Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mango & Sticky Rice

Sweet Mangoes are readily available in Asheville this time of year. The best ones can be found at Smiley's in Fletcher. You can get a case of a dozen or so large mangoes for just $12. Just keep in mind that Smiley's is open only on weekends.  Like the Smiley ones, they are Mexican, and are very sweet -  as sweet as any you can get in Thailand.  You can also find Marathon brand mangoes at Greenlife/Whole Foods.  My husband and I love to eat mangoes - freshly cut and sometimes chilled. We also love to make mango shakes and lassis. If we have leftover mango and/or they're ripening too quickly, we like to cut them into small chunks and freeze for later use.  Dehydrating mango strips is something else we love to do.  By far, though, our greatest love is Mango and Sticky Rice, a sweet dish found all over Thailand. I made some the other night (photo below) for a dinner party at a friend's house. It topped off a wonderful meal.  For the really curious, you ought to google Durian and Sticky Rice. 

Asheville has about a 3-4 month mango window, where the best of very sweet Mexican mangoes make it into most supermarkets and farmers markets at reasonable prices.

I will let my husband Allen share his perspective on mangoes:

This is my favorite way to eat very sweet mangoes.  Kade's a machine when she cuts them.  And Thais know how to cut their mangoes, a fruit that's available year round in the "Land of Smiles."  When hungry, I can eat four whole mangoes a day.  The first really sweet mango I ever tried was in New Delhi.  I had a lassi, in fact, and it was incredible.  I remember returning to Headland after my stint in Central Asia and that travel experience in India, and I discovered from Uncle Watty that he loved mangoes.  The ones he would buy, because really good fresh ones weren't available, were actually chilled mangoes in a jar.  He loved them!  Years later, I remember visiting him on my returns home from Thailand, and feeling kind of sorry for him because he would not ever be able to eat a super fresh, super sweet mango that you might just take for granted if you were Thai.  Nowadays, golden Mexican mangoes are making it into our markets, and they are just as sweet as Thai ones.  All I can say is stay away from the reddish-green variety of mangoes in the supermarket, and only buy the golden or champagne mangoes - that is, if you want sweet ones!  When not eating mangoes freshly cut, we sometimes dehydrate them using an Excalibur.  Other times, we make shakes using the Vitamix 5200.  


And when the mango gets really nice and dry, box it in plastic.  Stores forever.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stir-Fried Pork with Red Curry Paste

You might be familiar with Pork with Basil, which is a very popular dish among Thais. There's another basil dish that Thais also love very much. It's cooked with a different type of basil, and it has a wider range of vegetables. Also, unlike Pork with Basil, a red curry paste is added.


1 lb. ground pork (you can use chicken, turkey, seafood,tofu)
1-2 cups fresh Thai basil
1 medium can bamboo shoots
1/2 red bellpepper
4-6 cloves fresh garlic (finely chopped)
1-2 Tbsp. red curry paste
1/2 yellow onion
6-8 mushrooms (sliced)
2-5 Thai chilies
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce (depends on the flavor you like)
fish sauce (to taste)
seasoning sauce (brand Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce)
1 Tbsp. sugar


1. Smash chilies with a stone mortar & pestle if you have one, You can also use the side of knife to do the smashing. When finished with the chilies, go ahead and smash the garlic. Leave these to the side for now.
2. Pick the leaves and flowers off the Basil and discard the stems. Rinse the leaves and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a pan (or wok) until it's very hot. Toss in the chilies & garlic. Let the garlic get brown.
4. When the garlic is ready, add the red curry paste. Let it saute (perhaps two minutes) until you can really smell the fragrance.
5. Add the ground pork. Use your spatula to mixed it around, so that it cooks evenly. Cook until it's no longer red.
6. Add all vegetables, except basil. Let this cook a bit. Stir well.
7. Add sugar, soy sauce & fish sauce. Stir and let absorb.
8. When dry, add water and the basil leaves. Stir until basil is wilted, and serve on rice.

This dish is also excellent without the chilies (for those who don't like spicy foods). Also, in Thailand, it's common for this dish to be served with a fried egg on top. As you're cooking this dish, perhaps you can fry an egg on the side (slightly runny is best).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shrimp with Garlic Chives

This is a simple dish, and one of my husband's favorites. I buy my shrimp and garlic chives (also known as chive flowers) at Fresh Seafood Market. This new Asian market is located in the River Ridge Shopping Center.

1 teaspoon sugar
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined (I prefer heads on)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
3/4 lb Chinese chive flowers, cut

Heat a wok or a pan on high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. After the oil heats, add the chopped garlic and stir a bit. After the garlic starts to golden, add the shrimp. Stir to get the shrimp somewhat cooked. The shrimp shoud start to get a little pink, but not fully pink or cooked. Next, add the chive flowers and stir well with the shrimp. Add fish sauce and sugar. The flowers shouldn't take long to cook. Don't overcook the flowers. You want them to retain their crunchy texture. When the color turns bright green, it indicates that they are cooked. Turn off the heat and serve the dish over rice. Enjoy!