Thai Halloween Recipes
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Do people celebrate Halloween in Thailand? Not really. Club-goers in big cities tend to do it, but not kids or the general population. I wish more Thais would celebrate Halloween, though, considering how the belief in ghosts and superstition is so ingrained in the nation's culture. Growing up in Bangkok, my grandmother had told me countless tales of apparitions and other unearthly phenomena. I don't know about Thai children these days, but back when I was a youngster, every kid must have heard about "Nang Tanee", the lonely nymph who lived in banana trees, as well as "Mae Nak", an unfortunate woman who died during childbirth but loved her husband too much to move on to another world. Yet, the most ludicrous of all was probably the story of "Kra Seu," a phantom who took the form of a gorgeous lady during the day, but late at night, became just a flying head attached to a huge glop of glowing intestine. Now it makes me giggle to imagine Kra Seu and her fluorescent guts aviating in the dark, but back when I was too young to discern the absurdity of this tale, I found her so fearsome I wouldn't even utter her name after sunset. See how every night was like a Halloween night for me? If you want to celebrate Halloween the Thai way, I guess you could wear a banana-leaf costume and tell people you're Nang Tanee, or hang a fake intestine in front of your belly and call yourself "Ms. or Mr. Kra Seu." The most important thing, however, is to make sure you have some yummy Thai dishes for your Halloween party as well!
Pumpkin Stir Fry
Halloween and pumpkins have always gone hand in hand just like Thanksgiving and turkeys. This pumpkin stir fry is the easiest Thai pumpkin recipe that I know of. It might not look very fancy but is not at all inferior to other Thai dishes in terms of deliciousness.
Ingredients (for 2 - 3 servings) - about 2 cups of pumpkin (peeled, cubed and boiled until tender but not too soft), 2 eggs (lightly beaten), 10 Asian meatballs (halved), 2 green onions (finely chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (minced or finely chopped), 1 tbsp oyster sauce, soy sauce to taste, 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Preparation - Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until the garlic turns slightly yellow and releases its fragrance. Add pumpkin and meatballs, then stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add eggs and stir together well. Once the eggs are cooked, add green onions, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Stir fry for about another minute and serve.
Thai Carrot Salad
If you want to stick to the orange theme without getting overdosed on pumpkins, a carrot dish would be a nice addition to your Halloween menu. This Thai carrot salad is a spin-off from "som tum", a famous street food made with shredded green papaya. Traditionally, this dish is prepared with quite a few fresh chili peppers, which renders it an intense spicy flavor that could make the devil sweat! But of course, you can forgo the chili peppers and make this salad a little friendlier to your palate.
Ingredients (for 2 - 3 servings) - 2 cups shredded carrot, 8 cherry tomatoes (halved), 1 tbsp small dried shrimp, 1 large clove of garlic, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1 - 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp fresh lime juice, 2 - 4 Thai chili peppers
Preparation - Process garlic, dried shrimp and chili peppers in a food blender until the mixture become a coarse paste. Put the mixture into a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients. Toss together well with a fork or a spoon and serve.
Blood Soup - A Vampire-Friendly Dish
Vampires can smell this beef noodle soup from miles away! The rice noodles, beef and meatballs are served in dark broth that owes its succulence to one special ingredient: cow's blood. For those of you who are vampire wannabes but faint-hearted by nature, don't be too scared to give this delectable soup a try. The blood is only optional. Plus, it's not meant to be eaten raw but to be cooked with the broth.
Thai Pumpkin Curry
Curries are a highlight of Thai cuisine in much the same way that pumpkins scream Halloween. So if you're going to have a Thai Halloween party, it would be a blasphemy not to have a pumpkin curry, wouldn't it?
Ingredients (for 2 - 3 servings) - 1 cup pumpkin (peeled, cubed and boiled until tender but not mushy), 1 cup beef (thinly sliced), 1 medium bell peppers (sliced into bite-size pieces), 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 cups coconut milk, 2 tbsps panang curry paste, 1 tsp brown sugar, fish sauce to taste, a few sweet basil leaves
Preparation - Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add panang curry paste and stir fry until fragrant. Add a cup of coconut milk and beef slices. Stir occasionally. Once the meat is cooked, add pumpkin, bell peppers, sugar, fish sauce, the rest of the coconut milk and about 1/2 cup of water. Allow the curry to simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes. Garnish with sweet basil leaves and serve.
Bua Loy - Thai Dessert Soup with Pumpkin
Not a big fan of savory pumpkin dishes? No problem. This pumpkin dessert soup should satisfy all you sweet-toothers out there. The lovely pumpkin cubes are accompanied by tiny rice-flour balls and served in sweet and rich coconut milk. I find it to be very comforting during the fall and winter. To step your presentation up a notch, serve this Thai dessert soup in small hollowed-out gourds or pumpkins!
Black Rice Pudding
This Thai dessert is prepared with black sticky rice, also known as "forbidden rice." So call this dish "Forbidden Pudding" if you may. Isn't it deliciously ghoulish-looking? Imagine an old witch meticulously stirring this black rice pudding in her cauldron while muttering a wicked spell under her breath. If you're enthralled by the dark side of Halloween, this is a dessert you definitely should serve at your party.