Tom Yum Soup + Video

THAILAND. sigh. BRING ME BACK!!!!!

It is just the most amazing mix of beauty and culture. From the elephant studded jungles to the tropical, crystal blue ocean lined beaches, every inch of this country is absolutely remarkable. It’s the people, the history, the location, the agriculture, the culture, the smells and the food – oh my, the food- that all together contribute to the colorful backdrop of what makes Thailand so truly special. 

The old ladies that sit on the side of a seemingly deserted road selling bananas, the proprietors of each stall at the random street long market places that pop-up any where from the middle of a train track to the inside of a series of gondola like canoes in a through fare of canals, to the barefooted buddhists monks, and even the punky, techno music obsessed teenagers, it is the people who make up and truly influence this great country. Each one with their own familial variations, traditions, and of course, recipes. There are a few staple base recipes, but from their each region, town and family ventures off to create their own version of these very Thai dishes.

Sometimes, the recipes vary between fish bases and meat bases depending on whether you lived in the hills and were surrounded by cattle or if you lived on the sea shore surrounded by the most amazing fish and shell fish. Which, aside from the fact that Thai people just so happen to be culturally the most accomodating, genuinely nice people, is why I think it was not difficult for them to help me come up with a way to kosherfy some of their most traditional recipes. 

Each region we went to we got to take a private cooking class in. At the start of each class the chef, assuming that I just wanted to learn how to make some super fancy, Michelin star worthy dish came armed with a slew of extremely updated, over the top, beautifully plated dishes. As soon as I told them I did not want to learn how to make hotel food and was really there to cook something that their own grandmothers made for them the whole experience changed. Each chef, both women by the way (girl power), instantly relaxed, plastered a huge smile on their face and taught me to make the food that they truly like to eat.

It’s not fancy food and not difficult to make. It is however, complex in flavors and mind blowing-ly delicious. In the west we are used to very different types of herbs and spices. So, Thai food seems complicated as these ingredients are not as easily available as say, a carrot. However, once you have all the ingredients in your house, nothing actually takes more than a few minutes of active prep time to put together. 

Over the course of the classes we made Tom yum soup, which is technically a spicy prawn soup, that we kosherfied by swapping salmon for the prawns. We made a fried flounder with a spicy thai mango salad, sticky rice (my fave!!!), Tom Kah Gai soup, which is basically Thailands version of a Jewish chicken soup, and a spicy, fresh hearts of palm (yup, thats right, NOT canned, meaning straight from the heart of a palm tree!) salad. Each recipe was bright, fresh, light enough to not weigh you down in the crazy heat but filling enough to leave you feeling totally satisfied!

I am so excited to be sharing these videos and giving you a small glimpse of all the amazing things I was privileged to learn and see there. I am going to release the videos one by one, each with a printable recipe so that you can recreate these recipes in your own kitchens. 

Before I do though, I just want to share a few things I learned there. 

  1. There are no rules. If you don’t like an ingredient, don’t worry, just swap it out for something you do like.
  2. Taste along the way. It was not easy writing down these recipes for you, because like any really good recipe handed down from parent to child, they included ” a little of this, a pinch of that and a handful of this”. So, trust your palettes and keep tasting to adjust the flavors till it tastes right to you!
  3. SWEET, SOUR, SPICY and SALTY. These are the flavors that are found in all Thai food. Every dish aims to incorporate all four regions of our tastebuds at the same time which is why each bite-ful of a Thai dish sets off a flavor party in you mouth.
  4. There is a Thai version of a mirepoix. It is their “holy trinity” and it is the base of all their soups and stews. Just like any good jewish neighborhood grocery store sells prepackages bundles of all the herb and veggies we need to make a good chicken soup, the Thai market vendors also sell their 3 traditional ingredients all bundled up. Their three ingredients are galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass. 
  5. Limes are crucial. I knew I would love Thailand because we both share a deep rooted love for lime. It goes in and on everything. If you don’t live in a place where limes are always available (like I do 🙁 ), when they are in season, buy a extra, juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. This way you’ll have fresh lime juice all year long!
  6. They put sugar in everything. No joke. I don’t understand because everywhere we went I was clearly the ummmm, I’m trying to think of an elegant way to say this, lets just say they are tiny! The women and the men all have the tiniest waists and the most beautiful skin. Some of them say its from all the coconut they eat, some say its just in their genes (yes, I asked basically every Thai person I met. I mean how can you be 6o and not have a single wrinkle? Naturally?). Whatever it is, it is not because they are on some crazy sugar-free diet. It does however provide a flavor balance to their recipes and really should not be omitted.
  7. Use the freshest ingredients possible. If a recipe calls for flounder, but the flounder in your market doesn’t look amazing, no problem! Buy a different fish. 

Now that you have all the building blocks to take the recipe I give you and make them your own I’m going to help you out by linking the names of some of the produce to websites where you can easily buy them (hint: starts with “ama” and ends with “zon”). 

GALANGAL:

click here for fresh galangal 

click here for dried galangal

KAFFIR LIME LEAVES:

click here for fresh kaffir lime leaves

click here for dried kaffir lime leaves

LEMONGRASS:

click here for fresh lemongrass

click here for dried lemongrass

THAI BIRD CHILES:

click here for fresh Thai bird chiles

click here for dried Thai bird chiles

BUTTERFLY PEA FLOWERS:

click here for dried butterfly pea flowers

PANDAN LEAVES:

click here for fresh pandan leaves

click here for dried pandan leaves

NOTE: These are raw ingredients. The links are for produce that is NOT grown in Israel and there for not subject to the laws the apply to produce grown in Israel. Consult with your own rabbi on how to check these vegetables appropriately.

For the full printable Tom Yum Soup recipe click here.

 

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Kitchen Destination: Brazil

I know that dinner time in many homes is not easy. Even in my own house I would say at least once if not twice a week dinner is actually a struggle. Whether it’s coming up with what to make, or finding something to make that everyone will eat, or actually getting people to eat the food that they normally love, it can be really challenging. 

After months of arguing with my kids about dinner times I finally hit a wall and realized I needed to fix things. That’s how Kitchen Destinations started. Once I tested the concept and realized how effective it was I knew I had to incorporate more of them into our routines.

So, at first it started out with just different locations. Luckily, there’s no shortage of countries with unique cuisines. Truthfully though, sometimes, I’m just not in the mood to start looking up facts, trying new recipes and doing everything that goes along with it. But, what I learned from my week-long culturally themed dinners, was that my kids were so much more excited and willing to try new foods that we, as a family, learned about and “experienced” together, that as long there’s a topic and something to discuss that we can sort of connect to food, dinner will run so much more smoothly.

That’s when I realized, that I’m not limited to only “Kitchen Destinations”. As long there’s a topic and something to discuss that we can sort of connect to food, dinner will run so much more smoothly. I can come up with tons of different “themes” that we can carry out through out the week. I just need to genuinely excited about it, build it up a few days before and get the kids will feed off my energy, get involved and they’ll love it. 

Now, although I still haven’t found way to solve my food-all-over-the-floor, tomato-sauce-covered-freshly-bathed-kids, and before-bedtime-crankiness, at least getting my kids to COME to the table and taste the food has been dealt with. 

Now, onto BRAZIL.

                                    

I am little embarrassed to say this, but in all of the different places my children and I have visited through out our “kitchen destination” journeys we have never done a single South American country. The only reason I can even come up with is that in my limited knowledge of South American cooking I really didn’t know there was anything more besides rice and beans or their version of barbecue. 

Once I got to talking to my friend and neighbor Nomi and her visiting sister-n-law Malki,  I realized how crazy it was to have never taught my kids about an entire continent! After Nomi and Malki agreed to be our culinary “tour guides” through Brazil, everything else fell into plus. Especially, how fitting it was that the first country we should choose to represent South America would be its largest!

                        

After having tasted their “simple” rice beans, I am know completely mortified that we waited so long to learn about Brazil. Although they require very few ingredients they are absolutely delicious and were only matched by the amazing Brazilian dishes we learned to make.

Getting into the kitchen with friends and family is always a recipe for good times and good food. Everything was sooooooo delicious!

I think for my family the highlights were the Beef d’milanese, the recipe we adapted from Leah Schapira and the Pao de Queijo (cheese balls). I don’t think anyone was surprised that the cheese balls would be good, but who knew you could make them gluten free and bake them and they would be just as yummy as the best fried mozzerella stick.

                      

The oven fried beef steaks though, those were a huge shock! hen I forwarded the recipe from Leah to Nomi, I was secretly hoping Nomi would say we shouldn’t make it. Instead she spoke to her mother, adapted the recipe and said it was on. I was nervous that we were basically going to ruin three beautiful bone-in rib eye steaks. Not only were the y not ruined, it was one of the most delicious pieces of steak I’ve ever eaten! So, moist and tender on the inside, but perfectly crispy on the outside. I mean, what more do we really need?

This was the first time we got to experience our Kitchen Destinations with other families and have them come into our kitchen to cook their authentic food right along side of us. It was so fun and special and we are truly so grateful to Nomi and Malki for giving up their time to us. We learned so much this week about Brazil and the Amazon and we really hope you incorporate some of our Kitchen Destinations into your own homes. 

If you have any fun ideas or input for other places we can visit through our kitchen be sure to reach out through email or any of my social media platforms. Would love to hear from you!

Peas and Love,

Danielle

To print out fun facts we learned about Brazil click here

For printable Brazilian Beans recipe click here

For printable Brazilian Rice recipe click here

For printable Brazilian Farofa (loose stuffing) recipe click here

For printable Brazilian Beef d’milanese recipe click here

For printable Pao de Queijo (cheese balls) recipe click here

To watch the Kitchen Destinations: BRAZIL video on you tube click here (Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel while you’re there!!!)

 

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Kitchen Destination: Morocco

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I grew up in a mixed home. My mother was born in Casablanca, Morocco and my father in Brooklyn, New York. Anyone that has parents with that type of combination knows it make for very lively and exciting family gatherings. Aside from all the fun, it also meant that we grew up eating the most delicious food!

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Kitchen Destination: Israel

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Once upon a time, when I was a little girl playing house, I would day dream about all the fun things I would do with/for my children. Have a room where they could color and paint the walls, make jello and let them drink the hot “jello juice” like tea, bring them to different parks all the time, let them miss school as they needed and allow them to explore and learn about our amazing world in any way they wanted.

IMG_3523Then I had kids.

I don’t have a room, or even a wall for that matter, where they can color or paint on. I let them each have a spoon (or two if I’m feeling it) of the yummy “jello juice”. We go to different parks IF the weather permits, no one is sick, we have time, the baby is not cranky, the food shopping is done, and mostly, if I’m in the mood. They are allowed to miss school only once in a while (and I need at least two weeks to recover from having “nobody home besides me” taken away!). The one thing that I was able to follow through on was letting them explore our world.

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