Spicy sour salad with coconut chicken + coconut rice

I LOVE LOVE LOVE a spicy sour salad!

I make my ‘sort-of’ som tam several times a week, substituting courgette for green papaya when I can’t get it.

And today I just started playing around (playing around with food and trying out new ideas is one of my very favourite things to do).


So instead of my usual chicken cooked on the griddle, I tried poaching it in coconut milk - well, actually the watery liquid from the tin of coconut milk plus additional water.

I simmered the quartered chicken breast in the coconut/water for I think ten minutes as wanted to make sure it was thoroughly cooked and then I drained it and when slightly cooled, shredded the chicken.

Being in a playing-with-food mood, I then cooked some rice (using my absolutely foolproof method of course) in water but also added the solid cream from the tin of coconut milk.

So now I have coconut rice and coconut chicken all ready - and that lovely rich soft coconut flavour to add to my favourite spicy sour salad flavours.

(Nope, neither poaching chicken nor coconut rice cooking look that great, but I thought I’d add the photos so that you can see that it doesn’t look appetising at this stage!).

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam

And now for the salad.

Make a quick and easy sugar syrup for the dressing by putting one tablespoon of demerara sugar in a small pan with three or four tablespoons of water and bring to the boil. Stir to ensure all the sugar has dissolved and then removed from the heat to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

I’ve got a green papaya today but you can always use courgette in its place if you can’t find green papaya (or as I do when I’m too lazy to make a trip to the Thai supermarket).

Peel the papaya/courgette and slice with a julienne peeler.

I’ve also got a few green beans, spring onions and cherry tomatoes, so just slice these too so it’s all ready.

And I’ve a small garlic clove and one red birds eye chilli - but use more or less garlic and chilli to your own taste. Today I want the flavours softer than I sometimes do and for the one chilli to balance the soft coconut rather than overpowering it.

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam

Using a pestle and mortar squash first the chilli and garlic into small pieces - not a total mush, but nice and small as we’re eating it raw.

Then add the green beans, spring onion and tomato and squash it all together again.

Finally add the green papaya plus a handful each of fresh coriander and mint leaves, and … yup … give it all another pounding!

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam

Tip in the cooled sugar syrup, the juice of one juicy lime and a tablespoon of fish sauce.

Stir, mix, combine, scrunch with your (clean!) hands - whatever way you like to mix the flavours - and then taste and see if it needs any more lime or fish sauce.

Add the cooled coconut chicken and coconut rice and mix again.

This is sooooooo delicious!

I love combination of the rich soft coconut rice and chicken, with the sour spicy dressing and the fresh herbs.

In fact, I’m making this for dinner again today ….

Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam
Rachel Redlaw coconut chicken with som tam


Omurice (Japanese chicken fried rice omelette)

I've been captivated by Midnight Diner - Tokyo Stories on Netflix and, whilst it's not really about food per se, I do now have a total longing to visit Tokyo and also a few dishes I want to try and make.

Aside ... DO WATCH!

It's wonderful. Plus each episode around 20 minutes so perfect for my gnat-like attention span.

The first ... is omurice, or Japanese fried rice omelette. 

Now this sounds like something I'll love!

I ADORE a kao pad gai, Thai chicken fried rice, in which the egg is mixed in with the rice and chicken and then served with a little fish sauce chilli dip.

So these flavours are already my favourites and it looked like a simple little twist on my staple.

It looked so simple too!

A Western-style omelette filled with Asian-style chicken fried rice, neatly parcelled and decorated with a few stripes of ketchup.

Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette

Like THIS >>>>>> , this is what I'm aiming for.

I don't really like ketchup, so I was going to substitute that ... and I like spicy, so decided to add a finely chopped chilli to my chicken fried rice.

But Try Number 1 wasn't a great success.

I cooked far too much of the chicken fried rice, adding in peppers and vegetables and well, it was just too much.

I also tried to slide my somewhat anaemic-looking omelette onto a plate, add the (too much) filling then fold. 

OK that didn't work too well. Also I didn't have ketchup or Sri Racha sauce which I thought would work well ... so used my - also-anaemic-looking (but delicious) - hot sweet chilli sauce.

Well, it tasted ok .... but it didn't look great.

Try Number 2.

Got it!

You use less filling and add it directly to the omelette itself, then fold over in the pan.

AND I had Sri Racha sauce by then too!

Er ... it still broke, didn't look right, but this one tasted really good.

Omurice Try Number 1

Omurice Try Number 1

Omurice Try Number 2

Omurice Try Number 2

I tried again.

Here we go, Try Number 3.

Same as number 2 really, just knowing what I'm doing a little more this time.

And it showed - so practice does make perfect!

Easy fried rice mixture: onion, garlic and chilli in the pan with a little oil and then added diced chicken breast.

Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette
Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette

Stir fry to cook for a few minutes, adding a splash of water if needed. 

Crumble in a little piece of a Knorr chicken stock cube, a splash more water, a dash of light soy sauce and another of fish sauce, a little pinch of sugar, and stir fry for another couple of minutes until the chicken is cooked. 

Add more water if needed - you don't want a juice/sauce but you don't want it dry or burnt either of course!

Throw in a chopped spring onion and a small handful of chopped coriander leaves if liked (OK, confession - I thought I'd bought coriander but it was parsley! I used it anyway).

Put the chicken fried rice mixture into a bowl and cover to keep warm while you make the omelette.

2 eggs in a bowl, with some little chunks of butter, a splash of milk (I use almond milk) and a dash of white pepper, and beat together.

Non-stick frying pan on with a little oil or spray oil then cook your omelette on one side, tilting and moving ... then add the fried rice mixture to one side and fold the other side of the omelette over.

Allow to cook for a few seconds more and then slide off onto a plate.

Add the finishing stripes of ketchup or Sri Racha sauce, as liked.

I'm pretty happy with this one!

Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette
Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette
Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette

And then I had an idea and went in for Try Number 4 ... 

Fried rice. DONE.

Plated out using a little plastic bowl to make into that nice heaped shape.

And yes! 

THEN I just covered it in a quilt of beautiful soft omelette and added some decorative Sri Racha sauce.

Now this was also really good, but to me ... just a tad less pretty than Number 3, done in the pan (and also no easier either ha!).

Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette Midnight Diner Netflix
Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette Midnight Diner Netflix
Rachel Redlaw omurice Japanese fried rice omelette Midnight Diner Netflix

But whatever it looks like and however you make it, decorated with traditional ketchup or with Sri Racha sauce ...

I don't think you can go wrong taste-wise with ANY chicken fried rice and egg combo!


Happiness soup

Looking through her old recipe book last weekend for my mum's original lentil soup recipe (couldn't find it!), I found a recipe for Savoury Slice, something forgotten from my childhood and from my packed lunches, which I couldn't resist making again.

I also found a recipe for this 'Happiness Soup' written into the book in one of my sister's handwriting - none of us, including my mum, have ever made this as far as I know!

But how can I resist a recipe for 'Happiness Soup'? 

So I made it yesterday for lunch for my dad, my step-mum and me - and it was really good.

(There was also leftover pumpkin soup that my dad had made the day before - which I tried and, having claimed to hate pumpkin soup - well, I was wrong! I'll be sharing his pumpkin soup recipe soon too!).

Happiness soup is simple and tasty and perfect for lunch - it has rice in it so you won't need to fill up on bread either.

Here's what you mean to make enough for four people, but of course adapt according to the size of the courgettes, etc that you have! It doesn't need specific measures so don't be worried to change the measurements a bit.

3 medium - large courgettes

zest and juice of 1.5 lemons

3 tablespoons light olive oil (or other cooking oil)

1.5 teaspoon turmeric

1.2 teaspoon chilli powder

1.5 litre chicken (or vegetable) stock

120g basmati (or long grain) rice

salt and pepper to season

sliced chilli or fresh herbs to garnish (if liked)

Rachel Redlaw happiness soup
Rachel Redlaw happiness soup

Peel and finely dice the courgettes and put into a big saucepan with the lemon zest and oil.

Fry gently until softened, stirring often, which will take probably around eight minutes or so.

Rachel Redlaw happiness soup
Rachel Redlaw happiness soup

Add the lemon juice, stock, turmeric, chilli powder and rice and simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered.

Rachel Redlaw happiness soup
Rachel Redlaw happiness soup

Remove the lid, season and simmer again for another five minutes.

Check that it's all cooked through - cook a little longer if you want the rice softer etc of course.

Serve warm with slices of chilli or perhaps some fresh herbs to garnish.

Rachel Redlaw happiness soup
Rachel Redlaw happiness soup

Such a lovely autumnal colour and so healthy and nourishing too. 

A really good, happy soup indeed.


Easy-peasy kinda-kedgeree

The other morning I really, really fancied kedgeree. But not having any fish in the house, I made a vague approximation - just chilli and garlic, leftover rice, a couple of rashers of grilled bacon and a boiled egg. Added a few drops of soy sauce and done ...

And it was surprisingly good!

Kinda kedgeree

Kinda kedgeree

Cheat's kedgeree

Cheat's kedgeree

I've still got a hankering for kedgeree though, and today made this 'cheat's version' - it couldn't really be simpler, especially if you use tinned tuna, or already-cooked leftover fish like the sea bass I had.

This makes a really good + quick meal - perfect for brunch or a simple supper.

For two, you'll need:

4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal

0.5-1 tsp dried chilli flakes

2 tsp curry powder

Some hot cooked rice - you choose how much! 

Cooked white fish or a tin of tuna

2 eggs, boiled for 8 minutes, run under cold water to stop them cooking further and then shelled

Parsley and lemon wedges, to serve

Cook the spring onions in a frying pan with a little oil or butter (I'm using 20 sprays of my 1-cal spray oil plus a tiny splash of water) with the chilli flakes and curry powder.

Cook for a minute or or - don't let them stick or burn, add more oil or water if necessary.

Stir in the rice - and add the fish. Cook, stirring, until it's all hot through.

Turn out onto plates, adding an egg each and some chopped parsley (if you have some) and lemon.

It might be the 'cheat' version, but it's still really good! 

5 fave breakfasts/brunches

Usually a weekday breakfast is something quick - a croissant, fruit and yogurt, a green smoothie or just toast and marmite.  My daily cup of tea first thing and then a coffee grabbed on the way to the office (flat white please!).

And several days a week I skip breakfast altogether as I'm interested in intermittent fasting and by having dinner a little earlier than usual the night before, say finishing at 8pm, and then not eating until 1pm the next day, that's created a nice 17 hour break for your digestive system (and I find it easy to do, with a couple of coffees in the morning though - I'm not that strict about it).

But when there's time to cook something more special, and time to enjoy and spend longer over breakfast, chatting or reading, these are my favourite brunches.  I'm not sure you can call them breakfast really when it's after 10am.

So after a cup of tea, after journaling, after a walk outdoors round the park, here's what I come back and make ...


1. Eggs in purgatory

A little garlic, a very little chilli, eggs poached in tomatoes and sprinkled with parmesan. Mine rarely make it out of the pan when I make this just for me as I dunk bits of baguette in and scoop spoonfuls straight from the pan.










2. Kai jeow - Thai omelette

Yes, another eggy breakfast. Eggs are good!

I love this Thai omelette - really savoury with minced pork, served with some chopped chillies in fish sauce.  You can serve it with rice or have it on its own.

I also do a super-quick version using ready cooked diced chicken or pork.









3. Pad krapow gai - spicy stir fry with chicken and holy basil

I ate this all the time for breakfast when I lived in Thailand.  

I loved that there was all the usual variety of food for breakfast, rather than 'breakfast food' as we often categorise it.  

I'm not sure why that is, but it doesn't have to be that way and for me, a favourite first meal of the day is this very spicy, very good stir fry with rice - and sometimes with a fried egg on top too.

If you can't get holy basil, it's still worth making without it.


4.  Kao pad gai - chicken fried rice

Rachel Redlaw kao pad gai chicken fried rice

Especially good if there's been a rice dish the night before - I deliberately cook extra rice so there's some for breakfast as this is best made with cold cooked rice.

Just something so comforting about this dish (it's a good one for mopping up hangovers too).










5. And number 5 ... is a total cheat!

I couldn't decide, so it's 'anything made from a combination of these ingredients'!

Avocado, smoked salmon, eggs and spinach.

Rachel Redlaw breakfast brunch
RAchel Redlaw avocado on toast

It could be avocado on toast with a squeeze of lime and a little salt and a few chilli flakes.

Or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on spinach. Poached eggs on sliced avocado with a little dill on top. Any combination of these things is going to be a winner!


So ... what are your favourite brunches? 

Rachel Redlaw


1 roast chicken / 5 recipes / 7 meals

Food waste. Shocking stats - the latest numbers I remember are that here in the UK alone we throw away 5,000 chickens and over 1m sausages every single day.  Plus around 4m apples and potatoes - again every single day.

Whatever we can do individually to combat this, no matter how seemingly small, has got to be worth doing. 

Not buying too much in the first place is easiest, buying more food fresh as it's needed. Planning ahead for the week.  

And, of course, using up leftovers.  

Leftover rice can become a kao pad.  Risotto turns into Arancini (stuffed rice balls), and stale bread into that lovely Italian salad, Panzanella.  So many good things to make through being aware of not wasting food. 

I decided to see how many meals I could make from one roast chicken, and it was more than I'd expected! There was probably a little less meat at each meal than I would usually serve, but that's no bad thing and something I'd like to consciously continue to do.

Last weekend's roast chicken started off being cooked in my remoska.  I love my remoska - I asked for it as a birthday present over ten years' ago and it makes the best roast chicken and the best jacket potatoes.  I think it's because it's a small space so it really steams beautifully as it cooks.  Whatever the reason, chicken is incredibly moist and the skin perfectly crispy.  I also use it for one-pot dishes like a savoury rice or stews - in fact I feel a whole remoska post of its own coming on one day soon!   

But back to the roast chicken ...  

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai







I mixed up some lemon/thyme salt that was in the cupboard with butter and rubbed that under the skin of the chicken (careful not to tear the skin) and put a couple of squashed garlic cloves (no need to remove the skins) in the cavity along with a quartered lemon, after squeezing the juice over the bird.  

I also massaged it with a little olive oil.  And then cooked for an hour and a half or so.


Sorry about the horribly unappetising photo!

I totally forgot to take any when it was cooked, or looking delicious with a colourful fresh salad - but I did want to show how snugly it fits in the remoska which is why it cooks it so beautifully.

Roast chicken five ways Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

We had slices of hot chicken with a big couscous salad - couscous cooked and cooled with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, chopped fresh mint and parsley leaves, a little olive oil, black pepper and lots of lemon juice.

Roast chicken + couscous salad: for two

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai






I just put the whole board of leftovers in the fridge that night and the next day made myself a noodle soup for lunch, using a packet of instant noodles.

Put the kettle on so you'll have boiling water when you need it.  

Then just stir fried a squashed and chopped garlic clove and a chopped chilli in a little oil for a few seconds until it smells good.


Add the noodles, their seasoning packet and a small pinch of sugar, some sliced spring onions plus boiling water (I just put in as much as I think I want depending on if I want it soupy or not, rather than measuring it out).  

Simmer for a few minutes until the noodles are done and just at the end throw in some spinach leaves or pak choi and coriander (if liked). 

Roast chicken five ways Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

Chicken noodle soup: for one

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai










That evening, I needed something just for me, so cooked some rice and made my favourite fakeaway, a chicken jalfrezi.  


I changed the recipe a little as I was using cooked chicken so added it later on in the timings.

Friday night fakeaway jalfrezi Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

Chicken curry: for one

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai






Next, time to make a very simple stock.

I'm a bit lazy when it comes to stock making and don't spend ages getting every scrap of meat off.  I tend to just stick the whole carcass and all the meat and bits straight into a big pan.

Add one roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery stick, a few black peppercorns and a couple of bay leaves and then cover with water.


Bring to the boil, skim off any scummy bits that have risen to the surface, and then simmer very gently for an hour or two. 

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai
Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

I then turned off the heat and left the stock overnight on the hob with a lid on it as it was late and I wanted to get to bed! 

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The next day, the stock had become very gelatinous so I warmed the whole thing for a few minutes on the hob until it was liquid again, then strained.  Before throwing away the bits in the strainer though, I picked out all the meat I could and threw it back in the liquid.

To make my Thai-influenced soup, I started with sweating half a chopped onion and a clove of garlic in a big pan - oh and one chopped chilli too!


When these were soft, I poured in the stock liquid, added half a chicken Knorr stock cube and some more boiling water - to increase the volume to what's needed.  If you don't need more, you might not need to add the extra stock cube too.

Once this comes to a simmer, I added cooked rice, some spring onion, a little dash of fish sauce and one of soy and some black pepper.  Taste and taste and see what you think!

I'd meant to add a squeeze of lime juice ... but forgot .. 

Served in bowls with coriander leaves (just omit if you don't like coriander; I know a lot of people don't) and some sliced red chilli.

Roast chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai

Kao tom gai / chicken rice soup: for two

Roast Chicken Rachel Redlaw The Tiniest Thai







There was only a little left in the pan, after we'd gone back for seconds (that's why it's worth adding the extra water and a bit of stock cube) ... and normally, I might well have thrown it away.

But it looked enough for a bowlful and it is so cold at the moment - I thought it would make a good and nourishing breakfast.  


So in the morning, I just turned the gas on under the kettle for tea, and the gas under the soup pan to heat the chicken rice soup.

Do make sure it boils and heats through thoroughly.

I cracked an egg into a bowl and ladled the boiling soup on top, which on stirring, lightly cooked the egg.  I added coriander leaves and some sliced chilli and that was that.

Chicken rice soup Rachel Redalw The Tiniest Thai
Chicken rice soup Rachel Redalw The Tiniest Thai
Chicken rice soup Rachel Redalw The Tiniest Thai

Very simple and very good. Especially on a very cold morning! 

Rice soup for breakfast: for one

So, my one roast chicken made made five recipes (roast, noodles, curry, stock, soup) and seven meals.

(Oh, and Tiny Dog loves chicken and had a little piece chopped in with his biscuits for five meals too!)

Would love to know your favourite leftover recipes too so do reply in the comments! 


Valentina's mushroom risotto

This is the best, most delicious risotto I've ever made, all thanks to my friend Valentina sharing her family recipe.  

When she talked me through how to make this, we also chatted about family, food and memories - if you'd like to know more then head over here

But if you 'just' want this gorgeous recipe, then here's what you need to make the most beautiful mushroom risotto for two.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder mushroom risotto

half a 25g packet of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes

extra virgin olive oil

1/4 onion, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

a selection of mushrooms -  I used about 8 white and chestnut mushrooms 

1/4 onion

2 garlic cloves


1 vegetable stock cube (I used chicken as I didn't have a veggie one) made into stock with 1 litre of boiling water

about 3/4 cup risotto rice

2 tablesppons grated fresh parmigiano cheese

3 teaspoons mushroom concentrate (optional)

1 tablespoon double cream 

salt and black pepper, to season

chopped fresh parsley to serve

Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. 

Put a saucepan over a low heat, add some extra virgin olive oil and tip in the onion and garlic plus a pinch of salt.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder mushroom risotto

Cook over a low heat for around ten minutes until soft or, as Valentina says, until 'it makes gold' (but not brown, you don't want them browned). 

In the meantime, chop the fresh mushrooms into small pieces.

When the onions and garlic are soft, add the mushrooms to the pan and continue cooking on a low heat, stirring every now and then. 

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder mushroom risotto

After the mushrooms have been cooking for around 10-15 minutes, add one ladle of the stock and stir in.

Now add the risotto rice - the rice will absorb the little water that comes from the mushrooms so you need to stir constantly for the first 30 seconds. 

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder mushroom risotto

Then slowly add another ladle of the stock and keep stirring so the rice doesn't burn.

Now strain the dried mushrooms, add and again, stir in.

All you need to do now is add a ladle of stock at a time and stir until it is absorbed.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder mushroom risotto

Continue doing this until the rice is creamy and all the water absorbed.  You might not need the full litre of stock or you might need to add a little more water.  

It's going to take quite a while, perhaps 20 minutes, so you do just have to take it slowly, be patient and surrender to the whole long beautiful process of making a risotto. 

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder mushroom risotto

When the rice is creamy and just before you turn off the heat, add two tablespoons of grated Parmigiano cheese, three teaspoons of mushroom concentrate ( if you have it) and one tablespoon of double cream. 

Stir to combine, turn off the heat, season to taste and serve your risotto with a little chopped parsley. 

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder mushroom risotto

PS. I have a confession.  

I've made this twice now - both times I was home on my own and once I thought I'd leave a portion for the bf to have when he got home and the other time i thought I'd take the other half in to work for lunch the next day.  

On both occasions, full though I was, I ended up eating the (big) second portion that same night ... oops.

So beware! Only make this when you have all the people needed to finish it, or lots of willpower.

Because this is DELICIOUS.


Brunch invention - ruam mit gratiem/kao pad

There was rice left over from cooking dinner last night and I'd been planning a kao pad gai - fried rice with chicken - for brunch this morning.  I don't know why I'm saying it like this was an accident - I had deliberately made more rice last night than was needed just so that I could have kao pad today!

But I was also thinking about the ruam mit gratiem I'd made and thinking I'd like to make it again as I'm not that familiar with it yet and it was so easy and so good.

The conversation I had with myself went like this:

'Oh good! Favourite fried rice today!'

'But I kind of fancy making that stir fry again - I could try it with chicken this time.'

'If you make a stir fry though you're going to have to make more rice and there's already cold rice sitting there.'

'But I don't know which to choose - I want both!'

'Well then have both! Mix them together into one!'

So that's what I did.  I love cooking just for myself - I can experiment away and also make things as spicy as I like.  And that's generally pretty spicy.

Note that you do need cold cooked rice for this as freshly cooked hot rice is just too wet to stir fry.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice

Here's how to make my hybrid brunch dish.

Chop a piece of chicken breast into small pieces and also chop a nice big clove of garlic.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice

Get a pan hot, add some cooking oil and when hot tip in the chicken and garlic.

Cook over a medium heat - hot enough to seal the meat quickly but not so hot the garlic burns - for four or five minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Remove the chicken and garlic to a bowl, tip out any excess oil and return the pan to a medium low heat.

Quickly add:

2 x teaspoons oyster sauce

1 x teaspoon fish sauce

1 x teaspoon thin / light soy sauce

1 x teaspoon sugar

1 - 2 x teaspoons dried chilli flakes (I'd suggest just one - I put in two and it was a bit too much)

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice

Stir for a few seconds until mixed and thick and bubbling.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice

Then return the chicken and garlic to the pan and mix with the sauce.

Add the cold leftover rice and cook for a few minutes on a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the rice is hot right through.

Push the mixture to one side, add a little oil into the space and when hot crack in an egg.

Leave to cook for around 15 seconds until scrambling and combining with the rice and chicken mixture.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice

Stir fry until everything is mixed and the egg cooked.

Remove from heat and prepare any garnishes you like - I'm using a shake of white pepper, some coriander leaves and a few slices of red chilli.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice

Turn out the rice and chicken mixture onto a plate, or pack into a plastic bowl first to make it look nice, and add a few slices of cucumber too if you have it.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice

A very good brunch and I'm glad I made it, but I do still prefer a 'proper' kao pad I think.

What do you think? Let me know if you try this - or any other variation of it.

And I'm off now to make more coffee :)

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder brunch fried rice


How to cook perfect rice every time

I was pretty horrified watching Masterchef a while ago to see how many of the contestants couldn't cook rice. (Even more horrified by the one who said she didn't like rice, but I'm trying to forget I even heard it).

But if people entering a cooking competition are struggling with it then there must be lots of others unsure too. I used to find rice trickybut that was mainly to do with how much conflicting advice there seemed to be on cooking it: to drain it, or to use an absorption method? To wash the starch out of the grains or not? To cover the pan or leave it uncovered?

The very easiest way of course really is to invest in a rice cooker. When I lived in Thailand one of the first jobs each morning was to get the big rice cooker on so there would be rice available all day.

Just as an aside, the Thai for 'eat' is to 'gin (with a hard 'g') kao' or literally 'eat rice'. I love this, it just shows the significance of rice.  How someone entering a cooking competition can dislike rice when it forms the mainstay of so many people's diet and given how incredibly versatile it is, is beyond me! (I really need to try harder to forget I heard she said that ...)

Anyway. I think most people, as I did, eventually find the way of cooking rice that works for them, but if you haven't found one that suits you yet, I thought I'd share mine here for you to try.

I don't know why, but I find the thought of washing rice unbearably boring, so I don't do it, I just use it the way it comes.

I have a measuring container for rice that I fill to the top for two servings. It says 160 which must be ml so you could use a measuring jug and measure by volume. Or it seems to be about half a cup.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder how to cook rice
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder how to cook rice

To be honest I never think it looks enough and always end up adding more and cooking too much. That's fine though as when it's cool I just pop it in the fridge to make a fried rice (kao padthe next day.

Bring a pan of water (and a pinch of salt) to the boil and, when boiling, throw in the rice.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder how to cook rice

When it returns to the boil start timing and boil for 12 minutes.

Turn off the heat.  Drain into a sieve leaving a bit of water behind in the pan and, very quickly - so the pan, water and rice are still very hot - put the sieve over the pan and add a tight-fitting lid or cover with foil.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder how to cook rice
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder how to cook rice

Leave to steam for ten minutes and then just separate the grains and fluff with a fork.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder how to cook rice

It works for me every time. Let me know if it does for you too, or if you have a different foolproof method, please share it!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder how to cook rice


Kao pad gai - fried rice with chicken

Everyone loves a kao pad, a fried rice.  It's got to be one of my favourite everyday meals and it's obviously easy as easy can be to make, right?

Well, you'd have thought so. I definitely did as having watched my friend cook hundreds of the things in the restaurant in Thailand it looked simple enough, and when she showed me step-by-step how to make it, this is all I wrote down (if you can call this scrawl writing) as it seemed so obvious!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao pad / fried rice

And then when I got back to the UK and went to make it, I just couldn't get it to work. It was ... fine ... but it wasn't right.

I've practiced a bit since then and it really is easy to make - but there are a few more things to be aware of to get it right than I had scribbled on my note.

I think the main things are firstly the importance of using cooled rice rather than freshly cooked as the steam and heat of the fresh rice is too wet to stir fry and, secondly, not being scared of cooking relatively quickly with quite a high heat. You just can't make this over a low heat, it won't work.

I'm making my kao pad today in the traditional way, keeping it quite plain with onion, spring onion and garlic the only veg. I'm also using chicken but you can use whatever you want - pork, seafood, even sausage pieces, or any vegetables of your choosing. I think mushroom fried rice works really well. Lots of versions of kao pad add a few pieces of chopped tomato too.

There are no exact measurements here, but do get everything you need prepared and to hand before you start cooking.

For one, you'll need

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao pad / fried rice

cooked rice - this is best when it's a day old and slightly dry and the grains are nice and separated. Cook and when cool keep in the fridge until you need it, or just cook the rice in the morning and leave out, covered, to use later

cooking oil

about a quarter of a white onion, or a few slices, chopped

one garlic clove, flattened and chopped

a smallish piece of chicken, perhaps a third of one breast, sliced and chopped into small pieces (it needs to cook quickly)

soy sauce

fish sauce

about a third of a chicken stock cube

a pinch of sugar

one egg

a couple of spring onions, sliced

coriander or chopped chives to garnish

cucumber slices and lime wedges to serve

fish sauce and red chilli for the nam pla prik

Heat your pan over a medium heat, add some oil and when hot sauté the onion and garlic for a minute until translucent.

Turn the heat up to medium high and add the chicken.  Keep turning it as it cooks so that it quickly all goes white. If juice is coming out of the chicken you may not have your pan or oil hot enough - it needs to seal quickly. Cook for a few minutes.

Then add the rice, again turning it quickly in the pan to separate the grains and get them all hot through. Add a few dashes of soy sauce and one of fish sauce, crumble in the piece of stock cube and sprinkle over the sugar. Keep turning the rice mixture the whole time and cook for a couple of minutes.

Push the rice mixture to one side and add a bit more oil. After a few seconds to allow it to heat up crack the egg into this space and let it cook a little (I count to 15), then mix in to combine the scrambling egg with the rice.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao pad / fried rice
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao pad / fried rice

Keep turning, then add the sliced spring onions and cook for another 30 seconds.

Turn it out into a bowl, or pack the rice into a small plastic dish, put a plate over the top, and turn over to get the lovely traditional rice serving shape. Scatter with chopped chives or coriander leaves if using and serve with cucumber slices and lime wedges for squeezing over.

Best served also with some nam pla prik - just a little fish sauce in a bowl with sliced chillies.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao pad / fried rice

Many people like to eat this with a fried egg on top - fry your egg in more and hotter oil than you would for an English breakfast egg so that the edges go crispy.

I had this a couple of days ago for lunch - a mushroom fried rice cooked without egg but with a teaspoon of nam prik pao (so no need of extra chillies that day) and a topped with a fried egg.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao pad / fried rice

However you make it, it's bound to be delicious ... let me know what you put in yours.


Kao tom - rice soup

An everyday breakfast or light meal, kao tom is a lovely nourishing rice soup - ideal plain for those a little under the weather or with added flavours for a really delicious but simple dish.

I'm currently staying for a few days to help my papa while he recovers from a bad fall.  It's a beautiful crisp autumn day and I made him a kao tom with chicken this morningto get the day off to a  good and nurturing start.

Of course I had a bowl myself too - and included an egg in mine.  The egg is optional and as it is put in the bowl right at the end before pouring over the broth it is just very lightly cooked.  So it's up to you of course how you feel about eating your eggs 'rare'!

You need cooked rice for this, so do make that first - it'll be really annoying to start cooking and then realise you don't have it to hand ...

Serves two

Stock cube (I used about 3/4 of a chicken knorr cube)

One peeled garlic clove, just flattened slightly

A little chicken (or pork or seafood or whatever you fancy) - I used about half a chicken breast chopped into small pieces

Cooked rice for two people

2-4 spring onions, chopped

Coriander (I couldn't get any fresh coriander here, so used 1/2 teaspoon of coriander from a jar, but just omit if you don't have any)

An egg per person (optional)

As usual, the dish comes together quickly, so get the ingredients out first.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom

Boil the kettle and then add enough water to a saucepan (the easiest way to measure is to pour into the bowls you'll be using then tip into the pan - and then add a bit more).

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom

Add most of a stock cube and the garlic clove and bring to a simmer, then add the meat and/or fish and cook for around 3-4 minutes (timings will depend on what meat or fish you're cooking and how big the cubes of meat are).

As I wasn't using fresh coriander, I also added the jarred coriander to the pan while the chicken was cooking.

Add the cooked rice towards the end of the meat's cooking time and simmer a little longer.  When I was shown how to make this soup, I was told to cook until the 'rice gets big', as it will swell a little more as it cooks in the broth.

After maybe a minute, add the spring onions and take off the heat, and add some coriander if using.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom

Crack an egg into each bowl for those that are having egg.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom

Spoon the chicken and rice into each bowl first and top with the hot broth.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom
The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom

Delicious served with garlic fried in its skin, or simple condiments of sugar and dried chillies to taste.  Or just plain as it comes if you're ill or have an upset tummy!

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom

The egg is lightly poached in the broth and adds beautiful golden swirls of yolk to the soup when broken.

The Tiniest Thai Rachel Walder kao tom

I hope you like this recipe!  Do let me know if you tried it ...