I have returned from a blissful hiatus. After spending a day on the bustling streets of Bangkok, my husband and I traveled to Chiang Mai where we spent the next two weeks relaxing and enjoying the warm weather. Although Thailand has always appealed to us, we are not ashamed to admit the that main reason for our visit to the country was for the Thai cuisine. Each day, after a breakfast of toast and jam from our guesthouse, we would explore the streets in search of new culinary delights. We were never disappointed. On several corners sat carts serving cups of fresh-picked fruit sliced into bite-sized pieces with little bags of raw sugar and ground chili peppers to complete the snack. On a grill outside our guesthouse, glazed-eyed blackened tilapia lay on their sides, exposing split bellies stuffed with stalks of lemongrass. A small homemade ice cream shop a short walk from where we stayed served an incredibly creamy coconut sorbet.
It was difficult to return home.
Therefore, to continue my vacation, I have decided to share a Thai progressive dinner. Each day over the next week, I will post a different part of an indulgent yet healthy Thai dinner. The recipes shared will be my own, but inspired by the meals I ate in Chiang Mai. Many recipes will be staples in Thailand, but with a twist. Be sure to check back each day for the newest dinner component. Once they are all compiled, gather your friends for a Thai dinner party, or delegate homes and courses for a fun Thai progressive dinner.
To start, something easy: a simple, refreshing tea.
While eating at one of the two Pun Pun restaurants, (our favorite vegetarian place in Chiang Mai – we frequented both a total of four times) we ordered two iced teas: a lemongrass tea and a ginger tea, both simply their namesake heavily steeped in water, then poured over ice . While both were good, we found the ginger tea a bit too spicy, and the lemongrass too simple in flavor. You’ll find that a combination of the two fixes this – the lemongrass tones down the ginger, while the ginger adds complexity to the delicate flavor of lemongrass.
I have listed a sweetner in the ingredients, but the tea can certainly be enjoyed without one as well.
Ingredients (Serves Two)
4 cups water
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 quarter-sized piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon honey or blue agave nectar
1. On the stove, bring the water to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the lemongrass and ginger, and continue to simmer for 1 minute.
2. Turn the heat off, and allow the ginger and lemongrass to steep for 4-5 minutes.
3. If drinking immediately, add the sweetner (if desired) and strain the mixture, pouring the tea directly over glasses of ice. If making the drink ahead of time, the tea can be placed in the refrigerator for up to three days and the sweetener can be added before serving.