The flavors here in Thailand are a symphony compared to a song. It is not unusual to take a bite and have so many taste sensations going on at once that it can be staggering: sweet, sour, spicy, deep umami and texture.
On my first trip to Chaing Mai everything was a delight (ok, the beans on the ice cream I could have done without), but this trip I am learning more of the nuances and quality of Thai food. There are cooks and chefs, and it’s apparent that it’s not the ingredients that separates the two, it’s the finesse, the grace and the balance.
What I can tell you is that the comparable ingredients that are available to me in NYC are not exactly the same as here. The limes I find sweeter here, and the tamarind more sour than tart- but don’t let that dissuade you. Preparing Thai food is not difficult and the results are fantastic.
I love making this dish with the wasabi peas. The texture is fantastic and the bite of wasabi is not terrifically sharp when balanced with the chicken. My advice is the slice your chicken into thin pieces, or pound out thinly- otherwise the peas can burn before the chicken cooks through. An alternative is you can bake large pieces of chicken, such as breasts on the bone, and that would be fine.
The Thai dressing on the slaw will make you new friends. It’s so simple and so delicious that I invite you to make a batch and pour it over everything you can get your hands on. A great alternative on tomatoes and cucumbers out of the summer garden for instance.
I’ve never been a huge fan of mayonnaise rich cole slaw, nor of it’s picnic cousins potato and macaroni salad- but raw cabbage is delicious and tremendously healthy. I love this dressing on shredded cabbage. The red cabbage when mixed with the acid of the lemon juice draws out the color to a bright pretty pink. Both pretty and yummy- make more than you think- it goes fast.