Saiphin’s Festive Thai Dishes

I love winter!

In Thailand, it’s always so hot we don’t really know which month is which! But here in England, the festive season brings out decorations, food and desserts, lots of desserts! This is the best time for me to cook some Thai-inspired festive dishes using ingredients that are available easily found in the UK during autumn-winter seasons.

I’ve selected top three dishes from my Cookbook that will definitely keep you warm on a cold night and, let’s not forget, impress your guests on Christmas Day as well!

Laab Turkey

Minced Turkey Salad (Laab Gai Nuang)

This is an ultimate fusion dish. Traditionally it is made with minced chicken, but I’ve substituted it with minced turkey! This comes as a surprise to most people as Thai cuisine isn’t necessarily associated with turkey meat.  But it’s definitely perfect for the season and more lean as well; so you can carb-out on the desserts!


Serves 2
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 shallots, finely chopped
3cm (1¼ inch) piece of galangal, thinly sliced
1 lemon grass stalk, thinly sliced
2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
250g (8oz) minced lean turkey
1 teaspoon dried chilli powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tablespoon roasted rice (available from Asian supermarkets) 1 lime leaf, shredded
Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 spring onion, sliced

To Serve
Chilled wedges of iceberg lettuce
Fresh green vegetables of your choice, such as Thai aubergine and yard-long beans (Chinese long beans)
1 red chilli, sliced


Mix together the chopped garlic, shallots, galangal and lemongrass in a bowl. Place the oil in a wok set over a high heat until it is extremely hot. Add the garlic mixture and stir-fry for about 2–3 minutes until golden brown.

Add the minced turkey and continue to stir-fry for about 2 minutes until the meat is cooked through. Take the wok off the heat and add the chilli powder, salt, lime juice, fish sauce, roasted rice and the lime leaf. Stir in the coriander, mint and spring onion. Mix well and taste – it should have a delicious balance of spicy, sour and salty.

Serve with lettuce and other fresh green vegetables, sprinkled with chilli slices. The traditional way to eat Laab Turkey is to wrap the hot meat in really cold lettuce leaves. Trust me, it tastes superb this way. The different flavours and temperatures just come together so well!

(You can also find this recipe on page 52 of the Rosa’s Cookbook)


Marinated Quail with Spicy Thai Dressing (Gai Nok Ga Tar Yang)

A surprisingly delicious dish, at first I was skeptical about using quail in Thai cuisine, but my friend, Sayo, convinced me otherwise. I advise everyone not to underestimate this dish as I did or you might miss out on something very special.


Serves 2

4 small quail, plucked and cleaned for the marinade
2 lemon grass stalks, finely chopped
3 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 coriander roots, chopped
1 teaspoon salt

Dipping sauce

2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chilli powder
1 spring onion, chopped
1 teaspoon roasted rice (available in Asian supermarkets), crushed

To Serve

Slices of fresh cucumber and red pepper
Chinese cabbage or iceberg lettuce, chilled


Spatchcock the quails by cutting them through the underside, then flattening them out lengthways. Set aside.

Make the marinade. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the lemon grass, shallots, garlic, coriander roots and salt to a thoroughly mixed rough paste. Put this mixture in a bowl with the quail and use it to coat the meat. Leave the quail in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
Put the marinated quail into a roasting pan and place it in the oven for 45 minutes.

While the quail is cooking, make the dip. Combine the fish sauce, lime juice, chilli powder and chopped spring onion in a bowl. Decant the mixture into a sauce dish and top with the roasted rice.

Once the quail is cooked, leave it to stand for a couple of minutes, then cut into medium-sized pieces if you wish. Serve the quail with the dipping sauce and fresh salad.

(You can also find this recipe on page 146 of the Rosa’s Cookbook)

Coconut Custard

A perfect wintery dessert! Wonderfully thick and sweet, coconut custard is to Thailand what vanilla custard is to Britain. This dish brings me back to my childhood as it was always such a treat!


Serves 4

1 small pumpkin
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons palm sugar
3 tablespoons white sugar
200ml (7fl oz) thick coconut cream


Slice off the top off the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds, leaving the flesh intact. Set aside.

Combine the eggs and sugars in a bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the coconut cream and stir well. Pour the mixture into the hollowed pumpkin.

Prepare a steamer. When the water boils, place the pumpkin in the top half, then cover and steam for 45 minutes until the custard is set – test it carefully with a skewer. Leave to cool completely before serving. Dig in and enjoy!

(You can also find this recipe on page 190 of the Rosa’s Cookbook)

Don’t forget to share your festive photos on social media with #rosasfestive

Don’t be shy to ask me about recipes at!




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