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Tag Archives | Thai

Thai Larb

Thai Larb is a pork and raw vegetable lettuce wrap with umami depth and toasted ground rice.

‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’ 

Opal Thai

Opal Thai in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu is one of those not-to-be-missed eating experiences. A block or two from the famous Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice, Thai food lovers, including me, rave about the fabulous dishes.

Opal, the proprietor, has an outgoing, engaging interaction with every table of diners. He greets you then takes the menus out of your hands and chucks them on the bench. “I’ll take care of you, no worry,” and then he administers a pop quiz. “Name five Thai dishes you’ve eaten recently”. My daughter and I have both been to Thailand and love Thai food but we were taken off guard. We stammered through Pad Thai, Satay, Curry and Mango Coconut Rice. He announces, “I’ll take care of you guys and you’ll love it” he prescribes. His only question, “How hot do you dare?”

Thai Larb with Lettuce WedgesIn a few minutes several dishes appeared. We started with Thai Pork Larb and then enjoyed Drunken Noodles and Shrimp with Crisp Vegetables. Wow! I loved it all, every bite; but the Larb, so amazing; crisp raw vegetables, pork with fish sauce and lime juice scooped in a lettuce wrap. I decided to recreate it when I returned to Washington, DC. Two days later while still suffering from major jet lag, I made my first version.

Drawing from notes, Opal memory and “Cooking with Poo”, a cookbook my daughter brought home from her cooking class in Thailand, my first attempt was close. Tweaked the recipe into this version. I’m raving over the umami flavors of Thai food and crunchy vegetables eaten fresh, raw. This recipe is for my family members who didn’t make it to Opals.

You may also enjoy Thai Chicken with Fresh Basil and Vietnamese Kabobs.

2013 AniversaRecipe – Indiana Succotash
2012 AniversaRecipe – Caprese Salad
2011 AniversaRecipe – Panzanella

Recipe: Thai Pork Larb

Active Time: 25 Minutes | Total Time: 25 Minutes | Yield: 4 Servings

Pork Larb1 Tbsp rice
3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 lb ground pork
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 small red onion, diced
4 stalks green onion, sliced
2 Tbsp finely chopped lemon grass
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 large carrot, shredded
3/4 cup shredded red cabbage
1 Tbsp chopped mint, optional

Special Equipment – large skillet

1 Heat skillet on high without oil. Place Toasted Ricerice kernels in the dry pan. Stirring continuously, toast them until they turn golden, about 3-4 minutes. Remove rice kernels to a plate to cool.

2 Add water and ginger to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add ground pork and cook until gray, breaking down into small clumps while it cooks. Take the skillet off the heat.

3 Meanwhile cut the lettuce into 2 wedges. Grind the rice into coarse rice powder with a blender, food processor or coffee grinder devoted to spices.

4 Stir chili powder, fish sauce, lime juice, red onion, green onion, lemon grass, cilantro and coarse rice powder into the pork mixture.

5 Place meat and vegetable mixture on a platter with shredded carrots, red cabbage and lettuce wedges. Make lettuce wraps by spooning pork mixture and shredded vegetables into lettuce leaves.

Add a little chopped fresh mint, if desired.

Serve this as a starter salad before main course Thai dishes or as the main course.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange ground pork for ground turkey or chicken.

InspirationOpal Thai and Cooking with Poo
Cook with Sauces
Thai Larb
Written by
Recipe Tester for The Washington Post
Photography and Styling by Helen Horton
Updated: August 23, 2014

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Mango Sticky Rice

Mango Sticky Rice is sweet rice with sweetened
To personal accidentally all you recommend not tea-tree in will good used being.

coconut milk and laden with ripe slices of fresh mango.

The Sauce: Sweetened Coconut Sauce – This simple sauce is made with coconut milk and palm sugar and heated just enough to melt the sugar.

‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’ 

Sweet rice

Sticky rice is made from a short grain glutinous or sweet rice. When dry it’s opaque but becomes semi-transparent and glossy when steamed. Though the grains remain in tact, it becomes very sticky and almost glued together, hence the name. But, it does not contain gluten. It’s stickier than Asian rice. The chewiness lends itself to a dessert sweetened with coconut milk and palm sugar. Crowned with ripe slices of mango and doused with extra coconut sauce, it’s fit for a queen.

Mango Sticky RiceMango season peaks May to September. Now is the perfect time to find ripe mangos. They’re flown in from the southern hemisphere in the winter so you can purchase them just about anytime if you’re craving Mango Sticky Rice.

My favorite mango memories are from visits to the Philippines where they pick them in the morning at the peak of ripeness and slice and dice them table-side. Wow, a ripe mango on coconut sticky rice is divine. I have friends that patronize Thai restaurants just for this tropical dessert. This rice cooker method (and can also cook in a saucepan) means we can make it at home.

You may also enjoy Nigiri Fruit Sushi, Pearl Balls with Ponzu Dipping Sauce, Thai Chicken with Fresh Basil, Red Curry Tomato Tofu and Vietnamese Kabobs with Dipping Sauce.

2013 AniversaRecipe – Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies
2012 AniversaRecipe – Strawberries and Cream with Pound Cupcakes
2011 AniversaRecipe – Sesame Cashew Granola

Recipe: Mango Sticky Rice

Active Time: 30 Minutes | Total Time: 30 Minutes plus soaking | Yield: 6 Servings

Sweet Rice1 1/2 cups glutinous rice or sweet rice
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 14-oz can coconut milk
3/4 cup palm sugar
3 ripe mangos, peeled and sliced
mint or Thai basil
sesame seeds

Special Equipment – rice cooker or saucepan

1 Soak glutinous rice in a bowl covered in a generous amount of water for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Rinse and drain.

2 Place rice in a rice cooker with 1 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until done. Then allow to steam with the lid on for another 10 minutes.

Sweetened Coconut Milk3 Meanwhile heat, but don’t boil, coconut milk, palm sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a saucepan to dissolve the sugar.

4 Combine sweetened coconut milk with rice 1/4 cup at a time until it is thoroughly mixed but still sticky, using about 1 cup or so.

5 Serve a scoop of sticky rice on a plate or in an open bowl. Ladle a few tablespoons of remaining sweetened coconut milk over each serving of rice. Arrange 5-7 slices of mango on the top or side. Garnish with a sprig of mint or Thai basil and sesame seeds.

This recipe requires sweet or glutinous rice. It won’t work with regular long grain or Asian rice.

Palm SugarIf you don’t have a rice cooker, use a covered saucepan. Bring rice, 1 cup water and salt to boil. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, then allow to steam off the heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.

Palm sugar is a staple in Thailand. Find it either in a jar or in hardened ‘kiss’ shaped pieces. If you are using the latter, use a knife to shave and chop it into small pieces so it will melt more easily.

Traditionally served for dessert with Thai cuisine.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange palm for light brown sugar.

Inspiration – Melanie Butler
Cook with Sauces
Mango Sticky Rice
Written by
Recipe Tester for The Washington Post
Photography and Styling by Helen Horton
Updated: April 11, 2014

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Red Curry Tomato Tofu

Red Curry Tomato Tofu has diced tomatoes and red curry paste in a base of coconut milk with fragrant Thai basil.

The Sauce: Red Curry Tomato Sauce – Tomatoes and red curry paste in coconut milk simmer to infuse the heat and flavors into firm tofu cubes.

‘Great Sauces Transform Good Food into Gourmet’ 

Burmese restaurant

The Washington Post ran a piece in December 2013 on the Burma Restaurant in Chinatown. It closed at the end of that month. The week before friends of the owners invited my daughter to a dinner party at this upstairs hot spot. Raving about the food, she’d discovered their lease wouldn’t renew.

“We have to go before they close”, she promoted with their final days ticking away. We carved out the only common free time, lunch on the 30th, their last day. My son met us. We three ordered several dishes to share/try/taste. Every dish, fabulous, but my favorite was a tofu curry dish. I’m a tofu lover in sukiyaki, wok vegetables, lasagna, smoothies, just to name of few but this is my all time favorite.

I started searching for a similar recipe online, in cookbooks, in food magazines. Didn’t find anything close. Then I Red Curry Tomato Tofustopped at my local Thai grocer about a mile from my place. Talked with one of the proprietors. She showed her red curry paste, suggested basil and pitched virtues of their best brand of coconut milk. It was one of those ‘start with some of this, add that, must use Thai basil.’

Back in my kitchen I set out with fresh ingredients and brought to bear my experience cooking Asian dishes. In 20 minutes the dish’s aroma wafted through the place. Wow! If you aren’t too sure about tofu and love Southeast Asian Rim cuisine, this is the dish.

You may also enjoy Green Curry Chicken Pot Pie, Thai Chicken with Fresh Basil, Vietnamese Kebobs with Dipping Sauce, Pomegranate Feta Salad and Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa.

2013 AniversaRecipe – Wheatberry Blender Pancakes
2012 AniversaRecipe – Thyme and Garlic Polenta
2011 AniversaRecipe – Oven Baked Fries

Recipe: Red Curry Tomato Tofu

Active Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 20 Minutes | Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp Thai curry paste
1 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 lb firm tofu, 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup loosely packed torn Thai basil
steamed rice

Special Equipment – 12” skillet

Red Curry PasteInstructions
1 Heat oil on medium high. Add red curry paste and stir for 20-30 seconds. Take the pan off the heat.

2 Stir in tomatoes, coconut milk and brown sugar. Place skillet back on the heat. Add tofu and simmer for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add Tomatoes and Curry3 Add Thai basil and season with salt to taste. Take off Add Tofuthe heat and serve on a bed of steamed rice. Garnish with a few basil leaves if desired.



The Thai basil will wilt quickly and give off it’s fragrance. Don’t over cook at this point.

This is an easy meatless dinner rich in flavor. It’s also gluten free.

You could also serve this with brown rice.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange diced for hand crushed whole tomatoes.
  • Exchange firm for extra firm tofu.
  • Exchange Thai for sweet basil.

Inspiration – Helen Horton
Cook with Sauces
Red Curry Tomato Tofu
Written by
Photography and Styling by Helen Horton
Updated: February 23, 2014

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Thai Chicken with Fresh Basil

Stir fried Thai chicken dish with fresh basil served with rice.

Thai fish sauce

Thai-Chicken-with-Fresh-BasilMy latest new sauce is Nuoc Nam or Thai Fish Sauce. Looking for a new recipe to try I ran a search with fish sauce and basil. I adapted a recipe from and found the collision of the potent fish sauce with fresh and fragrant basil was an excellent combination. The chicken is easy to stir fry. The sauce becomes slightly thickened as the sugar cooks through the sauce. Served over rice, some of the sauce drips down and coats the kernels with the caramel colored glaze.

Recipe: Thai Chicken with Fresh Basil

Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 8 Minutes | Yield: 4 servings | Level: Easy


  • 3 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 serrano chilies, sliced
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  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut in 3/4-inch pieces
  • hot cooked rice

Special Equipment – wok or large fry pan

1 Combine the fish sauce, water and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

2 Heat oil in a wok on high heat. Add garlic and stir until it smells fragrant, about 10 seconds.

3 Add 1/2 cup basil and the chilies and stir fry 1 minute.

4 Add the chicken and continue to stir fry until chicken is almost cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.

5 Stir in the sauce and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens slightly, about 2 more minutes.

6 Turn off the heat, add the last 1/4 cup of basil and pour onto serving platter. Serve with hot cooked rice.

When buying fish sauce, buy a good quality brand. It only costs a few dollars but it will be worth it. It lasts a long time and makes a good base for marinated fish.

Dish Designer

  • Use either white or brown rice.
  • Reduce or increase the amount of Serrano chilies based on heat preference.
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: May 17, 2012

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