We had a delightful Saturday afternoon when the Royal Thai Embassy and the Philippine-Thai Cultural Organization (PTCO) held a culinary demonstration.
No less than the embassy’s chefs showed a group of eager participants how to prepare four scrumptious Thai dishes: seafood glass noodle salad, chicken galangal soup, fried shrimp cake and a dessert of water chestnuts in coconut milk. After the cooking demonstration, the participants were divided into groups and were made to prepare all the dishes themselves, with help from the embassy chefs and staff.
Luckily, the hands-on session worked well, with all the groups successfully replicating the flavors and textures of the salad, soup, shrimp cake and dessert.
Known for artistic food presentations, Thai cuisine makes ample use of aromatic herbs, spices and seasonings to create well-balanced flavors. This singular harmony of sweet, salty, spicy and sour tastes were present in equal measures in the dressing for seafood glass noodle salad, which was a blend of sugar, lemon juice, fish sauce, garlic and chilies.
Likewise, the coconut milk base of the chicken galangal soup was enlivened by lemongrass, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, coriander roots and leaves and lime juice.
The shrimp cake, on the other hand, was perked up by a sweet plum sauce.
Composed of Filipinos who are residing or have resided in Thailand, as well as of Thais living in the Philippines, the PTCO aims to develop and strengthen the ties and friendship between the Philippines and Thailand. It also organizes cultural and study tours in both countries.
Held with the support of Ambassador of Thailand to the Philippines Prasas Prasasvinitchai, the cooking demonstration was certainly a delicious way to promote these ties.
Here is the recipe for seafood glass noodle salad, which can either be an appetizer or a first course for lunch or dinner.
Seafood glass noodle salad
150 g fresh mussels
Water for boiling the mussels and for the seafood
100 g glass noodles (vermicelli or sotanghon)
4 c water, for soaking the noodles
100 g ground pork
4 c water for boiling the noodles and seafood
150-200 g fresh medium-size shrimps, peeled
150 g fresh squid, sliced (remove ink sacs)
1 large white onion, sliced vertically into thin wedges
1 large tomato, sliced vertically into thin wedges, seeds removed
2 celery stalks, leaves separated, stems cut into bite-size pieces
½-1 c roasted peanuts
For the dressing:
¼ c chopped garlic
1-2 sliced fresh chilies (siling labuyo), diced
¼ c sugar
¼ c + 2 tbsp fish sauce
½ c fresh lemon or lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
Wash and clean the mussel shells well. Boil them in water until all the shells open. Discard shells that don’t open. Let cool, then remove the mussels from the shells.
Soak the glass noodles in the four cups water for 10 minutes. Drain well.
Pour a small amount of water into a skillet. Add the ground pork. Simmer pork over medium heat until the ground pork is fully cooked. Remove the pork from the pan and let cool.
Drain the glass noodles. Heat the four cups water in a small pan to boiling. Add the glass noodles and let boil until noodles are tender. Remove noodles from the pan and let cool. Do not throw out the water.
Add the cooked mussels, shrimps and squid into the same water and let boil, just until shrimps and squid are cooked (do not overcook). Drain all the seafood and transfer to a bowl.
Prepare the dressing:
Crush the garlic and the chilies. Mix the sugar, fish sauce and lemon or lime juice and salt with the garlic and chilies. Blend well.
Assemble the salad:
Transfer the cooked pork, glass noodles, squid, shrimps, mussels, onions, tomatoes and celery to a salad mixing bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss well. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the roasted peanuts before serving.
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Make sure the seafood, especially the mussels, are very fresh. Discard any mussel shells that don’t open after boiling.
Do not soak the noodles too long in water. Likewise, do not overcook them so they don’t become soggy.
For a spicier salad dressing, add more chilies.
For a less spicy salad dressing, use less chilies and remove the seeds.