Thai Ingredients

Phew, it’s been a while! I just came back from a 3-week family vacation in Thailand, visiting my relatives. My dad was born in Bangkok, and one of his sisters (my aunt) still lives there. My siblings and I haven’t been back in 10 years, and it was so enriching to view Thailand with fresh new eyes. Plus, I got to see all my cousins!

In one of the cities we visited (Hua Hin), we all took a short cooking course; so in the coming weeks, you can bet I’ll be posting some Thai recipes.

To start with: an introduction of some Thai ingredients.


Galangal / Siamese Ginger (Kha)
Also called Laos. It is from the same family as ginger with similar shape and color, but is not as strong. It is used for making curry paste, soups, and salads. Dried galangal needs to be soaked in water before use.
Lemongrss (Thakrai)
Lemongrass is commonly used in teas, soups, salads, and curries. Only the lower part is used for curry pastes, and the whole thing can be used in soups and salads.


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Fresh Fruit Tart


Fruit Tart

I had some time on my hands over the weekend, so I decided to do a little experimenting! I have been wanting to find a good fruit tart recipe; I made one with a cream cheese-based filling some time ago, but it wasn’t good enough to warrant a second try. Fruit tarts are something I want to be able to pull out of my back pocket – you can’t deny its loveliness, and making it seemed to call more for planning ahead rather than any particular trick or skill. So, armed with a big cup of joe this morning, I set out to find my favorite fruit tart recipe.


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Nigiri Sushi

I was craving nigiri the other day, and remembered that I saw sashimi-grade fish being sold at a local Asian/Japanese supermarket. Having never made nigiri before, I thought this would be the perfect weekend project. If I’m looking to make a general dish (rather than follow a specific recipe), I usually research 5-10 various recipes, and read up on the dish. Nigiri took a little more research than usual, since there are actually three “dishes” I am making: sushi rice, sushi soy sauce, and raw fish. Making nigiri is harder than it looks – the ones pictured are far from perfect – but I’ll definitely be practicing!

Salmon and Tuna Nigiri… 

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Every now and then, I get a craving for hummus. And, every time I do, I wonder why I didn’t crave it sooner. It makes for such a delicious, healthy snack – especially paired with some fresh whole wheat pita bread. Hopefully, I’ll have perfected a pita bread recipe in time for next week!

Out of the hundreds of hummus recipes out there, the main ingredients are consistently: chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, and olive oil. Frequently, thought not consistently, featured ingredients additionally include garlic and salt. My recipe differs really only in the mix of spices I use, and some of my preparation methods.

Hummus Reipce… 

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Matcha Mochi Cake

Drats, I missed my weekly Sunday post.. won’t happen again, I promise! I’ve been on a bit of a baking spree lately, and have been especially interested in Japanese pastries – they all seem so quaint and pretty. A few that I tried came out well, but were very, very time consuming. So, imagine my delight when I found this latest recipe by Jen from Tiny Urban Kitchen that included only 2-3 steps! Presenting.. matcha mochi cake!

Matcha Mochi Cake
Crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.. this recipe is so simple yet so delicious. I barely made any modifications to Jen’s original recipe save for halving it and slightly reducing the sugar. Give it a try!… 

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Ma Po Tofu, 麻婆豆腐

Cody and I were over at his sister’s for dinner the other day, and the moment he saw that his sister’s husband had cooked up ma po tofu, he immediately pointed at it and said, “Ma po tofu! You have got to make that next.” Ma po tofu is a spicy dish made with tofu and ground pork – its intense flavors burst out in your first bite, and you can’t help but keep eating it! Traditionally, this dish is as hot as you can make it, but since I can only take a moderate spice level, I adjusted the recipe to fit my palette.

Ma Po Tofu… 

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Almond Macarons

When I came across the golden-edged Ladurée Sucré recipe book in Anthropologie, I was sold in all of 5 seconds. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for aesthetics & design, and this was the most beautiful recipe book I’ve come across – to top it all off, this book holds the recipes for Ladurée macarons! The crown jewel of macarons! I’m not at all exaggerating – swing by their store the next time you’re in New York City, and you’ll find the treats there live up to their reputation.

Unfortunately, the recipe steps were too vague for a first-timer like me. My macaron shells had no feet, they were too round, and they cracked at the top. So I tried other recipes and watched videos (this and this really helped). Turns out that the secret to macarons is not so much the ingredients, but the folding technique. Anyway, here is my final recipe & directions – it’s around 80% true to the Ladurée recipe. If this is your first time, I’d recommend trying this out with a small sample, i.e. dividing everything by 6 (using just 1 egg white).

Almond Macarons… 

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Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, 紅燒牛肉麵

Taiwanese beef noodle soup, or, 紅燒牛肉麵 (hong shao niu rou mian), is a staple that you will find in many Taiwanese restaurants. It’s peppery, spicy, savory, slightly sweet.. a perfect blend of spices. My boyfriend was born in Taiwan, and he’s been telling me how much he loves his dad’s 牛肉麵 – perfect opportunity for me to learn a new dish! After multiple tries (and tastings by my boyfriend), here’s a recipe I’ve put together, with consultation from his dad.

Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian… 

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Garlic Herb Baguette

I almost regret the day I discovered half-baked bread. Buy it from your local grocery store (I got mine from Whole Foods), get home and just pop it into the oven.. man, irresistible! Out comes a bread with the perfect consistency with the perfect crunch. Here’s just a little something I’ve been making recently as a side.. okay fine, as a main.. Garlic Herb Baguette.

Garlic Basil Baguette


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Matcha Tea Cookies

I came across Food and Wine’s photo of their Matcha Tea Cake Cookies while browsing the web, and had an immediate craving for them. A cursory glance at the ingredients told me that I didn’t even need to step out of the house for new ingredients – stumbling across this was definitely fate!

Reading the recipe the first time, I missed the “cake” part of their title “Matcha Tea Cake Cookies”, and was therefore wrongly expecting the cookie’s texture to be more like a buttery shortbread cookie. Imagine my surprise when these cookies turned out to have a texture more similar to mini scones! This recipe is very well balanced already, so I barely made any modifications to the F&W recipe, save for cutting down the sugar and upping the bake time.

Matcha Cookies… 

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