Tag Archives: chiang mai

Wat Phra Singh

Wandered around this beautiful Wat the other day, just up the road from the Brown Rice Restaurant and decided to write about it…

http://www.weekendnotes.com/wat-phra-singh-buddhist-temple/

Compiling quite a lot of reviews on this site for Chiang Mai, get ready for a full city guide soon…

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More Progress at Brown Rice/Organic Bistro

Big progress is being made at Brown Rice – both in terms of the book and the restaurant.
There are pictures above of some of the dishes we have been cooking and some of the new additions at the restaurant such as the Citron Honey Soda which is made from special lime-like fruit that has been delivered from Bangkok – not available anywhere else in Chiang Mai right now…

We made Pumpkin stuffed with Thai custard – appropriate for halloween along with a number of other Pumpkin dishes – Fries with Red Curry Sauce and Stir Fried Pumpkin with egg and sweet basil.

Other favourites were the Gluai Khaek – or Deep Fried Banana and the “Son-In-Law Egg” Boiled and deep fried eggs topped with fried shallots and dried chili and drizzled with Tamarind sauce. So called because cooking an egg in Thailand, as most places in the world is considered the bottom line in cooking ability and this variation on a simple dish represents the Son-in-Law trying to impress by doing something a bit different. It’s very popular amongst children in Thailand.

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Chinese Vegetarian Festival at Brown Rice/Organic Bistro

Every year in October Thais celebrate a Chinese festival of vegetarianism known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. It is celebrated all over Southeast Asia but with particular zeal in Thailand where stalls fly the yellow and red flag to signify that they are serving pure vegetarian food for the period. Phuket is where festivities hit their zenith with the 35% Chinese population also indulging in various other religious rites.
In Chiang Mai, Duang is happily celebrating the festival at Brown Rice Organic bistro since it perfectly fits in with the Vegetarian food that he already serves. Expecting more custom during this period as normally meat-eating customers forgo their normal dishes, Duang is serving a set menu each day along with just a couple of a La Carte options so that he can keep up with the demand.

The cookbook has been on the back-burner a little bit in the last week due to the move, this festival and a couple of trips I’ve taken with Sophie before she heads to India to facilitate a Tantra workshop. We had a great couple of weekends in Chiang Rai and Pai.

I have managed to get a few more recipes down though, notably deep fried Mushrooms with garlic, Herb Fried Rice, Deep Fried Tofu, cabbage with shitake soup and Pa Loh (Chinese 5 Spice Stew). I also learnt Duang’s technique for preparing Ready Cooked and Seasoned Shitake Mushrooms which he keeps and uses when necessary, a restaurant secret to make things quicker but also giving a better taste and smell than using fresh!

Today he served Deep Fried Tofu and Mushroom with Sweet and Sour Chilli Sauce, Stir Fried vegetables with Oyster Sauce and a three mushroom soup with Goji Berries.

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Behind the scenes – Gac Fruit juice for Compass magazine

Duang writes a monthly column for Compass magazine where he introduces various vegetarian dishes and new ideas to the Chiang Mai city audience in both Thai and English. With his new restaurant under renovation he invited me over to see his photoshoot for the new issue and see him making some delicious juice from one of the most nutritious fruits available.

I had never heard of the Gac fruit but it is quite popular in Vietnam in particular where it is often eaten as part of festivities such as the Tet New Year celebrations. When I looked into the facts Gac contains some pretty impressive health benefits, over 70 times the amount of Lycopene found in tomatoes and around 10 times the amount of Beta Carotene in carrots.

It is kind of flavourless though and Duang suggested that drinking it unmixed would not be very tasty so we were going to try juice with Orange, pineapple and starfruit.
First the photographers and I prodded and poked the strange looking fruit, showing that this is even uncommon for Thai people, and then slicing one in half the photoshoot commenced.

After some nice shots had been taken Duang scooped out the fleshy insides of the fruit which contain a lot of large seeds. These seeds are black and white, male and female, but it is the pulp around the seeds that we needed to make the juice and it needs to be concentrated. First using a strainer Duang pours water onto the seeds and using his hands scrapes the flesh off into a bowl, this process is repeated 4 or 5 times until the seeds are clean and there is a bowl full of watery Gac fruit flesh. He used around 1 litre of water for 3 Gac fruit.

This liquid is then brought to the boil with a pinch of salt and the resulting concentrate will keep for a long time in the fridge.
We then freshly juiced some oranges and used his “Champion” juicer to juice 2 pineapples and several starfruit. It’s a pretty cool juicer, the juice comes out the bottom and the pulp out of the end… simple.

The Gac fruit may not have a strong taste but it does have a strong colouration and so because of this it would be difficult to distinguish which juice was which. The solution is obvious, as Duang’s food stylist nature comes out and a beautiful garnish is applied to each glass.

After another photoshoot with the finished juices we got to try the pineapple and starfruit (which turned out to be the sour variety so Duang added some honey). Generally these will be served without any added sugar or water though. The Pineapple was especially delicious as was the mix of all three that we had at the end, hopefully this will be a successful seller at the new restaurant.

Speaking of which, it is coming along nicely. I helped with some moving the other day, riding around the city on the back of an overloaded pickup truck, which was fun. The guys had the really hard work though, sawing the edge off a table which we really struggled to get into the kitchen..

It’s coming together now though, Duang has a new sign up and the plan is to open for the soft launch next week..

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I’m writing a cookbook…!

I stumbled across Brown Rice/Organic Bistro while wandering the streets of Chiang Mai and was drawn in by the picture of the Tom Yum drink that advertised the establishment. I went to have a look at the menu which was led by such an unusual idea and was impressed to see an array of delicious looking and fabulously presented dishes.

We went back and had a feast of Banana Blossom Curry Cakes, Thai Herb Salad and Spicy Tofu with Basil leaves (a vegetarian take on Thai standard Pad Krapow)

The food was amazing although the setting was incongruous being in the front of the Green Oasis guesthouse. Its a nice enough place with some fun people but not really the right setting for chef Duang’s excellent food when Tony, the dreadlocked manager comes out dressed only in a towel.

We chatted with Duang about his story as the author of several Thai cookbooks and his work as a “food stylist” for various magazines and restaurants.  Impressed by his love of food and his enthusiasm for new and innovative vegetarian dishes we decided to sign up for a one day private cooking class the following week.


Here he taught us his take on the classic Pad Thai fried noodle dish – with the addition of a very beautiful “egg net” and how to make Tamarind Sauce, which he uses in many of his dishes.  We learnt his take on satay, using tofu and mushrooms and the traditional soups Tom Yum and Tom Kha which are very similar.  Tom Kha has the addition of coconut milk rather than the spicy and sour taste of clear Tom Yum.

During our cooking class we got talking about the prospect of an English cookbook and he seemed interested in working with me after I mentioned my food blogging past. We actually went back several times in the next week because one of his assistants didn’t turn up and he appreciated our help in the kitchen. It was during this time that the cookbook plan came into fruition.

I spent some time on Ko Phangan, which I’ll write about soon, and then came back to meet Duang just before he moves to his new restaurant near the beautiful Wat Phra Singh.

We have been working together for the last week and have already accumulated 7 recipes for the book starting with Mee Gati, thin rice noodles with coconut cream sauce.

I then learnt Curry Soy Cakes which is a variation on his Banana Blossom recipe but with tofu since that is more accessible for a western audience. These are just like Thai fish cakes but suitable for vegetarians and served with quickly deep fried crispy Thai Basil leaves for an aromatic crunch.

Pineapple Fried Rice is a fruity dish in its own right and his crispy tofu with spicy green Mango salad is just unbelievably good.  Yesterday we took part in a free cooking class he gives on the last Saturday of every month as part of a Government initiative to help small businesses. We learnt his take on potato samosas and Salad Khaek or Indian salad, a Thai “fusion” dish which is unlike any salad I have had in India or elsewhere but with a delicious dressing.

I’ll be in Chiang Mai for the next month or so working with Duang and compiling a set of recipes for us to include while learning some fantastic Thai cooking and I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on my progress.

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