Yam Talay and Khmer Chicken Samla with Coconut Milk

Posted By Kerri

Thai food used to appear in our kitchen very regularly since we both love the hot, sour, salty, sweet combination and Stephen is obsessed with buying catering sized bags of chillies and shallots and pounding them up in the mortar and pestle. Our local Thai supermarket has closed down and while it’s easy to find the staples like ginger and lemongrass in the supermarket, the more unusual things like galangal and lime leaves can be harder to source.

Coupled with that, the complex dishes that we enjoy the most take time to prepare and cook. The ingredients need to be peeled and chopped and pounded to a paste before being fried slowly to release the flavours and then cooked with meat or fish and coconut milk for a long time so that everything comes together in a cohesive way. Time isn’t something we’ve had a lot of recently and when we have had it, there have been other things needing attention that we’ve had to prioritise over spending whole afternoons in the kitchen. Luckily for us, yesterday wasn’t one of those days which meant we had time to gather our ingredients and make two Thai dishes for dinner.

We started with a seafood salad that was a great way to awaken our taste buds and prepare us for the main course. Despite the long ingredient list, this was very simple to put together but the quality of the fish was important. It seemed a little wasteful or extravagant to boil the scallops and then drown them in lots of aromatics and they did lose some of their flavour but they worked brilliantly as little sponges sucking up all the flavour from the lime juice and fish sauce. The prawns, cooked in their shells, retained their sweetness and added a firmer texture while the squid, although good, mostly bulked everything out.

While we were eating, the khmer chicken samla was simmering away on the hob ready for us to eat once we’d finished with our starters. This is a dish we’ve cooked a couple of times before and is one of the first Thai dishes I really enjoyed; Stephen’s sister cooked it for us years ago and then bought us the book as a gift. Consequently, it holds happy memories for me as the dish that really introduced me to one of my favourite cuisines and is the one I crave most often when thinking about Thai food.

There’s no messing about with this, there are 10 cloves of garlic in there, the same amount of lemongrass and two tablespoons of shrimp paste – the really stinky stuff that you have to fry and can still smell days later even though you’ve scrubbed your entire kitchen. Four dried chillies mean it’s hot and it’s spicy with a huge amount of flavour going on but it’s also perfectly balanced and fragrant. Just don’t get stuck into the Gruner Veltliner like we did and leave it to cook down too long because there’s a fine line between punchy and over-reduced. We were just about okay but had we started on the Riesling too then we would have been in trouble.

Yam Talay (from the Blue Elephant Cookbook)
Serves Two

4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large red chillies
2 bird’s eye chillies
Seafood (we used four prawns, four scallops and one squid)
1/2 tsp sugar
5 tbsps fish sauce
5 tbsps lime juice (original recipe states lemon juice)
2 stems lemongrass, finely sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
Half a red onion, finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
8cm carrot, cut into julienne
10 mint leaves
6 stems coriander leaves, chopped
Lettuce leaves

Pound the garlic into a paste with the chillies.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the seafood, boil for one minute.

Drain the seafood and put into a bowl. Mix in the chilli and garlic paste, sugar, fish sauce and lemon juice.

Add the remaining ingredients, toss together and then serve on top of the lettuce leaves.

Aug 21st, 2010

2 Comments to 'Yam Talay and Khmer Chicken Samla with Coconut Milk'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Yam Talay and Khmer Chicken Samla with Coconut Milk'.

  1. Stephen said,

    I am studying Austria as part of my wine course at the moment, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to taste an Austrian Gruner Veltliner and Riesling alongside each other. Both go very well with this sort of food and are the wines that we tend to order in Thai restaurants.

  2. Lizzie said,

    Wow – the chicken dish looks far redder this time than the last time you made it. Looks delicious
    .-= Lizzie´s last blog ..Polpetti- Polpette- Polpetto =-.

:: Trackbacks/Pingbacks ::

No Trackbacks/Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.