Anne, from Thai Veggie Kitchen BCN
In 2013 Anne moved to Barcelona from Chiang Mai with 10 cook books and her passion for cooking and creativity (the number of cook books has since grown, by a lot!).
She started a blog, Thai Veggie Kitchen BCN, to help people to cook delicious Thai food and to record her recipes.
As a chef she enjoys learning and adapting techniques from around the world to local ingredients and her dishes from home.
Anne shares with us some recipes for her favourite comfort foods as well as some great kitchen tips to get us in the kitchen, chopping, stir-frying and grinding garlic into a paste.
#Thai #ThaiHolyBasil #FishSauce #DongFang #MarinatedTofu #LaMagrana #SouthEastAsia #IKEA #PadKaphrao #MuPing
How did you get into cooking?
When I was abroad and not a vegetarian, I was trying to make a meatball, Luk Chin (ลูกชิ้น Lūk Chîn). And when you’re yearning for something like that, even when you go to a restaurant, you don’t get the taste that you want or it’s so expensive – for a street food that you can probably get for 10 baht (€0.20c) or 20 baht. So I started to make it myself.
It was the first time I realised how Thai food is so complex and delicate.
What is something you can eat and never get tired of?
Anything with rice, in the Thai way. My favourite dish would be Pad Kaphrao – it’s stir fry with Thai holy basil. Spicy. And that is one of the dishes I find is very easy to make but the perfection of it is not that easy. It’s one of the street foods.
The way I would make this one is fresh chilli, birds eye chillies, both green and red, garlic, even if it’s not Thai garlic it still works. These two things you pound them together in the pestle and mortar, when you’ve got this simple paste, You get the wok or pan, heated with oil. When the temperature is right throw this in and sauté briefly. Then I would use a variety of textures – firm tofu, soy protein (minced), and mushrooms, or you can use whatever meat you want. You sauté and stir fry them and then you season.
If not the vegetarian version you go for fish sauce, or soy golden mountain soy sauce and a little but of siu kaw (ซีอิ๊วขาว Sīx íw khāw) which is a thin soy sauce. And you throw in a little bit of sugar and stir fry them and then the final touch is the holy basil, and after that turn the heat off and after that you have Pad Kaphrao.
Find this recipe in her website.
Where can you get Thai holy basil in Barcelona?
Dong Fang [Carrer de Balmes, 6] has ingredients most of the time and every Thursday they have a new lot coming in. And next door to Dong Fang, first there is a grocery store and then another Chinese grocery. They have quite a variety of fresh ingredients there as well.
Do I need a mortar and pestle for Thai food or can I use a food processor or blender?
The quick fix is the blender but I prefer the pestle and mortar. If you are making for two of four people, it’s going to take you 5 mins to do it. All the fresh ingredients contain oils so usually if you blend them it doesn’t let the oil come out in the proper manner. To me when you take the time to actually pound them you let them release the fragrance, the oil and even minerals sometimes.
Granite or stone is what we prefer for doing pastes for Thai food. The heavier the better.
Where can I get a mortar and pestle in Barcelona?
IKEA sells the mortar and pestle, I saw it and was impressed, it’s not actually made from stone but granite and is heavy enough – and a good price. I think I got mine for about €10.
What do you take to a barbecue?
I would do a marinated tofu to put on the grill. Light soy sauce, mushroom sauce, which is a vegetarian version of oyster sauce, a little bit of honey and garlic. Of course you pound the garlic before you put it in.
Use firm tofu with the liquid already pressed out, cut into cubes one inch and a half. You will need to marinate it 4-6 hours or if you can leave it overnight it’s perfect. That’s going to get the flavour in as much as possible.
And then you skewer it and put it on the grill.
You can eat it with sweet Thai chilli sauce.
This is actually the same marinade as a short version of Mu Ping, pork on a skewer.
Do you have a favourite chef?
My favourite chef is Jacques Pepin, he’s a French chef. He has tremendous knowledge and very, very good technique. The reason why I’m really a fan of his is that, the French have formed so many techniques and it’s so interesting to explore those techniques and play with the local ingredients.
Do you have many cook books?
I have probably 90 books in Barcelona. I brought about 10 and overtime it grew!
One book that I really, really like, especially for people who want to learn about Thai food and Thai culture, is called Thai Food by David Thompson. I was skeptical but I have to give him credit. All of the passion, he devoted himself for 10-20 years in the cooking industry, it’s paid off. I studied history and I can really say that it’s really accurate in the explanations, he tries to make people really understand Thai history, of Thai cuisine and each region. It’s a very good explanation, a good read. And tonnes of recipes. That book is, like, 3 inches thick.
Favourite food shop in Barcelona?
I would say the fruteria [La Magrana, Carrer de Vila i Vilà, 61] close to home, is probably my favourite place to go. They are two guys from here that run the fruteria and I feel like they care about their customers, you go and talk with them and I feel like you’ve got to support local as well.
Sometimes when I’m not so keen to just have to have Thai basil, I’ll probably just buy Italian basil that they sell there and make the Pad Kaphrao with the Italian basil. As long as it’s picante it’s good. I like going there, and the price is reasonable and they have ecological eggs.
Do you have any cooking tips?
I would suggest to get a good knife, one which is actually surprisingly decent, is at IKEA. The new series of IKEA knives that look very similar to the Global knife. You can get a good knife, 6 inches, for €15 euros.
A deep sauté pan – you can use it as a wok or as a pan. It’s my go to pan.
I would suggest a bamboo cutting board.
And a spatula.
With only these things you can cook anything, anywhere.