Here is a candidate for this Thanksgiving's most unusual turkey. It is roast turkey Thai style, seasoned with exotic spices, basted with a sweet and tangy tamarind glaze and served with ginger dipping sauce.
The recipe was developed by Thai cooking teacher Yupa Holzner and appears in her book, "Great Thai Cooking for My American Friends" (Royal House Publishing Co., $12.95).
"I like to see Americans changing their recipes a little," commented Holzner, who was born in a village in east Thailand, raised in Bangkok and now lives in Canyon Country.
Holzner has taught Thai cooking in Southern California for 10 years. Her recipes are clearly explained, and they are based on Thai ingredients that are obtainable in this area. Canned coconut milk and dried laos root stand in for the fresh products; jalapeno and serrano chiles substitute for Thai chiles, and American ingredients such as bottled teriyaki sauce, frozen lemonade concentrate, Cheddar cheese and kidney beans appear in certain recipes. On the other hand, Holzner encourages cooks to seek out such authentic ingredients as fresh makrood ( kaffir lime) leaves, green papaya, pa lo powder, ground roasted sweet rice and Thai pork sausages called nam.
The recipes in her book are intriguing because they move on from basic Thai dishes to Holzner's own creations and some interesting cross-cultural ideas. Turkey appears in a number of dishes. After Thanksgiving, one can use the leftovers in a topping for fried rice or in a salad tossed with fried won-ton strips. Holzner also provides a rice stuffing that is appropriate for the bird. Another recipe features ground turkey cooked with ginger root, green beans and fish sauce, a dish that takes almost no time to prepare.
Thai favorites in the book include hot and sour shrimp soup, chicken-coconut soup, barbecued chicken, mee grob and Thai iced tea. But there are also dishes that may be unfamiliar, among them hot cucumber salad, stuffed rambutan soup, stir-fried octopus and bamboo shoots in spinach sauce.
Cultural blends include halibut ceviche, which is flavored with lemon grass; a spinach salad seasoned with tamarind; yogurt chicken; Thai guacamole, which is spiced with fresh chile paste, and ground beef mixed with cilantro, teriyaki sauce and Cheddar cheese for a Thai hamburger.
Although it might seem out of place, a recipe for banana bread earns admission to the book because it comes from a bakery in Thailand operated by Holzner's sister.
Here is the turkey recipe. Seasonings such as laos root, lemon grass, tamarind and chile oil can be found in Thai groceries and in Oriental supermarkets that stock Southeast Asian foods.
THAI ROASTED TURKEY
1 (10- to 12-pound) fresh turkey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground laos root (galangal)
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 stalks lemon grass, each cut into 4 lengths and crushed
12 slices dried laos root (galangal)
2 thumb-size segments ginger root, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon coarse grind black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1 cup honey
1 cup Tamarind Sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
Ginger Sauce for Dipping
Remove internal organs and any excess fat from turkey. Wash turkey with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Combine 1 tablespoon salt, brown sugar, ginger, ground laos root and white pepper and rub over turkey inside and out. Allow to marinate at room temperature 15 minutes.
Combine lemon grass, sliced laos and ginger root, onion, garlic and black pepper and stuff into stomach cavity of turkey. Close with wooden skewer. Place turkey breast side down on rack in baking pan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until done, allowing 18 minutes per pound.
Combine butter, honey, Tamarind Sauce, sherry and 2 teaspoons salt in saucepan and heat until blended. Set aside. About 30 minutes before turkey is done, remove foil and turn turkey breast side up. Brush frequently with glaze during last 30 minutes cooking time. When done, remove turkey from oven. Remove and discard stuffing. Carve and pour remaining glaze over meat. Serve with ginger dipping sauce and steamed rice. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
1 (8-ounce) package moist seedless tamarind, cut into small pieces
3 cups water
Combine tamarind and water in blender and blend until smooth. Store in covered jar in refrigerator.
Ginger Sauce for Dipping
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Tamarind Sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chile oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine soy sauce, Tamarind Sauce, sugar, ginger root, garlic, chile oil and sesame oil. Makes about 1/2 cup.