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Cooking with "Thai Food" by David Thompson

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54 replies to this topic

#31 patrickamory

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 09:49 PM

Hi seabream,

Some random answers to recent questions:

- we dried the beef in the oven for about 3 hours at the "warm" setting
- peeling the coconuts: just make sure the shell is off, the brown part of the skin doesn't make a difference
- warm water and two milking stages makes for better cream and milk than your suggested alternative
- hard to specify how much cream or milk a coconut will give off, too many variables. I suggest getting at least 1 more coconut than you need (assuming all the coconuts are good -of the 4 we got yesterday, one was off)

Glad to hear the pomelo dish turned out well!

There's nothing like fresh kaffir lime leaves. The fragrance is like nothing else.

We were fortunate in finding tons of fresh holy basil yesterday. Used two bunches in tonight's pork curry, which was perfect.

A couple of tips I noticed were buried in the introductions to the curry sections in David Thompson, don't know whether you noticed, but they are intrinsic to getting the dishes right:

- only put in half of Thompson's specified amount of fish sauce. then taste at the end. add more fish sauce to balance if necessary (and of course any of the other ingredients, but if you've added too much fish sauce, it's almost impossible to correct)

- for any curry calling for dry spices, only put in half of Thompson's specified amount, and make sure the paste isn't too dry and roasted smelling - "un-Thai" as he puts it - add more if it seems right

You can re-read those sections several times, profitably, and I do, frequently.

Tonight's meal was a success. I'll post pictures in the Dinner thread tomorrow.

#32 Shalmanese

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 10:44 PM

* What is the purpose of doing a first and second pressing? Couldn't we simply add 4 cups of water to the coconut, strain, wait for a while, and skim the coconut cream from the top when it separates? This wouldn't give us a separation between first and second pressing of coconut milk, but I haven't seen any recipe specify one or the other.


It's to increase yield. Coconut is absorbant so some of the liquid remains inside the meat. Say 80% of the liquid can be squeezed out and 20% stays in. If you add 5 cups of water and squeeze, you get 4 cups of 100% coconut milk as a first pressing and 1 cup of 100% milk in the meat. If you then add another 4 cups of water to the meat and stir and squeeze, you squeeze out 4 cups of 20% milk and 1 cup of 20% milk remains. You could then do a 3rd pressing to get 4 cups of 4% milk and be left with just 1 cup of 4% milk left unextracted.
PS: I am a guy.

#33 seabream

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 11:50 PM

OK, got it about the two pressings.

I've been looking for holy basil everywhere, and I can't find it in any Asian store here in Seattle... lucky you, patrickamory!
When I went to the nursery to pick up the kaffir lime tree, they ensured me that they will get plenty of holy basil in a month or two. So I'm planning to pick up a couple of plants and plant them outside. But I'll have to wait...

I also bought cilantro seeds, which I will plant indoors for cilantro roots, since these are also hard to find around here. Then I'm planning to freeze the roots and use as needed. Exciting!

#34 patrickamory

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 10:23 PM

See pictures of last night's meal in the Dinner thread. That pork curry is sublime. And if you can do the extracting of the coconut milk, fairly straightforward as Thai dishes go - the paste is pretty simple.

Holy basil you can never count on, even here. The one place I know in Manhattan that has it often sells out. And other places mis-label Thai basil as holy basil - they are so completely different in reality!

If you grow it successfully, let me know. That would be the ticket, because it really lasts for such a short period after it's been picked.

#35 seabream

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 10:57 AM

The photos look fantastic! I need to make that pork curry! Will let you know about the holy basil.

I have decided to give homemade coconut milk another try, inspired by all the tips in this post. Can leftover coconut milk be frozen?
I'd like to make the "Mussaman curry of chicken, page 329", which calls for 3 cups cream and 4-5 cups milk. Should I aim to use 3 coconuts to end up with roughly 3 cups of cream? If so, I'll have lots of milk leftover. Or should I aim for 2 coconuts? That would give me close to 2 cups of cream, but I would use up all the milk and cream.

#36 patrickamory

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:57 PM

Wow, you're going for the Mussaman? One of the more ambitious curries! I've never made that one.

3 cups of cream is a lot of cream. Three coconuts yielded just over a cup of cream this time. But as I say, it varies a lot - coconuts have different amounts of meat inside, and the meat is more or less creamy (i.e. infused with coconut oil). Usually one coconut yields about 3/4 cup of cream, in my experience.

You have to allow for the possibility that some of the coconuts will be bad, so overbuy. I bought 4 coconuts for this recipe, and 1 was bad.

You will often have lots of milk left over, especially from the second pressing. But again, it depends. The recipes often tell you to reserve the milk and moisten the curry as it cooks. You have to play it by ear. Depending on the consistency of the paste, and depending on the quantity of the meat and vegetables, you may end up using quite a bit more milk. Some curries are supposed to be almost like soup, with a nice sheen of coconut oil floating on top.

I've never tried freezing my coconut milk. I'd look to see what Kasma has to say. I have bought frozen shredded coconut for southern Indian dishes and it was nothing special. But at least you'd be avoiding the floury, gloppy texture of the canned stuff.

#37 seabream

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:59 PM

Kasma says the following:
http://www.thaifooda...ts/cocmilk.html
"I do not recommend freezing coconut milk as this increases the likelihood of curdling when it is next used in cooking – unless you are just warming it through without boiling."
However, I think Kasma is referring to canned coconut milk.

http://www.realthair...ces-and-pastes/
"...it separates and gets chunky when you heat it. I’m not sure why freezing does this to coconut milk. I’ve experimented with freezing my own homemade fresh-pressed coconut milk, and the same thing happens."
This one clearly refers to homemade coconut milk.

http://homecookingwe...e-coconut-milk/
This shows a photo of the separation that happens when using previously frozen coconut milk.

So, in summary, I think the flavor is mostly preserved but the texture is not.


Maybe I've been lucky, but the coconuts I've purchased here have never been moldy. I think I will aim for two coconuts for the Mussaman, even if that gives me less cream than what the recipe calls for. I agree with you that 3 cups of cream is quite a lot.
The recipe does seem a bit more involved than the other curries, but not by much. The only extra step is the deep-frying of the chicken, which is not hard or that time consuming.

#38 patrickamory

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:57 PM

I'm sure it will be delicious. Remember your flavor balancing at the end... only add half the fish sauce it calls for and adjust just before serving. Keep us posted!

#39 infernooo

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 09:46 PM

Also be careful with the sugar - it can go from well balanced to cloyingly sweet very easily (especially when the recipe states "2 tablespoons - 1 cup palm sugar"

#40 patrickamory

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:10 PM

So seabream, how did it go with the Mussaman? Have you made it yet? We're all waiting with bated breath! :smile:

#41 seabream

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 01:02 PM

patrickamory: Not yet. We were planning to make it, but had too many leftovers - the worst enemy of someone who enjoys cooking :) We're going on a trip for a week now, and we'll be making this first thing when we get back.
I will for sure report on my experiments here. So stay tuned...

#42 MikeHartnett

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 08:56 PM

Did you ever get a chance to make that Mussaman curry, seabream?

#43 goodkidwe

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:06 PM

Wow, following your tips can help me imaging how delicious it is. Thanks very much for sharing!

#44 seabream

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 09:16 PM

Did you ever get a chance to make that Mussaman curry, seabream?


I was hoping you guys would forget :) This week has been crazy at work, but I'm still planning (and looking forward to) make the Mussaman curry, with homemade coconut milk. I will report in this thread when I do.

#45 MikeHartnett

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:09 AM

Awesome. Looking forward to it.

#46 seabream

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 02:27 PM

I am going to cook the Mussaman curry now. I am going to start by making the curry paste.
I will keep the laptop with me in the kitchen, so if you have any tips/questions, etc, I will get them while I'm cooking.
I'm super excited about dinner tonight :)

#47 seabream

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 11:57 AM

I've attached a photo of the Mussaman curry we made. Ooh, how amazing it was!

The introduction to the recipe in the book says it all: it is the most time consuming curry I've made, and also the most delicious.

I wouldn't say it's hard to make: someone who has made other curries from this book has already mastered all the techniques needed for this curry. But it is time consuming - VERY time consuming! And so good... It combines the Thai curry flavors I love (galangal, lemongrass, shallot, garlic) with the Indian flavors I love just as much (cumin, coriander, cloves, etc).

I didn't make that many changes to the recipe. I omitted the coriander root because I didn't have any, and the cassia bark because I'm not a big fan of it (although I can see how it would go well with the other flavors, for those of you who like it). I added the lower end amounts of palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind while making the paste. After adding the paste to the coconut milk, I added quite a bit more of all three. I added the upper end amount of coconut milk, but next time I may reduce that.

I bought really nice organic free range chicken legs from my local halal store, which I think made a big difference.

Is it worth spending a whole afternoon preparing it? Once in a while, I would say yes. I think I will have cravings for this curry in the future...

Attached Images

  • IMG_3038.jpg

Edited by seabream, 01 May 2012 - 11:57 AM.


#48 MikeHartnett

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:29 PM

That looks delicious, seabream!

#49 patrickamory

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:44 PM

Looks fantastic.

Query on whether coriander root would have added even more depth, but I'm still jealous. Have to try it sometime.

#50 MaLO

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 12:43 AM

Pork and green peppercorn curry - page 454. I gave this a try a few weeks ago and it was good. It is quite strange in so much as you use no garlic, red shallots or shrimp paste. Not too difficult to do and it was really good.
Martin

#51 patrickamory

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 03:57 PM

Pork and green peppercorn curry - page 454. I gave this a try a few weeks ago and it was good. It is quite strange in so much as you use no garlic, red shallots or shrimp paste. Not too difficult to do and it was really good.


One of my favorite recipes and a surefire hit with guests.

#52 Lukaas

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 08:05 PM

Hi all, really want to keep this thread going!

I'm trying to perfect the Pad Prik King style dry red curry after trying it at Spice Siam in Sydney.

I'm adjusting the glangal levels and dry prawns in my paste tonight after a reasonable but not stellar result last time.

Jump on board and share your attempts....
QUOTE
My initial flavor test was the classic, bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich. Homemade bread, homemade mayonnaise, homegrown tomato (from a neighbor), homemade bacon. The only thing that wasn't locally grown was the lettuce. It was the best sandwich I've ever had!

Naturally, my expectations were high so I had a bottle of wine to meet that expectation: 1976 Lafitte Rothschild. Mmmmmmm.....


Really Nice Aug 10 2003, 11:22 PM

#53 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 12:45 AM

Beef massaman. Simple recipe. Fairly quick, too, if you use a pressure cooker rather than a long simmer. I used short ribs instead of the recommended flank steak.

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#54 Okanagancook

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 06:47 AM

Had the Cucumber and prawn salad on page 350 the other night. Very quick to make and excellent flavours especially with the addition of the dried prawns shavings at the end. Along with that we had rice and the stir-fried beef with chillies and holy basil on page 507 seeing my grocery had some nice fresh Thai basil leaves (very rare around these parts). It was quite a strong flavoured dish as he says in the introduction..serve with plenty of rice. The basil leaves are a must here. I made too much of it and it got over powering towards the end of the meal but as a side dish it would be great. It was also quick and easy to make. Good for a meal with lots of different dishes because you can make it first and keep it warm in the oven while preparing other dishes.

#55 C. sapidus

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 07:46 PM

Beef massaman. Simple recipe. Fairly quick, too, if you use a pressure cooker rather than a long simmer. I used short ribs instead of the recommended flank steak.

Chris - Huge thanks for recommending this recipe. We made it with beef chuck and eggplant, and it was absolutely fantastic.





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