for color), roughly chopped
15-20 green thai bird chilis, chopped
3 shallots, coarsely chopped
8 garlic cloves, smashed
 

1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro roots or stems
2 tbsp. finely chopped basil leaves
1 tsp. grated lime zest
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn

2-inch piece galangal, peeled and coarsely chopped (frozen will do if fresh is not available)

2 lemon grass stalks, white part only (bottom third of stalk), coarsely chopped
2 tsp. young ginger, chopped

2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. coarse sea salt

How to make the Paste

Heat the coriander, cumin seeds, and peppercorns in a small dry skillet for 2 minutes until fragrant.

Hand method:

Grind seeds in a spice mill or coffee grinder. (If you use a coffee grinder, clean out before and after.) Put ingredients into mortar and pestle in order of their appearance, grinding the first ones thoroughly first. When you get to the sea salt, use it in sprinkles to help grind the tougher herbs, such as lemongrass, galangal, lime zest, cilantro root and basil stems.

If you run out of room in your mortar and pestle, put paste into a bowl and grind in batches.

Food processor/Sumeet method:

Grind spices into a powder with spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

Put everything else into a food processor and process into a rough paste. (A regular food processor will not make a smooth paste. Before I discovered the Sumeet, I used to use the food processor to break everything down to small bits, then, I would turn it into a paste by working it with the mortar and pestle by hand. This was less time consuming than the hand method, but resulted in a similar texture, color and flavor.)

With the Sumeet, you just grind everything together into a smooth paste by putting ingredients into the jar in batches.

This recipe makes about a cup and a half of curry paste. When I am making curry, I use the entire batch to flavor the curry. You don’t have to use so much. If you want to keep it in the fridge, it keeps pretty well for a few days. For longer storage, put into a zioplock bag, push out all the air and freeze. It will keep, with a small loss of fragrance and fresh flavor, for months in this way.

Curry

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, cut in 8 wedges

1 green bell pepper, cut in 8 wedges

1 stalk lemongrass, white bulb only

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh ginger

3 tablespoons fresh Thai green curry paste, prepared above

2 kaffir lime leaves , or the zest of two limes

3 cups unsweetened coconut milk,

2 (13.5 ounce) cans

3/4 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut in 1-inch strips
1/2 pound Asian eggplants (round or long Thai green ones, or long purple ones) sliced diagonally about ½” thick
2 small zuchinni squash, cut in half longways, then cut into half-rounds about 1/2″ thick
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed, topped and tailed and snapped into 1″ pieces
1/4-1/2 pound sugar snap peas, topped and tailed
2 large fresh shiitake, stems removed and discarded, caps cut into 1/4″ slices
1small purple onion, cut into squares, or 4 purple scallions, cleaned and sliced on the diagonal into 1/4″ slices

fish sauce to taste
Sea salt 1 lime, juiced
Palm or raw cane sugar to taste (about 1 tbsp.)
 

1 cup Fresh Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped (optional) 

 lime juice to taste (about the juice of ½ to ¾ of a lime)
Lime wedges, for garnish

How to cook:

1. Prepare the green curry paste as per above instructions

2. Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. Sauté the onion and green peppers for 3 minutes to soften. Split the piece of lemongrass down the middle and whack it with the flat side of a knife to open the flavor. Add the lemongrass, ginger, curry paste and lime leaves to the skillet and stir for 2 minutes.

3. Take about a two tablespoons of cream off top of the coconut milk, and melt in a pan. Add curry paste in whatever amount you think you will want to use, some use the whole batch to make curry full of flavor. Use sparingly if this is your first time.

Fry curry paste in coconut cream until well-scented, then add lime zest (Don’t do this, if you are using lime leaves) and fry a few seconds longer. Add the rest of the coconut milk and chicken broth. If you are using lime leaves, add them to the curry at this point. Bring curry to a simmer on medium low heat. Add fish sauce and sugar to taste and bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly for about fifteen minutes, stirring now and then.

4. Lay the chicken pieces to poach. Cook for 5 minutes at a slow boil. Add eggplants, and cook until tender. When nearly done, add the rest of the vegetables except the onions, and the chicken. Cook until the chicken is nearly done, then add the onions, so that they cook only about two or three minutes, until just barely softened.

5. Add the kaffir lime leaves and basil leaves. Squeeze in the lime juice to taste and shower with basil and cilantro and let leaves wilt slightly; serve in dinner bowls with steamed rice. 

SERVES 4

Massaman (Muslim) Curry

Massaman is the Thai corruption of the Persian word Musulman which is a term for a Muslim. It is a curry that has some Muslim influence as it has spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) that were brought by Arab and Persian traders but it is thoroughly Thai in its taste thanks to patently Thai ingredients as lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce and like. Massaman Curry done right is a treat. "The smooth coconut milk curry, the tender chicken, the soft and aromatic potatoes and the carrots done just until they were a little al dente–all of this combined beautifully with the garnish of cilantro leaves and lightly crushed peanuts."

Massaman Curry Paste

Ingredients for Curry Paste

10 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1″ piece galangal root
5 stalks lemongrass
2 tablespoons unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 tbs coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tsp. cardamom seeds
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cilantro roots and stems
2 red dried New Mexico red chiles, (chiles Colorado) soaked until pliable and seeded
15 red Thai bird chiles
zest 1 lime
2 tsp. shrimp paste

Method for Curry Paste:

Grind all ingredients together into a fine paste using a mortar and pestle, a Sumeet grinder or a combination of a food processor and a mortar and pestle as directed in the recipe for Green Curry Paste.

Making the Curry itself

Ingredients for Curry:

2 19 ounce cans coconut milk
1 batch curry paste
½-1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp. palm sugar, raw sugar or brown sugar
4 tbsp. fish sauce, or to taste
2 kaffir lime leaves, the zest of one lime or several drops of lime oil
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1” chunks
juice of 2 limes
1 small red onion, peeled and cut into 1″X1″ squares
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, lightly crushed
handful of whole cilantro leaves to garnish
1 ripe avocado sliced for garnish

Method:

Separate two tablespoons of cream from the top of the coconut milk. Melt in a wok or deep, wide pan, until liquid and bubbling. Add curry paste and stir fry until all is very aromatic.

Add the rest of the coconut milk, stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Add sugar, fish sauce and lime leaves, zest or oil. Taste for flavor balance–it should be somewhat spicy, a bit salty and sweet at the same time. Correct flavor as needed. Add potatoes, and carrots and cover, turning heat to medium. Cook until potatoes are mostly done, and the carrots are half-crisp, then add chicken, cover and cook until done.

When chicken and potatoes are done to a turn, add the onions and allow them to just begin to soften for the last few minutes of cooking.

Add lime juice, and taste for flavor. If necessary, add more fish sauce.

Serve over steamed jasmine rice and garnish each portion with cilantro leaves, a sprinkling of coarsely crushed peanuts and slices of avocado.

Thai Style Omelet khanom beuang yuan ขนมเบื้องญวน

Today I am going to share with you some pictures of the meal I had earlier today. It is a Thai style omelet called khanom beuang yuan. It is almost like a crepe as it is fried thin and the contents are then wrapped in the egg encasing.

It looks quite simple to make but I am sure you need to practice a lot to get this right. First, heat up the wok and add a little oil. Two eggs are beaten and then poured over the entire surface of the wok. Tilt the wok so that it is evenly spread.

Start adding the ingredients of chopped peanuts, tofu, chopped spring onions, Chinese turnips, beansprouts and grated coconut that has been coloured orange. Once this has been done fold the omelet around the ingredients so that it becomes like an envelope. Add a little more oil and then turn the envelope over to finally seal the package.

Here is a close-up of the ingredients, starting from the top and going clockwise: peanuts, tofu, grated coconuts, beansprouts, spring onions and Chinese turnips.

 

 

 

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