Our Travel Inspiration, Feb. 10

Welcome back to Our Travel Inspiration. Please follow along with us each Monday for our carefully-curated selection of current Asia and travel-related news stories.


Share-worthy pieces on Asia this week:

Travel tidbits that caught our fancy:

We’d love to hear your feedback—please comment below. And please come back next Monday for more of Our Travel Inspiration!

How Cuisine Influenced My Thailand and Vietnam Travels

By Stacey Schultz, Asia Transpacific Journeys’ Marketing Director

Much of my original fascination with Thailand and Vietnam travel started when living in San Francisco with such great access to a variety of Asian cuisines, most notably Thai, Vietnamese and Indian.

Within walking distance from my house in Noe Valley was Swatdee Thai. Swatdee translates to “hello” and the proprietor of the restaurant was one of the most welcoming restaurateurs you will ever meet.  During my visits there he taught me the basics of Thai culture, so when the time came to plan a Thailand and Vietnam vacation, I took my love of Asian food and canvassed the country in search of the best curry, pad thai, and pho.

Here is one of my favorite Thai recipes:
2 cups. coconut milk
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 tbsp. red curry paste
1/4 cup nampla (fish sauce)
1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
8 oz. raw shrimp

Combine all but shrimp and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Serve over rice.

Do you love learning about and trying new cuisines? Have you always dreamed of an exotic tour through Southeast Asia? We’ve designed our Cuisine and Culture of Thailand and Vietnam tour for travelers like you.

This trip features an in-depth cultural immersion liberally spiced with culinary adventures such as cooking demonstrations, meetings with chefs, market shopping, preparing and sampling your own creations, and delectable cuisine at some of Asia’s best restaurants. To talk to a Thailand and Vietnam Travel Specialist, call us at 800-642-2742.

Recipe: Bhutanese Dumplings

During our trips to Bhutan, we have developed a craving for momos. Momos, or dumplings, are a Bhutanese staple that originated in Tibet.  Momos are usually stuffed with meat or cheese. Several of our favorite Thimphu restaurants are known for their cheese and veggie momos, which inspired this recipe.

Buckwheat Dumplings with Bok Choy


•     1 large head bok choy stem removed and quartered
•     3 tablespoons poppy seeds
•     1/4 teaspoon Chinese Szechuan peppercorns
•     2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
•     Fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
•     1 small red onion peeled and chopped
•     1/2 cup crumbled farmer cheese (Monterey Jack may be substituted)
•     1 teaspoon chili powder
•     1/4 teaspoon salt
•     1 stick unsalted butter
•     2 cups all-purpose flour
•     1 cup buckwheat flour
•     1 cup water
•     Flour for dusting

To make the filling, steam the bok choy for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.

Pulverize the poppy seeds and peppercorns with a spice or coffee grinder.

Add the onion and chop finely, about 10 seconds. Chop and mix the bok choy, poppy seed mixture, garlic and ginger, cheese, chili powder, and salt until combined. This may be done for about 10 seconds in a food processor.

Brown the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, about 4 minutes. Cool and strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Add to the filling and mix well, (or process until combined, about 15 seconds.)

To make the dough, combine the flours and water and work until the dough forms a ball. Dust the ball with flour.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces, dust with flour, and wrap 7 pieces in plastic wrap to prevent drying out. With a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out the pieces into sheets, dusting with flour occasionally to prevent sticking. Place the dough sheet between sheets of plastic wrap. Roll out the remaining dough in the same manner.

Cut the sheets, 1 at a time, into 4-by-2 inch rectangles. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each rectangle. Brush the edges lightly with water and fold the rectangles over to make squares, pressing the edges to seal them well.

Cook the dumplings in batches in a saucepan of simmering water until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Or fry the dumplings in very hot peanut oil. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Marilyn Downing Staff

Join company founder, Marilyn Downing Staff, at Boulder’s City Club on June 17th for an evening of Bhutanese inspired food and a slideshow presentation. RSVP required. Click here for details.

Marilyn just returned from 3-weeks of travel to Bhutan, trekking through the most remote areas. To read more about her experience, check out our posting on May 19, 2010.