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Mai-Tai Thai Silk Side Dish
A Complementary to Chef-Me-Not!!! Recipes

My Bean Sprouts Story

Where the behind-the-scene stories are told.
A side dish to its related recipe created by Coffee Kitchen.

This funny looking vegetable -or, is it legume- showed up for the first time in my life in my noodle bowl with meatballs. For years I've been comsuming this yellow head and long tail bean. It took me a bit of time to even come close to liking it. Here's why.

No Pain No Gain

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It happened a long time ago when I was first introduced to this funny-looking vegetable -or is it a legume? It showed up in the broth of my large flat rice noodle soup with meatballs, crowding my soup space.

I carefully ate around the "yellow head with long tail" because I didn't appreciate the crunchiness, the hard-to-break and hard-to-swallow texture of it, not to mention the lack of flavor. My grandmother would try to trick me into eating it, but without success. Who could sneak in bean sprouts without being detected, anyway? It got so bad that at one point I made myself gag just to prove how much I despised the thing, and just for doing that I was punished - the next time around - by having to consume my next bowl of noodle soup noodle-less, but with a lot of floaty bean sprouts, instead. Those were really bad memories.
"So I learned that mung bean sprouts, or bean sprouts for short (!!!) contain pure forms of vitamins A, B, C, and E -with vitamin C being the highest amount. They are also high in fiber, plus other minerals including Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.

But it will be pure boredom to eat them plain!
"

Learning Through Bean Sprouts

The next thing I knew, my mother would call me to help her in the kitchen when she made her famous "meegrob" (which reminds me that I'll sometime have to talk through the difficult steps of making this divine crispy noodle with all its condiments). Her meegrob is so famous, and she'd make the dish when we had a religious ceremony, such as housewarmings and birthday blessings, and offer it to the monks.

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Naturally, the relatives got to have a taste of mother's meegrob and would talk about it for a long time; and that, always leaves a smile on my mother's face.

Unfortunately for me -at the time- one of the must-haves on the side of meegrob is fresh bean sprouts. My job was to sit (or stand) in front of a huge bowl (really hugh) that had three million bean sprouts soaking in water, and to start taking off the roots, one-by-one. All the sprouts have to be presented nicely white and clean on the side of crispy meegrob- root-less. If you are familiar with bean sprouts you know how tiny they are - and their roots are very long! Thinking back on it now, as a grown-up, I could see that my mother wanted to teach me patience, tolerance, endurance, and all the good things parents want to teach their children. Most importantly, she wanted to teach me the "Thai" way - the way we Thai do things - with so much attention to details.

I thanked my mother years later,but was surprised when she just gave me a quick wave of her hand and said, "Oh, it wasn't anything like that! No one else wanted to do it- not even the maids- so I called you over. But good on you! I'm glad that I gave you a chance to learn."

Oh, mother!.

First Grade Mung Bean (Assignment) Encounter

-Which didn't happen!

One weekend assignment in first grade was for me (with help from my parents) to buy a bag of mung beans and soak them over night. Then, I'd have to line a tray with wet tissues while laying down the mung beans with space in between each, an inch apart. By the time I'd go back to school on Monday, I should have had bean sprouts and even tiny bean plants to present to the class. Well, that never happened.

This is what happened!

When I came home on Friday, my parents told me that we were taking a trip that weekend. Being an obedient little girl as I was (at five years of age) I went without informing them of my project. Come Monday I had nothing to show, and when I was asked by my teacher I replied (with some nerve), "I had a plan with my family prior to the assignment." The result was a zero for my grade, and my father was called in to the principal's office to be disciplined. He was being scolded because he should have paid attention to my first grade agenda book. Later, because of his charm, he became my elementary school principal's favorite parent. Things were a little different back then! For one thing, both my father and I never forgot our bean sprout incident.

The Use of Mung Bean Sprouts

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Bean sprouts are used widely in Asian dishes. If you are in Thailand and walk its streets you would -sooner AND later- have several noodle bowls during your stay. A noodle stand vendor will put a fistful of bean sprouts (with roots are still intact - they don't have the luxury of time -or ME- to break them off!) in the drainer, dunk it in the boiling broth 'tank'; and, with a few shakes, pour the cooked sprouts into a large noodle bowl. I can have hot steamy "guoitiew senyai loogshin" -large(flat)noodle (with)meatballs- anytime of the day.
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These noodle stands are as famous as McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts!

We also eat bean sprouts with guoitiewpuddthai, or "puddthai" for short.
"Pudd" is prononced like utter, butter, putter, but not pudding. There is no direct spelling that is capable of creating an exact pronunciation, but it is definitely not "padthai" like a notepad. Neither is it "padThai" nor "puddThai": seriously, I -or other Thai persons- would not taste good stir-fried.

Bean sprouts act as a condiment on the side, along with several other ingredients. To make puddthai the Thai way, one needs a lot of time for preparation because several condiments have to be prepared and set aside separately. Most restaurants in the United States serve the quick and easy version, which is just fine, as long as their puddthai dishes do not taste sweet. From time to time I have been served puddthai so sweet, as if each strand of long thin rice noodle has been coated with sugar. Unfortunately, puddthai is not the only dish served in America that has a high sugar content. Ghangped - ghangkiewwan - green and red curry are also notorious for that. Meegrob, somtum- papaya salad- yumwoonsen - glass noodle salad- and even our famous crispy fried fish with chili sauce -plaradprik- are made and presented with much too much sugar.
I think that the adding-sugar-business started back in the days of the Thai pioneers entering the US. They tried their best to represent the Thai taste but grew worried that the spiciness from the chili would be too much to introduce to the western tongue, so they compensated with the sweet taste. Days have gone by, and that generation has retired and left its legacy- in its formulated recipes- to its successors; who, unfortuately, blindly follow without thinking. (Either that, or their taste buds are numb from too much sugar, so they keep adding more and more.) If Thai dishes really taste this sweet, Thailand would be a country full of obese people with diatetes, kidney and heart diseases. But that's not the case at all. I wish that restaurants would feel more responsible: after all, they use "Thai" as their trademark.

As I mentioned before, bean sprouts are presented on the side of meegrob. It seems like bean sprouts only make their appearance in a supporting role; but, have they ever been cast as the principal artists?

Ahhhhh... (a dramatic moment with a long-held high note --no, let's make it higher-- with an arm on the forehead as the soprano swoons--still lingering on her even higher note), but they have!! They have been cast as leading artists!!!!

Please continue to "Stir-fried bean sprouts with tofu and ground pork" - featured by, the star of the evening - Mung Bean Sprouts!!!


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Mai Tai Recipe




In this order, pour light rum, creme de almond and triple sec into a collins glass. Using equal parts of sweet and sour mix and pineapple juice, fill the glass nearly to the top. Add dark rum, and serve unstirred with a straw.

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Pradichaya Gafaae Poonyarit - La CoffeeMelodie Suite


Pradichaya Gafaae Poonyarit:

A Thai soprano from head to toe with an attitude of a no-nonsense entrepreneur with innovative ideas and, sometimes, shocking approaches, who fits the phrase "been there, done that" perfectly, and is looking forward to new challenges. A leader, a teacher, a wife, a mother, and, a chef-ME-NOT. All makes a person who turns every situation into a learning experience, and, is super charged with positive energy.


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