keito potato


Su Ki Jeh Ruyi Vegetarian Restaurant in Bangkok
July 2, 2013, 6:13 am
Filed under: Food-Focused Travelogues | Tags: , , ,

I sent a month in Thailand during my holiday for the Chinese New Year.

To get ready for the trip, I did some online research about street food in Bangkok, and discovered this food blogger who is passionate about street food in Bangkok, and has an e-book about eating vegetarian in Thailand.  The e-guide was a good investment at around $6, because I learned some phrases for ordering dishes vegetarian, learned a broader spectrum of Thai dishes, and I was introduced to some phenomenal vegetarian restaurants in Bangkok.

Su Ki Jeh Ruyi was my favorite vegetarian restaurnt on his list.  It’s a simple place near the Hua Lamphong train station and MRT station, which made it extremely convenient.  It was packed until late at night with older locals, and we were the only westerners during our visits.

vegetarian tom yum noodle soup

The first time I was there I fell in love with a vegetarian tom yum noodle soup.  The broth was electric, simply stunning with strong flavors of kaffir lime, ginger, and chili.  My friends and I were crazy about it and returned to the restaurant 2 more times.  This poor photo was taken late at night with an older camera, and it can’t capture how amazing this soup was.  You can see the pretty curve of the fresh oyster mushrooms, but you can’t see the vividness of the elecric broth.

eating vegetarian tom yum noodle soup

Here I am eating the tom yum noodle soup.  We had a long day of walking in the heat, and this soup was restorative and bright at 9pm.

vegetarian sign

Vegetarian sign above the restaurant.

Location: 285 Soi Phraya Singhaseni Street, Bangkok, Thailand, 13330

Direction: The restaurant is located right around the corner from Hua Lamphong MRT station and train station.  From the MRT station, take exit #3 and turn left to head backwards, away from the train station.  Take a left on to Soi Phraya Singhaseni, and it’s just 50 meters down the road on your right hand side.



Issan street food carts in Thailand
July 2, 2013, 5:41 am
Filed under: Food-Focused Travelogues | Tags: , , , , , ,

I spent a month in Thailand during my holiday for the Chinese New Year.

I fell in love with Issan street food carts.  Issan is a northeast region of Thailand, bordering Cambodia.  The weather is super-hot, so the cuisine is based on salads and refreshing lime and chile flavor profiles.

green papaya salad

This is one the most famous Issan dishes, the green papaya salad.  It has a lime-chili salad dressing, and is garnished with peanuts.

Issan lunch cart

This Issan lunch cart on Koh Tao island made phenomenal food.  It’s where the locals in the neighborhood came to eat.

green papaya salad

This green papaya salad on Koh Tao had a good dose of shredded carrots.

Molly's green papaya salad

Molly’s green papaya salad was so delicious that she wanted to inhale it.

gaang aom

I read this e-book guide about eating vegetarian food in Thailand, and learned about gaang aom, a phenomenal Issan soup made from pumpkin, mushrooms, baby green eggplants, and leafy greens.  I absolutely fell in love with this refreshing, restorative soup, and ate it for several lunches in Thailand.

baby green eggplants

These are the baby green eggplants that are used for the gaang aom soup, as well as a myriad of other Thai dishes.

gaang aom

Another amazing bowl of gaang aom soup.

 in love with gaang aom

I was in love with gaang aom soup!  It’s served sticky rice, which you can dip into the soup.

mushroom soup

This mushroom soup is similar to the gaang aom soup, but has fewer greens.

fermented bamboo salad

Fermented bamboo salad, garnished with mint leaves.  It has a chili-lime dressing, and a tiny bit of ground toasted rice for texture.

fermented bamboo

Shredded bamboo in the vegetable market.

M + A

Enjoyed Issan lunches with friends Molly and Andrew.

flowers

M + A

Friends Molly and Andrew are tucking into mushroom soup and green papaya salad.

Issan lunch cart

Another Issan lunch cart.

flowers



Belgian Herbed Carrot Soup
May 5, 2012, 1:05 pm
Filed under: recipes, soups | Tags: , , ,

A lovely soup, flavored with the classic Belgian trio: leeks, thyme, and bay leaf.  This was the first course at the Belgian meal with my vegetarian cooking group last weekend.  We started by making a simple vegetable broth (the one I previously posted), and then built this soup following the recipe from Ruth Van Waerebeek’s Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook.

These days, it’s common to make pureed carrot soups with ginger and curry flavors, but I tend to prefer pairing carrots with fresh green herbs.  Apparently, traditional Belgian cuisine highlights the best of Medieval European cooking skills.  This means that they utilized fresh local European herbs before the spice trade.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

BELGIAN HERBED CARROT SOUP

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts

1 large onion

6 cups vegetable broth (you can use my easy basic broth recipe, or used boxed broth)

1 – 1/2 pounds carrots

1 large baking potato

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 – 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 cup milk

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

METHOD

Wash and thinly slice the leeks into rings.  Slice the onion.  Peel and slice the carrots into 1-inch slices.  Peel and cube the potato.  You don’t need to be precise in your chopping, since you will puree the soup at the end.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks and onion.  Cook, stirring until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, the carrots, potato, thyme, and bay leaf.  Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very soft, 35-40 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool a little.  Discard the bay leaf.

photo by Joyce Hiendarto

Puree the soup with a stick immersion blender.  Stir in the milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Reheat the soup and serve sprinkled with minced parsley.  



Egyptian Lemony Red Lentil Soup
February 19, 2012, 1:41 pm
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The lemony red lentil soup comes from Egypt, but it’s a common soup all over North Africa and the Middle East.  I often enjoyed it as a first course when I spent time in Lebanon and Syria in the summer of 2009.  It has enough lemon juice, garlic, and cumin to be interesting, but not overpowering.  Don’t be intimidated by the amount of garlic in the recipe.  The whole cloves acquire a mellow and soft flavor when simmered as whole cloves in the soup.

This soup is made with red lentils (masoor dal), that are orange when raw, and turn goldenrod-color when cooked.  They disintegrate a bit when cooked (similar to split peas), but a quick whirr with the immersion stick blender smooths the soup out fully, pureeing the onion and whole garlic that have softened during simmering.  When the potato cubes in the soup get pureed, they soften out the texture of the soup and give it body.

It’s simple to pull together for company.  Because you puree the soup, you only have to roughly chop the onion and potatoes, and use whole garlic cloves.  Just simmer everything, then puree it all at the end.  I had friends over for lunch two days ago, and served this soup paired with olive-bread panini and mint tea.  It would also be nice with a Middle Eastern salad like fattoush or this parsley salad.

EGYPTIAN LEMONY RED LENTIL SOUP

1 cup dried red lentils

2 cups roughly chopped onions

2 cups chopped potatoes

8-10 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

5 cups water

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

3-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)

salt and black pepper to taste

METHOD

Wash the red lentils in several changes of water, and rinse.  Do this in the way that you wash and rinse rice.  Combine the lentils, onion, potatoes, garlic, and water in a large soup pot.  Cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until everything is tender, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

In a small skillet on low heat, warm the oil until it is hot but not smoking.  Add the cumin, turmeric, and salt.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.  Take care not to scorch the spices.  Add this to the soup.

Puree the soup with an immersion stick blender until smooth.  Add the lemon juice.  Reheat gently and season with salt and pepper to taste.



French Mushroom Soup
January 24, 2012, 12:10 pm
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Yesterday’s rainy weather inspired me to make a pot of soup to warm up.  My mom has been making my Aunt Marty’s French Mushroom Soup for as long as I can remember.  Aunt Marty and her branch of the family have lived on communes over the decades, including the Hutterite variety, so it’s possible that this is a Hutterite soup.  Hutterites make fruit and grape wines, so I imagine they must cook with it as well.  This soup is quite similar to a French onion soup, except that it centers around mushrooms instead of onions.  Since I am a vegetarian, I have substituted vegetable broth for the other, and I like to make the vegetable broth from scratch when I have time, as I did today.  Yes, it’s indeed possible to make rich, dark, French-style soups totally vegetarian.   How could a soup made from white wine, meltingly-soft onions, mushrooms, parmesan, and herbs not be delicious?

I have improved on my aunt’s recipe by adding fresh herbs from my garden, as well as increasing the amount of white wine and garlic.  Aunt Marty’s recipe calls for white button mushrooms.  That’s what I used today, but I often substitute crimini mushroom instead, or use half-and-half.  It’s really quite easy to pull together, as long as you have an hour for simmering.

FRENCH MUSHROOM SOUP

2 lbs. (4 blue boxes) fresh mushrooms (button or crimini, or a combination)

1 large onion

3 garlic cloves

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons tomato paste

8 cups vegetable broth (here is my recipe, but you can use broth from the store)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup fresh parsley

3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish

croutons are optional for garnish

METHOD

Slice the mushrooms thinly.  Cut the onion in half, then slice it thinly.  Mince the garlic.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic.  Saute until tender, about 10 minutes.

During this time, chop the parsley and remove the thyme leaves from the stems.  When the mushrooms are tender, add the herbs and tomato paste.  Simmer about 1 minute.  Add the white wine, broth, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 1 hour, then serve with more parmesan as garnish, plus croutons if you like.



Basic Vegetable Broth
December 28, 2011, 12:00 pm
Filed under: recipes, soups | Tags: , , ,

I’m sharing this recipe because it’s so difficult to find a good vegetarian broth recipe.  Many believe the myth that good soups have to be built on a foundation of meat or meat broth.  It’s possible to build a fantastic soup on vegetarian aromatics, but you might need some guidance to do it well.  I’ve tried several vegetarian broth recipes over the years, but they were usually too bland or too garlicky.  This trustworthy, balanced, and rich broth comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry.  Of course you can used boxed broth from the grocery, but homemade broths take soups (and risottos) to the next level.

These vegetables in the photo create the broth, displayed in their cut form.  The onions cook quartered with skins on, the garlic cloves are smashed but have their skins intact, and the celery, carrots, and mushrooms are sliced.

You may want to add an additional herb or vegetable, depending on what you plan to do with the broth, or use leftover scraps and stems of vegetables.  For instance, this week I added the dark green sections of several leeks to prepare the broth to make leek and potato soup.  Warning: I added a few brussels sprout leaves once, and the broth was good that day, but tasted too cabbage-y the next day as leftovers.

BASIC VEGETABLE BROTH

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large onions, quartered (include the skin)

1 large carrot, sliced

4 celery ribs, sliced

8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

1 whole garlic bulb, unpeeled, broken up, and smashed with the back of a knife

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

9 cups water

METHOD:

In a stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil.  Add all of the ingredients except for the water.  Saute, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are meltingly tender, about 1 hour.  If you have extra time, you can turn off the heat and let the broth sit for another hour or two to enrich the flavor further.

Strain the vegetables, pressing down on them to extract all their liquids.  Discard (and compost) the cooked vegetables.



Julia Child’s Mediterranean Tomato Rice Soup with Basil and Leeks
August 19, 2011, 3:04 pm
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My mom has been making this classic Julia Child soup for ages, so I have nostalgic summer memories of it.  My friend and I made it last week alongside a quiche, and I made another batch last night to welcome my parents home from  a long trip.  My mom was astonished, saying she had been craving this particular soup during her travels and had planned to make it once she got home.  This recipe comes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol 2. (the one with the blue cover).  On the first page I see my Grandma Erna’s handwritten note to my dad: “for Rick, to add to your knowledge of the good things in life – Love, Mom.”  What a treasure.

It’s a simple peasant soup, a breeze to make with basic ingredients.  Since I am finally experimenting with growing herbs, I was delighted to use basil and parsley from my backyard.

Julia tells us to chop the tomatoes to make a chunky soup, but my mom always purees the tomatoes smooth before adding them to the kettle.  I’m including both versions here.  If you don’t have a cheesecloth for the herbs, you can simply stir the herbs into the soup and let them be.  Chop the parsley and basil first, if you’re not using a cheesecloth.

 

 

JULIA CHILD’S TOMATO RICE SOUP WITH BASIL AND LEEKS

3/4 cup leeks, or a combination of leeks and onions

3 tablespoons olive oil

1  1/2 lb tomatoes (fresh or good-quality canned whole plum tomatoes)

4 large garlic cloves

5 cups light vegetable broth

1/4 Cup raw white rice

The following tied in a cheesecloth:

6 parsley sprigs

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon thyme

4 fennel seeds

6 large basil leaves

a large pinch of saffron threads

salt and pepper

few pinches of sugar

1 teaspoon or more tomato paste

salt and pepper

2 or more tablespoons fresh basil, minced or sliced

METHOD:

Thinly slice the leeks.  Heat the oil slowly in a large heavy-bottomed pot.  Cook the leeks slowly in the olive oil until the leeks are tender but not browned. 

Meanwhile, either chop the tomatoes or puree them in a medium bowl with a hand-held immersion blender.  Mince or mash the garlic.  When the leeks are tender, add the tomatoes and garlic and stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes.

Then add the vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then add the rice.  Add the herbs and saffron.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes.

Carefully taste for seasoning, adding pinches of sugar to bring out flavor and counteract acidity, and small amounts of tomato paste if needed for color and taste.  Remove the herb bouquet if using a cheesecloth.

Julia recommends serving the soup either hot or chilled (I’ve only had it hot), sprinkled with fresh basil.