Welcome back to the Lamai Newsletter! We hope you enjoy the revamped format, and we’ll plan on getting the latest news from Lamai to you on a more regular basis…
As in the past, we are dedicating our Newsletter to bringing a potpourri (or: “ruamit”) of notes, articles and announcements of interest (we hope) to our friends. The common thread, as before, is that our newsletter will be in some way active in exploring Thai popular culture, wherever and in whatever form it manifests itself.…And with that in mind:
News from the shop
We’re happy to announce that we officially opened our 2nd Lamai Thai Massage Therapy shop since the last appearance of the Newsletter. The 2nd shop is located in the Marina District of San Francisco.
Like the original Lamai (on Andalusia St), and our shop on Abbot Kinney in Venice, this new shop was carefully planned and designed with environmental sustainability in mind, and with an eye towards what has been described as our “Asian Modernist style.” You’ll find in both shops the same soothing color scheme (think:earth tones), meditative Thai music (think: Phillip Glass on a hammered dulcimer), uncluttered décor, and of course, the best Thai massage therapists in Los Angeles and San Francisco!
Now that the San Fran shop is up and running, we have turned our attention to ways in which we can bring the benefits of massage to the greatest number of people….
At Lamai, from its inception, we have made it our goal to make massage available and affordable to as many people as possible…We regard Thai massage as a health benefit, and we don’t want to see people ‘priced out’ of wellness. Our aim is for everyone to create a personal fitness program that includes regularly scheduled massage therapy, much like many people schedule their gym workouts, morning jogs, or meatless days…
As we at Lamai like to say, it’s more than 60 minutes of stress reduction, it’s a way of maintaining an active approach to a healthy lifestyle.
We want people to make Thai massage a part of their personal wellness plan, much like diet and exercise.
In an effort to bring Thai massage to a greater number of people, we are adding a new feature at Lamai. We are happy to announce the:
Lamai Membership Program
How it works:
For a monthly membership fee you’ll receive one free 75 minute Thai massage per month, your own pair of Thai massage pants, and a 10 percent discount towards any goods or services offered at Lamai.
What it costs:
$60 per month
How to sign up:
Stop by either shop, Venice or San Francisco, fill up the paperwork and begin enjoying your member benefits.
Why it makes sense:
You’ll save money every time you visit Lamai!
OUR LATEST, FAVORITE RECIPE
In our household, we eat food from around the world, reserving special meals for the days marking ethnic holidays (St Patrick’s Day brings corned beef and cabbage, turkey on Thanksgiving, steak frites for Bastille Day, etc.) It was while celebrating the most recent Thai New Years (April 13) that we realized how sometimes a meal that is so popular in Thai culture may frequently be overlooked by restaurants here in the States. A case in point is Khao Tom, which is an easy dish to prepare, and one common to any Thai household.
First: are rice porridge, congee, jook, and khao tom the same dish? Basically, yes. It’s a meal that in one form or another has been a staple in cultures worldwide for thousands of years. And as with many staple-based meals, each culture shapes, seasons and modifies the dish to appeal to its own palate. We can start by thinking of porridge (a British term) as a dish of any grains or cereal meals slowly cooked (some would say ‘overcooked’, but that’s a matter of opinion!) in water or milk to a thick consistency. Congee (a term from S.E. India) is prepared exclusively with rice. Jook (sometimes spelled Chok) is the Chinese term for the same dish, and in heavily populated Thai-Chinese neighborhoods, that’s how you’ll see and hear it referred to. Khao tom is literally “Rice soup”, and for Thais it is not only comfort food, but it’s a very popular dish to end a late night with (hence the number of khao tom stalls near most entertainment venues in Thailand), or to start the day with. If you ever stay at a hotel or guesthouse which offers Thai-style breakfast, this is what you’ll be served.
It is common for Thais to start with a simple base of rice soup, then add meats and veggies (often based on what is leftover from the previous night’s meal), until the khao tom bowl contains a meal in itself!
Now, the tricky part. This is where we’ll veer from the Thai style and explore variations that may be more acceptable to you and your guests:
Khao tom is traditionally prepared with minced pork (“moo sahp”) or ground chicken as a flavorful ingredient. We decided to make the meat a supplemental ingredient, much like the fried morning glory (“phak bung”) or stir fried bok choy in oyster sauce (phak kanaa nam mun hoy”) that you will usually find served along with khao tom. The Thais usually add from these supplemental dishes by the spoonful according to individual taste.
Since not everyone enjoys the variety of add-ons, we have decided to make the soup neutral (but tasty), and serve with additional bowls of ‘sides’ for each diner to pick and choose from.
What I always recommend when trying a new recipe is to favor the smallest increments: if your first attempt is a total disaster, less is wasted (and you’ll have leftover ingredients to give it another try!)
This recipe will produce 4 bowls of soup
100 grams (1/4 lb) minced pork
1 cup (cooked) rice
10 cups soup stock
1 tbsp fresh ginger (julienned)
1 scallion (thinly sliced)
3 tbsp (mushroom) soy sauce
Sesame seed oil
1 bunch Cilantro (chopped)
Shopping notes: the rice should be long grain ‘jasmine rice’, sometimes referred to as ‘fragrant rice’, which is indigeneous to Thailand. We prefer a lighter soy sauce, that’s why we specified mushroom soy, but feel free to experiment (see photo). Our fried garlic is by way of a jar of dried prepared garlic; it’s time saving and tastes nearly as good as fresh when used as a condiment and not as a cooked ingredient (see photo).
We are not including any photos of the preparation this time, since we feel even David Hockney would find it challenging to make a photo of boiling rice interesting! Instead, we have chosen to include photos of the ingredients as they appear on your Asian market’s shelf…
Prep the minced pork by stirring in 3 tbsp soy sauce, then either:
Microwave for 2 minutes, putting a paper towel under the meat, and a damp paper towel over the meat, or
Fry the meat in a tbsp of canola oil over a medium flame until lightly browned, then transfer to paper towel to cool. Once cool, place in serving bowl and sprinkle lightly with sesame seed oil.
In a large pot, bring the soup stock to a simmer. If you have no soup stock, bring 10 cups of water to a boil, then add 5 cubes of chicken bouillon (or 5 tsp of Knorr Won Ton Broth Mix, which is a tasty alternative), and reduce to a simmer as soon as it dissolves.
To the simmering broth, add the cup of cooked rice. Plan on simmering for 12-15 minutes, or until the rice is completely ‘broken’…If you prefer your rice soup to be thinner, and more of a chicken-rice soup rather than a traditional khao tom, don’t cook as long, and plan on stopping while most of the rice remains unbroken (and the broth is clearer and thinner).
Now turn the heat back up to medium one last time. As soon as there is sign of bubbling, crack the fresh egg and add it to the middle of the mixture. You may stir the egg to make it more evenly blended with the soup, or allow it to poach in the center of the pot. One way or another, no more than a minute at this higher heat is necessary. Remove from heat. Pour into serving bowls.
To each serving add a dash of sesame seed oil and stir once. Then to each serving bowl sprinkle fried garlic, a pinch of ginger, ¼ the scallion, ¼ cilantro and let rest on surface.
For those who prefer their rice soup with meat, the bowl of cooked pork (“moo sahp”) should be offered alongside the khao tom and each diner can spoon the desired amount into their own serving.
As you modify this recipe and begin to satisfy your expectations, you can begin adding chicken, fried morning glory, bok choy, sweet Chinese sausage (“kun chiang”), shrimp (“goong”), deep fried rice vermicelli (“mee grahp”) and other side dishes to the meal. We’ll add our interpretations for these recipes in a later newsletter.
Note: brown rice, while not traditional for this meal, can be substituted. However, an overnight soak will improve cooking time for the uncooked rice; and additional water/soup stock will be necessary for cooked rice.