chicken marbella and warm bread salad


When the quarantine started, our routines were abruptly halted. We couldn’t go anywhere because of the stay-at-home order. With nowhere to go, any gastronomic exploration was limited to my kitchen. I looked back over my calendar. On the day the quarantine started, March 26, I made green rice noodles with pesto. We continued into April, there was a Hangzhou sweet and sour pork, another time cubanos, escovitch fish, a simple carbonara, steamed egg custard, lasagna, then into May: a sweet chili-glazed salmon fillet in a pan, hamburgers, callaloo chicken roulade, Shanghai-style scallion noodles with ground pork. And now, after 52 days, the lockdown is finally over. To celebrate the end of #bangkokshutdown, a saucy-salty-sweet Chicken Marbella and a warm bread salad to go with it. 

Chicken Marbella (adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe)
Thawing time: 12 hours in the refrigerator to dry out the skin
Marinating time: 12 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

For the marinade:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 cup large pitted prunes, each cut into 3 large chunks
1/2 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup capers with juice
2 medium bay leaves
3 tablespoons fried garlic (6-8 large cloves garlic minced)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

For the chicken:
1 whole chicken
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup white rum (or dry white wine)

At least 24 hours before cooking the chicken, dry the chicken out in the refrigerator. Put it on a baking tray lined with paper towels and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Drying the chicken out will crisp up the chicken skin.

At least 12 hours before cooking the chicken spatchcock or butterfly the chicken. Turn the chicken on its breast and starting from the tail, cut out the backbone with a pair of kitchen shears. Cut off the wing tips. Turn the chicken over and press down on the breastbone until you hear it crack. Wipe the chicken dry inside and out.

Cook’s Note: Save the backbone and wingtips to make chicken soup stock.

Prepare the marinade in a medium bowl. Put the chicken in a 9×13 inch pan. Rub marinade all over the chicken, making sure to coat the inside as well. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate.

Heat oven to 350˚F/175˚C.

When you are ready to roast the chicken, combine brown sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle it all over the chicken skin. Pour the rum or wine around the chicken, but not on it. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 145˚F. Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 minutes. Don’t turn off the oven. You will need it to make the bread salad.

Warm Bread Salad (adapted from NY Times Cooking)

2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup cashew nuts
6 oz stale bread
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more if desired
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
6 tablespoons warm water, divided
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce leaves
Olive oil spray

Put dried cranberries in a small bowl and pour over the 2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons warm water. Set aside.

Slice bread into chunks. Spray with olive oil and toss. Broil or toast in a large skillet until the edges of the bread blacken. Remove to a large bowl.

Whisk 1/4 cup olive oil with 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar. Taste. Add more vinegar if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the bread chunks and toss.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and onions and cook, stirring, over low heat, until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are wilted, about 30 seconds. Scrape the garlic mixture onto the bread chunks and combine. Drain cranberries and add to the bread. Add cashews and stir. Drizzle bread mixture with 4 tablespoons water and mix. Taste a bit of bread. Add more vinegar, salt and pepper, if needed. Toss well and set aside.

After the chicken is done, take it out of the oven and raise the heat to 450˚F/200˚C. Spread the bread mixture on a baking sheet and put it in the oven. Off the heat. Let the bread mixture warm for 15 minutes then scrape it into a serving bowl with the lettuce and the remaining vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Serve warm with chicken.


bun cha: vietnamese grilled pork patties with rice vermicelli, salad, and pickles


Bun cha, Vietnamese grilled pork patties with rice vermicelli, salad, and pickles, is a favourite dish of mine because of its emphasis on fresh ingredients. I’ve eaten different versions of it so this is a combination of memory, though the base recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. The grilled pork could have been dry but dipping it in sauce for a few minutes before serving immerses the pork in flavour and anticipation. The salad and quick pickles provide extra relish for the chewy noodles, but I could barely restrain myself from pouring more sauce over all. 

Bun Cha (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Yield: 4-6 servings

Noodles and Salad
6 oz/170 grams rice vermicelli
1 head/8 oz lettuce, shredded
1 English cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced on the bias, optional
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded (roll up leaves and shred crosswise)

Quick Pickles
1/2 cup daikon white radish, cut into matchstick size pieces
1/2 cup carrots, cut into matchstick size pieces

1-2 Thai chilies, stemmed and minced
3 tablespoons sugar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup hot water
5 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 2 large limes

Pork Patties
1 large shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
400 grams ground pork

Make noodles and salad. Boil a large pot of water. Add the noodles and cook until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water until cool. Drain noodles well, spread noodles out on a baking tray double lined with paper towels, then let stand at room temperature to dry, turning occasionally. Arrange lettuce, cucumber, if using, cilantro and basil separately on a large platter. Refrigerate until needed. Arrange dry noodles on a plate.

Make the sauce. Put chilies, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and garlic in a mortar and pound to a fine paste. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the hot water and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add fish sauce and lime juice, stirring until combined. Set aside.

Make the quick pickles. In a medium bowl, soak matchstick vegetables in hot water until softened. Drain. Pour 1/3 cup of sauce over the vegetables and marinate for 5 minutes. Remove the pickles from the sauce and arrange them on the plate with the salad. Keep the sauce for the meat patties.

Make the pork patties. Combine the shallot, fish sauce, sugar, baking soda, and white pepper in a medium bowl. Add pork and mix well. Shape pork into 12-14 patties, each about 2.5 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

Heat griddle over medium-high heat. Brush lightly with oil. Cook patties until browned, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer grilled patties to the bowl with sauce and toss gently to coat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Transfer patties to a serving plate, reserving the sauce. Return reserved sauce to the remainder of the sauce. Serve noodles, salad, quick pickles, sauce, and pork patties separately.

chinese congee

Chicken Congee

Congee or jook in Hakka is a breakfast staple in Chinese families. Jook also makes a light simple supper. It’s nutritious, a one bowl meal that includes carbs, protein, and vegetables. Very textural, it combines fresh flavours with preserved, so you get crunchy, crispy, salty, tangy,  aromatic, and sour all in a spoonful. It takes hours of simmering to get the rice this soft. However, this version was not simmered on the stove but in a slow cooker, thanks to a recipe by Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking. She uses short grain rice, which I never thought of, and which makes a lot of sense. It’s starchier than long grain rice, and makes a perfect porridge. I recommend smashing the ginger to get a stronger gingery flavour in the rice. Drawback: it takes up to 10 hours to cook before you can sit down and enjoy it. So if you want congee for breakfast, you’ll have to set it the night before. Traditionally in Thailand, joke as it is called here, is served with a raw egg cracked open in the middle of the steaming hot porridge. The heat of the rice coddles the raw egg to an ethereal creamy consistency. However, I think raw eggs are risky so I poached mine. A runny soft egg in congee is delicious.

Congee (adapted from Melissa Clark, NY Times Cooking)
Time: 8-10 hours
Yield: 4 servings

For the Congee:
1/2 cup short-grain rice
6 cups water
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
2 shiitake mushroom caps, stemmed
2 chicken thighs, bone in, trimmed of fat with skin removed
White pepper to taste
2-4 poached eggs

For the accompaniments:
1/3 cup pickled vegetables, chopped into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon fried shallots (available in jars at the store)
1 tablespoon fried garlic (available in jars at the store)
1/4 cup diced scallion
1/4 cup diced cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and slivered
chili oil, to taste (Available in stores, but I recommend Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe)
Maggi seasoning, to taste (can use low sodium soy sauce instead)

Put rice and water in the ceramic bowl of the slow cooker. Add the ginger, chicken and white pepper. Stir. Cook on high for 1 hour. Skim off any scum and reduce to low. Let simmer 7-9 hours or until the rice has swelled,  is soft and mushy, and the water is thickened. Remove the ginger and discard. Remove the mushroom caps and slice into slivers and return to the pot. Remove the chicken and shred with a fork. Return shredded chicken to the pot, discarding bone and gristly parts. Meanwhile, poach eggs. Spoon congee into bowls, top with one egg each per diner,  and serve immediately with accompaniments.

Make a pork meatball version, another Thai tradition. Season a 1/2 pound of ground pork with salt and pepper. Make small meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. One hour before cooking time is up, add the meatballs and cook for 1 hour until no longer pink.

shanghai-style scallion noodles with ground pork and bean sprouts

Shanghai style scallion noodles with ground pork and bean threads.jpg

This is an easy weeknight meal that only takes 30 minutes from start to finish. I used ramen noodles but you can use thin Chinese egg noodles, fresh or dried, or spaghetti. The crispy scallions add a piquant note to the salty-sweet sauce, dressed with fresh jalapeño pepper rounds and more scallions. I wanted more vegetables in the dish so I added the bean sprouts. You can also add stir-fried baby kale, shredded napa cabbage, carrot sticks, or celery or a combination. 

Shanghai-Style Scallion Noodles with Ground Pork and Bean Sprouts (adapted from Milk Street)
200 grams dried ramen noodles (not instant)
4 tablespoons rice bran oil or any vegetable oil, divided
2-3 cups scallions (2 bunches), whites and greens separated
230 grams lean ground pork
2 teaspoons salted olives, chopped into a paste
1/3 cup mushroom soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
2 generous handfuls of fresh bean sprouts, roots trimmed
1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, ends trimmed, sliced into thin rounds.
Fish sauce to taste

Trim roots and tips of scallions. Cut into 3 inch lengths and then slice vertically into slivers. Separate whites and greens.

Bring 4 liters water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the noodles and cook until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse to cool. Drain again. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the noodles and toss. Set aside.

Mix together in a small bowl the soy sauce and the sugar. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat until hot and shimmering. Add white parts of scallions and fry until almost brown and crisp, 4-7 minutes. Add half the green parts and continue frying until brown and crisp, 4-7 minutes. Remove from oil to a plate.

If there isn’t enough oil, add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the olive paste and stir it around. Add the pork and cook, stirring and breaking up large pieces until the pork is brown and crispy.

Add the soy sauce mixture to the pork and cook until it simmers. Add the bean sprouts and cook until just wilted, 1-2 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and crispy scallions, and toss to combine pork and vegetables. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add fish sauce if desired. Remove to a serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining scallions on top with the jalapeño rounds. Serve at once.

on making hamburger buns from scratch


I have learned there’s nothing mysterious about baking with yeast. Nevertheless it’s a magical ingredient responsible for delicious buns, loaves, and rolls.  That’s my take-away from this Year of Baking Bread which began in February 2019 with America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for multigrain bread. I continued my education, digressing into focaccia, pizza dough, Jamaican hard dough bread, and Chinese steamed rolls called bao.  But out of sheer spite,  I often returned to the multigrain recipe, and that is where I learned to learn from the dough, and to engage in a sadistic bread kneading technique called slap-and-fold. I’m still not a proficient by any means; pizza dough is probably the last frontier. Recipes with yeast could be so frustrating, many of them infuriatingly incomplete for assuming a level of expertise that I didn’t possess. Few of them offered the clarity and the advice I needed as a beginning baker. So much depended on trial and error.  So I decided to rewrite this recipe for neophytes like me; it is the culmination of a year’s worth of sweat over the mixing bowl. 

Beautiful Burger Buns (recipe adapted and rewritten from King Arthur Flour)
Yield: 8 buns
Time: 2 hours 12 minutes

3 1/2 cups/13 3/4 oz all-purpose flour
1/4 cup/1 3/4 oz sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoons/1 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup/8oz water
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for brushing the buns
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds for sprinkling, optional

In a large bowl, using your hands or a large wooden spoon, mix together flour, water and yeast. Add salt and combine. Add lightly beaten egg and stir. Cut in the butter. Pour about 1/2 cup of the water into the flour mixture and squeeze the dough with your hands in a scissors motion all over. This distributes the water throughout. Gradually add the rest of the water, a tablespoon at a time, working it into the dough, until the dough becomes a wet, shaggy mess. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest 10-20 minutes. Resting allows the dough to hydrate, to absorb the water. After resting, the dough will appear lumpy, tacky to the touch, and will have absorbed the water.

Smear a teaspoon of oil on the work surface, about 12 inches in diameter. Rub oil on your hands and on a plastic dough scraper. Knead the dough in the bowl a few times then scrape it out onto the oiled work surface. Continue kneading the dough, using the dough scraper to scrape up any dough stuck to the surface. Knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Do the windowpane test. Cut off a walnut size piece of dough and stretch it. It shouldn’t break. It will be thin and translucent when held up to the light. This means the dough is well-kneaded. Smooth the dough and round it between your hands into a ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm draft-free place (e.g. the microwave oven, off, of course) for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Line a baking tray with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. Heat oven to 190˚C/375˚F

Lightly oil the work surface. Weigh the risen dough and portion it out into 8 pieces of equal weight. Taking each piece, fold the edges towards the center, turning the dough until it becomes a ball. Pinch the seam closed. Put it on the work surface seam side down and cup your hands around it as you turn and shape it into a taut ball. Put it on the prepared baking tray. Repeat. Put the dough balls on the tray 2 inches apart. Cover tray with a kitchen towel and let rise 30-40 minutes until the buns are about 4 inches in diameter.

Brush the tops with the egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake buns 12-15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack. Split buns in half for burgers or sandwiches. Store extra buns wrapped airtight in plastic wrap and aluminum foil in a zipper lock bag. May be kept at room temperature 2 days, refrigerated 5 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost buns in refrigerator overnight. Warm gently in a low oven to refresh.

Bacon Burger with Tyler Florence’s Goop and Baked Sweet Potato Fries



egg foo young with sauce

Egg Foo Young.JPG

Egg Foo Young is a comfort food staple of American-style Chinese food. A Chinese frittata, this egg-y concoction is filled with cabbage, onions, shiitake mushrooms, and Chinese sausage, then drizzled with a tangy ginger-garlic-soy sauce. I like this recipe because it does not use much oil nor require deep-frying.

Egg Foo Young (adapted from the Spruce Eats)
Yield: 10-inch frittata

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing Rice Wine/dry sherry
Dash sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 4 teaspoons water

Make the sauce. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir. Stir in the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, and sesame oil. Turn up the heat a little and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring until thickened. Set aside.

For the Egg Foo Young
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/4 to 1/2 cup cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, optional
1 Chinese sausage
5 large eggs
Salt and Pepper
2-3 teaspoons Shaoxing Rice Wine/dry sherry
2 tablespoons rice bran oil or a neutral oil
2 scallions, sliced diagonally, optional

Make the egg foo young. Soak the mushrooms in hot water until softened. Put a small bowl or plate on top of the mushrooms to keep them submerged in the hot water, 15 minutes. When they soften, squeeze out the excess water, cut off the stem and discard, and slice the cap into strips. Set aside.

Rinse and drain the cabbage and mung bean sprouts, if using. Set aside. Chop the sausage on the diagonal and set aside. Cut the onion into thin slices and set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a little salt and pepper, and the rice wine or sherry. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, lightly stir fry the cabbage until softened and wilted. Add the bean sprouts, it using, and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Remove and cool slightly, then add to the eggs. To the remaining oil in the pan, stir fry the sausage and onions until lightly browned. Remove and cool slightly. Then add to the egg mixture. Cook the mushrooms for a minute. If more oil is needed, add a teaspoon to the pan. Remove mushrooms and cool slightly. Add to the egg mixture.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat it over medium heat. When it is hot, scrape the egg mixture into the pan. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Re-arrange the fillings so they are evenly distributed. Cover the egg foo young and let the eggs set around the edges, 2-3 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, go around the edges to release the eggs. Cover and cook until the center is somewhat set–it shouldn’t be liquid, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the cover and put a large plate over the skillet. Holding the skillet handle with your dominant hand, and covering the top of the plate with the other hand, invert the skillet and the plate. The egg foo young will drop out onto the plate. Put the skillet back on the heat source, turn it up to medium, and slide the egg foo young into the skillet to brown the top, 3-5 minutes.

Slide the egg foo young onto a large plate. If the sauce is cold, reheat. Drizzle the warmed sauce over the top and sprinkle with scallions, if using.

ants climbing a tree: ground pork with bean vermicelli sichuan style

Ants Climbing a Tree: Ground Pork with Mung Bean Vermicelli, and a bowl of Sautéed Cabbage, lightly salted, with Crispy Skin Pork

This dish gets its whimsical name from the ground pork clinging to the strands of vermicelli. Despite the name, it isn’t banquet food but Chinese homestyle cooking. Salty with the earthy tang of bean paste and  chilies, it is truly comfort food when it is served with hot jasmine white rice and sautéed cabbage on the side. I adjusted the recipe because I thought 200 grams of vermicelli was overwhelming. However, I increased the garlic, ginger, and scallions, also called the Chinese trinity, because you can never have too much. I improvised with the chili bean sauce because I didn’t have any–I did have miso and gojuchang. Delicious, aromatic, and perfect. 

Ants Climbing a Tree: Ground Meat with Mung Bean Vermicelli Sichuan Style (adapted from China Sichuan Food)
Yield: 2-4 servings

80-100g mung bean vermicelli
200g ground meat (pork, beef, or chicken)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon Chili Bean Sauce (improv: 3/4 tablespoon miso+1/4 tablespoon gojuchang)
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more to taste
1/3 cup scallions, sliced thinly on diagonal
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups water or stock

Season ground meat with a ¼ teaspoon of salt. Set aside. Soak vermicelli in warm water until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in wok and fry ground meat until it is no longer pink, using the spatula to break up the big pieces. Set aside.

Add chili bean sauce, minced garlic, minced ginger, and half of the scallions to the hot wok. Add additional oil if needed. Heat over medium high heat until the mixture turns red and it becomes aromatic. Return meat to the wok and add soy sauce. Taste. Add more soy sauce or chili bean sauce as needed.

Add the water or stock to the wok and bring to a boil. Add drained vermicelli and sugar. Stir well to heat and combine. The vermicelli will absorb the liquid and turn transparent. Transfer meat and vermicelli to a large serving platter or bowl. Sprinkle remaining scallions on top. Serve hot with rice.

PS to make the cabbage, just shred half a head and sauté in a little oil and salt until slightly wilted. Add 1/4 cup water or stock and continue cooking until the cabbage is a crunchy or as soft as you like. Taste and season with a little fish sauce or soy sauce, if needed.  I “garnished” it with crispy skin pork from the market but you can add Chinese sausage, ham, or tofu.

cucumber water


A refreshing drink during the hot Thai summer: cucumber water! It needs no recipe, just a cupful of sliced cucumber and two liters of water. Optional add-in: several sprigs of fresh mint, about eight, if you want to be precise about it. 

Terra Nova whiskey sour


This was my very first drink as a teen. My father ordered me a whiskey sour as an apéritif when we were at dinner at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. I loved anything sour and this drink was just the thing; tangy from the lime juice and with a delicious light sweetness from the cherries. Ever since, I’ve had a fondness for this cocktail. I don’t know if this is the exact same recipe from the Terra Nova, but it certainly comes close enough that it brought back memories of that first sip. 

Whiskey Sour
Makes 1 glass

1 egg white, can use pasteurized egg white if preferred
1 oz lime juice, fresh squeezed (can use lemon but I like the lime better)
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz bourbon/rye (I used Thai whiskey)
3 Maraschino cherries on a toothpick, for garnish
1 teaspoon Maraschino cherry syrup
Crushed ice

Make the simple syrup. Put 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil until the liquid is no longer cloudy. Let cool to room temperature and store in a glass jar or bottle in the refrigerator. Label and date.

Whisk the egg white in a medium bowl until frothy. Pour in the lime juice, simple syrup, the whiskey, and the cherry syrup. Whisk until combined. Pour over ice in a glass, and garnish with the Maraschino cherries.

mango pastiche: in homage to mango and sticky rice

Mango Sticky Rice.JPG

Chef Joanne Chang’s Coconut Sticky Rice recipe pays homage to Mango Sticky Rice (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง), the traditional Thai dessert.  One taste of Khao Neow Mamuang quickly asserts itself. It is at once delicious, delicate, fresh, and yet straightforward. The basic underlying principle of this dessert is textural:  the rice is chewy,  while the coconut cream is a light unobtrusive partner to the sweet smoothness of ripe mango in season. Chang did a riff on this Thai dessert, so rather than a horizontal dish, she layered it vertically. She serves it with a granita on top that recalls fresh ripe mango, and a mango-lime curd underneath that is at once sour, sweet, and tart.  A  coconut sauce was mixed into the sticky rice making it uncharacteristically heavy. So I decided to do a riff myself on Chang’s dessert. On top of a base of mango gently folded into that tart mango-lime curd I have spooned a sweet mango coulis to balance the sweet with the sour. And on top of that, the sticky rice, plain without any embellishment. With restraint, I spooned a coconut-pandan cream over the sticky rice. The Thais like to add a crunchy element on top, traditionally this calls for yellow mung beans, but you can add toasted white and black sesame seeds instead. Finally, the whole confection is topped off with a mound of sweet mango granita ice crystals, to remind you that here is refreshment. Hence, this Mango Pastiche pays homage to Joanne Chang and of course, to that anonymous Thai dessert inventor (blessed be whoever he/she was) to whom we are both indebted for the inspiration that is mango sticky rice.

Mango Granita
Yield: 3 cups
Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Do Ahead: up to 1 week

2 cups/400g mango puree
1/2 cup/120g water
2-4 tablespoons sugar or to taste

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients until well combined. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan and freeze. One hour later, stir the mixture with a fork, bringing the frozen edges towards the center and breaking up any chunks. Re-freeze. Repeat stirring the mixture and re-freezing it until all the liquid turns to crystals, about 2 more hours. If the crystals are too hard, let the mixture sit on the countertop 5-10 minutes and stir again, breaking up large chunks of ice. If a finer texture is desired, use a metal bench scraper to break up the ice. Store in a covered container in the freezer until ready to eat.

Mango-Lime Curd
Yield: 3 cups
Time: 20 minutes, including prep
Do Ahead: 1 week

2 cups/400g mango puree
1/2 cup/120g lime juice or orange juice or a combination of the two
6 tablespoons/90g unsalted butter
1/2 cup/100g superfine or caster sugar
4 large/80g egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, heat the mango, juice, and butter over medium-high heat stirring frequently until the butter is melted and mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. It will be a little grainy.

Whisk in 1/3 of the hot mango mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Whisk continually so the eggs don’t scramble. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the rest of the mango mixture and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Draw your finger through the curd layer. If it holds a line, the curd is set, about 4-6 minutes. Remove the curd from the heat. Whisk in the salt. Scrape the curd into a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap, letting it touch the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Sticky Rice
Yield: 3 cups
Soaking Time: 2-24 hours
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

300g glutinous rice
360g water

Cover rice with cold water in a medium bowl. Soak rice at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. At least 3 hours before serving, cook the rice. Drain rice in a fine mesh sieve.

Rice Cooker Method:
Pour the rice into a rice cooker pot and add the water. Turn on the rice cooker. After the rice has cooked, unplug the cooker to shut off the keep warm feature, let cool, covered, to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Stove Top Method:
Drain rice in a fine-mesh sieve, or a colander lined with cheesecloth if the holes are too large. Place rice over a pot of rapidly simmering water, but don’t let the water touch the sieve. Steam rice, covered, for 15 minutes.

Remove lid and stir the rice wth a wooden spoon. Continue steaming, covered, 10 more minutes until the rice is translucent and glossy. Taste to make sure rice is cooked. It should be slightly chewy but not hard. It could take up to 10 more minutes. Turn off heat. Fluff the rice with the wooden spoon. Cover and let rest 5 minutes at least. Serve at room temperature.

Coconut-Pandan Cream
Yield: ½ cup
Cooking Time: 5-10 minutes
Do Ahead: 1 day

½ cup (112 ml) coconut milk
1 pandan leaf
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tapioca starch

While the rice is cooling, make the coconut-pandan cream. In a small saucepan, mix together ½ cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon tapioca starch. Fold and tie a knot in the pandan leaf and put it in the cream. Bring to a boil, stirring, until the cream thickens. Off the heat and set aside. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pandan leaf and discard. The cream should be room temperature at serving time.

Mango Coulis
Yield: ½ cup
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Do Ahead: 1-2 days

½ cup/100g mango puree
½ tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons water.

In a small saucepan, heat the puree, sugar and ½ tablespoon water. Mix together the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water. When the mixture is boiling, add the cornstarch and heat, stirring, until thickened. Chill in the refrigerator.

Assemble the Mango Pastiche
Serves 4-6

2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into small cubes
Mango granita
Mango-lime curd
Sticky rice
Coconut-pandan cream
Mango coulis
100 g yellow mung beans ถัวเหลอง or toasted sesame seeds white and black
Lime zest and mint, for garnish, optional
4-6 glass bowls, parfait glasses, or pretty glasses with stems

Put about ½ cup mango cubes in the bottom of the glass then spoon 3-4 tablespoons mango-lime curd on top. Spoon 1-4 tablespoons mango coulis on top of the curd, depending on how much you want to balance the tart flavor of the curd. Layer about 2-4 tablespoons sticky rice into the glass, mounding it on top of the coulis. Spoon coconut-pandan cream on the rice letting it pool on the surface and dribbling down the sides. Sprinkle some of the yellow mung beans or sesame seeds on top. Spoon the mango granita crystals on top in a mound. Garnish with lime zest and mint, if desired. Serve immediately.

Top: Sticky rice layer with coconut-pandan cream and yellow mung beans;                                           Bottom: Mango coulis layer