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    Posted June 12, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    My favorite Thai dish

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    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     cattroiano says "As mentioned in my iReport, I have a strong love for Thai food for all of the facets of flavors and textures used within each dish. My first experience with Thai food was in a restaurant on a dinner date with the man who is now my husband. That was roughly twenty years ago. We both embraced taking the opportunity to dabble in our kitchen and learned to create many of our favorite Thai dishes. Our appreciation and enthusiasm for the cuisine has never waned. We continue to cook our favorites, as evidenced in the photo, and we eagerly jump at the chance to try every new Thai restaurant that opens in our area to this day."
    - KarlaC, CNN iReport producer

    I will introduce this piece with a simple and declarative statement: I love Thai food. While I also enjoy the foods of China and Japan, the palette of multifaceted flavors designates Thai food to reign at the top of my list of Asian culinary preferences.

    Anyone who has not yet sampled the delicacies of the Thai kitchen is missing out on a flavorful dining experience. Thai food offers a complex woven tapestry of different flavors to keep the taste buds tantalized. Ingredients that include lime, lemongrass, curry pastes, coconut milk, fish sauce and basil are integral components in Thai cooking that infuse an amazing balance of contrasting flavors. The harmonious balance of multiple flavor sensations, layering saltiness, sweetness, sourness and spiciness all within a single dish, is the very essence of Thai cuisine.

    One of my favorite Thai entrees was presented as a bowl of sweet coconut milk-based red curry sauce with shrimp, pineapple, cashews, green beans, red pepper and basil. This divine delicacy was so exquisite that it was a struggle not to throw graceful manners to the wind, raise the bowl of remaining sauce and drink every last drop. The dish was my consistent request whenever my husband and I frequented the restaurant that offered this creation. Alas, the establishment closed its doors after several years. What was I to do? No other Thai eatery listed this exact combination on their menu. I did what any avid gourmet cook would do: I set out with a determination to conjure the dish myself! It was actually quite simple to do and the result was a satisfying success. Better still, I created the duplication in my own kitchen and consumed the potion in my own dining room, rendering me the reward of imbibing the extra curry sauce to my heart’s content. I was in good company, as my appreciative husband was hard-pressed not to slurp that spicy-sweet nectar with paralleled gusto.

    Another favorite of mine when it comes to standard Thai fare is Pad Thai. This seems to be a universal craving among Thai food enthusiasts; its flavors are an accessible combination for most tastes. It graces every Thai restaurant’s menu, and while each offers slight variations, the primary ingredients are the same. Pad Thai is comprised of noodles that are stir fried with seasonings of fish sauce and lime, and combined with egg, peanuts and green onion. Bean sprouts are commonly used as well, and most restaurants offer a choice of shrimp, chicken or tofu.

    When my husband and I first delved into Thai food, we acquired a couple of Thai cookbooks and purchased some basic Thai ingredients, including a bottle of the requisite Nam Pla, or fish sauce, that is essential in Thai cooking. Jasmine rice, coconut milk and jars of green and red curry pastes also grace the Asian section of our pantry shelves. I have since prepared Pad Thai on numerous occasions. It is very quick to prepare, making it a weekday worthy dinner. As depicted in the photograph, it is an attractive and substantial entrée. I have also cooked green curry chicken and Tom Yom Goong, a sour soup with shrimp. My husband has served up his Thai cooking contribution in the form of Gai Paht Bai Graprao, a spicy stir-fried chicken with basil and red peppers.

    We have now added another Thai restaurant to our repertoire of weekend dining locales. Upon sampling the latest entrée to be placed in front of my husband, I have been inspired to embark on another duplication attempt in my home kitchen. This experiment will transpire this very week. The dish bears deliciously striking similarities to the shrimp and pineapple curry that I savored in our old haunt, this rendition containing duck instead of shrimp and the inclusion of broccoli and carrots also figure into this equation. I am confident that I will achieve success once again and that this creamy red curry sauce will be every bit as enjoyable as the last … honey, pass the sauce spoon, please.
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