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  • Writer's pictureMolly

Favorite Regional Thai Recipes from Culinary School

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Northern Thai Rice Salad

Bangkok has recently lifted it's shelter in place order and within a few weeks my Intermediate Thai Cuisine course started back up. So I jumped right back into a busy schedule of early morning classes and hectic afternoons in the practical kitchen. The intermediate course introduces regional cuisine, so I've been introduced to a lot of new (to me) ingredients and dishes. Some dishes have really struck me as very flexible and adaptable and especially fun to riff on or cook at home. Below are some of my favorites!

Dipping Sauces

Thus far in the tern, I think the recipes that got me the most excited are two sauces from the North East of Thailand, the Isan region. The first is a spicy dipping sauce intended for BBQ meat, called Nam Chim Chaew. It is sour and spicy and beautifully aromatic from a very uniquely Isan ingredient: roasted rice. The roasted rice acts a bit like toasted sesame seeds, it provides a mild roasted aroma and a bit of crunch and body to the sauce. This dipping sauce would be an incredible addition to any BBQ and it's really easy to throw together.

isarn style bbq chicken and dipping sauce recipe

Nam Chim Chaew

(Grams are exact and teaspoon measurements are educated estimations)

20g (2.5T) palm sugar (or honey)

45g (3T) fish sauce

50g (3.5T) tamarind juice

30g (2T) water

10g (4T) ground roasted rice

30g (about 1/2 shallot) shallot, thinly sliced

5g (about 1 onion) spring onion, thinly sliced

5g (about 4 leaves) sawtooth coriander or (small palm full) cilantro, thinly sliced

10g (2 T) lime juice

3g chili flakes, about 2 large pinches (adjust to your taste)

Method: Combine the palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind juice and water in a small sauce pan and heat up on Low just until the palm sugar is dissolved. Take it off heat to cool.

To make the roasted rice, just toast some sticky rice in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring continuously on Medium heat until you reach a golden color and can smell it's toasty aroma. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Once cool, grind it in a mortar and pastel or a spice grinder. It should be a rough sandy texture.

Just before serving, add the roast rice to the pan of melted palm sugar mixture. Add in the lime juice, chili flakes and the sliced fresh herbs and shallots. Taste to adjust salt, sour and spice to your preference. This sauce should be sour first, and then salty on your palate. Serve as a dipping sauce to accompany any type of roasted or BBQ meat or vegetable. I am certain this will be a crowd pleaser!

Seafood Dipping Sauce

The next sauce is intended for seafood, but it could be amazing on tacos, dumplings or BBQs as well. It's one of my favorite fresh dipping sauces, and has become a staple in my rotation. It is really bright from the lime juice and aromatic from the coriander and chilies - it adds a vibrancy to any dish. Adjust the quantity of chili to your desired spice level and remove the seeds from the chilies if you want to reduce their heat. I suggest using gloves to remove chili seeds as their capsasin can get irritate your skin for a few days. If you want this to be totally mild, substitute the chilies for bell pepper. You can use either green or red chilies for this sauce, but green is often preferred.

Seafood Dipping Sauce Recipe

10g (1T) Bird's eye chili, fresh

5g (1/2 t) small bird's eye chili, fresh