The Everything Thai Cookbook truly has everything Thai. I thought I liked everything Thai, but sadly this cookbook is proving me wrong.
I don’t think it’s the cookbook’s fault. When I originally got this book, circa 2006, I only cooked the stir fry recipes. Those I can tell you are delicious. The appetizers are more traditional and some are difficult to make. I’m positive when I get past the appetizer section, I’ll be more pleased.
That being said, I almost didn’t want to write about Coconut Bundle, because I got a nasty comment about my views on Mee Krob . I thought it was gross and my cooking experience of making it was not pleasant.
If you read that entry, you’ll see I did what I normally do with a recipe I fail at. I make fun of myself, it, and more. I have discovered that not everyone understands my, (what I thought was harmless) sarcasm.
So let it be known, dear readers, that I enjoy most Thai dishes. I especially enjoy stir fry with eggplant and basil. I have no problems with Thai people or Thailand. The only Asians I don’t like are North Koreans and that loathing is reserved for their government. I’m sure most North Korean citizens are a-okay.
Now that I have that disclaimer out-of-the-way, here’s what you’ll need for the coconut bundle.
- 1 cup of shredded fresh coconut
- 2/3 cup of brown sugar
- 1/3 cup of shrimp paste
- 1/2 cup of diced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped lime segments
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- 1/2 cup of dried shrimp
- 1-2 jalapenos, seeded and sliced
- 20-25 medium sized spinach leaved, washed and patted dry
The first step is easy enough for an American who is a novice cook.
Hey! That’s me!
That step is to saute the coconut over medium heat until it has browned. This should take 20 minutes.
While the coconut is browning, make some sauce by melting the brown sugar in a pan. Once it’s halfway melted, add the shrimp paste.
By the way, I could not find shrimp paste. I looked at two different Korean grocery stores, as wells as Vons. One of my best friends is from Japan and told me that she wasn’t surprised by this. She said shrimp paste is truly more of a Thai and Vietnamese specialty. So, if you decide to make this, I recommend going to a Thai grocery store because you’re probably not going to find it anywhere else.
I ended up substituting with fish sauce and it came out chewy and stringy. I’m guessing this is not what’s supposed to happen.
When your coconut has properly browned, you can move on to the next step which is mixing it with onion, lime pieces, peanuts, dried shrimp, and jalapenos. Mix it by gently tossing in a bowl.
There’s an ingredient in this that I don’t understand why I don’t like it. Dried shrimp. I like shrimp, but dried shrimp is an oddity for me. It kinda freaks me out. It doesn’t have much of a taste, so it’s not disgusting. I just feel like I’m eating a dried bug instead of shrimp. It’s a psychological thing I guess.
My Japanese friend assuaged my feelings of being an uncultured dumb American by revealing to me that she is also not a fan of dried shrimp. She says it’s a common snack to feed kids in Japan, but she never liked it. I’ve seen her eat some other kind of dried seafood snack. I think it was octopus. I don’t really remember because we were on a road trip when I witnessed this event. I was driving, so I only got a rear view mirror look.
Moving on, to serve this dish you place an appropriate amount of spinach leaves on a plate. An appropriate amount would be enough to hold a good-sized bundle of coconut. When you’ve assessed the serving size most appealing to you, you’ll sprinkle the bundle with your sauce.
Consume the bundle by scooping it up with the spinach leaves and popping it into your mouth.
Thankfully, I liked this recipe much better than Mee Krob, but I still thought it was weird. The lime segments are juicy and tend to overtake the flavor. I actually liked that, but a friend of mine found it a little jarring. The coconut tastes fantastic and pairs well with the rest of the ingredients.
The elements I did not enjoy about this dish was the sauce and the dried shrimp. We already know my feelings about the shrimp. The sauce, I screwed up and that made consuming the dish a little daunting. I felt like I was eating the La Brea Tar Pits.
I’d be curious to try this again without the dried shrimp and either making the sauce correctly or with a different kind.
The good news is that I did try this on a fish taco when a friend of mine had a fish fry party. It was actually pretty good as a topping. I’m thinking about opening up a taco truck in Silverlake and charging hipsters $12 for tacos.
Those hipsters will eat anything they think is odd. I can say that because I’m part hipster.