How did you learn to cook? In Thailand, we cooked every day, and I had to help my grandfather. I helped him prepare coconut milk. We had to crack the coconuts and shred them, then squeeze out the coconut milk into lukewarm water. My mom and dad are experts in Thai cooking. Compared to my family, I'm not a good cook.
What type of dishes did you cook with your family? Curry dishes. Nowadays, if you're going to make green curry, you buy it in a can, but my family made it from scratch. The curry paste has lots of spices and herbs, mixed with fresh chili pepper, shallots, galanga, which is like ginger root, and lemongrass.
Who do you cook for, and what do you make? I cook for my boyfriend. He's Irish-American, and he loves Thai food. He comes over three days a week. I make him coconut chicken soup, spicy fried rice, spicy Thai spaghetti, chicken soup with rice and spinach soup with fresh shiitake mushrooms. When I took my boyfriend to a Thai restaurant, I ordered the squid for him, and he loved it, so that's why I always make it for him at home.
What is your favorite dish to cook? I'm not good with sauteing or stir-frying. I love to make chicken with coconut or squid with spicy lime sauce.
SQUID WITH SPICY LIME SAUCE (PLA MEUK MA-NAO)
Thai chiles and fish sauce are available at Asian and specialty grocers.
2 pounds cleaned squid
Thai chile peppers (see note)
10 sprigs fresh cilantro, stems separated from leaves
1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled (you can use less garlic)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup Asian fish sauce
Juice of 3 limes (about 6 tablespoons)
1. Wash squid and slice crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rings. Drop rings into a pot of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Cook until a fork goes in easily. Do not overcook as squid will get rubbery. Drain and set aside.
2. Chop the chiles into small pieces and process in a blender with the cilantro stems and garlic until they are diced into very small pieces.
3. Pour chile mixture into a bowl and add sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and stir until sugar dissolves. Place squid on serving dish and pour the sauce over it. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Makes 4 servings.
Note: Thai chiles are also known as Thai bird chiles. Use 15 chiles for very spicy, 10 for medium and 5 or fewer