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New Thai Cuisine (October 15, 2003)


Ever been to Thailand? We have, and, like so many others, we fell in love with this ancient, beautiful country, its people and especially its cuisine. Ron is convinced that no matter the place or price, you cannot get a bad meal in Thailand. Nathan Hyam, a chef born in New York City, felt the same. After some years of an illustrious career in food and teaching, he traded his apron for a suitcase and went on sabbatical with his wife. The two found themselves in Thailand. Naturally, they quickly became immersed in the scents and flavours of Thai cuisine.

A decade later, Hyam, now known as "The Thai Guy," lives in Vancouver, where his popular cooking classes, peppered with tips on how to replicate authentic dishes in Western kitchens, are the hottest tickets in town.

Nathan Hyam put all this together in a wonderful new cookbook, New Thai Cuisine. We really love this collection; it gives us our old favourite recipes and lots of new ones with exciting flavours and combinations such as the Seared Scallops and Basil Mango Sauce below. One of my personal passions is a fresh spring roll, and Hyam's Barbecued Duck version is easy and fast, and uses ingredients found in almost any supermarket.

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (54 KB)


Barbecued Duck and Mushroom Fresh Spring Rolls

These spring rolls are one of our favourite appetizers. They can be made several hours before serving, if they are covered with a damp, clean cloth and refrigerated. No duck? Just substitute barbecued chicken mixed with a little anise powder and a teaspoon of honey.

Warming: these will go in a hurry. Make a double batch!

Makes 8 spring rolls

  • 1 tsp sugar (5 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (30 mL)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (15 mL)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (120 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger (30 mL)
  • 1 cup blanched chopped spinach (240 mL)
  • 1 cup sliced fried mushrooms (240 mL)
  • 1 cup sliced Chinese-style barbecued duck (240 mL)
  • 1 long English cucumber
  • 8 8-inch (20 cm) rice paper wraps
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 1 carrot, crated

Combine the sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro and ginger in a bowl. Toss the spinach, fried mushrooms and barbecued duck in this mixture and set aside.

Cut 8 strips of cucumber that are 1 inch (2.5 cm) shorter than the rice wrappers.

Fill a wide, shallow pan with hot water and spread a dishtowel on a counter. Dip a wrapper in the water for about 10 seconds to soften it and place it on the towel.

Place a lettuce leaf on the rice wrapper. Place a strip of cucumber, 1/8 of the spinach-duck mixture and 1/8 of the carrot on the lettuce. Roll it up from the bottom, rolling it into a cylinder and tucking in the sides as you go.

Place the rolls, seam side down, on a platter covered with a damp cloth.

Serve with a peanute dipping sauce.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A medium bodied New World Pinot noir – Oregon, California or New Zealand.


Seared Scallops and Basil Mango Sauce

Something very different here, and absolutely divine, really. The mango sauce has a luxurious texture and sweet fruit flavour that goes well with the seared scallops. The colour contrasts are spectacular when it is served with black rice.

Like Thailand and her people, this is exquisite!

Serves 4

  • 2 very ripe mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups orange juice (475 mL)
  • ½ cup chopped Thai basil (120 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp oil (30 mL)
  • 2 lbs. scallops (medium or large) (900 g)

Place the mango in a food processor and puree. You should have almost 2 cups (475 mL) of puree. Add the orange juice and pulse until combined. Stir in the chopped basil. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet until it is almost smoking. Add the scallops in one layer. Cook for about 1 minute, until slightly brown on the bottom. Turn over and cook the other side for another minute. Cooking times will vary according to the size of the scallops. Be careful not to cook them too long! When they are browned on both sides, they are ready.

Remove the scallops from the pan and keep warm. Add the mango sauce to the pan and heat for 1 minute. To serve, place a spoonful of sauce under each scallop.

Serve immediately.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
An off-dry Riesling from Ontario or a Spätlese Riesling from Germany or an Alsace Muscat.


We wish to thank Whitecap Books Ltd. For permission to publish recipes and photographs from New Thai Cuisine, by Nathan Hyam. © 2001 by Nathan Hyam. Photographs by Greg Athans.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (54 KB)




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