Ever since I had my first taste of Thai food in college, I could not get enough of it. There was a restaurant near Poughkeepsie, NY (about 20 minutes away from my college) that my friend and I would go to all the time called Aroi. It was a homey type of restaurant set in a very quaint village but the food there was phenomenal. I still dream of the many dishes we had tried there. To this day, I have yet to find a restaurant that have matched their quality.
Ever since I moved back home after graduation, I find myself craving Thai food on random days. What little Thai food I had in the city did not satisfy my cravings and I was dying.
Last week, I took my mother out to Times Square to see Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum because she has been asking to go for the longest time. Seeing that it was her birthday, I thought, why not? I haven’t been there either. I decided after the visit, I could treat her to an early dinner. My mother loves Thai food too but she does not get to have it as much as I do. After the visit to the museum (it was a BOATLOAD of fun), we walked over to a little restaurant on 9th avenue called “Breeze” – a Thai-French fusion restaurant. For appetizers, we ordered something called “Golden Bags” – which are essentially fried wontons stuffed with ground chicken and other spices and served with a sweet/spicy dipping sauce:
The name does not sound very appealing but the dish itself wasn’t bad. I wasn’t a big fan of the sauce because it was more sweet than spicy and I can get picky like that. My mother thought the same. For the main entree, she ordered Royal Panang Curry with beef served with jasmine rice:
It was yummy! The only complaint was that the sauce for the curry was a little too…coconut-milk-y. The balance seemed off. And they served very little rice for that massive dish. But other than that, delicious! Even the beef was good and I usually dislike beef from restaurants.
I ordered the classic Pad Thai. My friend once told me that if the restaurant can make Pad Thai well enough, then the restaurant was probably well worth the price. What can I say? It was great. Still not as good as Aroi’s, but it’s up there:
Overall, the restaurant was pretty good and the bill wasn’t too bad for the food. The service was excellent – the waiter was very observant and nice. The atmosphere was quiet but comforting. The decor was cute – a little bit of orange, white, and gray.
I feel like a restaurant critic now…
Anyway, since then, I have been craving Thai food once again. With the beef. With the chicken. With some delicious type of white fish…maybe salmon. Then I realized…today marks the first day of the Holy Week – Palm Sunday. Therefore, during this whole week, my family, being the devout Catholics they are, will not be eating meat – especially on Good Friday. So if I had to make something today, it had to be vegetarian.
With my brother’s restrictive diet in mind, I set out to make two separate types of dishes because, I don’t know about you, but my body burns through vegetarian dishes quickly so I usually eat more when there is no meat involved. A chilled salad recipe came into my head first – something made out of corn, mushrooms, black beans, etc, etc. Then the dressing/marinade would be lemon, red wine vinegar, and some teriyaki sauce. Seasoned with some salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Then it would be chilled in the fridge so the flavors can dance and meld with each other to create something delicious – and HEALTHY! Anyhoo…
- Two cases of white button mushrooms, cut
- Black beans (rinsed)
- Half of a white onion, sliced
- Black olives
- 2-3 teaspoons of minced garlic
- Salt and pepper
- Red wine vinegar
- Half of a lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce
Procedure (it was very simple really):
- First, I coated the mushrooms in olive oil and some salt and pepper and baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes so they get browned and cooked. I didn’t want to risk anything with my brother (I can be protective!).
- While that was baking, I started marinating the corn, tomatoes, black beans, onions, and olives in extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Meanwhile, my brother came by to steal one or two tomatoes while my mother stole the olives.
- When the mushrooms were done, I added it to the salad, leaving maybe a half a cup left for the other dish.
- I added the lemon, red wine vinegar, and teriyaki sauce and tasted it. I determined it needed a little bit more salt. When it was to my liking, I left it in the fridge to chill.
Then I started on the task of preparing the Thai-like curry. So why Thai-LIKE and not just THAI? Okay well – the actual curry recipe (the panang curry that is) calls for shrimp paste and lemongrass. And quite frankly, I did not know where to go to buy it nor did I really want to waste my gas hunting around for one (the price is $4.15 a gallon now! Kill me!). When I do eventually find a store that carries the authentic Thai ingredients, I will be more than happy to make authentic Thai cuisine.
For now, I’ll settle for the mock Thai cuisine. It was still quite mouth-watering.
- One tofu – diced
- Half of a medium white onion, diced
- A can of coconut milk
- Coriander leaves
- Tumeric powder
- Chilli powder
- 3 or 4 seeded dried chilli peppers
- A bay leaf
- The rest of the mushrooms, diced.
- Salt and pepper
Procedure (also ridiculously simple):
- I browned the tofu first in vegetable oil then placed it on top of a paper towel for it to drain and dry up a little.
- I then sauteed the onions and garlic together until they were soft.
- I slowly added the coconut milk, the spices, and the herbs until they all became one.
- While it was simmering, I added the mushrooms and some of the mushroom juice that was at the bottom of the baking dish.
- After about 10 minutes, I finally added in the tofu and simmered it for about 10 more minutes.
I spooned it over some rice and chowed down. Hmmm! Family seemed to have liked it too 🙂
Sighs, my tummy is happy.
Now I’ll shut up and let you relish in the images of deliciousness, tehe.
As the gang from The Weekenders would say – “Later Days”!