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Thai Curry Pastes

Red Curry - Garlic, shallots. lemon grass, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorn, red chiles, root of coriander, ground galangal, lime peel and trassi.

Trassi is a paste made out of rotten shrimp. It is used for its meaty flavor and pungency.

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Suvir--of course Alberto, Lesley, you, other chefs and pastry chefs and I "understand curry powder to be two very different animals." There's no shame that chefs beg, borrow, steal and even bastardize from histories, cultures, exotic ingredients, concepts--that's how artists create and act on inspiration or whim. This is neither arrogance nor misunderstanding nor culinary hegemony. Some chefs may "see" or "hear" flavors and ingredient combinations in dishes or desserts as musical notes on a page a la a Philippe Conticini, others search for a language to describe their own way a la Kunz and his complex tastes pushing and pulling. Regardless, I am not comfortable talking about how a chef or pastry chef "should" describe, what he should think or what associations a creative type should bring to the table when it comes to food, ingredients, words, whatever.

This is where you're going and I wonder if you want to go there. Your Sri Lankan friend is already there, I'm afraid, when she speaks of tolerance, hegemony, murdering customs and traditions as if the creative process were one big personal crusade directly in response to her and all she holds dear. It's not. The creative process exists on many different levels, often in parallel, with no one correct perception or view.

As I said, and this is just my own personal sense, I don't care whether a chef uses "curry" in his description, like when Adria calls his dessert "coco-choco-curry" and whether said chef is even aware that for some "curry" or "curry powder" is a loaded word/ancient savory concept/richly varied technique/font of mystery. I care about what I put into my mouth and whether it works. It doesn't matter whether it is described as curry, curry powder, masala--whether it does or does not contain an onion or a curry leaf--and I'm afraid you are being unrealistic if you expect modern chefs and pastry chefs not to use the term "curry," as if it were sacred and proprietary, since it has entered mainstream cooking many decades ago--and you are possibly tilting at windmills if you expect these chefs to invent or search for a different word to describe what they create. To them, it is curry. Their curry. It's not your curry or any of the curries you've tasted on your world travels.

Now I also happen to be very interested in your writings and thoughts about curry. Is that a contradiction? No, for curry is like the color blue. There is no one blue, no best blue, no single blue emotion, no blue sky that is the same to two people at the same time. One can apply historical uses of the color blue to modern applications and ascribe meaning or significance, as one does with art all the time, but that is personal and subjective.

What I'm interested in with a dish or dessert in front of me--as a diner and as a chef--is the personal and subjective-- to discover what "curry" means to them, factored through their personality, as I taste it in their dish at that moment in time. It can be tradtional and centuries old or it can be avant garde and I wonder why both can't be appreciated for what they are without having to pay perceived politically correct homage to the other's language and culture first? You are bringing your associations to the table--which you are of course free to do--but so much of food is freeing one's self from these impositions, these associations, from previously held perceptions and rigid beliefs in how things should be or are meant to be.

I think one can see the merest hint of the same attitude in something Lesley wrote earlier about how she expects to perceive certain spices and tea with chocolate. As a result of her palate, training and experience, there are rules and/or personal preferences--for her-- about how to taste chocolate in a dessert or confection--must you taste the chocolate first and then search for the hint of spice or flavoring as an end-note or is it ok to taste spice up front, more directly and use chocolate more like vanilla--as a harmonious background? Well, the traditional, old-school French chocolatiers Inviolate Rule #1 is it always has to be taste the length of chocolate first, primarily chocolate. It's worked for a few hundred years but times and artisans are changing--even within France, land of the rigidly culinarily conservative--and for some subtle is not as prized anymore. Some French are pushing the flavor envelope and rebelling ever so--which is why a Conticini line of chocolates at Peltier can be viewed by a top American pastry chef like Michael Laiskonis as standing a bit above the crowd. For him. Conticini is willing to be ever so more daring in ways a Hevin or Maison du Chocolat could never be. For Lesley or me or you, we might feel differently. But none of us would know for sure until we tasted them and none of us would necessarily be wrong in our assessment afterward.

How we individually perceive things will always be personal, gloriously personal. We can't really taste or perceive things differently than we do--despite all of our different palates and experiences we have this in common--but I wonder if you really want to go so far as to deem appropriate or to codify how the creative work of others should be termed? Taken to an extreme, that could turn into a Curry Inquisition.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Interesting discussion going on here.

I believe Jean-Paul Hévin is making a chocolate filled with cheese (chèvre or fromage blanc, can't remember) and I know the French love tasting something that odd. They're adventurous customers. In North America, however, I'd avoid the curry because as Suvir said, it has savoury connotations. It might taste wild to a bunch of pastry chefs standing around the marble, but will the majority of customer buy into the concept? Doubt it.

I'd still be interested in using many of those spices, alone or in twos or threes, but I'd avoid the word curry. Choco-coco--spice sounds more appealing than choco-coco-curry no? I bet it would sell more on your upscale pastry menu. I know people who find coconut too exotic.

And of course chefs like Adria are expected to come up with such unusual combinations. It's who they are, how they made their name. What's the man supposed to make next, a new rocher praliné? If he did, it might have bacalao mi-cuit in the middle :raz:

:blink:

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You are bringing your associations to the table--which you are of course free to do--but so much of food is freeing one's self from these impositions, these associations, from previously held perceptions and rigid beliefs in how things should be or are meant to be........

...........Both are right in how they perceive things for themselves.  You are right up to a point in how you perceive things--but I wonder if you really want to go so far as to deem appropriate or to codify how the creative work of others should be termed?  Taken to an extreme, that could turn into a Curry Inquisition.

And Steve you seem no less rigid in your own beliefs. Since you do not read carefully and see how I am not even trying to share what I think.. I am sharing what close to 3 billion people associate curry with.. and wondering if chefs can show their brilliance and be a tad more sensitive to what words could mean to others.. and show their creative genius in just one other level. They can show us how in creating new wonderful desserts which are cutting edge and fantastic and all that, they have freed themselves from traditions of the past and created new classics. But why are they still married to words of the past then? Can they not find freedom in entirety? Or is that really too much to ask?

I am not one to ask for stagnancy. I love the idea of chefs and people borrowing from each other and cultures. In fact we need more of that. I could not agree with you more. As I said before, I have followed your career, if only on paper, and have always found reason to recognize your greatness as a chef and as a clever man. It stems mostly from how you have found ways to elevate pastry into a new level. So, again, I am trying to share with you my respect for creativity, but also a cry to see if it is too much to ask for a creative person to not stop short in being creative when it comes to naming their dessert.

It is my hope that someday chefs can free themselves just a tad more and find new ways of expressing themselves. You seem to be a strong advocate for that. Since you say that in the quote above. When most of us can do that, I am sure we would not have to worry about old baggage, for we would have found appropriate names for our new dishes. Names that showcase that freedom you say is necessary to remove oneself from previously held perceptions. But do we want to really be free? I think even the most creative amongst us is a slave to certain traditions.. And it is that which makes some of this seem hokey to many. But like you, I await eagerly to be in the midst of many others that are able to cook with freedom and eat with freedom. It takes both sides to be free for real appreciation in its true sense. But I see too many of us care little about details, it is easier to always look at the side that makes sense and can gratify us most immediately.

Coco-choco-curry may sound great to you, but comes across as cute and silly to me (you may want through your posts and their narrow and rigid opinion about my understanding of curry, but I do have a baggage about curry, and yes there are those of us, several billion that carry similar baggage, some would care, some would not, but I take it from your response that it should not matter, jeez... thanks!). It would be far more appealing to me if it could have had some other name associated with that dessert...It takes a little more effort and some originality, but it can happen. And that is what I am saying. I am not asking for any chef to be bound by age old customs and traditions.. I am only saying lets go even further. And yes all of this is very subjective. There are great pastry and savory chefs I have met who not only agree with me but are even more acutely sensitive to such issues and then there are those I greatly respect that think otherwise, but also understand the importance of not denying me my associations and the weight they add to my thinking.

But it seems from your posts that it is too much to ask. And in even raising that question, I am showing my rigidity. So, I shall be humbled by your greatness and my rigidity and lie silent on this contentious subject. Or else the American and Pastry inquisition would take over my sensibilities.

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Chefs play fast and loose with culinary vocabulary all the time, and they don't mean any harm by it. These days you'll see lots of things called carpaccio, confit, curry, etc., that couldn't possibly fit the traditional definitions. Of course, those who have a strong understanding of the base vocabulary should always try to make their pitch for integrity. But they shouldn't take it personally if it falls on deaf ears!

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Yeah we have guys like Ferran Adria to blame for stuff like this. :biggrin: I had a "Lobster Cappuccino" at the 5th Floor restaurant in San Francisco about six months ago (Laurent Gras), it was certainly foamy, but to call it a Cappuccino? I dunno.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I believe Jean-Paul Hévin is making a chocolate filled with cheese (chèvre or fromage blanc, can't remember) and I know the French love tasting something that odd.

Truffles filled with a ganache made partly with fromage blanc as shown here are actually quite nice.

Bouland

a.k.a. Peter Hertzmann

à la carte

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Hevin's cheese chocolates can be seen here

http://www.jphevin.com/anglais/produits/li...ts.php?id_cat=4

They're called aperitif chocolates and are made with époisse, livarot, goat cheese or roquefort. :blink: I'll have to taste these next time I'm in Paris.

I'll report back if he has a curry chocolate... or one made with lobster.

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I don't know if this will at all clear up the Vosges debate, but I thought I would let you all know that they were just featured on the Food Network, they showed a lot of footage in their kitchen. From what I could tell, all the ganaches are handmade and formed into balls, and then placed in molds. From there, they are run under a liquid chocolate "waterfall"down a very slow moving conveyer belt, and every garnish is hand-placed on top. She stressed the fact that they are all hand-made with imperfections. No casings from I could understand, just firmed up ganache coated in chocolate. They particularly focused on the curry one...but the people they interviewed LOVED it. Thought I'd share!

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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It's fascinating to come in late on this thread. Steve and Suvir argue passionately about their respective concepts of "curry", and yet I'm certain that I would eat the products of both their kitchens with great pleasure. I come increasingly to the opinion that, from a culinary standpoint, what a chef says is not so reliable a guide to the excellence of his cuisine as the passion and integrity with which he says it. The finest dishes are not necessarily those which are argued for most logically or convincingly. Jonathan Swift, you may recall, made a very good case for solving the population explosion in Ireland by cooking babies.

On my hi-fat/lo-carb diet, chocolate in any form is normally a no-no, but Ackermans of London make a plain chocolate which is 99% cocoa; i.e. no sugar. It allows me to play around with chocolate, eggs and cream in various combinations, providing I'm willing to eat the result unsweetened. As a result, I've developed a positive liking for the bitter aftertaste of unsweeted chocolate. I'm convinced that it's an acquired taste like the tannic finish of a robust red country wine.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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The next airing of the "Food Finds" episode with the Vosge's segment will be Sunday, Nov. 3 @ 11:00 AM. At least on the day this was filmed. at the time the camera was on, at least one batch of truffles appeared to be rolled by hand and coated in an enrober.

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I also saw Food Finds last night and didn't see chocolate shells anywhere. I was a bit sleepy and only paid attention because I remembered this debate. They showed Katrina heating the cream with spices and making the ganache by hand in small batches. The ganache were formed into balls then placed in empty trays with little rounded cups. I suppose to help them firm up into a rounder shape or to just keep them safe while waiting in line to be coated? Then, they showed the ganache balls running under the coating machine. A final step for one flavour of truffles was decorating them with small pieces of hand-shredded fresh rose petals. It sure looked like an artisanal chocolate operation to this untrained eye.

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Yes, if I recall correctly, they didn't especially focus on that particular stage of the truffle-making process, but they did appear to be hand made from start to finish. What I do remember is them interviewing her while infusing the cream with different spices over the stove, then mixing it in with the chocolate, then hehe..I'm not quite sure I remember exactly. They could have possibly shown her rolling them out, possibly not. I do remember a table of hardened ganache spheres sitting in those rubber molds however. The truffles seemed very large in comparison to the molds, only the bottom half of the truffle appeared to be surrounded by the mold. It didn't seem to me as though they were poured into them, though, more like placed in them after being rolled out...?? I am NO expert here so I"m just going with what I remember seeing. The truffles shown were more or less PERFECT spheres, however, so I really have no idea how they got them like that without using molds....I wish I was paying more attention but I was pretty focused on what she was saying during the interview. That's about all I can remember..maybe someone else who saw it can possibly clarify it better.

-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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Thai Curry Pastes

Red Curry - Garlic, shallots. lemon grass, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorn, red chiles, root of coriander, ground galangal, lime peel and trassi.

Trassi is a paste made out of rotten shrimp. It is used for its meaty flavor and pungency.

Excuse me, that's fermented shrimp to you buster. :smile: That's the black shrimp paste you're referring to, right? I think I know it as hae ko, it's Hokkien name (I think). It gets used in other SE Asian cuisines as well. For Thai cooking there's gkapi too, which is lighter and softer. I see something similar to it coming out of Hong Kong, but I haven't found any good stuff from Thailand. Something similar goes by belecan (blachan, belachan etc) in Malaysian and Singaporean cooking, it's dryer and grayer than gkapi. Since we cook more Nonya food than Thai food, we use it as a substitute for gkapi. Almost all applications require that you grill it, or fry the paste it's ground into. The high heat changes the flavors quite a bit and gets rid of the ammonia smell. There are many, many fermented shrimp products that some occidentals have trouble getting their mouths around, chin chalok (tiny pink fermented shrimp in a saucy style) for example, a favorite of mine.

regards,

trillium

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Thai Curry Pastes

Red Curry - Garlic, shallots. lemon grass, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorn, red chiles, root of coriander, ground galangal, lime peel and trassi.

Trassi is a paste made out of rotten shrimp. It is used for its meaty flavor and pungency.

Excuse me, that's fermented shrimp to you buster. :smile: That's the black shrimp paste you're referring to, right? I think I know it as hae ko, it's Hokkien name (I think). It gets used in other SE Asian cuisines as well. For Thai cooking there's gkapi too, which is lighter and softer. I see something similar to it coming out of Hong Kong, but I haven't found any good stuff from Thailand. Something similar goes by belecan (blachan, belachan etc) in Malaysian and Singaporean cooking, it's dryer and grayer than gkapi. Since we cook more Nonya food than Thai food, we use it as a substitute for gkapi. Almost all applications require that you grill it, or fry the paste it's ground into. The high heat changes the flavors quite a bit and gets rid of the ammonia smell. There are many, many fermented shrimp products that some occidentals have trouble getting their mouths around, chin chalok (tiny pink fermented shrimp in a saucy style) for example, a favorite of mine.

regards,

trillium

Thanks... Your post was amazing. I heard the many names through Singaporeans, Malaysian and Thai friends, chefs and vendors.. and yes through its many subtle and not so subtle variations, it is used quite similarly.. and for similar result I think...

But have you had a Molten Hae Ko High Chocolate Curry Cake? Made with the very finest Valrhona, brown sugar and sweet butter, it is just amazing. What wonders one can do with curry and its many ingredients....A savory meal first using Hae Ko.. and then a dessert using it again. :wink:

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Excuse me, that's fermented shrimp to you buster. :smile:   That's the black shrimp paste you're referring to, right?  I think I know it as hae ko, it's Hokkien name (I think).  It gets used in other SE Asian cuisines as well.  For Thai cooking there's gkapi too, which is lighter and softer.  I see something similar to it coming out of Hong Kong, but I haven't found any good stuff from Thailand.  Something similar goes by belecan (blachan, belachan etc) in Malaysian and Singaporean cooking, it's dryer and grayer than gkapi.  Since we cook more Nonya food than Thai food, we use it as a substitute for gkapi.  Almost all applications require that you grill it, or fry the paste it's ground into.  The high heat changes the flavors quite a bit and gets rid of the ammonia smell.  There are many, many fermented shrimp products that some occidentals have trouble getting their mouths around, chin chalok (tiny pink fermented shrimp in a saucy style) for example, a favorite of mine.

regards,

trillium

Thanks... Your post was amazing. I heard the many names through Singaporeans, Malaysian and Thai friends, chefs and vendors.. and yes through its many subtle and not so subtle variations, it is used quite similarly.. and for similar result I think...

But have you had a Molten Hae Ko High Chocolate Curry Cake? Made with the very finest Valrhona, brown sugar and sweet butter, it is just amazing. What wonders one can do with curry and its many ingredients....A savory meal first using Hae Ko.. and then a dessert using it again. :wink:

Well, I wouldn't want to use hae ko in place of belecan, that would be like using kecap manis in place of light soya, but yeah lots of fermented shrimp stuff going on in SE Asia that makes fish sauce look pretty tame.

As for "curry" in sweets, blech. I fall in the "experiment as much as you want but don't call it "curry", "chili" or pasta bolognese" camp, but I'm a pedantic old fogey when it comes to words we use to describe a certain dish. As for arguments over what "curry" really means, there are some really great meta-threads in the rec.food.cooking archives. Check out this or even better, this and you might not feel so much like the lone voice in the wilderness. For more fun in the same vein, you could look up stuff on chili too.

regards,

trillium

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