Jasmine and Kaffir Dreams
posted by Stephanie in Indulgences
When I travel through cities I love to walk through the streets organically and every so often I’ll stop at a corner, close bye yes and inhale deeply. The olfactory me more is a powerful one and I believe each city has its own distinct “scentscape”. Baking baguettes and butter in Paris wafting from the vents of the boulangeries… Five spice, lemongrass barbecues, sweet fried shallots and steaming pots of Pho in Hanoi… Sugary fried waffle goodness in Brussels… Kaffir lime’s unique citrusy yet floral scent mingling with fish sauce, lemongrass and fresh chillies dancing through the muggy Bangkok air… These aromas add so much more to the ambience of a place and if we trust our tempted noses and hungry stomachs we can discover some amazing hole-in-the-wall eats.
Ian Kittichai is Thailand’s first real “celebrity chef” who has a unique background. He began his adventure into the food world by pushing a food cart through his Bangkok neighborhood as a child and fate took him to be the very first Thai national to be an executive chef of a 5-star establishment – the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok. The rest as they say is history! I absolutely love Bangkok specifically because nowhere else in the world you can find this street food culture so tightly intertwined with luxury living. The two don’t clash but in fact live harmoniously in symbiosis. Ian’s famed restaurant and bar Issaya Siamese Club takes traditional Thai cooking and mixes it with progressive western influences as well as some street food elements. Barbecue in the garden with kaffir lime mojitos anyone? Luckily for us at The Gypsetters Net he shared with us a deliciously fragrant recipe as well as his favorite street food haunts in Bangkok. www.issaya.com
Catch Chef Ian Kittichai’s show “3 Chefs 1 City” on the Asian Food Channel Tuesdays at 9pm www.asianfoodchannel.com
Love and Light, Stephanie
The Gypsetters Net: Name three ingredients that for you describe Thai cuisine in a nutshell.
Chef Ian Kittichai: For me definitely lemongrass, kaffir lime and chili. Chili is one of the ingredients that don’t necessarily say Thai but we consume a lot of it. Lemongrass and kaffir lime, you put in salad and curry. You see a lot of these three ingredients in many of our dishes.
TGN: Share a childhood food memory and have you tried to reinvent it in your dishes?
Chef Ian: I see my mom do the stir-fried kangkong or morning glory all the time but I never asked her how to do it so I tried to do it myself. Before, I put garlic in the wok first and every time it burned because the heat was so high. Apparently you put everything in the same bowl first. Get the wok hot until smoky then throw everything in. One go. And that was it. I learned by watching the street vendors do it.
TGN: Name your three favorite foodie destinations in Thailand and why? You can also be very specific like a particular stall or resto in a particular place for a specific dish.
Chef Ian: If you like street food, in Sukhumvit 38 in Bangkok. Noodles with crab meat or char siu. Congee at five in the afternoon. One of the best mango sticky rice. Then to the Golden Mountain for Pad Thai. Opposite the 38 is 55, which has crispy oyster omelet, adapted from a Chinese version. Less gluey, more crispy. And closer to Chinatown, there is crabmeat omelet, western-style but cooked in a lot of oil that’s why it tastes so good. Each area has a specialty, but in Silom, it’s mostly mixed.
Khanom Dok Mali Jasmine Panna Cotta
Yield: 4 servings
- 3 grams agar-agar powder
- 275ml heavy cream
- 40 grams sugar
- 3 drops jasmine essence
- ½ cup papaya
- ¼ cup ripe mango
- ¼ cup tangerine, segmented
- ¼ cup dragon fruit, cut into bite size
- 12 pieces rolled coconut wafers
- 4 grams crispy puffed rice
In a small saucepan, bring agar-agar and cream to a boil over medium heat. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved, remove from heat. Stir in essence and divide equally into 4 ramekins (80 milliliter size). Chill at least 2 hours or until flan is set.
Put flan ramekins in hot water for 10 seconds and run a knife around the edges to loosen. Unmold onto plates. Decorate with all fruits, rolled coconut wafers, crispy puffed rice and serve immediately.
*photo credits care of the Issaya Siamese Club
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.