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Everything posted by Austin

  1. I think any chicken laap is going to taste like the flavourings, rather than chicken. To be honest, chicken laap isn't very common here. Pork is the most common, but my personal favourite is laap plaa duk, laap made from grilled catfish. And actually duck laap is quite common in Thailand, although it often takes a different from than more traditional versions. Austin
  2. I assume you're thinking of US/the West? In Thailand sugar is one of the most common seasonings and is used very liberally in nearly all dishes. Austin
  3. Austin

    Water/rice ratios

    You seem to be aware of this, but the amount of water depends on the age of the rice ("new" rice has more moisture and needs less water), as well as the type of rice, so there's no real consistent way of knowing. In general, brown rice needs, in my experience, about 1 1/2 times as much water as rice, whereas "old" (ie "dry") white rice needs slightly less water than rice. I live in Thailand and deal with this quite often, and simply find the right ratio by experimenting every time I buy a new brand of rice. The 2.25 cups of water for one cup of white rice you suggest seems a lot, and would create mush with the rice here in Thailand. Perhaps the rice in the US is particularly dry because of shipping? Incidentally, when making white rice, the Thais claim that if you put the point of your index finger on top of the rice, you should add water until it reaches the "line" at the first joint. Despite the fact that the Thais obviously know a lot about rice, I haven't had too much luck with this method! Austin
  4. Bruce: The exercise you linked to is pretty cool. I would only add that rather than looking for a balance, emphasize the flavours you prefer. Myself, I like salty and sour, and dislike sweet, so I emphasize the fish sauce and lime. In other words, add until it tastes good to you!
  5. Just thought I would post a link to a step-by-step recipe for tom yam kung I recently posted at my blog. I think there are lots of recipes for this dish out there, but none of them do it the way I think it should be done. Let us know if you try it out and be sure to post the results! Austin
  6. scarlett: the salad you mentioned is called yam phak boong krob, "crispy morning glory salad", and is sort of a modern Thai dish that has become popular in recent years. The batter is probably just flour and egg, or perhaps it's the packaged tempura batter that you can buy everywhere these days. You could easily make it yourself; just deep-fry the battered morning glory, and serve with a sauce made of lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, ground pork, shallots and chilies. By the way, just curious, is that photo from a restaurant in Sukhothai? Austin
  7. scarlett: the pea eggplants (makhuea phuang) are supposed to be bitter! This flavour, along with salty, sour, sweet and spicy, is an important element in many Thai dishes. Not everybody likes it (I'm not a big fan of bitter myself), but there's often just of a hint of it. The eggplants should also be somewhat crispy, which is best accomplished by NOT overcooking them. Unfortunately, if you throw them in towards the end, they'll often turn an unattractive brown colour. Re. how to make coconut-milk based curries, I would suggest taking a look at this recipe I posted on eGullet a long time ago, and this recipe posted at my blog. Austin
  8. Hmm... Am not too confident on the English names, but assume that kraphrao must be holy basil, as the other basil, horaphaa, is usually just called Thai basil. I think many people are confused by all the different Thai basils, so when I get a chance I'll post a Thai Basil 101 lesson her or on my blog. I recommend to everybody that, even when following a recipe, don't follow the seasoning directions to the last word. Ideally, you should flavour to taste, but this is hard if you've never had the dish prepared for you the right way. I would suggest by adding half of what is suggested in the recipe, then taste and gradually add more until it tastes "right". Remember that Thai cooks always look for a favorable balance of salty, sweet, spicy and sour. Austin
  9. Hi, I did a post about cooking schools in BKK a while back. It can be seen here. Austin
  10. No, you don't need to seed them, and yes you should cut them (probably into quarters), but be sure to put them in a bowl of water w/ vinegar, otherwise they'll brown. They'll also turn an unnatractive brown if you add them directly to the hot curry. To avoid this, add them to the curry when the curry liquid is still cool, then bring it to a simmer. Austin
  11. Bruce: Your dishes are looking great! It's fun to see somebody so excited about Thai food--you really must make it out here at some point. Yes, kraphrao (how I would spell it) is almost certainly the same as the other similiar-sounding words you've mentioned. It's a thin, light green fragrant leaf that is normally not eaten raw, but rather is used in stir fries and sometimes soups. For phat kraphrao and Thai food in general, I really suggest that you flavor to taste. Try to disregard recipe instructions on how much fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, etc. to add, and concentrate on reaching a taste that you're looking for. This is very important in Thai cooking. If you're still wary, than at the very least, start with just half of the suggested amount, add and taste, add and taste. Remember, it's all about taste, not amounts! The scallop curry looks great. Incidentally the Thai word for scallops, hoy shen has a funny origin. Hoy means simply "shellfish", but shen is the Thai pronunciation of the English word Shell (the Thai language doesn't have any final-syllable "l" sounds, so this is changed to an "n"), and is used because scallop shells resemble the Shell Oil Company's distinctive logo! Traditionally, phat sii iw is made using the wide rice noodles. They're meatier and a bit easier to handle in the wok. NYC Mike: I did a magazine article (which can be seen at my blog) about a few different nam phrik a while back, and I think there might even be a similar post somewhere in the bowels of eGullet. Do a search for "nam phrik" and see what comes up. I'd suggest making nam phrik kapi, one of the most essential (and easiest) Thai dishes of all. Austin
  12. Hor mok is a wonderful dish. After eating them for years, I've only recently learned how to make them. Personally, I prefer the grilled kind, which are known sometimes as ngop. David Thompson calls them "grilled (or steamed) curries", which I think is an accurate way fo describing the dish. I've included a recipe for the grilled kind below. If you can get all the ingredients, and follow the recipe exactly, it's very, very good. Grilled Fish Curry Hor Mok Yaang (Serves 4) Grilling ngop on Ko Samui Ingredients Curry Paste Large dried chilies 20, seeds removed and softened in warm water Small dried chilies 15 Salt 2 tsp Peppercorns 1 Tbsp Chopped galangal 1 Tbsp Lemongrass 1 stalk, chopped Minced kaffir lime zest 1 Tbsp Small garlic cloves 5 Fresh turmeric 1 5cm-long piece, chopped Shallots 4, chopped Shrimp paste 2 tsp Thick coconut milk* 350 ml Spanish mackerel steaks (plaa insee) 500 g Holy basil (bai kraphrao) 1 large bunch, leaves only Banana leaves for wrapping Toothpicks *Thick coconut milk is the coconut milk that comes directly from the can. Method Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor grind the curry paste ingredients together into a fine paste. Set aside. Wash fish and dry, Separate fish meat from bone and skin, chop roughly and combine with curry paste and coconut milk in a food processor. Process until well blended and light in texture, about five minutes. Remove mixture to a bowl, seal and put in refrigerator until chilled and somewhat solid, at least two hours or as long as overnight. Cut banana leaf into sections roughly 25 cm long and 10 cm wide. Rinse and pat dry. Take two pieces of the banana leaf, stack them on top of each other and place a few holy basil leaves in the middle of the rectangle. Place about 3 Tbsp of fish mixture on top of the holy basil, and spread lengthwise. Fold the narrow ends of the banana leaf over the fish mixture, followed by the long ends, sealing each end with a toothpick. Grill banana leaf packages until done, about 6-7 minutes on each side. Discard banana leaf and serve hot with rice as part of a Thai meal.
  13. Scarlett: I'm working on several things, one of which is a the food and drink chapter of a guidebook! The bundle of things shown there is used as an offering to a spirit house or something similar. Those are hand-rolled Burmese cheroots, and the "fruit" you see there is actually betelnut, a stimulant that people in Asia like to chew, and which turns their mouths red! Austin
  14. Re. your latest post, the first pic is of something called thua nao khaep. These are soybeans that have been fermented and pressed and dried into the hard disks you see there. You'll only find them in northern Thailand, and they're used in much the same was as shrimp paste is used elsewhere, ie in curry pastes or with chili dips. They are especially prevalent in Shan/Thai Yai cooking. You can see more about thua nao and here about Shan food here. The second pic is a form of cheap and rather frightening looking tobacco! Austin
  15. Yep, it's called salak in Thai as well. Very interesting flavor and texture, that one. Austin
  16. Forget the US. Forget France. Southeast Asia is by far the most fertile ground for interesting foodblogs/foodbloggers in the world. Witness: Based in Phnom Penh, Phnomenon is undoubtedly the best (and only?) online resource for Khmer food and dining. Although the pieman is now based in France, thenoodlepie archives are still a fun and interesting source of info on Vietnamese food. For more on Vietnamese, check out Stickyrice for the scoop on food and dining in Hanoi. Although she's been in the US for a long time, Pim, of chez pim fame, is actually from Thailand. Another US-based Southeast Asian foodblogger is the Chinese-Malaysian author of Rasa Malaysia, an excellent blog on Malay eats. Based out of Malaysia, but definately on top of entire region is EatingAsia. Among the most popular and successful foodblogs out there is the Singapore-based Chubby Hubby. Oh, and I do a Thai food blog called RealThai.
  17. Just wanted to add that I recently bought Tapas and am really, really enjoying it. I live in Thailand, where cookbooks are very expensive, and it came down to a toss up between Tapas and Les Halles Cookbook. I'm not a big meat eater, and was put off by the pages and pages dedicated to beef in the latter, and like many in Thailand, don't have an oven, so it was an easy choice! Interestingly, many of the ingredients Andres mentions are available here in Bangkok, and I've already made a few dishes. When I get a chance I'll document my meals and share them here. It would be great if Mr Andres could provide some more imput here as well! Austin
  18. scarlett: As you mentioned, there were lots of different kinds of fish, which means they are all used in many different ways. Salted fish (typically plaa insee, Spanish mackerel) is often deep-fried until crispy and used in stir fries, or simply served with a squeeze of lime and some chilies. Dried fish (there are many, many kinds, but plaa chon, snakehead fish, is common up north) is used in many ways, ranging from being roasted and then smashed up in chili paste (such as the northern Thai dish naam phrik taa daeng), or roasted and used in soups. Especially considering that you saw this in Chiang Mai, I think dried fish is a throwback to the days when there was no refrigeration, and dodgy transport between the sea and northern Thailand. If people in Chiang Mai wanted to eat seafood, it probably had to be the dried stuff! Nowadays people have access to all manner of fresh seafood, and I think dried seafood might be falling out of favor, except in certain recipes where it's necessary. The fruit you ate sounds like lamut, which in English is known as sapodilla. Look familiar? If you post the pic I'll bet we can identify it. Austin
  19. Austin

    Arugula based salads

    Had some slightly wilted arugula recently and ground it up in a mortar and pestle with olive oil and garlic to make arugula pesto--I dare say it was better than the basil stuff! I dunked healthy dollps of the stuff into a minestrone-like veggie soup I had made that night. Absolutely delicious. Austin
  20. Yikes... This is going overboard...! Was my initial post that unclear? Let me try again: I'm writing the Food & Drink chapter of an upcoming Lonely Planet guide that will be called Greater Mekong. The guide covers the areas that border on or include the Mekong river, ie. Yunnan (China), northern Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and southern Vietnam. Beer is very, very big in this area, and I'm just curious as to 1) when it was introduced 2) Who introduced it 3) Where it was introduced. debster: Thanks for your help, I appreciate it, althought unfortunately I'm looking for info about the mainland. I should have made this more clear. Big Bunny: I know Bali is not on the mainland, but thanks anyway. PCL: I'm not reading guidebooks, I'm writing one! PPPans: Actually I never up with the assumption (?) that rice based-spirits are ubiquitous, but they actually are! Name a country in SE Asia that doesn't have them! Unfortunately I'm not too keen on geopolitical drinking issues in the northern Philippines, but thanks for your help with my question. So, does anybody know?
  21. Wow, thanks for that--they do indeed claim to be SE Asia's first brewery. I have to admit that my guidebooks concerns only mainland SE Asia though. Who was the first to bring brewing to the this area? Austin
  22. I'm doing some preliminary research for the Eating & Drinking section of a guidebook to SE Asia and was wondering about the origins of beer in the region. Nowadays beer is found from Yunnan to Bali, and in my opinion, is quickly taking over the more traditional rice-based alcohols as the tipple of choice, but when did this start, and who initiated it? Any verifiable (links to source) information would be muchly appreciated! Cheers, Austin
  23. Bruce: I'll probably be here a couple more years, so don't forget to call when you arrive! The restaurant I mentioned is the same one I introduced David Thompson to, and is described here and here. It is more Malaysian, although I imagine the owners would just describe their food as "Muslim". They serve oxtail soup, biryanis, sate and curry noodles, many of which have Arabic-Indian-Malaysian origins. Either way, it's really, really good! I'd like to get my hands on Oseland's book as well. After seeing his contributions to a thread here on eGullet, I came across his website and downloaded some of his excellent essays on SE Asian food. Austin
  24. Bruce: Everything looks great! You seem to be head over heels into Thai cooking lately; I think the next natural step is a visit to Bangkok! I promise to take out out to an excellent Thai-Muslim place near my house if you do.
  25. Rick: I'm certain the sausages you're referring to are sai krok isaan, NE Thai-style sausages. They are sour, like you said, and contain lots of rice. As you mention, they are typically eaten with fresh herbs and sometimes a dipping sauce. ecr: Thanks for the link! Where did you study cooking in Thailand? Obviously ma khwaen and Szechuan pepper are similar in form, but personally I don't find that they are similar in flavour. Again, I'm finding the scent hard to describe--it has something of a "smoky" aroma, and somehow reminds me of gin. Here are my ma khwaen: I reckon it's most similiar to the one on the site called chopi. Phak phai to come soon!
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