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'Last Life in the Universe' Thai Recipes and Photos

 

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  • Image © 2005 Celeste Heiter

The 'Last Life in the Universe' Thai menu features a tempting array of seafood dishes, enhanced with a flavorful palette of coconut milk, lime juice, fresh basil, ginger root, chili paste and nam pla. The recipes include Curry Corn Cakes, Crispy Seafood Cups, Thai Hot & Sour Lemongrass Chicken Soup, Summer Seafood Salad, Chicken Satay, Curried Coconut Shrimp, Spicy Thai Vegetables with Tofu, Jasmine Rice and Tropical Fruit Pagodas.

Curried Corn Cakes

2 cups corn kernels
3 eggs
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Vegetable oil or cooking spray for frying

In a large bowl, combine eggs, cornstarch, salt, and curry powder. Whisk until blended. Add corn, scallions, and garlic. Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for 30 minutes to marry flavors.

Lightly coat a small skillet with vegetable oil or cooking spray and warm the pan over medium heat. Using a ladle, add about 1/8 cup of the corn mixture to pan to form a 3" omelet. When the liquid settles and begins to set, gently distribute corn kernels evenly over the top with a fork. Cook until golden brown on the bottom. Using a spatula, gently turn the omelet over, being careful not to dislodge the kernels from the omelet. When the omelet is lightly browned on the other side, turn it over again to expose the corn kernels, remove the cake from the pan and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat the process with the remaining corn mixture, recoating the pan with oil or cooking spray for each corn cake. Serve immediately.

Crispy Seafood Cups

4 large egg roll wrappers
1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
1/4 pound tiny bay scallops
1/4 pound white fish filet (halibut, tilapia, snapper, etc.) cut into 1" cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 fresh lime, juice only
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh basil

To prepare crispy cups, press the egg roll wrappers into the cups of a muffin tin or cupcake pan. Bake at 325 degrees until crispy and golden, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet, add garlic and onions and saute until tender. Add shrimp, scallops and fish and saute until just opaque. Do not overcook. Add coconut milk, lime juice and cornstarch mixture and simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in chopped basil and remove from heat. Spoon seafood mixture into crispy cups. Garnish with sprigs of fresh basil and serve immediately.

Thai Hot & Sour Lemongrass Chicken Soup

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2" cubes
6 cups chicken stock
3 stalks lemongrass, bottom 6", thinly sliced
1 teaspoon thai chili paste
1" piece of ginger root, thinly sliced
1 tomato, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons nam pla (Asian fish sauce)
2 cups shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
1 lime, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh basil

In a large kettle, combine chicken stock, lemongrass, chili paste, ginger root, nam pla and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain the broth and return to the kettle and bring to a boil. Add chicken and mushrooms. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomato, lime juice and tomato. Simmer for 5 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a slice of lime and a sprig of basil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Summer Seafood Salad

1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
1/4 pound tiny bay scallops
1/4 pound white fish filet (halibut, tilapia, snapper, etc.) cut into 1" cubes
1/4 cup melted butter
4 cups spring greens
2 limes

1/4 to 1/2 cup Thai vinaigrette (to taste)

Combine melted butter, shrimp, scallops and fish in a mixing bowl and toss to coat. Using a stovetop grill pan or electric grill, cook the seafood until just tender and lightly browned. Remove from grill and drizzle with the juice of one lime. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, toss spring greens with Thai vinaigrette. Divide onto 4 salad plates. Top with grilled seafood. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Thai Vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup tamarind soda
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Thai chili paste (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon ginger root, peeled and finely grated

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously and let stand for one hour to marry flavors.

Yellow Curry Paste

1 tsp chili garlic sauce or roasted Thai chili sauce (can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store. 1 tsp coriander
1tsp cumin
2 stalks lemongrass (bottom 5" only, thinly sliced)
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon ginger root, finely shredded
2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon shrimp paste

In a blender, food processor or grinding bowl, combine all ingredients and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside. Can be made the day before and stored in the fridge. Will keep for weeks, especially in the freezer.

Chicken Satay

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" strips
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon yellow curry paste
12 small bamboo skewers

In a shallow bowl, blend coconut milk and yellow curry paste. Add chicken strips and stir to coat. Allow to marinate for 1 hour. Skewer the strips of chicken and grill until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with Thai Vinaigrette as a dipping sauce.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 - 3 tbsp yellow curry paste (to taste)
1/2 pound shrimip, peeled & deveined
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp Asian fish sauce (nam pla, patis, nuoc mam, it's all the same. Can be found in the Asian section)
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
2 limes, juice only
2 tsp sweet basil (fresh or dried)

Pour half the coconut milk into a wok or large saucepan. Bring to a boil, add curry paste, stir to blend. Add lime juice and remaining coconut milk and stir to blend. Reduce heat to a medium simmer, add shrimp, bell peppers and basil. Simmer until just tender. Serve over rice (jasmine rice is especially nice).

Spicy Thai Vegetables

2 Asian eggplants, sliced into 3/4" rounds
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
4 ounces firm tofu, cut into 3/4" cubes
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, finely ground
1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Toss eggplants and bell peppers in sesame oil, place in a shallow pan and roast in the oven at 350 degrees until tender, about 20 minutes. Heat vegetable oil in a wok and saute garlic and onion until tender. Add oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, dried shrimp powder, and water. Stir to blend. Remove vegetables from the oven and add to pan. Stir to coat. Add tofu and basil. Toss gently and simmer for 2 minutes until tender. Serve immediately.

Jasmine Rice

2 cups jasmine rice
3 cups water

Rinse the rice and place in an electric rice cooker or heavy sauce pan with 3 cups of water. Cover and steam until tender (about 25 minutes).

Golden Fruit Pagoda

1 firm mango, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 firm banana, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 can chunk pineapple
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ginger
1 pinch cinnamon (to taste)
3 large egg roll wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying

Cut two 4" squares from two of the egg roll wrappers. Cut the leftover strips into 2" squares. Cut the remaining wrapper into four equal squares. The idea is to have a large layer for the bottom, two medium-sized layers for the middle and a small layer for the top, with a layer of warm fruit compote between each one.

Heat about 1/2" of oil in a small skillet. Being careful not to let the oil get too hot, quickly fry each piece of egg roll wrapper until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large wok or skillet. Add ginger and lightly saute. Add brown sugar and stir constantly until the mixture becomes translucent. Add the chopped fruit and saute until just tender, about one minute. Stir in a pinch of cinnamon and spoon the warm fruit onto the crispy squares, stacking one on top of the other in descending size. The finished dessert should resemble a pagoda.

Published on 9/30/05

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