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Cooking with "Cradle of Flavor"

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#61 Chris Amirault

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 06:19 PM

I must say, it was good, but to me, somehow just didn't really quite pop... I think more char would help, and perhaps using kecap manis would give it that sweetness that I think was missing -- I only had regular soy for the soy / lime / chile dipping sauce...

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I agree about the char -- and I really agree about the kecap manis, which is to soy sauce what good maple syrup is to white corn syrup: another beast entirely.
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#62 Emily_R

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 06:42 PM

Hey Chris -- Thanks for letting me know -- I didn't realize kecap manis was such a different animal -- I think I thought it was just like soy sauce with sugar added. I will be sure to pick some up the next time I'm at the asian market here!

Emily

#63 heidih

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 09:14 PM

Agreed- kecap manis is like a good marriage between molasses and good soy- thick, rich and tasty

#64 Margo

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 08:31 AM

Agreed- kecap manis is like a good marriage between molasses and good soy- thick, rich and tasty

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I have something called "molasses soy" in my pantry. Same thing?
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#65 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 08:56 AM

Where was is made?
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#66 crouching tyler

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 03:02 PM

Tonight, I go fearlessly into the realm of the toasted shrimp paste!

I am making Chicken Curry Noodle Soup, Kuala Lumpur Style - Kare Laksa, hopefully with some Javanese Sambal - Sambal Bajak or Sambal Ulek.

I am not quite sure I have the right sort of noodles but I am not going to worry about it. I'll post some photos later and see if any of you can tell me what is what on the noodle front.

I did most of my shopping at HT Market - a relatively new Asian/Latin/American grocery store. Odd place. Huge, with a wide selection of prepared foods. However, the produce section was hit or miss (drat- I just remembered that I forgot to buy garlic). The iffy produce may be a result of low turnover, though. The place was strangely empty of shoppers. Admittedly, it was the middle of the afternoon. Food was cheap cheap cheap though.

My shopping habits are sort of bi-polar with this project. I usually shop at a spendy, organic-leaning, "natural market"/coop (PCC, for the local readers) with weekly trips to a independent poultry/seafood market (University Seafood and Poultry). In the summer, we get a weekly box of fruits and vegetables from Helsing Junction Farm. And then I go toddling off to wander around Asian groceries, where the word "organic" is pretty much absent, and nobody is telling me what state and/or country my produce originates from. But for now, I am not going to worry about it. I am just starting this little endeavor - and once I get a better grip on what the ingredients are maybe I'll be able to be more strategic in my shopping.
Robin Tyler McWaters

#67 crouching tyler

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 10:59 PM

Chicken Curry Noodle Soup, Kuala Lumpur Style - Kare Laksa


So, I think I am going to invest in a small food processor for spices. I sneezed about 63 times today while my cuisinart blew spice mix out of small cracks and all over the kitchen. So, I finished grinding the spices for the seasoning paste in a mortal and pestle, and then returned things to the cuisinart for turning it into smooth paste.

Here's the ground spices:

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The paste (which is spices + shallots, toasted shrimp paste, and water):

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The chicken, hanging out in the paste. I cut the lemongrass too short, so my lemongrass knot is disheveled:

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The finished dish:

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So, I have made a resolution. I resolve to make the sambal (or whichever condiment I am intending to make) First. So, that I don't repeat the experience of this evening, when the main dish is almost ready, and I am getting hungrier, and just want to sit down and eat instead of delaying the gratification to toast more shrimp paste, chop more shallots etc....

The real resolution should be to really do better planning and chop everything all at once, portioning items for various dishes I go. But, for now, I resolve to make the condiment first. Probably a good idea anyway, so the condiment can hang out, and have its flavors marry or mellow or sharpen or whatever it chooses to do while it is resting and I am off cleavering chicken at the other counter in the kitchen ( I love to cleaver things - so satisfying, and just a little bit exciting).

So, forgive the tangent - the point of the story is I got hungry and didn't make sambal. Next time.

So - help me with the noodles. The noodles were the weak point of this dish. The broth tasted great - nice little kick at the back of the throat. The chicken was tender and flavorful. I should have gotten the tofu more golden, but as I have alluded, I am wimp when it comes to frying. The lime was a really nice touch on the finished dish.

I might have let the simmer get a little too vigorous at one point - the broth looked sort of broken (can a broth break?) towards the end of the cooking. Sometimes, I need to quit trying to do too many things at once, particularly while trying to learn a new recipe (seems obvious, doesn't it?).

The noodles were a bit undercooked, and just sort of hum drum.

I used the below. I shopped at a new market, and their noodle section was decidedly slim.

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Later, I picked up these noodles at PCC (organic - oh la la) just for research purposes. I haven't cooked with them yet, but I 'll give them a try next.

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Oh - the toasted dried shrimp paste - the aroma was completely overpowered by the lovely chicken curry smell that followed closely thereafter.
Robin Tyler McWaters

#68 crouching tyler

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Posted 14 June 2007 - 11:06 PM

Oh, almost forgot my favorite photo of the evening.

Weighing shallots:

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Robin Tyler McWaters

#69 Emily_R

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 11:22 AM

Oooh Robin -- while the food looks great, that scale has me seriously green with envy! Love it!

#70 C. sapidus

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 06:50 PM

Robin: Your kare laksa looks beautiful. I have not made many Asian noodle dishes, so I am very interested to hear noodle recommendations.

So, I think I am going to invest in a small food processor for spices. I sneezed about 63 times today . . .

The mortar does a nice job of grinding small amounts of spices. We use the coffee grinder for larger amounts, but that involves grinding rice twice – first to clean out the coffee, and second to clean out the spices. We should probably get a second coffee grinder and dedicate it to spice grinding, but it hasn’t been a priority.

I cut the lemongrass too short, so my lemongrass knot is disheveled . . .

I have made the same mistake repeatedly with lemongrass – I cut off the ends to fit it into the fridge, and then wish the stalk was longer when I try to tie a knot. It really doesn't matter, of course.

I resolve to make the sambal (or whichever condiment I am intending to make) First.

Good idea – many sambals do seem to improve with time.

Oh - the toasted dried shrimp paste - the aroma was completely overpowered by the lovely chicken curry smell that followed closely thereafter.

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I’m glad that the shrimp paste aroma was not a problem for you. It doesn't bother me – I have developed a Pavlovian association between the smell of toasting shrimp paste and the delicious scents and tastes that follow.

#71 djyee100

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 07:28 PM

We use the coffee grinder for larger amounts, but that involves grinding rice twice – first to clean out the coffee, and second to clean out the spices. We should probably get a second coffee grinder and dedicate it to spice grinding, but it hasn’t been a priority.


I'm surprised your coffee doesn't taste funny. Seriously. I've always used a second coffee grinder dedicated to spices. I use a cheap $20 coffee grinder (like this one http://www.amazon.co...1960702&sr=8-1), and it has always worked just fine. I still have to grind a tablespoon of rice in it now and then to clear out the different spices. One of those little brushes sold to clean out coffee grinders is also very handy.

If you're cooking a lot with spice pastes, you could consider a Sumeet grinder. It's basically a small blender with a super-powerful motor. If you have the kitchen space for one more gadget... http://www.sumeet.net/

#72 C. sapidus

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Posted 15 June 2007 - 08:06 PM

I'm surprised your coffee doesn't taste funny. . .

I have not noticed funny-tasting coffee, but I do clean out the coffee grinder pretty thoroughly between batches.

If you're cooking a lot with spice pastes, you could consider a Sumeet grinder.

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We have a Preethi grinder (similar to a Sumeet). The Preethi is very effective at grinding large batches of wet curry pastes, such as those for Thai curries. It is too powerful for small batches - it immediately flings the ingredients against the side of the jar.

I have not yet used the Preethi to grind dry spices. We will need a new batch of garam masala soon, so that will be a good excuse to test the Preethi’s spice grinding jar. As I mentioned, for small batches the mortar seems pretty efficient.

#73 Pallee

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Posted 16 June 2007 - 09:57 AM

So, yesterday morning I finally read this thread. Head to the bookstore and find the book. I'm looking at it and it looks really familiar. I just turned 50 in December, the brain is turning to mush, you know how it goes. Decide to go home and look around as I could almost swear someone gave me this book for my birthday. Search high and low and back again, and buried in the center of the coffee table is this book! I felt great and stupid all at the same time. The grilled coconut chicken with lemon basil looks great, I have everything on hand except candlenuts, but this is Oregon and hazelnuts are the universal substitute, so I'm good to go. OMG, it turned out sooooo goooood. I can't wait to try another recipe.......

#74 crouching tyler

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Posted 18 June 2007 - 09:38 PM

Dinner Tonight:

Chicken Satay - Sate Ayam
Stir-Fried Asian Greens with Garlic and Chiles - Tumis Sayur
Sweet Soy Sauce & Lime Dipping Sauce - Sos Kecap Rawit
Javanese Cucumber & Carrot Pickle - Acar Timun
Steamed Rice - Nasi Putih

Chicken was grilled, so I got some char - also got some flames as the lemongrass-peanut oil dripped onto the coals. I thought I had burnt the chicken - Nope. Just right. Lucky me.

The greens were bok choy, with the addition of garlic scapes, because I had some in the garden that I needed to use up.

Too tired for more details. I'll chime in tomorrow with some reflections on tonight's dinner.

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Robin Tyler McWaters

#75 KristiB50

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 05:31 AM

I just discovered this thread. Wow that dinner looks amazing!

I have the book but haven't made anyting from it. That is about to change!!

#76 crouching tyler

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 08:58 PM

Satay is so much more satisfying on the grill, then under a broiler - doubly so in the case of the anemic broiler in our gas oven. And I could eat the Sos Kecap Rawit with a spoon, I tell you - with a spoon. In fact, I just did - with my leftovers.

The marinade on that chicken satay really is good stuff. After I made the paste, I realized that I scaled back the amount of chicken I was using, but not scaled back the marinade - so I only put half the marinade on the chicken and the rest went into a small container in the refrigerator. Anybody have any experience with storing seasoning paste?

The ingredients are, if my memory serves:

coriander
fennel
lemongrass
tumeric
garlic
galangal
ginger
shallot
palm sugar
peanut oil and salt

What do you think ? Is it worthwhile to hold on to it, or is it better to just start fresh? Well, of course, it is better to start fresh, but how long do you think you could keep marinade like this around and have it be useful ?

So, I am glad to see that so many people have gotten interested in the book and found themselves a copy. I am going on a road trip for the next week or so (Seattle to San Francisco/Marin/Berkeley/Los Altos Hills and back again), and so I am looking forward to coming back to a thread teeming with descriptions of all the Cradle of Flavor cooking that has happened in my absence.

Any chance we will see some more food from you soon Mr. C. sapidus or are you going to continue your explorations of the Vietnamese/Thai/Chineses kitchen for a while?

chrisamirault - any plans to visit the Cradle of Flavor while you are in Montana ? No, I am not stalking you - I just thought I read something about you going to Montana this week ?

EmilyR - what are you going to cook next?

Sony, snowangel, Smithy, anzu, Dejah, Pallee, KristiB50 - When do we get to see what you are making from Cradle of Flavor?

Sir Fat Guy - any chance we will see you tackle those eggs again ?

Oh - one of the really cool tips that came along with this recipe was the use of a stalk of lemongrass as a basting brush. You chop off the very ends of the stalk, peel off the outer layers, and then lightly smash/bruise the bottom end of the lemongrass - and voila, you have yourself a natural, lemongrass basting brush.

Of course, every time I used my nifty and frankly, beautiful, lemongrass basting brush to baste the chicken with a little peanut oil, the oil would drip on to the coals, causing a flare up and causing me to freak out a little bit (experienced griller, I am not). I suspect that my grill is too close to my coals (perhaps because I am using a former gas grill as a charcoal grill - gas disconnected, permanently, of course). But that, my Cradle of Flavor friends, is a tangent I don't have time for right now. I have some road trip planning to do.

edited to include the big guy.

Edited by crouching tyler, 19 June 2007 - 09:55 PM.

Robin Tyler McWaters

#77 djyee100

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 12:15 PM

Anybody have any experience with storing seasoning paste?


I make batches of Thai curry paste, which has similar ingredients, and I freeze individual portions for later use. The flavors fade over time, no doubt about it, but freezing seems to preserve the paste better than refrigeration, and it's better than making paste from scratch on busy days.

After making the paste, I apportion it out with a small ice cream scoop (2 to 4 TB per portion is a handy size) onto a small square of plastic wrap or into a sandwich-size plastic bag. I wrap each portion tightly to keep out the air. Then I freeze the small packets on a sheet pan overnight. The next day I bag everything into a large plastic bag and stuff it in my freezer. When I cook something, I pull out one or two small packets, depending on what I need.

I can't tell you how long the paste remains "good." I've used paste that was frozen for a couple months, and I've been happy with it.

#78 C. sapidus

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 09:49 PM

Tyler, your dinner looks absolutely delicious, and the photographs are beautiful.

Is it worthwhile to hold on to it, or is it better to just start fresh? Well, of course, it is better to start fresh, but how long do you think you could keep marinade like this around and have it be useful ?

I have stored plastic-wrapped Thai curry pastes in the fridge for a week or two without much degradation. Perhaps you could make small batches of sate at weekly intervals and report your results. :wink:

Any chance we will see some more food from you soon Mr. C. sapidus or are you going to continue your explorations of the Vietnamese/Thai/Chineses kitchen for a while?

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We have some Javanese grilled chicken (ayam panggang Jawa) marinating in the fridge for Thursday night.

I make batches of Thai curry paste, which has similar ingredients, and I freeze individual portions for later use. The flavors fade over time, no doubt about it, but freezing seems to preserve the paste better than refrigeration, and it's better than making paste from scratch on busy days.

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This is very interesting. Some authors claim that Thai curry paste degrades in the freezer, but it would certainly be convenient to have pre-made curry paste available for weeknights. Sounds like I should do some experimenting, too.

By the way, I confirmed that the food processor and the Preethi do a lousy job of grinding a tablespoon of coriander seed. I wound up using the mortar, which worked well. When I complained to Mrs. C, she reminded me that we do have a second coffee grinder. Oops. :rolleyes:

#79 crouching tyler

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 10:28 PM

I have to give credit for the photos (and the dishwashing) to Larry (who i think I am supposed to refer to as my dh ? I don't really know what that dh means but I see many people use it to refer to someone whom I presume is some type of significant other. What does dh stand for? - dear heart? designated hitter? dishwashing hunk?).

Ok- I'll keep the satay paste in the freezer, and try it out when I get back. Maybe I'll get all scientific and make a fresh batch to use as a control group.
Robin Tyler McWaters

#80 C. sapidus

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 05:25 AM

. . . I don't really know what that dh means but I see many people use it to refer to someone whom I presume is some type of significant other. What does dh stand for? - dear heart? designated hitter? dishwashing hunk?).

“H” stands for husband; similarly W = wife, S = son, second D = daughter. The first “D” is intentionally ambiguous, and can be inferred by context. Whatever your true feelings at the moment, you can always tell your “H” that “D” stands for dear. :wink:

Ok- I'll keep the satay paste in the freezer, and try it out when I get back. Maybe I'll get all scientific and make a fresh batch to use as a control group.

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Control groups are way cool, and you would be expanding the boundaries of human knowledge. If you really get in the scientific mood, you could get a lab notebook and wear safety glasses. :smile:

#81 djyee100

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 04:25 PM

I make batches of Thai curry paste, which has similar ingredients, and I freeze individual portions for later use. The flavors fade over time, no doubt about it, but freezing seems to preserve the paste better than refrigeration, and it's better than making paste from scratch on busy days.

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This is very interesting. Some authors claim that Thai curry paste degrades in the freezer, but it would certainly be convenient to have pre-made curry paste available for weeknights. Sounds like I should do some experimenting, too.


I'm curious to find out your results. Frozen curry paste doesn't taste as good as fresh, but I find it tastes better (far better) than any canned commercial brand I've used.

#82 Emily_R

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 05:05 PM

Robin -- Dishwashing Hunk! I love it! That is certainly what I mean when I use the term, as in my house, the cook doesn't do dishes -- Hooray! As for what I'll cook next, ok, you inspired me -- I requested the book from our library again, so I should get it in a few days and will be able to give something else a go...

On a side note, I have what I believe to be the most phenomenally delicious indonesian chicken sate and peanut sauce recipe, from some other indonesian cookbook -- I copied the recipe, but am not sure I even still have the original cite. I traveled in Indonesia as a kid, and this tastes just like my memory of the sate we had there... Perhaps I can PM you the recipe, and you can test and let me know how it compares to the CoF version...

Emily

#83 C. sapidus

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 08:32 PM

I had planned to make Javanese grilled chicken (ayam panggang Jawa) with celebration yellow rice (nasi kuning), but meals got jumbled this week.

Javanese grilled chicken: Earlier this week I simmered chicken thighs and drumsticks in the beguilingly-scented broth of coriander, galangal, garlic, and daun salam leaves. We refrigerated the chicken overnight in the marinade: kecap manis, ground coriander seed, garlic, and peanut oil. The next day, various crises occurred while the chicken was on the grill. I will say this for the recipe – the chicken remained tender and juicy inside despite the fact that we incinerated the outside. No pictures.

Celebration yellow rice: We made this tonight with a Vietnamese grilled beef and mango salad. Mrs. C and I loved the rice, but the boys didn’t. They adore coconut rice with lemongrass, so I suspect that they have an aversion to turmeric – that would explain their resistance to Indian food.

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#84 Smithy

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 05:44 AM

Celebration yellow rice: We made this tonight with a Vietnamese grilled beef and mango salad. Mrs. C and I loved the rice, but the boys didn’t. They adore coconut rice with lemongrass, so I suspect that they have an aversion to turmeric – that would explain their resistance to Indian food.

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Do the boys have an opinion on French's mustard? That might clinch your guess.

I really am loving this thread, even though it's a vicarious joy so far.

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#85 Dejah

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 06:40 PM

I took the plunge today and made beef rendang from Cradle. Unfortunately, I didn't read thru' the entire recipe when I started this dish at 5 pm. :laugh: Needless to say, I had to throw together something else real quick for supper at 6.

The beef rendang is simmering on the stove, in a new pretty blue non-stick casserol pan. The smell is waffling into every part of the house. I love it already!

The sauce has been simmering for the last 3 hours. I see the oil separating from the coconut milk, the liquid is thickening, and the colour is deepening nicely. I tasted it, and the heat is right there!

I'll finish the dish and save it for our supper tomorrow. The celebration rice looks like a good accompaniment, along with the recommened salad.

Will report back on the results tomorrow. I did take a picture at the beginning, at the stage right now, and will take the final picture tomorrow before we eat.

I am excited! :biggrin:
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#86 Live It Up

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 02:47 PM

I have been jealously following this thread since it started wishing I could join in. Well, I got CoF for my birthday last week, so now I can! All the food so far has looked amazing. I might even make my first foray into the book tonight. :biggrin:

#87 Terila

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 03:48 PM

I have been jealously following this thread since it started wishing I could join in. Well, I got CoF for my birthday last week, so now I can! All the food so far has looked amazing. I might even make my first foray into the book tonight. :biggrin:

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I bought the book sight unseen when it first came out. It went right into the bookcase however. Then I saw this thread ...

I'm reading the book right now.

I could definately be persuaded to explore the book together!

Edited by Terila, 25 June 2007 - 03:59 PM.


#88 C. sapidus

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:19 PM

Do the boys have an opinion on French's mustard?  That might clinch your guess.

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Smithy - good question! When asked whether they liked mustard, both boys answered with a resounding “No!” I’m bummed, because not using turmeric would limit Indian food rather severely. Although now that I think of it, the boys devoured turmeric-containing sate quite happily. :hmmm:

The beef rendang is simmering on the stove, in a new pretty blue non-stick casserole pan. The smell is waffling into every part of the house. . . . I'll finish the dish and save it for our supper tomorrow. The celebration rice looks like a good accompaniment, along with the recommended salad.

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Dejah – I’m looking forward to your beef rendang. Celebration rice plus rendang could be coconut milk overload, though (not that coconut milk overload is a bad thing . . .). :laugh:

Live it Up and Terila - Hey, the more the merrier. Please do join in - you will not be sorry!

#89 spice

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 06:01 PM

This thread has inspired me to try more recipes from this book! So far all I've attempted is Nyonya-Style Spiced Fried Chicken AKA Inche Kabin: http://www.of2minds....ves/001173.html

#90 Dejah

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 08:27 PM

My first attempt at beef rendang from Cradle of Flavour:

I didn't have fresh lemongrass, so I used frozen chopped. This may have given the finished product a bit of a grittier texture. Have not seen any candlenuts, but I had unsalted macadamia nuts. I liked these nuts after simmering in the coconut milk.

First picture: oneless beef short ribs mixed with spice paste and coconut milk.

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After simmering for an hour:

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I forogt to take one at the end of 4 hours of simmering.
The last two pictures are of beef rendang loaded onto a big platter with a stir-fry of sweet peppers, cauliflower, and sugar snap peas; the cucumber, carrot, and shallot salad; and jasmin rice. There was plenty for three of us with a small container of leftovers for my lunch today.

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We really enjoyed the deep coconut and lime leaf flavour in the beef. The whole dish floated "on a cloud of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon." This was worth the hours of simmering and stirring. We'll definitely make it again and again. Next time, I will use more chilis, and hopefully, with fresh lemongrass.

The salad was great. Even DH who is not a salad kinda guy liked it. :smile:

Bruce: I'm glad I decided to have jasmin rice instead of Celebration rice. It may have been a bit heavy on the coconut flavour - altho' as you mentioned - that's not a bad thing!
Dejah
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