How do I love thee, Thai food? Let me count the ways.

Thai food has enjoyed an immense surge in popularity in the U.S. over the past few years, and Leela Punyaratabandhu—a Bangkok native—shares her favorite recipes in her new cookbook, Simple Thai Food. Punyaratabandhu's simple instructions and information on special Thai ingredients (and easy-to-find substitutions) can give any home cook the tools for tackling "Thai make-in instead of Thai take-out."

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  • 7 green onions
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for deep-frying
  • 1 tablespoon basic aromatic paste (page 179)
  • 4 ounces white mushrooms, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 8 ounces ground chicken or pork
  • 1 tablespoon thin soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, patted dry and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 18 (4-inch) square or round frozen spring roll skins or fresh or frozen wonton skins, thawed if frozen and kept covered with a kitchen towel
  • ¾ cup sweet chile sauce, homemade (page 187) or store-bought, for serving

Trim off and discard the roots of the green onions. Cut each onion into 2 pieces, separating the white bulb end from the green blades. Slice the white parts crosswise ¼-inch thick and reserve for the filling. Set the green blades aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or a 14-inch skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced onions, aromatic paste and mushrooms and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until the onions and mushrooms have softened. Add the chicken, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar and water chestnuts and stir with a spatula, breaking up the chicken as finely as you can with the blunt end of the spatula. Continue to stir-fry for 5 to 8 minutes, until all of the chicken is cooked through and all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat and let the filling cool to room temperature.

To blanch the “strings” for tying the bags, fill a 1-quart saucepan half full with water and bring the water to a boil. Place a bowl of iced water next to the stove. When the water is boiling, add the green onion blades, pushing them down gently with a spoon to submerge them in the water. After 30 seconds, transfer the onion blades to the iced water. Within 1 minute, the onions should be cool enough to handle. Remove them from the water and, with your fingers or the tip of a paring knife, split each blade in half lengthwise; set aside.

To assemble the dumplings, lay a spring roll skin flat on a work surface and put 1½ tablespoons of the cooled filling in the center. Gather together the corners of the skin and adjust the dumpling so it takes on a round, rather than flat, profile. Using 1 piece of onion blade, tie it around the gathered corners twice to secure them. With a pair of kitchen shears, trim off the dangling blade ends. Repeat with the remaining spring roll skins and filling.

To fry the dumplings, pour the oil to a depth of 3 inches into a wok, Dutch oven or deep fryer and heat to 325°F. To test if the oil is ready without a thermometer, stick an unvarnished wooden chopstick into the oil; when the oil is hot enough, a steady stream of tiny bubbles will rise from the tip of the chopstick. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place it next to the stove.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower 3 or 4 filled pouches into the hot oil and deepfry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown all over. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings to the towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all of the dumplings are cooked.

Do not serve the dumplings right out of the oil, as the filling will be much too hot to eat. Let them cool down to slightly warmer than room temperature, then arrange them on a platter and serve with the sweet chile sauce.

Reprinted with permission from Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography (c) 2014 by Erin Kunkel. Read our review of this book.

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