The Discovery of Thai Food
I love Thai food! My introduction to Thai food was a little restaurant in Berkeley call Cha-Am where my friends took me to when I was in college. It was an extremely popular place on the Northside of Berkeley. Before then, I had never had Thai food. As we ascended the steps up to a well lighted little house, it almost looked like we stepped into someones’ home– lively and inviting. Wonderful aromas filled the air. There were aluminum water bowls for water and an aluminum container filled with rice. The smells and sights were all so new to me. It was quite a treat for the senses! The first time I tasted Thai iced tea, I was hooked! Keep in mind this was in the mid-’90s before all the boba tea places popped up.
Cha-Am’s owners had retired a few years ago, so we were left to find another restaurant. My current favorite in Berkeley is Imm Thai. The setting is very casual and it caters to more street food style.
Is Thai Food Intimidating to Make?
Although I love Thai food, I’ve always been very hesitant in making it. Only recently have I attempted to try cooking Thai food. I don’t know what it is because I’m familiar with most of the ingredients. The flavor profile of Thai food is very different from Chinese food so I’ve been intimidated to try it. A lot of the food is cooked with fish sauce and many tropical ingredients (coconut milk, tamarind sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, etc). I had never really understood what to do with them. I was so surprised when I learned how easy it was to make a dish like Pad See Ew.
Easy Pad See Ew
Today, I’ll be making Pad See Ew from this recipe. Pad See Ew is like a Thai version of chow fun.
I discovered a food blogger named Susan (it’s not me) from Cook With Susan. She took a cooking class while in Thailand (which is on my bucket list of things to do) and shared a recipe from the class she took.
I did make some slight modifications. Above are the ingredients I used. In my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of the integral ingredient, fish sauce! Although the recipe calls for light and dark soy sauce, I normally only cook with Kikkoman soy sauce, which is considered a dark soy sauce. It turned out fine. I added onions when cooking the chicken and used chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts because I find the thigh meat to be tastier. In the past, I’ve substituted the chicken with tofu for my vegetarian daughter and it turned out great as well. If you do use tofu, make sure to get the firm one. This recipe is very easy and it’s quite tasty.
If you want to try a non-intimidating dish, this would be one to try. You will have to go to an Asian market to find fresh noodles, fish sauce, and soy sauce.
Speaking of Cha-Am, recently, I was perusing the bargain books at Half Price Books and found The Elegant Taste of Thailand Cha Am Cuisine for $7.99. It’s a book co-authored by the former Chef of Berkeley’s Cha-Am Restaurant. I think it was meant to be.