2013 has been another great year for the boyfriend and me. Between learning how to cook new Thai dishes and perfecting old ones, meeting new friends who share our love of Thai food, and taking on a Thai food writing gig at Answers.com, this year has been filled with wonderful new Thai food-related experiences. Like last year, I thought it would be nice to highlight some of the dishes we’ve enjoyed over the past year. This year, I published 36 different recipe and experience posts, averaging 3 posts per category. Here are some of our favorites:
1. Favorite Appetizer: Grilled Pork Skewers served with Jaew (both of us)
There’s really no way you can go wrong with these pork skewers. They feature tender chunks of pork which are marinated in the classic Thai garlic-cilantro root-peppercorn marinade and grilled while basting with coconut milk to seal in the moisture. As good as the skewers are, though, the spicy, sour, and sweet tamarind-based dipping sauce known as jaew is even better.
I never get tired of tom yum soups, whether made with shrimp, chicken, or even just different varieties of mushrooms. The boyfriend chose the coconut milk soup known as tom kha gai as his favorite, though. I think this is in part because I’ve gone through so many variations of this soup to get it just right!
2013 was the year of salads. While most categories had 2-3 recipes, over the past year, I made 6 different salads! I love each of these salads and found it incredibly difficult to choose, but I really do love the flavors of this Thai-inspired chicken and cabbage salad with peanut sauce dressing. The boyfriend’s hands down winner was pla goong, a spicy Thai shrimp salad with finely sliced herbs that his dad taught us to make.
I also had a hard time choosing between the rice dishes we made this year. For me, it came down to Thai-style chicken and rice (khao man gai) and rice porridge (jok), but khao man gai narrowly won out because of its awesome spicy, gingery dipping sauce. The boyfriend loves anything with holy basil, so holy basil fried rice was a no-brainer for him.
5. Favorite Noodle Dish: Khao Soi (both of us)
Although we haven’t gotten our khao soi to taste exactly like the boyfriend remembers from growing up in Chiang Mai, it’s fairly close and is definitely one of our favorite dishes. I love the depth of flavor that the curry soup has, the bites of sourness from pickled mustard greens, and of course the crunchy noodles on top…
After making a few standard yellow, red, and green Thai curries in previous years, this year we branched out to curries which are harder to find in American Thai restaurants. My hands-down favorite is gang tay po, a red curry with pork belly and water spinach that’s flavored with whole kaffir limes. The boyfriend choose hor mok, a curried custard steamed with chunks of fish in a banana leaf bowl, as his favorite.
7. Favorite Main Dish: Tofu Stir Fried with Holy Basil (both of us)
I originally made this dish of tofu stir fried with holy basil so that one of my vegan friends could taste holy basil (bai gaprow) for the first time. I didn’t imagine that it would become one of our favorites too! Fried tofu provides a nice change to other protein sources like chicken, pork, and deep fried pork belly when you’re trying to use up lots of holy basil before it goes bad.
8. Favorite Vegetable: Chinese Chives with Tofu (both of us)
Requiring only 4 ingredients and no more than 10 minutes to make, this dish of Chinese chives with firm tofu is a winner for me. The boyfriend’s main criteria is taste, not time or effort, but fortunately this vegetable dish is a winner in that respect too!
I was a bit obsessed with pearl milk tea in college, so this Thai tea flavored pearl milk tea holds a special place in my heart. However, one of our favorite drinks this year was a Thai-inspired margarita made by a friend. This margarita features spicy Thai bitters and muddled Thai basil for a unique and distinctly Thai twist.
Red rubies in coconut milk was one of the first “more exotic” Thai desserts that I tried (and by more exotic, I mean not mango sticky rice or fried bananas). I loved it at first bite and am so happy to know how to make it at home. This year, I also made several Thai-inspired desserts and the boyfriend and I were both fans of these cute little mini kaffir lime tarts.
11. Favorite Snack: Finding Tropical Fruits close to home (both of us)
I’m only slightly embarrassed by the lengths that we’ve gone to to find fresh tropical fruits in the past. Fortunately, this year we discovered more local sources of these delicious fruits and we couldn’t be happier!
12. Favorite Experience: Good Eats in Thai Town (me) and in Thailand (him)
Would it surprise you if I said some of our favorite experiences this year involved eating Thai food? For me, this meant an all-day Thai food extravaganza with a friend in Thai Town on a trip down to Southern California. The boyfriend, however, was fortunate enough to spend some time in Thailand recently — and I’ll let him tell you all about it in an upcoming post!
Those are some of our favorite dishes, memories, and experiences of 2013. We’re looking forward to another wonderful year in 2014 and are wishing you the same! Happy New Year and Sawadee Pi Mai Ka!