Thai Isaan Cuisine

I loved the Isaan cuisine of Thailand which I discovered while travelling in the north of Thailand back in the 90s. This article gave me a flashback. There used to be a great Thai Isaac place at Eastgardens in Sydney…wonder if it’s still there?!

Isan food offers much of the best eating in Thailand. Less celebrated globally but hugely popular locally. Although Isan food is less common outside of Thailand, inside the country it can be found everywhere. There are a few qualities and ingredients that seem to dominate: chili peppers, lime, peanuts, dried shrimp, fresh fruits and vegetables, […]

via Isan Cuisines — Thai Regional Foods

Crispy Asian Roast Pork Belly Salad

This is a delicious way to eat pork belly with crunchy crackling and moist roast pork tinged with the flavours of Asia – soy sauce, coriander, chilli, and hints of black vinegar. All it really needs is some steamed greens and jasmine rice on the side for a complete meal. It would also be a very good pre-prepared dish made for sharing or as part of a buffet.

i have read many very different techniques for getting crunchy crackling but I just stick to the simple method of keeping the pork uncovered in the fridge for an hour or two and then drying with a cloth and rubbing the scored skin with generous amounts of salt before putting into oven. (Seems to work every time for me.)

And, as most of the prep and cooking time is just drying out the pork in the fridge and then roasting in the oven, you can get on and do other things without too much fuss.

Prep time: 2.5 hours  Cooking time:2 hours
Ingredients:

750g boneless pork belly, with skin scored both ways into cross-hatch
2 tablespoons soy sauce for marinade
2 tablespoons salt

Salad
half a bunch coriander chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 eschallot or half a red onion very finely sliced
2 tablespoons Chiangkiang black vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Method
Dry out pork belly uncovered in fridge for at least 1 hour or even overnight
Put soy sauce on a plate or in a flat dish and carefully place pork, flesh-side down on top of sauce, taking care not to get any soy sauce on the skin – leave to marinate for an hour

Heat oven to 200 degrees celcius

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Pork marinating in soy sauce

Remove from marinade and carefully place on baking paper lined baking dish/oven tray.

Wipe skin once more then rub salt thoroughly into skin and in between scoring

Place pork in oven, and cook at 200 degrees celcius for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 170 degrees and cook for a further 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn heat to maximum using the top grilling element to grill the pork until crackling starts to crisp up, about 10-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on the pork at this point as the skin can burn easily.

Meanwhile, chop coriander and chillies and slice onion finely,and set aside.

Remove from oven and rest about 25 minutes until medium warm, then cut into cubes, trying to keep crackling and meat connected where possible.

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Crispy roasted pork belly

Mix herbs, onions and chillies with black vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil.

Cut pork into cubes along the scored “lines”

Layer the pork with the herbs mixture, drizzling the dressing over the pork.

Serve with steamed greens and jasmine rice. I also like steamed pumpkin with salted black bean sauce with it and I promise to post that recipe soon.

Serves 2-3 with other accompaniments.

image Crispy Asian Pork Belly Salad with steamed greens and pumpkin[/caption

Okra, corn and tomato fry

If you don’t like or haven’t tried okra because of it’s reputation for being slimy, then this recipe will surprise. Dry frying the sliced okra before sautéeing  with tomato, onion, garlic and corn removes the slime and produces a tasty vegetarian side dish that is healthy and a delicious side dish served with green salad leaves and grilled pork or fish. Okra is full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamin K.

Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 2o minutes

Ingredients:
1 onion thinly sliced
1 large tomato chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
10-12 medium size okra , washed, dried, stalk cut off and sliced lengthwise in half
200g of canned  corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Cajun spice
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves stripped from stalk
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
finely chopped parsley to garnish
Optional: baby spinach leaves or lettuce to serve with

Method
Heat non-stick fry pan over a high heat, add okra cut side down until it browns and the sticky gel emitted dries up. Cook on cut side only. Remove from pan and set aside. (You will need to was pan before using again).

Heat oil in pan then add onions and cook slowly until translucent
Add crushed garlic and sautée for 1 minute
Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper or just the Cajun spice if using latter, and mix through onion and garlic
Add tomatoes and thyme and a splash of water and cook until tomatoes just start to break up (5 minutes)
Add okra and corn kernels and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring gently from time to time to prevent sticking

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Add okra, then corn to tomato and onion mixture

Taste okra to see if it needs additional cooking time, should be still slightly crunchy.
Garnish with parsley, serve on bed of spinach or lettuce with grilled fish or pork cutlets

Spicy shredded chicken salad

This is a light, healthy salad that is spiced up with some fresh chillies and chilli oil. Use the leftover herbs and vegetables in your fridge for the poaching to add flavour to the chicken. The leftover Singapore style poached chicken is perfect to use for this salad.

Prep time: 5 minutes  Cooking time: 20 minutes
Ingredients

2 chicken thigh fillets, fat removed
1/2 brown onion
1/2 carrot
leftover aromatics e.g fennel pieces, celery, coriander stalks and/or ginger
4-5 cups water
3 tablespoons Mint leaves and coriander chopped
2 green chillies finely chopped
2 cups watercress leaves
salt and pepper
2-3 teaspoons Asian Chilli oil
1/2 a fresh lime

Method
Bring water to boil with aromatics
Add chicken and reduce heat to medium to allow chicken to poach for 20 minutes
Meanwhile chop mint leaves, coriander and chillies
Shred chicken with 2 forks
Add still warm chicken to watercress, mint, coriander and chilli.
Add 2 tablespoons of poaching liquid and mix through
Season well with pepper and salt to taste
Drizzle with chilli oil and a squeeze of lime