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Posts posted by jokhm

  1. I recently announced my drawn out travel plans in the Adventures in eating forum here: thread

    It's possible that it merited being posted here, but I thought that this would be too specific, and instead I would prefer to post topics/questions related to a certain area prior to or during my stay. Since the tentative plan begins with Singapore for a week, and then Malaysia for a month, I'd like to get some feedback starting there.

    I've been taking notes on some of the Malaysia/Singapore threads.. from people like ecr and Shewie, but I'm quite sure that I'm still missing a lot and getting too distracted by some of the dishes described.

    So, taking into account the fact that I will be in these places for one week and then one month, staying on a super cheap budget, are there any other things that I should write down/be aware of/make sure to see etc...?

    Looking forward to hearing about all this from everyone..!!


    Trip site..

  2. hahah.. sad.

    Didn't see that happening at Pius


    I seemed to get the impression that this behaviour was far too easily possible with my 10 month stay at Pius. There were cracks forming in every direction. But.... the teachers (my teachers)... we're fantastic. I at least left with that. I hope they weren't affected by the cracks, but regardless, they made learning about food more exciting than you could ever imagine.


  3. mmm

    surviving on pad thai. heh. Sounds....excellent.

    Maybe you'll be able to answer this, since now there a few that are familiar with this place. One time I was at Ban Lao Thai, I ordered a papaya salad, which is fairly standard fare. I was asked whether I wanted it Thai or Lao style, the Lao style being often too strange for the 'white guys'. She said the reason was because there was shrimp paste inside. Of course I went with the Lao style salad as the shrimp paste is such a normal occurence in these cuisines. What came to me turned out to have the same shrimp...stuff.. as found on every table in the little yellow Kapi containers. I know from the cooking that I've done that shrimp paste is usually a dull pink/gray paste... and requires cooking. The stuff in these yellow containers is deep red and dry, in the form of a powder. And the smell makes fish sauce seem like rose petals. It was barely edible with this shrimp dust. Am I missing something here?



  4. Hmm the Chiang Mai touristy stuff I'd prefer to avoid. Maybe that's also because I got the impression that it was overly expensive and designed to be similar to the local restaurants in north america. Maybe this is incorrect. I don't know, but I'd love to hear more.

    I'm looking to spend up to a month learning the food in Thailand..

    But then again I hope to take home the same level of knowledge from a month in Vietname/Laos/Malaysia etc..

    So much food.. and quite a bit of time on my hands...!!


  5. Episure... That sounds amazing.

    I'd love to do something like that. My experience comes only from a one year culinary program. I have done a stage at a fine french restaurant, but have not started work anywhere since I'm still tied to the electronics industry. I know, quite odd. Would you consider this feasible? I honestly cannot imagine just picking up and working in one of these places where my food skills are really untested and I'm doing it in a foreign language to begin with!

    How long did you do this for? I'd love to hear more.


  6. That's funny, I was this '->' close to heading to Ban Lao Thai last night as well!

    We would have unknowingly met.

    I seem to find myself there quite often these days. Upon telling the chef that I'd be in Laos in May, she immediately planned on having me meet her brother. She told me that she'd call him that night! hehe very cute.

    As for the food, I've had quite a few things so far that really made me want to get out to Laos/Thailand that second..

    The Pad Thai is excellent there. Very simple. But don't expect it to me much of a seafood dish - at all. The Lao Beef Laap Salad is absolutely fantastic, as is the extremely thick green curry and the deliciously fried Tilapia. All good choices. I'd love to learn more about the Lao sausages, since those too were really tasty; and different.

    I definitely find that overall the Thai food in this city has definitely walled itself into some sort of cookie-cutter mold. Each one's menu is nearly identical, with a page for each protein (beef, shrimp, chicken, duck and seafood), along with the same dishes printed on each with a word or two changed...including pricing. So I end up finding myself searching hopelessly for 'the best' restaurant by inevitably basing my results on the better of three dishes that can be found at each place. So does one choose by finding the best Pad Thai? Of course not, from what I've seen, the cheapest places also make the best noodles. So is it best duck? Curries? I don't know. Makes for interesting eGullet discussion though.


  7. ecr's questions regarding quantities in my first post:

    I usually use those quantities along with about enough liquid for 5 cups of tea. (Very roughly). As for the teabag itself... I seem to have and endless supply of very strong lipton teabags in my cupboard, and therefore one bag is enough for 5+ cups of tea. The only variable is how long you choose to keep the teabag immersed. I usually have it in until I can discern two separate smells, the spices and the teabag.

  8. Ah... what a topic!

    Don't know why I never asked this question here..

    OK... the way I've been making tea the past little while is as follows:

    1) Three cinnamon sticks (5 inches each)

    2) teaspoon of fennel seeds -pounded

    3) 4 green cardamom pods -pounded

    4) 6 cloves - pounded

    5) 2 black peppercorns - pounded

    Naturally the method of pounding definitely affects the overall intensity of the spices. If I want it to be generally spicier, I crush the peppercorns a bit more. Otherwise I often change things by crushing the cardamom more or less. I use a large granite mortal and pestle to do this.

    Once the water is boiled, I add the spices, wait for the colour to change significantly, and then add a black teabag for about 10 seconds just until the tea is dark enough and before the smell of the black tea becomes too prominent.

    When I make this with milk, I usually use about 50/50 water to milk. I'd like to use whole milk, but I usually stick with 2%.

    I still seem to have problems getting the milk to take on the same amount of flavour as the only-water-based tea. I'm sure someone can shed light on doing this....

    As for sugar, I usually don't add while cooking the tea. If anything I add the equivalent of a half-teaspoon per cup.


  9. ah wow

    this looks great!

    Yeah, I did see Monsoon Wedding, cute movie. I don't know what they will be able to do with an elephant here. It is about 40F degrees at the moment. Although they do have those ...arctic species,.. never know.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way worried or apprehensive about this. I can't wait. And I've also very interested to see my own impression of the day.

    I'd like to know more about the way the day is structured, since at the moment it looks overwhelmingly spread out and heavy.

    Reception of Barat:9:30am

    Wedding ceremony: 11am

    Lunch: 1pm

    Doli: 2pm

    Reception: 7pm



    I'm used to Jewish weddings, with all the different family affairs surrounding the ceremony... but this puts it to shame! :)


  10. This Saturday I'll be going to one of my friend's wedding which will be taking place at a Hindu temple in Montreal. I'm quite excited at the idea of such an event. Having never been to anything like this before, are there any customs or general issues that I should be aware of prior to going? Any other things that I can expect to see? Tell all...!!

    -- I'm not just excited about the food.. don't be silly. -- .........--


  11. ahh


    quite an informative post!

    Its actually funny how I first came into contact with 'shrimp paste'. I took a year-long culinary arts program in Montreal, which naturally focused on French and Italian cuisines. Towards the end of the year we began branching out into a few further eastern cuisines like Thai and Indian. I was busy preparing a Paneng curry when I got to the part where I had to throw in the shrimp paste. I also knew that we had intended on not using the prepared ones that come in jars. Coming from a Kosher home, what I didn't know is that it isn't simply ground up shrimp. Upon doing that to a couple and throwing them into the curry paste, my teacher flipped out. He said that we were supposed to use the dried baby shrimp and now the paste was not room-temp safe. So.. This is how I came to the original conclusion. Now, based on what I've seen and tasted in this one particular restaurant, I can't explain what I thought it 'should' be. Interesting stuff though.

    One other thing of note in this one thai-lao restaurant, all the curries that I've had are very different from that which I've had at other places or prepared at home. They are all much much thicker, and the red curry is nearly dark brown. The yellow one seemed to be overly tumeric based, I didn't think it was supposed to be so strong. The chef is a 35 year old Laotian lady and she barely speaks english, so asking her too many questions really throws her off. What didn't throw her off was when I mentioned the fact that I was going to be in Laos in March... She immediately yelled out that she'll call her brother tonight to tell him! Quite a funny experience.

    Another item that I've tried at her suggestion was the Laotian sausages. I don't have much to compare them too. They were a bit sweet and chunky, served hot. Really incredible.

    Anyway.. I'll keep pushing for more info next time I'm there.


  12. Right right... This was my understanding of the shrimp paste as well.. I was under the impression that it was a 'paste', not a powder. The little yellow containers on each table are labeled Kapi, and it is most definitely dry... and intense in smell. I have made shrimp paste previously from dried shrimp and it was never such a strong smell. The salad was refered to as Laotian style, and the difference being only the inclusion of the Kapi. I will go later this week and clarify though.


  13. Cole,

    Your comments on the disappointing Chow Mein at Monnan caused me to go out and test it out again. I normally never order it and instead get fried noodles with seafood/beef and black bean sauce. Maybe I've usually done that because I found their Chow Mein sauce underwhelming. Well...Yesterday it was. Now I'm quite positive why I get the black bean sauce instead! I do remember being happy with it a long time ago.. But I suppose that was a really long time ago. I'd go to VIP for that dish since they do make great Cantonese noodles, but I've just seen too many of the scariest things floating here and there in my own and other peoples' dishes. Heh.. No thank you.

    I'd love to have this discussion for all ethnically sheltered cuisines in the city... there are so many. It's great.


  14. I just tried out Tong Por this week..... Fantastic stuff! I came a little late for dim sum, so I'm even more confident in their food now. Next time I'll go early and I'm sure things will be great! Any other places that everyone would recommend? I need a consistently great Cantonese place that doesn't disappoint. Tough call I know, but still... there should be one that doesn't have rotating problems.

    Why Beijing for night and new dynasty for lunch? I'd like to know what pushes you to such a meal breakdown, unless its as simple as lunch-special pricing.

  15. Hi,

    As a result of a few religious dietary limitations, I don't have the luxury of cooking with dry fermented shrimp pastes..

    That being said, I'm definitely a fan of eating a lot of standard recipes in restaurants that use the stuff in dishes. However, the other day I ordered a papaya salad and was given the option of having it Thai or Lao style. According to the chef the Thai one does not have Gapi thrown in. So I ordered the other one to try it, while she insisted that I stick with Thai. When I got the salad, the smell was completely overwhelming. Is this is the same paste used in all the other common dishes? I noticed at each table they have a small container of Gapi... It is a dry and dark red powder. The smell is unbelieveable. Am I missing something? What does it take to get use to this, and what are the benefits in flavour.



  16. Well, for red curries, I've definitely seen them showing up in all colours... pale orange to dark brown at one Laotian place I frequent.

    I'd love to see some of the major differences show up with a few recipes. It seems that the net is highly populated with green curry recipes but for anything else the usual method instructs to simply 'add curry paste'....... !? greeaat.

    The Thai Q&A thread is great, lot of interesting stuff in there, It would be great to have a round 2.

  17. Cole Tucker:

    Well the most I've noticed in the past year is just mild inconsistency between visits at radically different times. I'm usually there quite late, and from visit to visit late at night, things are usually quite good.

    so where do you now go for great cantonese?

    As for Ruby Red.... I looove that place. It is probably my favorite for straight dim sum nowadays. Although I have taken a liking to the Ville St. Laurent Kam Fung, it is far far superior to the one on St. Urbaine. I'm tied between the two.. really great stuff at the other Kam fung. Never tried the other place you mentioned, I'll have to look into that... too bad my brief stint in Cantonese probably won't get me through it. :)

  18. Definitely some interesting questions raised.

    The lime I added because it complicates the flavorings just slightly, to the point where one finds it a bit difficult to say whether the dish is inherently salty/sweet/sour. Either way, one lime is very little for the size of the entire dish; 3 cans of coconut milk definitely dilutes much of the lime's sourness. And the dish is still definitely spicy! As for the cumin and coriander, I've seen this used a lot. It was a huge concern when I decided to comply with the recipes and put them in, but it seems to work. I wouldn't put more than a teaspoon of each, but I question why I've seen it used so many times. I would have usually imagined a clear difference in this cuisine for not using such spices, but it turns out that they don't overpower the dishes too much.

    The green onions I 'think' were part of some recipes that I looked at. But.. It is possible that I began using them simply because they are less strong a taste than shallots, and I was also looking for more 'green' at one point. So maybe I've now adopted this as normal. I don't know. Speaking of colour what do you do about the getting the right colour? not this it is of prime importance, but what I usually get out of all this is something in between coconutmilk-white and a pale green, but I've seen it in some Thai/Lao resto's here in almost an olive green. What should this end up really looking like? And concerning the onion content, is it much better to use shallots? I'm assuming something like french shallots right? Regarding the krachai, I have yet to ever use this, since I haven't had the opportunity to do a fish curry which is where the stuff is most often used.. right (why is that?)?

    Where did I get this info for the recipe?.... I don't recall too many of the places, here's one site:

    Thai sauces

    So what recipes/proportions would you use for this curry? and others would be very much appreciated too!



  19. As a result of my planned travels through south-east Asia beginning in January, the food side of my brain has been salivating on overtime with any bit of food from this region. Obviously, the Thai stuff is a huge part of it all. I have been recently determined to produce my own Thai curries from scratch at home, in the hopes of mirroring or improving upon what I've eating around my home town - Montreal. We aren't the best for Thai restaurants, but we have a LOT of great restaurants in general, and the whole city is extremely food centric. Therefore, ingredient hunting is not a limiting factor. Choosing them from my limited Thai food experience IS. Now.. Before I take, let me give from what I've learned thus far.

    I've made this tons of times already, and it now comes out incredibly well!:

    -Thai green curry-

    2 stalks of lemongrass (I take a LOT of it though, so if you are the kind of person that skimps, take a third)

    1.5 sq'inch of chopped Galangal root

    tsp. toasted (indian) coriander seeds

    tsp. toasted cumin seeds

    lime rind of one lime

    4 chopped green onions

    4 chopped cloves of garlic

    10 peppercorns

    tsp. of salt

    20-30 green thai bird-eye peppers - deseeded and chopped


    So.. I basically take all of this and crush it to a fine paste in my 7" mortar and pestle and then store away. It's one of those heavy granite Thai M & P's.. absolutely fantastic. I use it for everything.. fresh Indian spice teas, crushing large amounts of peppercorns.. masalas, thai curries, anything. Best $20 I ever spent in the kitchen.

    Now if you are planning on using this and don't know what the next step is, I'll explain that before getting into any more questions from my end.

    In a large wok or pot, fry the green curry paste in a tablespoon of oil.

    after a minute, add the thick side of the coconut milk cans.... 3 of them. Try to not pour in the thin water/milk as it doesn't seem to absorb all the flavor of the paste the same way as does the cream.

    Let it simmer for 3 minutes, then add about 2lbs of meat--let's say chicken; cut into bitesize strips.

    Once this is half cooked, throw in about 5-8 quartered Thai eggplants, as well as a bunch of longbeans cut into 3 inch pieces. While you are at it, throw in some of the secondary seasonings... I usually add about 15+ Thai basil leaves and two scored kafir lime leaves. If you put in the lime leaves too early, it becomes the main flavor component. After all this is done, add about 1 tablespoon of crushed palm sugar, the juice of one lime, and enough fish sauce to balance it out. I think I put anywhere between 3-6 tablespoons, then a bit more sugar until it is just...not sweet, nor salty. By this time, I add a thinly sliced green pepper, stir it around a few more times and it is ready. Serve with jasmine or sticky rice.

    Now.. I believe I have a good and accurate (with what?) taste from this recipe. What I'd like to do now is get a good red curry recipe done properly. I see such mixed up nonsense while searching through google. Also, before everyone suggests it, the only reason I simply don't go out and pick up a mae ploy paste is due to my strange desire to get it all done from scratch, but more importantly, I often have to make these things with/for people who are kosher, and can't eat the shrimp paste. I have noticed a few things with most of the recipes that appeared good from an online comparison standpoint, 1. They all seem to use dried red chilis, can't I use the fresh ones? They smell sooo nice. But is there a reason? 2. -Beyond the fact that the chilis are red, the great majority of most recipes are nearly identical to that of the green thai curry such as the one I posted above. Is that all there is to differentiate in flavor and automatically in color? I do know that one of the things I'd like to do with the red curry is roll up the lime leaves and superfinely chop them into strips to throw into the curry mid-way through. This would make them edible, and I've seen/eaten it like this somewhere and it was fantastic. It contrasted really well with the flavors of the red curry. So.. I believe this is all, I know this has been discussed a bit before in many threads, but I believe this is pointed enough to carry on with it's own thread. Thanks!


  20. Without a doubt in my mind, the best and most consistent (usually :)) is Mon nan. Also referred to as Mon Nan Village on Clark. It is directly in front of VIP, the infamous sewer kitchen. There is a reason that Mon Nan is jam packed until 3-4am every night with Cantonese speakers.. Try their salt and pepper 3 kinds of sea-food (shrimp, squid, cuttlefish), and their honey-spicy beef. Their beef with chow fun noodles in spicy black bean sauce is also quite amazing. Enjoy

  21. If you are planning to be in the West-Island, try out Soho on St. Jeans. I've always been impressed with the freshness of their ingredients. Certain rolls are on the small side, but overall it is amazingly consistent. Places like Kaizen usually disappoint me. It shouldn't, but I've now had my share of unfresh fish filling the gigantic Kaizen rolls. Usually bigger is better. I also love Mikado. Can't ever go wrong there.

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