Monday, September 15, 2014

Tom Kha Gai and Coconut Rice

Another dish I have been meaning to make for quite some time. These copycat recipes are my two favorite dishes from two different Thai restaurants in Haleiwa: Opal Thai and Haleiwa Eats. 

I have eaten at Opal Thai three times. Each has been an experience. It's a small place with a long line and an owner (Opal) who oversees everything, and I mean everything!  He talks to the people in line and takes their names for the waiting list. He decides who goes in next never mind when you arrived. He takes your order, kinda, by asking a few questions like how spicy, do you eat meat, what kind of Thai dishes have you had before. And then he delivers your surprise meal, always several courses. Obviously--because a meal in an expensive restaurant wouldn't be complete without the owner coming out to check on you--he comes back to check on you and make sure you are happy with the experience he has designed for you. I always am. 

I have liked everything I have eaten there but the Tom kha is the one dish that has blown me away. I could eat it everyday! Or at least every month. My pocketbook can't handle that (and Opal won't let you make your own order anyway--yes, a little soup nazi-ish) and so I have been thinking about and researching and trying to figure out for a while how to make it myself. It ended up being quite easy. 

Dani's copycat recipe of Opal Thai's Tom Kha Gai

Combine in a regular size crockpot:
2 cans coconut milk
2 cups water
2 T chicken bouillon
2 T brown sugar
2 T fish sauce
2 T curry powder (I buy mine at Costco)
6 quarter inch slices of fresh ginger
1 stalk lemon grass, sliced small like green onion
4 oz fresh mushrooms, washed and halved or quartered
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 t lime zest
1 Serrano chili (or a portion thereof depending on desired heat. I'm a whimp and used 3-1/4" slices)
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2" pieces

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Before serving add 1 T lime juice to the pot and stir. Ladle soup into bowl and garnish with a drizzle of chili oil, large pinch of fresh chopped cilantro and a lime wedge. 

Haleiwa Eats is another Thai restaurant in Haleiwa. It's a cute place, kinda quiet and usually has a short wait to be seated. My favorite dish here is their coconut rice. Now it has been a long time since I've been there so it's hard to say that this is a true copycat recipe, I just haven't compared the two close enough. So instead this is my interpretation of what I think I remember coconut rice should taste like. I should also say I know nothing, repeat nothing, about different kinds of rice. I suppose this should probably be made with a special rice like jasmine rice. I really don't know and don't care. If you know more about rice let me know why I should care--like if it will improve the taste and why--and maybe I'll try your suggestion. Until then I was pretty darn happy with how this turned out and will keep it as is. Ready? This is a tough one...

Dani's Coconut Rice
In rice cooker add
3 scoops white rice 
1 can coconut milk
Add water to suggested depth for 3 scoops according to manufacturers directions. 

Press the white rice button and walk away. When rice cooker beeps add 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup sugar, and a spritz or two of lime juice. Stir to combine and serve.  Delicious served for breakfast, dinner or dessert!

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