Friday, May 11, 2012

Just Call Me Crazy

Although I still had some residual soreness from Tuesday night's netball training, I was able to get in a good run yesterday morning.  Over the last week, the temperatures in the morning have dropped to the low 80's and the humidity has decreased.  I am hoping the "hottest" season is over and now we are just in the "hotter" season. Knock on wood.  Since I had such a great time playing netball Tuesday night, I offered to help the coach of Caitlynne's team at their practice yesterday afternoon.  Not quite sure what I was thinking when I offered to do that.  There weren't enough girls to field two complete teams so the coach and I ended up playing a modified version of the game along with them.  Having less teammates meant that we did more passing and more running than usual and, boy, those 13 year old girls can really move quickly.  It was hard to keep up with them and, on defense, they stick to you like white on rice. I could definitely feel the effort when I got home and did some stretching.  I might have to invest in massive quantities of Advil if this continues.   

PeePorn made a wonderful dinner for us last night.  To start, we had a beautiful fruit plate made with some fruits that are just now coming into peak season in Thailand.
Mangoes (the bright yellow fruit in the photo above) are available year round here and are so delicious!  Compared to the mangoes we had in Miami, they are very sweet and not as fibrous.  The other two fruits on the plate might be unfamiliar to most of you.
For the longest time, I thought the fruit in the two photos above was some kind of lychee.  However, I have since learned it is called "Rumbutan".  The thick hairy skin is peeled off and the white fleshy part is what you eat.  There is a pit (about the size of an almond) inside which is discarded (you kind of chew around it).  The rumbutan is a soft, sweet and juicy fruit and is in peak season now through September.   
The fruit in the three photos above is a mangosteen and it is in peak season in Thailand from May to August/September.  The mangosteen is considered to be the "Queen of Tropical Fruits" and is grown on a tropical evergreen tree that originated in Southeast Asia.  From what I have read, Southeast Asia is its only natural growing area and is still the only area that produces any quantity of mangosteens.  Mangosteens have long been illegal for importation into the U.S. because of fears they contained the Asian fruit fly.  However, in 2007, imports of mangosteens from Thailand were allowed upon the USDA's approval (on a shipment by shipment basis) of the techniques used to irradiate, pack and ship the fruits.  When the first imported fresh mangosteens were sold in specialty produce markets in New York City, the prices reached a high of $45 a pound.  Mangosteens are now more widely available and not so expensive.  As you can see, inside the purple shell (which is inedible), there are five or six small segments of white flesh. To open a mangosteen, the shell is usually scored first with a knife; one holds the fruit in both hands, prying gently along the score with the thumbs until the rind cracks. It is then easy to pull the halves apart along the crack and remove the fruit. The fruit is juicy, sweet and tangy. The mangosteen is a very pretty fruit - either peeled or unpeeled - and it  really adds a nice touch to a fruit plate.

Now for the main course...  PeePorn made Tom Yum Kung, which is a spicy soup made with stock and fresh ingredients such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce and crushed chili peppers.  PeePorn also adds a bit of coconut milk, tomatoes and oyster mushrooms.  Interesting note - Tom Yum Kung was listed at number 8 on The World's 50 Most Delicious Foods according to CNN Go 2011.

The fresh prawns.  
Herbs and such.  I really wish it wasn't so hot here and I could grow these types of herbs and veggies in either a garden or in containers on the patio.  
The photo below is of a piece of galangal, a rhizome frequently used in Asian cuisine. Galangal looks very similar to ginger (and, is in fact, related) but galangal has a much stronger taste.  It is prepared for cooking just like ginger (peeled and cut with a knife).  
The chili pepper and limes.
 Fresh lemon grass.
The photo below shows Kaffir Lime leaves (amongst the limes).  These leaves are used similar to bay leaf in that they are put in the soup and only removed when served.
Spring onions and cilantro (used to top the soup with before serving).
Our house smelled so good while PeePorn was cooking!  I think the scent of freshly cut lemon grass is probably the best smell in the world.

The finished product (served either on its own or with rice mixed in).
Have a great Friday!

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