Thai Made Easy with Chef Jeanne Rafetto-Tentis

2lbs. mussels
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
1 T chopped shallots
2 oz. dry white wine
7 oz. coconut milk
1 stalk lemon grass
1/4 T saffron threads
1/2 T curry powder or Thai curry paste
1/2 lime (juiced)
4 shakes fish sauce
1 loaf French or Italian bread (cut into large cubes)
Clean and debeard mussels.  Crush  (with back of chef’s knife) and rough chop lower portion of lemon grass stalk.  In medium saucepan, add coconut milk, wine and lemon grass.  Bring to a scald.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.  Strain and add curry, saffron threads and fish sauce.
In a large pot with cover heat olive oil until smoking, add shallots and saute until soft (30 seconds).  Add mussels, stir, add coconut milk and cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until mussels are open (3-4 minutes).  Watch carefully so milk does not burn.  Do not overcook mussels as they get tough. 
Divide into 4-6 bowls, serve with bread cubes.  Serve as first course or appetizer. 
LARB                                                                         Serves 4-6
Lemongrass/ Mint Thai Salad
1T vegetable oil
1T dried red chili flakes, and/or Thai chilis, chopped fine or thai chili paste, quantity adjusted to taste
1 lb. ground pork, chicken or beef
2 t brown sugar
3T fish sauce
2-3T roasted ground rice powder
1/3 c fresh lime juice
2-3 shallots, thinly sliced
3-4 scallions, sliced thin
1-2T fresh lemongrass, minced fine
3 kaffir lime leaves, cut into fine slivers
½ c fresh mint leaves+ extra for garnish
1 bunch cilantro, some chopped +some for garnish
½ c chopped peanuts for garnish
1 cucumber, scraped, seeded and sliced thin
Butter lettuce leaves
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over low heat.  Add the chili flakes and stir for 5 seconds.  Increase the heat and add the meat.  Cook until browned.  Add the sugar and fish sauce.  Stir to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and add the rice powder, lime juice, shallots, scallions, chilis, if using, lemongrass, lime leaves, mint and some cilantro.  Mix thoroughly.
Arrange on a platter with lettuce leaves and cucumber.  Garnish with mint and/or cilantro and ground peanuts,
Serve with sticky rice.
CHIANG MAI NOODLES                                                               Serves 4-6
Named after a town in northern Thailand, this dish is a creamy broth with bit of chicken, served with fresh egg noodles.  Often served with raw and pickled vegetables.
2T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1T red curry paste
1-2T diced red chili (optional), or to taste
2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
¾ c chicken stock
1 ¼ c coconut milk
1T fish sauce
1T soy sauce
1T tumeric
1 ½ t brown sugar
1 pkg fresh egg noodles
Fresh cilantro
Chopped green onions
Limes wedges
Heat 1T of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.
Add the curry paste and chicken, mixing ingredients well.  Turn up the heat a bit and add the chicken.  Brown for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, tumeric, and sugar. 
Bring to a gentle simmer and continue to cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Set aside.
Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add a generous amount of salt and place noodles in water.  Separate with a fork and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Drain and set aside some of the noodles.
Heat the remaining 1T of oil in a pan.  Add a few “nests” of the cooked noodles and fry until crispy.  Turn and crisp on other side.  Do not crowd pan.  Continue until you have enough for each serving.  Drain on paper towels.
To serve place soft noodles in each bowl, ladle a serving of the curry chicken over them and top with the crispy noodles.  Garnish with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.


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