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Thai Cooking at Home, 2005 - 2006


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#421 insomniac

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 11:11 AM

well, I don't measure out my ingredients but this is an approximation of what I do :rolleyes:

Mix a yam sauce using lime juice, nam pla, sugar and green chilis to taste.
Either BBQ or char the eggplants, (I use 3-4) until they are soft inside and then put them in a bag to steam for a few mins so it is easy to peel off the skin. Don't worry about a few black spots as they make the salad taste smokey and earthy.
Soak some gung haeng in hot water for a few mins and drain.
Slice up a few shallots and some cilantro.
Shred some steamed crab meat.
Slice the eggplant lengthwise and halve (or whatever)

Throw it all together, pile the salad on lettuce leaves and enjoy

#422 Gabriel Lewis

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 12:21 AM

Bruce:

Thank you for the feedback, I will be sure to try it with ginger next time and play around with the flavors. The exercise in balancing flavors is familar , as Kasma is something of a demigoddess to me. I think I have read every article and feature on her site, and many of them twice. I would highly recommend the exercise to anyone trying to gain a better understanding of thai cooking and the principles involved.

Austin:

As you said, and as is readily apparent in your blog, it seems you have something of a distaste for sugar. I have never been to bangkok, but I can commiserate on the overuse of sugar in many dishes, it is a theme common among popularized asian food in north america.

One thing that I have learned though, is that a little sugar can go a long way. One of the things I find intriguing about thai and asian cooking in general is the more flexible approach to seasoning with sugar. Making some thai and other asian dishes I have learned that even a small amount a sugar can completely change the character of the dish. For example, I can't imagine a thai curry without atleast some palm sugar added, its almost like to magic to me the effect of a 1/2-1 tablespoon of palm sugar has on a thai curry.

While I would agree that is important first and foremost to cook to taste, I know that as a cook I don't really have a reference point for any of the thai food I make, and this is why I find Kasma's explanations so helpful. Sometimes it seems like I find that "balance" she seems to describe, and although I can't be sure, I like to think that I have gotten it right. What I am getting at is that I have this idea in my head that many thai dishes have a basic flavor profile that involves a minimum proportion of a certain number of ingredients. For example, most thai curries just wouldn't be right to me without that right balance of hot, saltly, and just slightly sweet. Given that, I have always thought that I was better off looking for some sort of balance - atleast at first. Sometimes I feel like I'm reaching in the dark, because its not like I've tasted a dish prepared a few different times or even one time before, and just adjusting the seasoning to taste with respect to the flavor profile I remember.

Whew, this has gotten a little long winded, but it has something I have wondered for a while and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. For example, do you simply cut back on sugar in most recipes where they would normally be some, or do you sometimes omit it entirely?

Sheena:

I love thai eggplants, as you said they are wonderful just to look at, but they taste great too. From what I have read, it seems that in Thailand a lot of people just eat these raw, often accompanied by some sort of dipping sauce. If you sort back 8-10 pages or so you will find some discussion of thai eggplants.

For me, thai eggplants usually mean thai curry. They are perfect for curry because the soak up the delicious flavors of the curry and then melt in your mouth while you eat them; they also act to thicken the curry too. For this reason I usually like to simmer them up until they are close to melted into the sauce. An excellent recipe for a simple green curry can be found here. This recipe calls for pork, but you could easily substitute a few more sturdy vegetables, or even increase the number of eggplants.

I might add though that in my area these eggplants don't really work out to be much cheaper than the meat I use in my curries. A pound usually works out to be about 2 dollars or so, and for 3 dollars I can get 3/4lb of excellent pork shoulder, and if you are willing to skin/debone chicken thighs, you can get a lot of great chicken for even less. I find this is plenty of meat, as the meat isn't the main actor so much as another member of the cast. The cheaper cuts work quite well in curry, provided you cut them into small pieces and simmer them long enough to tenderize nicely.

At first I found fish sauce pretty disgusting, but now the smel brings to mind all the delicious things it is in. I also find that the better brands don't really smell all that bad, I think it is just something that takes getting used to.

Insomniac:

Wow, that looks like a great recipe. I will have to try it soon. I wonder about the eggplants though, only 3-4? How big are the eggplants you use, the ones we get here are about the size of a golf ball.

#423 insomniac

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 01:37 AM

Grabriel, I am referring to the long skinny purplish white ones, not the round ones :smile:

#424 SheenaGreena

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 10:17 PM

thanks for the reccomendation gabriel. I didn't even know that you could eat them raw, that sounds pretty awesome. Maybe I could throw them into a thai influenced salad or something.
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#425 C. sapidus

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 09:01 AM

does anyone else salivate when they smell really stinky fish sauce?  I love this stuff...I don't know what it is.  Thinking about it now is making me drool

Sheena: Fish sauce definitely makes me salivate. Disturbingly, my brain now responds this way to other “fermented” meats. While cutting the grass last summer, I smelled what I thought was fish sauce every time I passed the open kitchen window. I thought that my wife was heating up leftover green curry, and my mouth began to water.

When I cut a few more rows, it became obvious that the saliva-inducing aroma was not coming from the kitchen – it was coming from a dead and, um, fermenting bird. Even knowing the source of the odor, my mouth kept watering. As soon as the lawn was finished I ran inside and heated up some green curry (with extra fish sauce).

No, I didn’t eat the dead bird.

#426 Kim D

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:35 AM

I love the smell and taste of fish sauce. It's hard to remember back to when I thought the smell was too strong. On my last trip to Thai Grocery, I asked for a recommendation for a stronger smelling fish sauce because Tiparos, Three Crabs and Squid brand weren't cutting it for me.

Before I knew much of anything about Thai, I used to order Pad Talay. Yum! Unfortunately, the Bangkok Star restaurant closed some years back. And I can't quite remember all of the ingredients.

I remember that the sauce was red. I don't remember a strong taste of coconut but it might have been in there. I remember straw mushrooms, fake crab, shrimp, cuttlefish, maybe some red bell pepper.

This weekend I made a batch of red curry paste. If someone has a recipe for Pad Talay, I would be all ears.

- Kim
If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

#427 SheenaGreena

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 12:44 PM

glad to see that bruce & kim feel the same as I.

I went to a local thai restaurant last night for dinner and I opted for the green curry with "thai melon", shrimp, green beans, and thai eggplant. It was the first time I had thai eggplant and I absolutely loved it. I thought it tasted like an eggplant with the consistency of a slightly cooked tomatillo - very delicious. I am guessing the thai melon was in fact winter melon.

they had laarb on the menu, but I didn't try it because of the temperature (served room temp) and I didn't know if you were supposed to eat it with rice or just eat in plain. I am still kicking myself, because I think I would've enjoyed the larb more.
BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

#428 Kim D

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 08:46 AM

Thai eggplant is my favorite new food. I love the seeds.

We've made The Best Eggplant Dish Ever twice in the last week.

On Sunday, we made chicken with red curry and threw in half a dozen Thai eggplants.

We always throw extra in our Jungle Curry.

I think they steal the show.

- Kim
If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

#429 C. sapidus

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 08:55 PM

Sheena: If in doubt, order the larb. I use larb gai as quick way to judge Thai restaurants.

Kim D: Are you using the green golf ball-sized eggplants or the long violet-colored ones for the "best eggplant dish ever"?

Tonight we made David Thompson’s green curry of chicken with baby corn. I’m not sure why the picture is lurid yellow – the curry looked greener in real life. I used fresh baby corn, and thinned the curry with homemade chicken stock. The recipe called for two tablespoons of the curry paste, but I used about five tablespoons to get the flavor right. Next time I’ll probably increase everything in the curry paste except the chilies – the curry had just the right amount of heat, but needed more body.

We served the curry with jasmine rice, and asparagus with a cooked sauce of lime, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and sesame oil.

Green curry of chicken with baby corn (geng gwio warn gai)
Posted Image

#430 Kim D

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 06:44 AM

Kim D: Are you using the green golf ball-sized eggplants or the long violet-colored ones for the "best eggplant dish ever"?

The golf ball-sized eggplants.

Kasma Loha-unchit's Easy Green Curry recipe calls for pea eggplants. When I asked at Thai Grocery why I hadn't seen them in a while, I was told that they could no longer import them. Why would they be banned?

I also asked when they were going to get in coriander with the roots attached. I was told that Florida didn't have any yet and that coriander from Mexico has to have the roots cut off. :shock:
If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

#431 jmolinari

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 07:21 AM

I found coriander with roots jsut last week here in Atlanta, either i hadn't noticed it before as i wasn't specifically looking for it, or it just showed up recently.

Now i have to figure out what to do with the roots (which i froze well wrapped, since i won't be around for hte next 10 days)

#432 C. sapidus

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 07:35 AM

Kim D: Are you using the green golf ball-sized eggplants or the long violet-colored ones for the "best eggplant dish ever"?

The golf ball-sized eggplants.

Kasma Loha-unchit's Easy Green Curry recipe calls for pea eggplants. When I asked at Thai Grocery why I hadn't seen them in a while, I was told that they could no longer import them. Why would they be banned?

Kim D: Thanks – I like halved or quartered Thai eggplants in green curry, but I have not used them for an eggplant-based dish. Unfortunately, I am the only one in the family that likes the texture of long-cooked eggplant. I would love to try the pea-sized eggplants, too, but I have never seen them in the stores.

I found coriander with roots jsut last week here in Atlanta, either i hadn't noticed it before as i wasn't specifically looking for it, or it just showed up recently.

Now i have to figure out what to do with the roots (which i froze well wrapped, since i won't be around for hte next 10 days)

jmolinari: Lucky you! This past summer we grew cilantro mostly for the roots. If no roots are available, we just use the stems in curry paste. I have not done any side-by-side comparison, so I’m not sure how using cilantro roots or stems changes the complex flavors of a Thai curry.

#433 Kim D

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 09:21 AM

Sometimes I just have no idea what I'm doing in the kitchen. :huh: So I just wing it.

The first time we used lemongrass, we had no idea how much of it to use. We probably threw away more than we should have.

The first time we used cilantro in curry paste, we had no idea where the root started and where it ended. When does the root start being the stem? And are those hairy things that hang off the root to be used or not?

We didn't know. And since no one was watching, we used the bits we wanted. And it tasted great.
If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

#434 C. sapidus

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 05:14 PM

The green curry leftovers made a delicious breakfast. The colors in this picture are closer to reality - I'm still not sure why the picture upthread came out fluorescent yellow. Posted Image

Posted Image




[Manager note: this conversation continues in Thai Cooking at Home, 2007 - 2012]