Quote of the Week
Quote of the Week

Serendipity: Green Lipped Mussels – Thai Style

I went downtown to the Asian market to buy herbs and other food.  I found the best fresh food at the market including the most beautiful fresh galangal that I have ever seen.  It was so fresh.   Galangal is a rhizome of plants in the ginger family.  It’s culinary uses originated in Indonesia.  It is used in various Asian cuisines (Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese and throughout Indonesian cuisine).  While it is related to ginger it does not taste similar,  It is more like a combination of citrus, black pepper, cedar and ginger.  I love this stuff and I have never seen such a gorgeous selection of galangal.  It was very well priced too.

Fresh galangal
Fresh galangal

While I was shopping I ran into Melanie and she told me that there was a Songkran (Thai New Year) celebration happening in downtown San Jose, just 1 block from the market. It is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from April 13 – April 15. So after I finished my shopping I packed my car with my goodies and wandered over to the street party.

Songkran – Thai New Year

It was a beautiful sunny day with festivities and fun happening everyone.  There were tents and booths over a two block stretch. There was also a beauty pageant taking place at a stage at the end of one of the streets.  Another event that was taking place was a wrestling competition.  Can’t say I expected that.

As I walked through the festival I noticed people walking around with what appeared to be powder on their faces.  I asked someone about the significance of the powder on their faces.  A lovely young woman responded that a big part of the  celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water upon others. People roam the streets with containers of water or water guns. Also, many people  have bowls of beige colored powder and they mix it with water.  This paste  is then smeared on the faces and bodies of random people as a blessing for the new year. That’s what I saw everywhere, faces smeared with powdery paste.  After I asked, I thanked them and one of the guys squirted me with the water gun.  I laughed and said spray me more as it is hot.

After I finished my exploration of the That New Year celebration I came home and decided to make a mussel dish to celebrate the new year at home.  I had picked up the ingredients at the market earlier and thought how appropriate it would be to make Thai influenced green lipped mussels.  What a coincidence, go to the market to buy food, find out it is Thai New Year and then I make Thai green lipped mussels.  Serendipity for sure.

Thai green lipped mussels in celebration of Songkran


  • 1 pound green lipped mussels (I used frozen green lippped mussels on the half shell as that is all I could find)
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I used Austrian Gewurztraminer, an old one that I lost in the cellar, I wanted the foral aromatics of the Gewurtz)
  • 3 tsp fish sauce
  • 14 oz can coconut cream
  • 1 1/2″ knob of fresh galangal (mine was about 1 1/2″ diameter) cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass – smashed to open up the fibers and cut into 2 ” lengths
  • 3 tsp green curry paste
  • 15 leaves of Thai basil
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbl coconut oil


  1. Heat oil in a deep pot.
  2. Add onions and saute until softened
  3. Add curry paste and saute to extract the flavors
  4. Add white wine and continue to saute for a couple of minutes
  5. Add coconut cream, galangal, lemon grass, thai basil leaves, a handful of cilantro and bring to a simmer.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes until thickened, reduced and until the flavors are incorporated.
  7. Add green lipped mussels and cook for 12-15 minutes or until done.
  8. Serve in a deep bowl with lots of liquid to soak up the juices, Garnish with fresh cilantro.  I topped mine with a mint/cilantro/basil pesto as well.
Yummy, all gone.
Yummy, all gone.

Lavender, Rose Soda Water – Bodaciously Delicious

It’s a gorgeous sunny April Sunday, threatening to hit 86 degrees, and I was picking through recipes and cookbooks as I often do on Sunday mornings.  Somehow I tripped upon a celery soda water recipe on the Internet and from there I was on the search for flavored soda waters and how to make them.   As I discovered many flavored soda waters start with a base of flavored simple syrup.  I found many flavors of soda water from celery soda water to lavender soda water.  I found something totally interesting and that was a recipe for Lavender Syrup (based on a recipe from The Girl and The Fig restaurant in Sonoma, CA).   I thought that would be an interesting place to start.

And so I started playing with the recipe and went from there. On my monthly pilgrimage to Costco I found coconut sugar and bought a bag of it.  I did want to change the lavender syrup recipe up as I didn’t want to use sugar but rather coconut sugar.   I have been using coconut oil these days for frying my food and coconut milk and coconut cream when I make Thai food.  So I thought coconut sugar must be healthy.  I bought it sight unseen and did my research when I got home.  Well coconut sugar is a powerhouse of nutrients too.


Coconut sugar is made from the sugar blossoms of the coconut tree.  The one I bought is organic.  Information I found online indicated that it is a  natural sweetener and studies show promising results for people who suffer from conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It has a low glycemic index: 35 which is 1/2 of the  GI of white table sugar of 68. It is filled with lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut sugar contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. It contains 12 of the B vitamins and 16 of the 20 amino acids.  It’s a health powerhouse.

The bud of the coconut tree flower is sliced to release the sap or coconut nectar.  The sap is boiled into a thick caramel.  It is dried into crystals.  It looks and tastes similar to brown sugar.

So I thought coconut sugar for the white sugar in the recipe that I found online.  I also reduced the amount of sugar in the syrup as I thought it was sweet enough (I reduced the water to sugar ratio to 2:1 instead of 1:1).  Once I made the syrup I let it cool and bottled it so I could use it to make Lavender, Rose Water Soda Water. I added 1 tablespoon of the syrup to 3/4 cup of soda water and garnished it with a sprig of mint for a refreshingly delicious drink on a hot Sunday afternoon.


Ingredients for Lavender/Rose Water Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/8 cup dried lavender flowers
  • 1/8 cup rose water


  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil
  2. Add lavender flowers and rose water and simmer 10 minutes
  3. Let cool and strain into a clean jar or bottle

Yield: 200 ml or 13.5 tbl
Calories:  205 = 13 calories/tablespoon

Promo Post: Veggielution and Avant Garden

Veggielution Community Farm believes that everyone deserves to eat healthy, affordable food.  Every day, they put fresh fruits and vegetables straight from their farm onto the plates of low-income families.  They do this because unhealthy food is making their community sick.

Tonight, April 19, 2013,  is Avant Garden Veggielution’s Food and Art Fundraiser in San Jose, CA.


Avant Garden harnesses San Jose’s creative talent to support Veggielution’s growing Community Farm. They are pushing the boundaries of food justice by redefining the relationship with the land, the food, and each other. Come experience a new way to think about food in the community, through the taste of the Spring harvest and captivating visual artistry.

  • Sample farm fresh small plates prepared by talented local chefs
  • Take home food and farm related art by local artists
  • Browse a variety of crafts from local vendors
  • Enjoy a craft brew
  • Support access to healthy food and nutrition in our community
It’s going to be fun.  I think I am going to check them out tonight.
If you can’t make Avant Garden, volunteer, drop by the stand for produce or check out their website.
  • General     (408) 634-FARM (3276)
  • Dig Crew  (408) 6DI-G999
e-mail: info@veggielution.org
Visit the Saturday farm stand between 10-2pm for fresh produce:  647 S King Rd, San Jose, CA 95116

Bodacious Sous Vide – Thai Chicken

After my last misadventure of trying to make Sous Vide Chicken  I thought I’d try again. Lessons learned from the last time…. Don’t overfill the bags, leave enough time to process the chicken… Other than that it is quite simple, it just takes time.


I found a recipe online for Thai BBQ chicken (it was a new one for me). I used it as a starting point. It was a good place to start as the recipe provided a base seasoning for the chicken and then instead of bbq’ing the chicken I cooked it using the sous method.


1. Heat the water to 62-64C in a large pot, fitted with a thermometer, that is large enough to hold the chicken.
2. Make the thai seasoning paste (recipe in the image below). I hand ground the paste with my mortar and pestle as I enjoy the process of hand grinding everything with a beautiful, classic piece of equipment. I truly believe the hand ground paste is far superior to a paste made in a food processor or similar piece of equipment.


3. Cut up the chicken into leg, thigh and breast portions. Reserve the backbone and innards for another use.
4. Pack the leg and thigh meat into one bag and the breast meat into another bag.
5. Split the paste between the two bags.
6. Seal and vacuum pack the bags with the FoodSaver.
7. Put chicken into the pot and continually check the chicken until it is done. You can tell how well it is doing because as it cooks the juices will be clear rather than red. It took about 5 hours to process the chicken. Yes it’s a long time but so worth it.
8. Remove the chicken from the bags and place on an ovenproof baking sheet.
9. Preheat the broiler in the oven.
10. Glaze the chicken pieces with a light coating of coconut milk
11. Broil for 4-5 minutes until chicken is nice and golden brown and skin is crisped up.
12. Remove and serve while nice and hot!



ประเสริฐ (Sublime)Thai Influenced Blue Hubbard Squash Soup


I adore winter squash and especially Blue Hubbard squash and Kuri squash. These two varieties of winter squash are really sweet.  They keep for a long time (I keep mine in the basement) so when I want to rustle up a comforting soup I have one on hand. I wanted to have a super comforting soup on this particular day and opted to go for a Thai influenced squash soup made with Blue Hubbard Squash.  Oh yes it had coconut cream in it, rich and decadent and brimming with flavor.


  • 1 1/2 pounds of Blue Hubbard Squash – cut into pieces
  • 1 large leek – 2 cups diced
  • 1 medium onion – 1 cup diced
  • red curry paste – 2 tbl
  • fish sauce – 1 tbl
  • Thai basil leaves – 10 leaves
  • galangal – 1 1/2″ knob
  • 5 kafir lime leaves
  • chicken stock – 4 cups
  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut cream
  • 2 tbl olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast Blue Hubbard squash for 1/2 hour or until softened and slightly caramelized
  3. Heat 1 tbl olive oil in soup pot.  Add leeks and onions to pot and saute until softened.
  4. Add roasted squash and red curry paste and briefly saute until curry paste mixed through the vegetables.
  5. Add fish sauce, chicken stock, and spices to the pot and incorporate all ingredients.
  6. Simmer the soup for 1/2 hour until cooked through.
  7. Puree soup.
  8. Add coconut cream and mix through.
  9. Serve piping hot.

I chopped up batwan fruit as a garnish.

What is Batwan (Binucao) fruit? Batwan is a fruit of a forest tree native to the Philippines and is common and widely distributed throughout Luzon and the Visayan Islands. I bought it preserved in a jar (mine was reddish in color) but if fresh it is a large green fruit with large seeds. It is commonly used as a souring ingredient in Filipino cuisine. I thought, why not try it with Thai food as a garnish.

I also made a mint/cilantro/Thai basil pesto, as a garnish. Along with mint, cilantro and Thai basil I also used peanut cookies, sesame oil, garlic, fish sauce and olive oil. Quirky but unusual. Recipe to come later.

Garnish with large shrimp, mint/cilantro/basil pesto, Batwan fruit and peanut cookies. I know unusual combination instead but tasty.

I paired this decadent goodness with an old German Riesling from a favorite producer 1996 Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling.  Perfect amount of petrol and acid. Decadent goodness with decadent goodness.


Sexy Almond Balsamic Salad Dressing


I’m on a quest to eat healthy and that often (at least for me) means that I may lose flavor or richness in my meals and dishes.  So I’m looking for ways to maximize flavor while minimizing calories.  I was watching Dr. Oz and he had a wonderful guest, Dr.  Fuhrman on the show.  While I don’t have Dr. Fuhrman’s recipe for Almond Balsamic recipe I decided to try to make one of my own based on his creation.  Not sure how it compares, but I do know it is super yummy and only 18 calories a tablespoon.  Rich and creamy and fabulous on fresh salad greens.  I used my Vitamix as I wanted it super creamy. Thanks Dr. Furhman for the inspiration.


  • 84 g almonds
  • 3/4 cup orange balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 green garlic


  1. Pulverize almonds in dry container of Vitamix blender.
  2. Pour the almonds into wet container of Vitamix.
  3. Add vinegars, water and green garlic, salt to taste.
  4. Process on high speed until creamy texture achieved.

Yield: 2 3/4 cups 44 tablespoons


790 calories for the recipe

per tablespoon 18