Tag Archives: Thailand

Meet the Longan fruit

Longan

Longan

Many of you in warmer parts of the world will know the Longan Fruit very well. It’s often compared to Lychee in terms of tree size, texture and willingness to grow a-plenty. In fact, most home green thumbs, given the choice, will grow Lychee 9 times out of 10.

Here in Asia, both are grown but there is nearly a 2x difference in price between Lychee and Longan — which is always a consideration no matter how much you love your exotic fruits. Think of it in the context of price the price difference between a pint of Raspberries and Strawberries. Similar to the difference in price, you also get differences in taste and edibility.

I will say from the start that Lychee is sweeter, larger and juicer than Longan, but both are packed with Vitamin C and Antioxidants. If you have a chance to only have one of these two fruits fresh, by all means enjoy Lychee to the fullest. However, if you have the chance to frequent a very well-stocked Asian wet market and find the little old lady that remembers your face, ask her for her freshest Longan on your third or fourth trip back.

Longan seedIn a wet market you will get them attached to a branch and have to pull them off yourself once you get home. Many people will try to use their fingers to break through the thin but tough skin but I say poppycock to that! Wash the bunch very very well, soaking and rubbing the fruit under water. As you pull each fruit off the stick they are attached to, use your teeth to puncture and peel the skin. After you expose the white flesh underneath go ahead and remove the entire seed and flesh, eating around the seed and throwing the skin away; don’t bite too hard because you aren’t going to pierce that seed without breaking a tooth. 🙂

What is most important here, and with so many foods, is eating what’s fresh and in-season. Longan fruit is a great travel companion and, compared to Lychee, it won’t dribble down your chin during that elephant trek in the forests of Thailand. That should keep you happy, the flies away and that elephant trunk out of your face!

Pull up a chair and join @MIEWFoodsLLC at the table on Twitter.

Foodportunity: Forging friendships through food

Foodportunity (n.) – An opportunity in food means the possibility to fluently speak the native language – food – no matter where you are in the world.

My foodportunity started from humble beginnings to grow into the business of finding the most authentic tastes to share with my newfound global family of adventurers.

We, as a collection of individuals, are constantly exploring and creating our own fusion cuisines, and along the way, gaining cultural lessons without even realizing it.

My first real foodportunity was a semester abroad in Turkey during university. This was my first experience out of the country and it proved to be not only a time of cultural exchange, but of food exchange as well. Eating fresh figs, spiced lamb, and Turkish yogurt became a joy because it was it was both new and different, but the real joy was dining in local restaurants and the homes of my host friends and their families. To this day, one of my most memorable experiences was a casual dinner with some local families and other American students. The 15 of us melded traditional American grilling techniques with traditional Turkish seasonings and spices. As the sun set over the Bosphorus River, these simple cooking traditions forged lifetime friendships.

Much less far-flung, the next big foodportunity started when I moved to Seattle. One word: Salmon (and a second: Halibut). I can say, with certainty, that the Pacific Northwest has access to some of the best fish and seafood in the world. Sadly, I arrived at the peak of Copper River Salmon season. I say “sadly” because when that’s the first salmon you’re introduced to here, the rest of the year feels like a bit of a let-down; truth be told, I do love Yukon River Salmon, as well. As a new arrival, I went to different salmon tasting events and met people who had been doing this for more than 20 years. In Seattle, as elsewhere, new friends are never hard to find when great food is plentiful.

These days, I am living in both Singapore and Seattle. In my time spent in Singapore, I’ve had the foodportunity to travel to Osaka for ramen, Thailand for curries and India for Punjabi and Tamil food.  In all of these experiences (also including Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia), what I’ve seen can best be described as deeply shared food cultures – The ability to eat local, but create new fusion dishes that take elements from all over the world to cook up rich experiences and new friends for life.

Seattle, south to Portland and north to Vancouver, creates a Pacific corridor of amazing, fresh, local ingredients that hunger for an international twist. Oregon has truffles, strawberries and blueberries. Washington has crab, geoduck, oysters and apples. Vancouver has halibut, salmon and clams, not to mention the countless bakeries, smokehouses and miles and miles of farmland.

The Pacific Northwest is the perfect place to find, or create, new fusion dishes that will take the world by storm. MIEW’s Foodportunity is just beginning, but our success will be determined by how much we can honor the food cultures we are bringing together.

Eat well,
Chris

What’s your Foodportunity? We share ours on Twitter @MiewFoodsLLC

This post is both a view into the inspiration behind MIEW and an entry in Keren Brown’s Foodportunity 2013 contest to describe “what does an opportunity in food look like to you?” Join us to talk (& taste) food at Foodportunity on Oct. 28 >> Details here

Thai Green Curry recipe

With this post I am going to cut right to the chase – Making Thai Green Curry from scratch was one of the best experiences I could have as someone in the gourmet food import business. If you are passionate about food, you should know how to make it (or at least try). The recipe below is from a Thai cooking school I attended while on holiday.
Pad Thai and Green Curry
This recipe is the benchmark by which I judge all curry. Once you’ve made it, you will easily be able to recognize the most authentic products in your favorite restaurants. We at MIEW take our experiences into account when choosing which products to carry.
Have you tried to make Green Curry at home?
From scratch or opening a jar of simmer sauce, let us know @MIEWfoodsLLC! Next time: we complete the meal with Pad Thai.

Green Curry Paste
Serves 5
Large mortar and pestle
homemade fresh green curry paste10 roasted black peppercorns
1 T roasted coriander seed
1 T roasted cumin seed
15 bird’s eye chilies (traditional Thai; for “American” super spicy, start with 6-9)
1 T galangal finely chopped
2 T lemongrass finely chopped
2 t coriander root finely chopped
1/2 t kaffir lime peel, chopped
pinch salt
1 T garlic chopped
3 T shallots chopped
1 t shrimp paste (vegetarian/vegan: substitute with about 1/8 t salt)
5-6 Thai basil leaves (optional, but highly recommended)

Combine all ingredients in a large mortar and use a similarly sized pestle to pound all of it into submission. And when I say pound, I mean that it needs to turn into a paste with nothing left but a ball of green goodness. It should take you about 15 minutes to get it to this stage.

You’ll know your paste is ready when it sticks together in a ball, similar to a dry dough. Now, you’re ready for the wok.

Thai Green Curry
Serves 5
In wok or large pot, heat:
1T vegetable oil
Simmering Green CurryAdd:
Green Curry Paste
1-1/3 C coconut CREAM (cream is the traditional, but coconut milk can be used)
1 C chicken stock/veggie stock
2/3 C chicken (sub cubed tofu)
Combine thoroughly, stirring often, until chicken is cooked fully
After chicken is cooked, add:
2 Thai eggplants, chopped or whole (smaller than common US eggplant)
1/2 C pea eggplant (similar to the size of garbanzo beans)

While eggplant is still is somewhat firms body/crunch to it, add remaining ingredients:
2 Kaffir lime leaves (as garnish, eat at your own peril)
1 T fish sauce (sub soy sauce or tamari)
1 T palm sugar (white sugar will work)
1 red chili, julienned
1/4 C Thai sweet basil