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Everything posted by NickLam

  1. For those headed up to Huahin or Pranburi, you can read about Yok Sod, my favourite restaurant. Thailand's version of farm to table, eating in a shack! Crabs, fish, prawns, sea vegetables, etc.....harvested in the region and simply cooked to perfection. Anyone with a morning to spare in Huahin would do no wrong in having lunch at Yok Sod.
  2. Can't chime in on why they suggest this process. Using inverted puff pastry and have it frozen in production batches all the time with no problems. Even if the defrosting + turns 5 & 6 results in a 'puffier' pastry, can a normal human really tell the difference? Is it worth the additional trouble? The only reason I can think of for the author's technique is when a cook forgets to give it the final turns and goes on a 2 day break! I've certainly done that before!
  3. Brilliant! I can't even remember starting this post in 2006 and glad to see everyone's taking their own spin on things. Whilst working in Europe, various chooks like the Poulet de Bresse and heritage English breeds got the HCR treatment for family meals and they were more delicious than what I can conjure up here in Asia. Every HCR in my country has the same taste profile because the chooks all come from the same source and are battery bred to conformity. Its still a great HCR though but it gets bland after eating it for 3 decades! It would be great if any of you with access to heritage breeds can post your HCR experiences. There is nothing special indeed about the HCR recipes because it all starts from the chicken!
  4. Tried Nahm a few months back and yes, it is a very good place to eat. All the dishes we had were excellent and prepared well. Can't vouch for authenticity as I have no reference point! It was a great meal. Interestingly, a Thai professor friend who is knowledgeable about the most obscure dishes dispelled the notion that Thai food was supposed to be a balanced mixture of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. If I hadn't been aware of this before eating at Nahm, I would have thought that the dishes were not balanced as some were very salty and some were very sweet. Eaten togather with rice, everything comes togather perfectly. I would contrast this with another famous Thai 'fine dining' restaurant Bo.Lan. The only thing I will say about Bo.Lan is that the dining atmosphere is fantastic. The wonderful house and beautiful decoration is a compliment to Thai interior designers. The good news is, anyone with a smaller budget and a hankering for Thai food can dine at Suppaniga Eating House in Thong Lo. The prices are very reasonable (190 - 220 baht a dish with the current crab specials going up to 450+ baht). The food is very good and one can find obscure regional dishes there. It is difficult to compare this to Nahm because the styles are just so different. Both a great restaurants serving a different target market. That said, I've eaten at Suppaniga 3 times this month!
  5. Hi Prasantrin, Its in both French and English and well translated overall. I'm working for a new food subsidiary of a mall group here in BKK. Nothing much to write about now as its currently a pre-opening role. If all goes as planned, hopefully we will be adding something tasty to the Bangkok food scene. There is a lot of good local food here so if you do make it down, I'll definitely have suggestions for you! I just pray that Thailand does not lose its food culture in my lifetime.
  6. Ahhh, you have a point there Prasantrin, never thought about the kids angle. I'm not a dad yet but I guess when it happens, I'll be more aware! Thanks for pointing it out.
  7. If you are up for some great sushi with a price, try Hashiguchi in Akasaka. From Ginza Station, its only 4 stops away with a change to the Chiyoda line at HIbiya. Hashiguchi has no stars as they refused to accept any and are renown for the nigiri technique of having an air gaps between the fish and the rice, resulting in a 'dancing sushi' that is very light in texture. Your concierge should be able to get a booking for you. Alternatively, if you are looking for something more rough and tumble with a great atmosphere, you can try this izakaya in Tsukishima near Ginza. Its ok if you can't speak Japanese because the locals who throng the place will be more than happy to help. Have a great time in Tokyo!
  8. I've used the Hotmix pro and it is a very good machine. However, it still cannot match the Thermomix in terms of ease of cleaning, usage and portability. The hotmix has a very awkward bowl design and cover. Because of this, stuff tends to fall into the area where the bowl sits and the clips around the cover are a pain to clean, requiring the use of a tiny brush. In terms of operation, the hotmix is not a turn dial machine like the thermomix, requiring you to push buttons to set temperature and speed. Most annoying in a busy busy kitchen. I have never used any of the preset programs but perhaps a home cook would. Because of the sophisticated controls of the hotmix, it has a CP board inside. My preference is always to stay away as much as possible from too much digital stuff and I have seen 2 hotmixes break down due to the CP board. I have not seen a Thermomix break down after heavy restaurant usage other than the 2 occasions where one was dropped from height and the other was melted on an induction cooktop. The melted one worked for a while before dying. That said, the hotmix has a superb 'vortex' when blending stuff because it has a unique blade design. The down part is that it is extremely difficult to clean the blades, even with a brush. Everyone will always say cooks have to keep things spotless but in all practicality, we cannot control how an overworked dishwasher in a damp, hot environment will do their job. The easier it is to clean, like the thermomix, the more I like it. I have tried cooking confitures in the hotmix but for things that go above 100 deg c., a pot is the best alternative. As flimsy as the thermomix looks, I will always get that over the hotmix because it simply is a superior machine.
  9. Hi Kenneth, Glad you enjoyed J Fay! The one time I ate there must've been a fluke. As for the crabs, Jok used to deal seafood so he knows where to get the best! His crabs will probably be one of the best you can find in BKK, but if you have the chance to go to Yok Sod in Pranburi, they are just as good, if not better, just plainly due to the proximity to the source. It is surrounded by crab farms! And, your dinner at Jok's kitchen for 1 pax would probably pay for your whole family and more! @Cragganmore, If you are game enough to go hunting for it, I would recommend: Egg Noodles, Dry Style (Ba Mee Kai Haeng) @ Roadside Stall on the back of a truck in Ekamai Soi 19, After 7pm Thai style Crispy Roast Pork Belly (Moo Krob) @ Moo Krob Nai Sai, before Prachachuen Soi 34 Thai Roast Chicken (Gai Yarng) and my personal favourite, Water Insect Papaya Salad (Som Tum Maengda) @ Or Tor Kor Market (Shop is next to the toilet in the front car park area) Pad Thai with pumpkin, zucchini and carrot 'noodles' & Fermented Pork with Salted Egg (Moo Kem) at Ruen Sroy Yaya (Far from everywhere, near the airport) I have this saved on GPS, so I do not have the address, but PM me if you are wiling to travel there and I'll get it for you. It is in Bang Phli Seafood grill, charcoal fire up the front @ Obaroi Boat Noodles @ Victory Monument. Everyone has their preferences but I like the shop aptly named 'Best Boat Noodles' at the corner Southern Thai Food (Spicy) @ Phuket Town in Thong Lo Trat & Issan Food @ Suppaniga in Thong Lo 'Terroir' Mango Sticky Rice where Coconuts, sugar and rice come from specific provinces in Thailand @ Kor Panich Peppery Chinese Pork Innards with Noodles @ Guay Jab Oun Pochana in Yaowarat Black sesame 'Tang Yuen' Dumplings in Ginger broth @ Chujit in Yaowarat outside Seng Heng Lee Goldsmith (The dumpling skin has become thicker in the past 3 mths due to rising costs and it doesn't seem like they will be reverting to the old thin skin. However, this is still a great roadside dessert stall.) Pomfret Porridge @ Sieng Gi in Yaowarat Pig's Brains Soup with tasty condiments (Think of it like custard) @ Samong Moo Thai Tham in Phraeng PhutomThere are quite a few more places but these are the ones I can think of for now! I would avoid Sukhumvit Soi 38 other than the passionfruit ice blended drink there. Having eaten there for the past few years, the standards have dropped significantly for every shop. Not sure if it is due to rising costs or any other reason but most of the old stall owners seem to have changed hands and the ones still there just do not taste as good anymore. Happy eating!
  10. This is too late, but for any future travellers to Huahin, there is actually a lot of great food there, but you'll need to be a local to find it! My advice is, once you are there, ask your concierge about these places: Huahin Krua Kannikar - Thai BBQ Chicken (Gai Yarng) near the Railway StationPa Jue - Mango Sticky Rice across the road from the Hilton HotelMee Chai - Sells an assortment of sweet snacks, try the coconut and taro custard using duck eggs and kanom tian, sticky rice pyramids flavoured with a wild herb and stuffed with a savoury sweet filling. Amazing. Give the mango sticky rice a miss, even though they claim to be the best and the oldest in Hua HinNong May - Great Thai Chinese food and some seafood. Open lunch and dinner, go early or it'll all be sold out. The hor muk (Curried Fish Custard similar to Otak Otak in Malaysia/Singapore) is to die for.Cha-am Jae Daeng - Thai Chinese food. Try the Plaa Goong, a herbal salad with a lime dressing tossed amongst fresh prawns barely swirled in boiling water.And of course, the only reason I would drive 4 hours to eat when the craving strikes! Pranburi Yok Sod - The best mangrove crab I've ever had, simply steamed. The crabs are grown there and harvested less than 500m away daily. Other dishes are brilliant as well, some of the best food I've had in Thailand. My favourite side dish is the Seablithe stirfried with garlic. its like Marsh Samphire in the UK.This place is just a shack in the middle of no where next to a small river where thousands of baby crabs are spawning. Its a 75 min drive from Huahin and would require a GPS. The great news is that along the way, you'll be treated to breath-taking mountainous views of the Sam-Roi-Yord or 300 Peaks. If you go on Saturdays, the owner, who is a professor of logistics in Bangkok will be the one steaming and chopping your crabs. For any tourist who doesn't have a car, I would rent one or get a taxi driver to join you for lunch. The price you'll pay for the meal will be cheaper than any restaurant in Huahin for crabs of that size and quality. I've had king crab in Japan before and I can assure you eating at Yok Sod would be an equally impressive experience. Your wallet won't hate you either! Get the concierge to call ahead to book the biggest, juiciest crabs. They sell really fast. GPS Coordinates: N12.19420, E99.99381 Phone: 085-0657123 or 0868832356
  11. Hi Kenneth, I'm based in Thailand. This may come too late, but I've had J'Fai and don't really know what the fuss was about. The famous Pad Ki Mao (Basil and noodles stir fry) was nothing fantastic and didn't have much of the 'wok taste'. The river prawns that came with it were overcooked. The table next to me ordered the famous crab omelette and though the crab was generous in portion, its way too expensive to justify eating it. If I wanted to eat crab, just go to a seafood restaurant and order steamed crab. The sweetness of Thai crabs is better enjoyed neat, unadulterated by a browned omelette in lard. If you are not on your way to Thailand yet, I have a few (Some may be hard to find) recommendations for you. Nahm is great, so is Supanniga. Two very different dining experiences and if you were to ask me to choose, I'd take Suppaniga every time. This is not to take anything away from Nahm, but the price is just too steep to eat even once or twice a year. In contrast to Suppaniga, I've already been there twice this month and I actually enjoyed the food there a lot more. Note that I ate at Nahm for free, so the price didn't bother me!
  12. Hi everyone, Its been several years since I've posted on this forum but hope to get involved more in the future now that I've changed jobs! Anyway, before buying Frederic Lalos' book, I mulled over buying it for almost 1 year. There is very limited writeup on this book and surely others would be going through the same decision making issues. In addition, we'll never know when this book'll be out of print. The reasons for my reluctance to purchase it is that here in Asia, this book + shipping from Europe would cost more than US$120. Do I really need to spend that kind of money when Hamelman, Dan Leader and Reinhart and other books would cover it? Thanks to my new job, I decided to buy it and it was the best decision I ever made. Firstly, this book touches on lots of basic knowledge covered in other books in terms of kneading, flour types, etc. Bear in mind that the recipes in this book use French flours, which are not as strong as American flours. Asian bakers may rejoice because our flours are quite similar in strength. Here in Bangkok, and in Singapore where I come from, we can get flours from Waitrose and other Italian as well as German flours. The most important aspect of this book for a professional baker or a serious home baker is that there are recipes dedicated to direct proofing, delayed overnight bulk fermentation method and a deferred overnight proofing method. All in the same recipe. This gives you timings and recipe options to better plan your baking. In addition, he gives the exact starting temperature and recommended end of mix temperature to ensure that the bread grows at the suggested pace. I have not come across any other bread book that is so detailed in this aspect. There are a lot of interesting French breads in here, but if you are looking for something really uniquely European, Dan Leader's book 'Local Breads' may be more your thing. However, if you are looking to get a first hand insight into how a professional baker executes his recipes, Frederic Lalos' book is exhaustive in this aspect. This link gives a more thorough review for this wonderful book. I as well give links to where to buy this book, with no commercial benefit of my own. I hope this review will help in your purchase making decision because it was something I wish I had after hours of fruitless web research.
  13. Its Salon du Chocolat time again in Tokyo come end of January and I'll be headed there again. Besides the usual suspects, does anyone know any new exciting Dessert/Chocolate/Cake place having opened in Tokyo this past year? Cheers!
  14. EdwardJ, I hear you. It seems like all these 'hygiene' and 'flu' crap is really taking its toll on the quality of the hawker food. But....that is far from the truth, as it is really the passion that has gone from our hawkers, and it is no fault of theirs really. Chicken rice at $3.50.....if they try to raise the price by even 20 cents, Singaporeans start complaining, so its a vicious cycle. Why tediously thread your own satay when you can buy it from the factory in Woodlands? If you've tried the Beef Hor Fun in Geylang recently, it is a shadow of its former self a few years back. Its sad really. Passion can only go so far if you are not making enough money to justify the long hours in horrible conditions. This is Singapore after all, where its a dog eat dog world and competitive as hell. "Want it cheap and good" is the saying we have, and that scares the hell out of me. Being a cook in a restaurant as compared to some executive is looked down upon (You can never imagine the shame of a secondary school classmate seeing you and saying..."Oh, so now you are a cook".) Can you imagine if you were a hawker? Its fashionable now to be a 'Chef', but that applies only to those with loads of family cash (Yes....I am a tad bitter!). I feel for the hawkers and hope things can be turned around, but I fear we will lose our street food in the next decade or so and instead be an island of wannabes lusting after the latest high-class restaurant and 'star chef.' Give me Hae Mee over white truffle pasta anyday and I hope to be wrong, but the hawker's days are numbered. On reflection, maybe Malaysia's rant had some reason to it after all....THey smell blood and are coming for the jugular. If that day comes, I hope that we can all still find great hawker food in Malaysia. We may have that rivalry thing going on, but when it comes to food, who gives a rat's ass if it tastes good.
  15. Klang Bak Kut Teh is the best, but saying that Malaysia knows Singaporeans know Malaysian hawker food is better and that its hard to get a bad hawker meal in Malaysia is a bit of statement isn't it? I've had some dodgy meals in Johor and PJ before. I totally agree that hawker food in Singapore is sliding down to hell, and we really need someone or some group to preserve it and the integrity it once had. Old school chefs reminisced to me about the time they made Mee Reebus by boiling lamb bones for the stock instead of the sweet one dimensional crap they have now. The first thing I will eat upon returning to Singapore will be Hokkien Mee, but shudder at the thought that the few stalls near our flat in CCK are so crap that its not even worth taking the effort to walk a block to it. Having to drive all the way to Geylang, Whampoa or Old Airport Road might be an inconvenience, but worth the trip. However, if a country's government has to stoop this low to draw Singapore into a fight, its pathetic and betrays the rich cultural and traditional food heritage that Malaysia has. Instead of trying to fight with Singapore to 'take back' what they think was theirs, why not explore their own backyard for stuff that makes Malaysia unique? I'm sure that somewhere in Malaysia is a killer curry that no one but some villagers have ever tasted. Or is the government gonna go after Thailand to claim Gaeng Masaman as their own? After all, Singapore does not have the rich history Malaysia has, nor do we have different regions from which distinctive cuisines and dishes can spring forth. This is a rather short-sighted approach that makes it seem like national elections are around the corner, thus a need to stir up national pride.
  16. Charge your pastry cream when it is hot in an iSi Siphon with n2o. That might 'whip' the custard, changing the texture/aeration without adding anything else to it.
  17. I worked in Turron country for a while and there are basically 2 types of Turron's in Spain. One is Turron de Xixona (Jijona) and Turron de Alicante. The former is a soft confection made of ground almonds which is soft and melting in the mouth. The Turron de Alicante is a hard one that is similar to Nougat and some artisanal ones are made only with honey. Personally, I loved the Xixona one as it reminded me of peanut 'cakes' I love eating during Chinese New Year. The nougat like one was too sticky and chewey for my taste, but, the 100% honey Nougat Fougue from France (Available from Etoile d'Or in Paris) was simply amazing and melt in your mouth. Here's a Turron Recipe in the Alicante Style, a bit sweet, but thats turron! (You will need 2 pots) 450 Lavender Honey - U need to cook this to 121 degrees celsius 200 Water 600 Sugar 100 Glucose - U will need to cook this mixture to 157 degrees celsius 100 Egg Whites 30 Powdered Sugar 10 Egg White Powder 200 Whole Hazelnuts 100 Pistachios 350 Almonds - Roast these nuts and keep them hot for your sanity. If cold nuts meet hot sugar+egg whites....you can only guess what will happen! (1) Cook honey to 121 degrees (2) Cook sugar to 157 degrees Its a bit hard to have these 2 at the target temperatures at the same time, but the trick is to cook the sugar on a higher heat than the honey. (3) Make an 'Italian Meringue' in a mixer with whisk attachment first with the honey, then with the sugar. (4) Beat and cool it till 60 degrees celsius. (5) Use a heat gun at the side of the bowls to maintain this temperature if necessary (6) Toss in hot nuts and mix very gently until evenly distributed, using heat gun to ensure it is nice and hot (7) Spread into frames, cover with acetate and roll evenly with a heavy rolling pin Have fun!
  18. Schneich.....haha, are you serious about the explaining the unctous part? The caramel offered no resistance to the bite and no stickiness on the teeth. Once in the mouth and mixed with saliva, it began to disintegrate into a soft, smooth and rich texture, and the flavours of the fruits are clean and clear. The 'bite' reminded me a lot of a passionfruit 'pate de fruit' made with Gellan and unfortunately, I do not have access to these things and would love to buy them for testing, but have no money! Here's a very 'Frenchy' style caramel that works well and gives the soft texture of caramels from that country! Feel free to make comparisons, but note the lecithin, which will probably solve graininess and greasiness issues. Just as in chocolate ganaches, the sorbitol will reduce the water activity, which in turn stabilises the whole confection and inhabits crystallization of the sugar which in turn softens the confection and gives it a better texture. 1000 Sugar 150 Glucose 70 Sorbitol Powder 700 Semi Salted Butter 4 Lecithin 1000 Cream 2 Bicarbonate 2 each Vanilla Pods Bring cream to a low simmer with the vanilla and bicarb. Make a caramel with the sugar, glucose and sorbitol. Mix softened butter with lecithin and mix it into the caramel. Mix in the simmering cream mixture. Cook to 116 degrees and slab immediately. Add 50g of finely chopped hazelnuts at 116 degrees celsius if desired. These fruit caramels have escaped us all for too long, I think. Schneich, thanks for reviving this issue, I now have some experiments to conduct on my day off on Sunday!
  19. The trimoline from Lebbe does not lose its abilities until 130 degrees, and I will try to confirm that from any tech. sheets I can find. When you look at that French Forum recipe stating that its Jacques Genin's, it does seem a bit dodgy that the actual finishing temperatures are not there. However, the recipe says to cook it for 45 minutes, and that length of time, with the sugar and the acid from the passionfruit should cause partial inversion of the sugar shouldn't it? This, combined with the glucose might just be the secret behind the Genin caramels. I remembered that the Mango Passion one does not have that pronounced a caramel flavour. The texture from Kerry's caramel is soft and not chewy at all, very nice, but not as unctous as Genin's. Looks like its time to replace the batteries in my digital probe and do some caramel makin' this sunday! Wrote to Harold McGhee a few months back asking him about the science behind caramels, but have yet to get a reply :-( Now, if only someone could get Heston Blumenthal to drop him a line.......
  20. Hi all, I'm headed to Taiwan soon and would like to know what good places to find chocolates and pastry at in Taipei or other parts of Taiwan. I am not looking for really good quality stuff that will be somewhat like Taiwan's Pierre Herme, or Sadahau Aoki, for lack of a better comparative description. Cheers!
  21. Instead of introducing hot syrup to egg whites, try heating the egg whites along with the sugar over a bain marie until it hits 70 degrees, than start whisking it. You'll need a mixer for this though. I do this with small batches of macarons for testing, when making an italian meringue would be impossible with the small amounts of sugar called for. No difference between the end results for this method or italian meringue method. The most important thing is sifting the almond powder so those damn tiny bits don't show up.
  22. Hey Schneich, Was surprised to hear that you really did not like Sada's stuff. What I had last year in Paris was not as good as 2 years ago (My friend brought some back from Paris as well as Japan to Singapore), but it wasn't bad by a long shot! Granted of course that I did not try all his petit gateaux and cheap chocolate? I am pretty sure he is using Domori, so to hear it tasted 'cheap' probably has more to do with the strawberry flavouring (if he is indeed using it). Do you have a list of what you ate at Sada's? I'd like to go there and try them for myself and see if it indeed has become this bad! And yea, Japan is still a bit behind when it comes to pastry innovation, they have this love affair with the French and its all really stuffy. However, for their level of technical expertise, aesthetic, lightness and purity of flavour, Japan for me is still No.1. However, lets hope this will change as during my time in Spain, more and more Japanese were staging there too and they will bring their ideas back to Japan. Next time in Barca, I really want to visit Yann Duytsche at Dolc, have his book and he seems to be doing some great things. But, having visited several 'famous' Patisseries in Barcelona itself, I got to say I was not that impressed. Innovative in design and concepts, yes, but taste wise.....yucks. I'm all for innovation, but back in August, when I was there, seems to be lots of style over substance. Not to say all of them are like this, but it seems lots of Patisseries are jumping on the innovation band wagon and missing sight of the real reasons why. What did you enjoy most in Barca?
  23. Well, perhaps Sada can be an inspiration to those who've been told they 'can't make it'. Look at what he has achieved! It was really eye opening when I found out that Japanese companies buy out French names to use them as brands. Peltier, unless I am mistaken, no longer exists in France, but they have outlets all over Japan. Guess its just business. Really curious to compare Henri Le Roux' stuff in France as compared to Japan though, as the ones made in Japan do not really live up to the hype of his CBS. Hopefully next month will present just such an opportunity when I 'hop over the pond'. Interesting. I'd never heard anything about his background. It doesn't surprise me that he had been told he would never make it. In general, the Japanese are very rule-governed, and if you colour outside the lines, you'll never "make it". It's unfortunate about the buy-out, but completely understandable. I thought, but wasn't sure, that Yoku Moku had always had a hand in Henri Le Roux's Japanese operations. I noticed the Yoku Moku name on the labels of his stuff. ←
  24. He sold off his shop? Just the Japanese branches, or the entire shebang? The eclairs are the only things I like at SA. I didn't care for his cakes or chocolates, but perhaps I just chose the wrong ones. ← Yea, thats what he told me, but he didn't say if it was the name, the shop, or whatever, but basically, as I was trying to apply for a job there, he said the decision was not up to him, but the people at 'Hana' corporation. This is just speculation, but Hana probably bought only the Japanese operations though, and he still controls his own stuff in France. It did not come as a surprise as lots of these patisseries are bought out by Japanese corporations, like Yoku Moku and Henri Le Roux for example. Speaking to him about Japanese pastry, it seems that his heart is more in France than it is in Japan. Not surprising though, as it was in Japan where he was told he would never succeed as a pastry chef. He is an awesome guy though and very passionate about his products and kept feeding us his Choco-rons (Enrobed macarons) and praline chocolates. Always took time out to chat with people and was very forthcoming.
  25. What did you have at Sada's? Did not really get anything from his shops other than the Matcha Eclair as I've been to his shop in Paris. It was good and just really curious to see how the quality gets sustained now that he has sold it off already.
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