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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Try your hand at Thai with salads and chili chicken

 •  Tantalizing Thai flavors

By Mary Altier
Special to The Advertiser

Laab phad (minced beef salad), sweetened with palm sugar, also can be made with chicken or pork.

Photos by MARY ALTIER | Special to The Advertiser

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Tom cheud is a cabbage and tofu soup with bean threads. It’s also flavored with garlic and fish sauce.

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This salad recipe was adapted for American kitchens — with the help of California Thai cooking teacher Jeerawan Srisathorn — from "A Passion for Thai Cooking" by Sompon and Elizabeth Nabnian (the book, unfortunately, is not available in the U.S.). On O'ahu, you can sometimes find already peeled and shredded green papaya in Chinatown markets. Try 555 Market at Kekaulike and King streets.


  • 2 medium cloves garlic

  • 3 small Thai red or green chilies (or to taste)

  • 2 long beans cut into 1-inch lengths

  • 3 cups peeled and shredded green papaya (cucumber, carrot, or melon may be substituted)

  • 2 tablespoons dried shrimps

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or to taste)

  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (or to taste)

  • 2 quartered roma tomatoes, or 1 beefsteak tomato, sliced lengthwise

  • 1 tablespoon anchovy sauce (optional)

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts

    Put the garlic, chilies and long beans into a mortar and pound roughly with a pestle. Add the papaya and pound again to bruise the ingredients. Add the dried shrimps, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar and stir together using the pestle and a spoon until the palm sugar has dissolved. Mix the tomatoes and anchovy sauce (if using) and pound to combine with the papaya. Add peanuts and mix together. Sprinkle with additional peanuts.

    Serve on a bed of lettuce with a garnish of grated carrots, sliced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, with sticky rice. You also can serve whole boiled prawns on top. In Thailand, this dish is often eaten with barbecued chicken.

    Makes 2 servings.

  • Per serving: 130 calories, 5 g total fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, no cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 6 g protein

    This bright-flavored beef salad also is adapted with Srisathorn's help from "A Passion for Thai Cooking." To make the last ingredient, dry-fry some uncooked sticky rice for 7 to 8 minutes in a wok over low heat and roast until it is brown. Pound well in mortar with a pestle. Galangal is a spicy rhizome sometimes called Thai ginger; you can substitute fresh ginger.


  • 10 ounces (1 1/2 cups) minced or coarse-ground beef (chicken or pork may also be used)

  • 4 thinly sliced shallots

  • 2 slices of galangal, each 1/2 inch in thickness, peeled and finely chopped (optional)

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)

  • 2 teaspoons lime juice (or to taste)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Thai chili powder (or to taste)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus a small amount of water if needed

  • 1 tablespoon coriander (cilantro), chopped

  • 1 spring onion (green onion), chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons palm sugar (or to taste)

  • 2 tablespoons sticky rice, roasted and ground

    Put the meat, shallots, galangal (if using), fish sauce, lime juice, and chili powder into a bowl and mix thoroughly.

    Heat a wok with a small amount of oil to medium heat and add meat mixture, stirring occasionally for about five minutes or until cooked. (May add a small amount of water and cook for a few more minutes, until the meat is cooked, if necessary).

    Transfer the cooked mixture to a bowl and add the coriander (cilantro), spring onion, chopped mint, sugar, and ground sticky rice and mix well.

    Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve with raw cabbage leaves, raw green beans, and spring onion.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving: 346 calories, 36 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 792 mg sodium

    This is one of Srisathorn's own recipes. Anytime you see the word "tom" in Thai, it's soup.


  • 1 (1.31-ounce) package dried oriental bean threads (vermicelli)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 3 cloves chopped garlic

  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetarian broth

  • 1 package soft tofu cut into 1-inch squares (package size may be 1 pound or 1 pound, 3 ounces)

  • 4 ounces (2 cups sliced) napa cabbage

  • 4 ounces (1 cup chopped) cabbage

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or for a vegetarian soup, vegetarian stir-fry sauce) or to taste

  • 4 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Fresh ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander (cilantro)

    Soak bean threads in hot water until soft. In a sauté pan, heat garlic in oil until light brown, and set aside.

    Put the chicken broth in a saucepan. Add the tofu and simmer about 5 minutes. Add the drained bean threads and the cabbage and bring back to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce or vegetarian stir-fry sauce, green onions, cilantro, cooked garlic, and black pepper. Place in a large bowl and garnish with coriander (cilantro).

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving: 172 calories, 7 g protein, 38 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 337 mg sodium

    Adapted with the help of Srisathorn from "A Passion for Thai Cooking":


  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 5 medium garlic cloves, chopped lightly or smashed

  • 1 pound, 2 ounces skinned boneless chicken, ground roughly (or beef or pork cut into slices 1/2 inch wide)

  • 8 fresh green chilies (or to taste), chopped lightly

  • 2 red bell peppers sliced lengthwise

  • 1 cup chicken stock or water

  • 1 1/2 cups holy basil leaves (may use other basil if holy basil isn't available)

    For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce

  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons palm sugar (or to taste)

    Heat a pan or wok until hot, add the oil, then the garlic and the small chilis and stir-fry until the garlic starts to brown.

    Add the chicken, beef or pork and stir-fry until the outside is cooked, approximately 2 minutes.

    Add the combined sauce ingredients and stir-fry.

    Add the red bell peppers and stir again.

    Add the chicken stock, and when it is boiling, add the basil leaves.

    Cook for another minute.

    Turn off the heat and serve with steamed jasmine rice. In Thailand, this dish is often eaten with a fried egg on top.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving: 357 calories, 17 g fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 730 mg sodium, 16 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 2.1 g fiber.

    This is adapted from a recipe by Srisathorn:


  • 6 tablespoons Panang curry paste (or to taste)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic (crushed)

  • 3 tablespoons coconut cream (from the top of the can; if you do not shake the can before opening, the cream remains on top.)

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar (or to taste)

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast (or beef or pork) cut into slices 1/4 inch wide

  • 3 red bell peppers, sliced

  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, rolled and sliced finely

  • 1/4 cup sweet Thai basil leaves (may use other basil if unavailable)

    Heat the 3 tablespoons of coconut cream with the garlic and the Panang curry paste in a saucepan or wok. Simmer and stir at medium-high heat until the coconut cream and the curry paste turn a little translucent and the curry paste becomes aromatic.

    Stir in the chicken (or meat of your choice) and the rest of the coconut milk and simmer until the meat is cooked (about 10-12 minutes).

    Add the red bell pepper and kaffir lime leaves.

    Stir in the fish sauce, palm sugar and basil leaves.

    Remove from heat and garnish with kaffir lime leaves and red chili.

    Serve with steamed jasmine rice. This dish goes well with fresh spring rolls.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving: 327 calories, 12 g fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 42 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber