When I first began taking Thai lessons, my teacher (as language teachers are apt to do) insisted that we focus our efforts on the basic vocabulary required for everyday life. We learned the words for popular foods (which proves instantly rewarding when class is held before lunch), times of day, directions, days of the week, and…most difficult of all, the names of the months. I made flashcards and practiced in the back of taxis on my way to class.
As time went on, our teacher frequently had us play a game in which we would work clockwise around the room, quizzing one other on vocabulary.
Wednesday? Wan Phut.
Turn right? Liao Khwa.
November? … November? … (November was a tricky one for all of us.)
To the chagrin of our focussed Thai instructor, we students came to unspoken agreement about the “easy” vocabulary and would pull those out when it was clear that our neighbor was stumped.
If the French business owner to my left was struggling, I would throw out “hot” or “traffic” or “fried rice” (all used near-daily by most of us in Bangkok).
In the category of months, there was one that we never forgot. August.
The word for August in Thai begins with “singha”. Because this conveniently looks and sounds like the popular Thai beer, the Thai word for August immediately conjures up thoughts for me of sipping ice cold beers on the beach on a warm summer night.
It seems a perfect match for this final true month of summer in the US, where August is a time for swimming pools, the sound of sprinklers and lawn mowers…and easy summer parties with flavorful bites of food.
When I saw the invitation to develop an easy Thai appetizer that could be served with Singha beer over at the lovely and addictive shesimmers.com, I knew how I would be spending the weekend. Obsessed with packing all of the punch of my favorite Thai flavors into finger food, I got to work. After much experimentation (and so much dishwashing that I could only manage to pour myself a bowl of cereal for dinner), I took one bite of these little treats, and felt certain I had found it.
I hope you enjoy these little Thai-inspired nibbles as much as I did.
And should you ever be a contestant on a game show in which you are asked for the Thai word for “August”, just picture yourself on the beach…drinking a cold Singha beer.
- 1 cup (235 mL) coconut milk
- ⅓ cup roasted peanuts (unsalted), roughly chopped
- 2 tsp. light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- juice from ½ lime
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp. siracha (more or less, to taste)
- 1 Tbsp. roasted peanuts (unsalted)
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- ¾ pound (340 g) raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 24 wonton wrappers
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- Make the sauce. Combine coconut milk and peanuts in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the coconut milk begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until thickens slightly. Pour coconut milk into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour the sauce into a small bowl and leave the blender out to use for the filling.
- Combine the filling. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, pulse the peanuts and garlic until they form a paste. Add green onions, cilantro leaves, soy sauce, and shrimp, pulsing until only very small pieces of shrimp remain and the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl.
- Assemble the bites. Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place a heaping teaspoon of shrimp filling into the center. Dampen the edges of the wrapper by dipping a finger in water and running it along the edge. Gather the wonton wrapper at four points, pressing them together to enclose the filling. Put the filled wrappers on parchment paper and cover with a slightly dampened paper towel (to prevent them from drying out).
- Cook the bites. Place a large saute pan (that has a tight-fitting lid) over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil, swirling it to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. When the pan is warm, place the shrimp bites in the pan, close to one another, but barely touching. Cook until the bottoms of the bites are crisp and golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Gently pour 1 Tablespoon of water down side of pan and cover with the lid. Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook, covered, for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Serve immediately, with Peanut-Lime Sauce on the side.