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Gabriel Lewis

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Everything posted by Gabriel Lewis

  1. I'm suprised people have had trouble finding green papaya; it is readily available in portland, montreal, and california from what I have seen. They are usually rock hard, wrapped in plastic, and kept refrigerated. Green mango is an interesting substitute, I'm assuming you cut down on the tamarind/lime juice substantially, as green mango can be pretty sour. Another possibility you might want to try is chayote squash; while somewhat more fragile than green mango, the texture is quite close. The color of green mangos can very anywhere from a light green to a pale yellow, depending on how early they were picked and what conditions they have been stored in. To use it in recipes that call for green mango, it should have a crisp texture, and be quite tart, and only a little sweet, if detectably sweet at all. The really green ones can be hard to find, but if this is what you want look for the smaller ones with all green skin, and buy them at a store with a high turnover where they store them refrigerated.
  2. This summer I've done mango, passionfruit, cherimoya, coconut, rhubarb, and lime ginger. The hardest thing for me about fruit sorbets is that most of the time I find I have to make them too sweet in order to get the right consistency, or too intense if I try to balance the sweetness with acidity. This isn't a problem with pectin rich fruits like mexico, but it can be tricky for thinner, icier sorbets. I've been playing around a bit with glucose/honey/gelatin/pectin and all the other tools you can play around with for sorbets, but haven't done much since I lost access to the machine I was using. I am in the process of buying one; I hope to get around to some serious investigation at some point with a hydrometer and all those other tools. I agree that if the fruit is good enough, little else is needed besides some sugar/acid to restore the balance of flavors if you're diluting. It can be nice to play around a bit though; spices, souring agents, citrus peels, alcohols, and fresh herbs make room for delicious creativity. Spices I've tried or want to try: cardamom, fennel, star anise, black & white pepper, and cloves. Herbs I've tried or want to try: pandanus, mint, coriander, thyme, lavender. Ah I need to get a sorbetiere, so many possibilties; citrus zest infused simple syrups, alcoholic bitters, interesting citrus juices (bitter orange, meyer lemon, yuzu, kalamansi, etc).
  3. Sriacha sauce I make is pretty simple, lots of garlic, dried red chiles, a bit of sugar, water, and salt. I thinly slice 10 cloves of garlic and sweat them in a small amount of oil and then add about 5 large new mexico or california dried red chiles. I stir these around in the hot oil until they have darkened a bit and I can smell them, and then I add about a tbsp of sugar, salt to taste, and about a cup of water. I simmer this whole mixture for about 20 minutes, or until the chiles are soft, puree it, check salt and it's ready to go. Sometimes I like to add a bit of vinegar to taste too. I like this sauce with grilled or deep fried seafood, and with eggs. I like all the chile sauces I make, so I don't really know where to start. Reading back, it seems I misread your first post, not realizing you were asking for suggestions for commerical sauces; I can't really be of much help here. I do have a nice chipotle adobo sauce I make if you're interested. I'll include a little blurb I wrote about how I think about chile sauces anyway though. The possibilities are really endless though, I'd suggest you check out the eCGI course on mexican table salsas as a primer. You can roast fresh chiles, or toast dried ones. You can add white sugar, palm sugar, dark unrefined sugars like piloncillo; and then you can caramelize these sugars if you want. You can use stock, garlic, onions, shallots, different sorts of peppercorns. You can sour with tamarind, citrus juices, different kinds of vinegar, tomatoes, tomatillos. I tend to make my sauces spur of the moment according to what I want. The other day I made a lovely sort of Indian/Mexican combo with lots of onions, garlic, bitter orange juice, a few spices, and chilhuacle amarillo dried chiles from mexico; I ended up braising chicken in that sauce.
  4. Gabriel Lewis


    There is a reason most recipes use very little tumeric; it overpowers very easily. Tumeric lends itself to an inumerable number of dishes, with its subtle, earthy taste. Soups, stews, pilafs, spice rubs, dals, and many simple Indian vegetarian dishes work well with a bit of tumeric. If you are looking to eat a lot of tumeric I would suggest getting some fresh and making soups with it. Here are a few recipes: 1, 2. I wouldn't really worry about overdosing on it though, if you are eating food with 1/2tsp of tumeric in it 3-4 times a week you are getting as much as you need.
  5. I'm curious, do you have any more specific details in mind? They are hundreds of different kinds of chiles: fresh, dried, smoked, roasted, etc. A chile sauce could range anywhere from a hot sauce to give heat, to a fully bodied smoky garlic sauce to serve with roast pork. I've made a lot of chile sauces and would love to suggest some of the ones I like, but it would help if you gave a little more direction. Fresh and green, smoky, hot and sour, sweet at all, what do you want to use it for? Oh and I also make a lovely version of my own Sriacha at home based off a david thompson recipe, I much prefer it to the commerical kind.
  6. I would call this "oven drying" rather than slow roasting, but the process I use is fairly simple. First I blanch the tomatoes briefly and remove the skins. Then I cut them in half lengthwise and lay them in a lovw oven (225-250F), sprinkle them with a little minced garlic and thyme (optional), and drizzle them with a fair amount of olive oil. They're done when they've dehydrated in taste substantially, and intensified in flavor.
  7. Have you ever had an excellent ceviche before? If you have, I think you would understand it's popularity. Of course, as Jaymes mentioned, part of that is just how certain fooods get poopularized in the U.S., but I think in ceviche's case it is deserved attention. A well made ceviche is an explosion of hot, salty, and sour flavors combined with the mouthfilling texture of "raw" seafood and the crunchy bite of raw onions. One thing to remember when making ceviche is that it requires a lot of good quality sea salt. It is intensely acidic, and without the necessary portion of salt to balance the flavors ceviche is just witheringly sour. It's origins are highly disputed, but peruvians make a strong claim for it. One theory I have heard proposes that it was a method of preserving fish to bring into the Andean mountains, and that evolved as part of the court cuisine of the Incans in peru. Originally it was made there with the sour juice of some sort of tropical fruit, but it is now made with almost exclusively citrus (usually lime). If you're interested, I'd highly recommend douglas rodriguez's book Ceviche. As an aside, I think ceviches are strikingly similar to thai hot and sour seafood salads. Rodriguez's "creation" sounds like a pretty standard incarnation of a few thai hot and sour salads. To clarify, the fish isn't "cooked" with heat, but it isn't really raw at the same time. It is left in a highly acid medium until the acid has fully penetrated the seafood, and if you use fish, it will actually turn white once ready. The texture remains quite similar to that of raw seafood, but it isn't really raw; highly acidic conditions will coagulate and affect the proteins in the seafood. An interetesing variaton is tiradito, a sort of cross between sashimi and ceviche. Supposedly a product of the influence of a large japanese immigrant population in peru, the fish is sliced very thinly instead of cut into hunks, and cures much more quickly than traditional ceviche.
  8. I don't really buy into the whole "accentuating the natural flavor of foods" school of thought. If you want the pure flavor of the vegetables you should blanch, steam, or saute them over lower heat. To me wok cooking vegetables is about the intense heat that gives wok foods their characteristic flavor. I like my simple vegetable stirfries to be garlicky, savory, and often salty. I think that a pinch of sugar complements certain vegetables, like bitter chinese broccoli for example. It can caramelize along with the maillard reactions and add another dimension of flavor. I personally wouldn't start my garlic over medium heat as my burner isn't strong/responsive enough to do this and still get good wok hei. And in my opinion a strong animal component like stock, chicken fat, or lard isn't going to accentutate the natural flavors of a vegetable.
  9. To me, the key to real smoky wok flavor is heat, and a well seasoned wok. I know people stress the need for real fire in wok cooking, but I can't tell if you have considered the details. Usually when I preheat my wok and add my oil, I wait until the oil/lard is smoking before adding the first ingredient. Is your wok so hot that it is intensely smoking the whole time you are cooking; enough that you can get puffs of flame out it, and that things will burn if you don't stir for more than a few seconds? Assuming you are cutting your vegetables so that have the right size and surface area to get good surface browning paired with your desired degree of doneness, it may just be a question of heat. Or maybe you could try cooking the garlic a bit longer before adding the vegetables. For larger vegetables where the garlic is going to spend a fair amount of time in a hot wok usually i only fry them very briefly, but if the vegetables are going to cook very quickly I like to let it turn light brown first. I don't know if you want a very pure/simple flavor or not, but I also find many vegetables are well served by a pinch of sugar or white pepper, or a splash of soy or oyster sauce. White pepper I add at the very end, but with sugar you can get a nice bit of caramelisation.
  10. Thanks so much for sharing canucklehead, your soy sauce looks like its coming along nicely. This is something I definitely want to try my own someday, when I can get access to a spot to cure them in. Oh and just to sate your curiosity about the color of soy sauces, that comes from a combination of things. Browning reactions are going on as the soy sauce ages, this is the work of both the high energy sunlight, time, and possibly some of the enzymes from the molds or other microorganisms. These are the same kind of reactions that turn bread into toast, or turn cut fruit brown; they just take a lot longer at lower temperatures.
  11. I too have noticed the tremendous difference between powdered and block form. The nice thing about the block form is that it is odorless until you grind it up. I wouldn't say block form smells any nicer than powdered though; both smell pretty bad until magically transformed in hot oil. I think the easiest way to handle it is to lightly crack the big chunks in my heavy granite mortar and pestle until I get the desired size for the day's cooking, and then grind that into a powder. Failing that I would probably crack of a piece using a heavy object and then grind it in a spice grinder, but if you care enough to go after block hing I think you should have a mortar and pestle anyway. I haven't used a suribachi myself, but the ones I've seen look a little light for real grinding work. I also recently found out that even the good stuff isn't "pure" asafoetida. The block form we sell at the shop I work at is 1% concentration; 100% would be violently strong.
  12. Botulism is a concern when dealing with any plant based food left at room temperature. Botulism bacteria are present in soil, and anything grown in soil has a chance of picking up some spores. Given an anaerobic environment, adequate nutrients, and sufficiently high temperature these spores will grow into full bacteria and begin producing the deadly toxin. This is why garlic infused oils are at risk. The bacteria will not produce the toxin at refrigerator temperatures, and cannot tolerate certain levels of acidity/sugar. As weinoo said, as long as you keep them packed in oil they should keep a long time. I would only worry about them if they start to smell funny or look moldy; as long as they are kept refrigerated botulism isn't a concern.
  13. Bruce: Yes the fish does look somewhat amiss without it's head, but the only way I have been able to get catfish is like that frozen from the asian grocer. It is quite good actually, better than a lot of the fresh fish here and very cheap. The catfish pictured above is Thompson's recipe (nahm pla warn pla yang, pg 460), but I'm pretty sure its the same dish Kasma Loha-Unchit refers to as TooNahm Prik Bplah Too. Thompson's recipe calls for immersing the whole fish in fish sauce, but I didn't really want to do that so instead I scored the fish marinated in only a few tablespoons of fish sauce; I was happy with the results. The sauce is a simple combination of fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind water mixed with a little deep fried garlic, deep fried shallots, and deep fried chilies. It uses a lot of sugar; it is one of those dishes that requires a very intense flavor to get a good sweet/salty balance. Some of those I am not very fond of, but this one worked beautifully with the catfish, I would highly recommend it. The fish balls are a fair amount of effort, but I think they are well worth it. That particular curry was one of the best I have ever made, and the fish balls had a lot to do with it. Basically you finely mince the trout flesh and then combine it with pounded seasonings, fish sauce, and a bit of tapioca flour to give texture. With sharp knives and good knife skills, it is only really the shaping that will eat up your time. The curry pictured above is Thompson's geng gwio warn look chin pla (pg 320), but Kasma also has a similar recipe on her site.
  14. That's some fine mincing Bob. I once made larb in a hurry though, and didn't fully mince the chicken. The pieces we're still small, but some were smallish bite size chunks and I quite liked it like that. I also prefer to coarsely mince or just tear my mint, but that's a matter of preference. The way I've taken to making my larb is to save a little bit of the chicken fat trimmed from the legs. I render that briefly in a frying pan and then fry the chicken in it with a bit of salt and sugar. When almost all the pink color is gone I add a small (few tbsps) of stock and finishing cooking. The chicken often releases a lot of juices, so depending on how wet things seem I vary the amount of stock. I find this gives a bit of richness and body to the dish, it is sort of combination between frying and Thompson's shallow poaching. I tried this with duck and it was wonderful. I eat my larb room temperature or slightly warm from the just cooked chicken. I wouldn't recommend chilling it unless you don't dress it first, as the large amount of lime juice will do a number on your herbs and other seasonings if left for a prolonged period of time.
  15. My computer has been broken and I have been very busy for the past while, but I am very pleased to see people cooking thai food at home. I have been cooking a lot of thai food myself, but haven't had time to post about it. Bruce, everything you've made looks wonderful. I'll have to look into some of your other thai cookbooks as I am beginning to exhaust the doable recipes in Thompson's book. I have been doing some experimentation and recipes of my own though. The other night I made a red curry of mussels and mangosteens with some pasilla de oaxaca, smoked mexican chilies. I'll add my own advice for these questions, 1. Inside of general ranges different varieties fall into, chili heat is primarily determined by growing conditions. The logical way to think about it is that the "heat" of the chilies is an evolutionary defense against animals eating too much of the plant. Therefore the more comfortable the chili plant, the milder it will be. When the chili plant is under stress capsaicin levels go up as the plant has less chance of sucessfully propagating its genes when under stress. So you can easily have two habaneros of very different strengths. Practically I find that most chilies are fairly reliable provided you get them from the same source. Some varieties can suprise you occasionally, but the more chilies you eat the better you will be able to gauge their heat. 2. The difference between coconut cream and milk is more or less the same between regular cream and regular milk. The cream is rich and flavorful and often you want to use the two in isolation from each other. In making certain types of curries you heat the cream until it "cracks" (seperates into coconut oil and coconut solids) and then fry the curry paste in this "cracked" cream. As Bruce mentioned, this provides a very different effect from simply stirring the paste into coconut milk. Other times, when you are making a rich soup you might want both so you can simply stir the whole thing in. Some brands of coconut milk use emulsifiers or stabilizers to prevent the cream seperating from the milk. I dislike these brands as they are difficult to use for making curry pastes and the like. Mention cilantro roots as well. Cilantro roots are used in thai cooking as an earthy and herbal seasoning, usually to counter balance other flavors or provide balance. A classic thai combination is coriander roots, garlic, and white pepper pounded to a paste. Most recipes I've come across use them pounded to a paste in some form of another, such as the seasoning I mentioned above or in curry pastes, relishes, salad dressings, etc. Balancing flavors can be difficult, just practice practice practice. Definitely check out the exercise Bruce suggested, and try to add in small increments tasting as you go. I try to err a bit on the underseasoned side as I find sometimes it takes a few minutes sitting down for me to realize the seasoning isn't quite right, and it is always easier to adjust up than to try and regain the balance without things being too intense. Here are some photos I've some things I've made Recently: Roasted Chinese Duck and Egg noodle soup: Soft Bean Curd soup with bean sprouts and shiitake mushrooms: Red Curry of Chicken w/ shredded young ginger and green beans: Grilled Catfish with a sweet/hot/sour sauce and assorted vegetables: Black Fried Squid Green Curry of Seasoned trout fish balls and apple eggplants:
  16. Sadly I think your out of luck. I've been in search of fresh duck eggs too, and haven't had luck anywhere. I asked my egg guy (Le Capitaine at the JTM) about it and he says they aren't available; he's looked everywhere and if they were available he would have them. Let me know if anything turns up though.
  17. I think this depends on how you want to approach this. In many asian countries, breakfast foods aren't as distinctly seperate from other foods, and people will eat things westerners would only eat for lunch or dinner. I can think of a ton of things like spicy curries laden with vegetables, soups or noodles with lots of vegetables, or spicy relishes or dips served with raw or parcooked vegetables. So, if you want to leave the western tradition of "breakfast foods" then you have a whole world of possibilities open to you, or atleast whatevers palatable to you in the morning. If your a bit picky about what you eat in the morning, I think there are still breakfastlike foods from around the world you can pick from. Depends on where you want to go with it though, and what you stock your pantry with. Potatoes, plenty of options there, but it's really only a vegetable technically in the sense that your looking at it isn't it? I think of it as a starch, to be treated somewhat seperately from dark green or vibrantly coloured vegetables.
  18. Mango is ice cream is good, but I think mango's are much more suited to sorbet. There is so much pectin in mangoes that mango sorbet can come out thick, creamy, and smooth like ice cream without a drop of milk or cream. This is my rough recipe: -2 cups mango puree, from very ripe mangoes (after being put through a fine sieve if mangoes are fibrous) -4 T cold water -Lime juice to taste (probably 3-5 T or so) -Sugar to taste (probably a half cup ish, start with a small amount and work from there) -pinch sea salt Add water, lime juice, salt,and sugar to mangoes and whisk to mix vigorously, or mix in a blender. Provided you mix well you should have no problems getting the sugar dissolved without heat, which I think is important as it destroys some fresh flavors. Keep adjusting the sugar and lime juice until you have a balance, and it tastes slightly too sweet. Chill thoroughly, and process in an ice cream machine. The pectin seems to provide some leeway with how much sugar you can use, so you can have a nice texture without it being overly sweet, using only sucrose. I've been using the wonderful Ataulfo's that are so plentiful right now for this. The first time I made it I put the mangoes through a sieve, but there was nothing left behind, so I don't bother anymore. I think very ripe, even overipe mangoes are best. Cheryl how was it with the Alphonsos? I bought a box from a store up near Park and St. Laurent, as I had been wanting to try Indian mangoes so badly. They were pretty expensive though, and I'm guessing prematurely picked. The clove and vanilla notes of the mangoes were pretty amazing, but I didn't really feel they were better than Ataulfos, especially considering the price. I also tried a more diluted version with more water and sugar, but I didn't like it as much. I found that the pectin in the mangoes created such a creamy texture, that it was hard to get that sort of "light, refreshing" type sorbet with a lighter texture. Without that, the more diluted one just wasn't as creamy nor as bursting with mango goodness.
  19. FWIW, Boiling wont really help with botulism. The bacteria themselves arent the toxic agent, its the toxin they excrete, and that is very heat-stable. You would have to boil for rather longer than your tastebuds would approve. ← Sorry, but this isn't true. It is the spores of botulism bacteria that can tolerate boiling temperatures. If only brought to boiling temperatures, the spores can survive and then proliferate in low acid environments into toxin producing bacteria. This is why it is necessary to use a pressure cooker to process low acid foods; the higher temperatures insure the death of all spores, provided the container is processed long enough for everything to come up to temperature. Botulism toxin is easily destroyed by heat. As others have said, provided you use a pressure cooker and following processing times carefully, I don't think there is any reason to worry. They have to deal with this in industry too (although they often do use microbe inhibiting agents).
  20. Basil is a tropical plant and does not fair well in temperatures below 55F; I would follow the instructions here and store it as you would fresh flowers. Whenever I have put regular sweet basil in the fridge it has wilted quite rapidly. Thai basil seems to do fine in the fridge though.
  21. "Buying the pretty bottle" can be a pretty good strategy actually, I find. Companies that bother to spruce up their packaging enough to make it appealing to discerning consumers often produce better products. Not necessarily, but I usually find you can write off certain things by appearance with good success. As Suzy mentioned, price and the ingredient list is also your friends. The really cheap sauces are often augmented with caramel colour, lots of preseratives, etc. Look for simple ingredient lists with 1-2 preservatives preferably. You can't always trust them, but labels like "traditionally processed" or "long fermented" can be an indication of quality. The more expensive premium types are almost always worth it. Learn the brands, seek out good sources for the particular sauce/condiment your looking for. Lots of people have already done a lot of the experimentation for you, and they have noted their favorite brands all over the internet. Lots of old threads here and miscellaneous sites will recommend brands for their cuisine. Every recommendation of Kasma's I've tried has been great, and I've also found a lot of good Thai products have "Thailand, Diversity and refinement" on the label in a diamond. To add to that I can think of Amoy, Pearl River Bridge, Koon Chun, and Kimlan for Chinese; Kikkoman for Shoyu and some japanese things; Tra Chang, Pantainorasingh, Healthy Boy, Dragonfly, Mae Ploy, and Golden Boy for Thai; Kecap Bongo for kecap manis. Oh and, golden boy fish sauce and dragonfly oyster sauce are the best I've tried, hands down. Buying what everyone else seems to buy can be good, but their are problems with it. A local shopowner who owns a specialty store for ethnic products from around the world explained to me that often early generations of immigrants buy whatever is cheapest and establish brand loyalty, and retailers respond by stocking their shelves with the cheap, but bad, well known brands. I've seen old Asian ladies stocking up on 10 bottles of a brand of fish sauce at the market than I don't think much of, when other brands I like more cost the same or marginally more. Even Pim of Chez Pim fame has said before that she continues to use Tiparos because it's her family brand and it would just be weird to change brands; no offense to tiparos, but I think golden boy is far better. And as Bob said, if all else fails, buy a bunch and experiment. In my experience, picking the right brands makes a big difference, but once your at a certain minimum of quality, the differences generally reflect individual tastes. There are some really outstanding sauces and condiments, but they can be hard to find. I can certainly taste the difference in my food made with good fish or soy sauce, particularly in simple stirfrys or other uncomplicated dishes.
  22. Wow, that's pretty cool; I didn't actually expect it to work. Mine didn't come off neatly as his, but i just blew until the shell sort of burst in one part, and then I was able to easily take off the rest of the shell with no damage to the exterior of the egg. Very nice. Wonder if it works with quail eggs.
  23. I would agree that the horizontal cuts aren't really necessary for many applications, but as others have said they really aren't very hard to do safely and quickly. A sharp knife makes them easier, faster, and more precise, but even with an only decently sharp knife I have no problems with them. I use a slicing motion, sort of like how you would thinly slice charcuterie or sushi; cut diagonally using the length of the blade, drawing the blade either towards or away from you while simutaneously cutting towards the root end. Just expect to lose the last half-inch or so of your onion. I'm suprised so many people mention cutting off the root end. I used to do this all the time, but I learned it makes a big difference in helping keep the onion together while you make the cuts. I would never cut the root end off for dice. I also like to use mainly the tip for the vertical cuts. The knife starts at a high angle. 70-80 degrees the tip goes in near the root end and plunges down into the onion and I draw the knife towards me. The tip hits the board before it comes out of the onion, and I pull it through to finish the cut.
  24. Bond Girl: I just looked at my cocotte, and giving that the shipping weight of it is 21 pounds I'm guessing the lid weighs 6-8 pounds, leaving the staub uncovered at about 13-15 pounds. The LC 7.25 is 13 pounds shipped, so it looks your guess was pretty good. Bob: Just making sure! Also, I'm not really sure what your asking. There is a 6qt coq au vin for 110, a 6qt mussel pot for 110, and a what I think is a 6qt mussel pot labeled as a coq au vin for 90. The last one is on the second page and I think is just a mixup, it has a mussel pot description in one of the blurbs, and looks identical to the other mussel pots. The coq au vin cocottes are the same as the round ones, just oval so as to better accomodate whole birds and the like. I prefer the round as I am not doing a lot of whole birds and most burners are round. I can't figure out how the mussel pot works. It looks like it has a fence grating to one side, but I don't see how this one would allow you to collect the juices seperate from the steaming liquid. Seems like another unnecessary specialty pot; why not just steam the mussels in a bowl and collect the juices that way.
  25. Bob: I don't know if you noticed but the sale is only for a few specific items, as Bond Girl mentioned. The eggplant Cocotte is on sale in a few different sizes. If you have the money and are into braising, I would jump on this. I got my 8qt staub on ebay, but it was still about 185$ after shipping; it retails for 220$ish. I love the 8qt, but it is truely a monster. The weight doesn't really faze me, but it would be a severe problem for some people I think. I have made stock it in before, and draining the stock with the lid on is a workout. Great cookware though, mine can maintain a simmer with the lid on quite a while after I turn the heat off.
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