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Cooking with "Hot Sour Salty Sweet"


BadRabbit
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Yesterday Kerry and I went in search of Thai ingredients and though we hit two large Asian stores near the Pacific Mall in Markham, Thai seemed to be the one cuisine not covered!

Anna, there's a place north on Weston Rd that is good for Thai ingredients: http://www.torontolife.com/guide/food/delis-asian/vientiane-supermarket/

If it is still there. I haven't been in ages being downtown and not with wheels.

I never really got into HSSS. I should give it another go.

Cheers,

Geoff

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Thanks, patrickamory, good to know. I saw several different rhizome vegetables at a local Asian market recently, and I think they were ginger, galangal, krachai and turmeric. I'll ask next time I'm there.

Excellent mkayahara - galangal is one thing there is absolutely no substitute for! And once you've had fresh turmeric, it's impossible to go back to the powdered stuff.

And Anna - your food photography is terrific. Care to share any secrets?

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Thanks, patrickamory, good to know. I saw several different rhizome vegetables at a local Asian market recently, and I think they were ginger, galangal, krachai and turmeric. I'll ask next time I'm there.

Excellent mkayahara - galangal is one thing there is absolutely no substitute for! And once you've had fresh turmeric, it's impossible to go back to the powdered stuff.

And Anna - your food photography is terrific. Care to share any secrets?

Point and shoot = sorry but that is the truth - it could use a lot more care and attention but I hate cold food! I use a Nikon S630 with very few bells and whistles. I have no clue about photo shop. I usually keep moving around and taking different shots and then choosing the one I like the best - there are far better food photographers on eG than me! But I'll take any compliments I can get. :smile:

Edited to get rid of a superfluous "and".

Edited by Anna N (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Yesterday Kerry and I went in search of Thai ingredients and though we hit two large Asian stores near the Pacific Mall in Markham, Thai seemed to be the one cuisine not covered!

Anna, there's a place north on Weston Rd that is good for Thai ingredients: http://www.torontoli...ne-supermarket/

If it is still there. I haven't been in ages being downtown and not with wheels.

I never really got into HSSS. I should give it another go.

Cheers,

Geoff

Sadly - it's gone!

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Point and shoot = sorry but that is the truth - it could use a lot more care and attention but I hate cold food! I use a Nikon S630 with very few bells and whistles. I have no clue about photo shop. I usually keep moving around and taking different shots and then choosing the one I like the best - there are far better food photographers on eG than me! But I'll take any compliments I can get. :smile:

I'm going to guess two things: (a) you're really good at plating and presentation and (b) you've got excellent light in your kitchen or dining room.

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Point and shoot = sorry but that is the truth - it could use a lot more care and attention but I hate cold food! I use a Nikon S630 with very few bells and whistles. I have no clue about photo shop. I usually keep moving around and taking different shots and then choosing the one I like the best - there are far better food photographers on eG than me! But I'll take any compliments I can get. :smile:

I'm going to guess two things: (a) you're really good at plating and presentation and (b) you've got excellent light in your kitchen or dining room.

Only b applies! My dining area is light but my kitchen is so dark I have to have a light on at all times and my plating skills are non-existent.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just tried making the simple red curry of chicken. Pictures in the Dinner thread.

It wasn't so simple since I made the red curry paste they specified, and it's a good one. I didn't have kaffir limes so had to substitute regular lime zest. I roasted the shrimp paste, as I always do. And I used 2/3 of the dried red chiles specified, since my partner can't take the heat. Still a wonderfully balanced paste, and I have about a cup of left in the fridge.

The recipe itself is interesting in that omits sugar entirely (so does the following green curry recipe). I followed it in this respect. The result is fresher, more herbal tasting and allows the paste to shine through. The simpler (dry) red curry that I usually make from David Thompson doesn't include the dried spices - this does, and it is a wonderfully complex paste. Great consistency too - at one point I wondered whether I should add liquid, but it came out with precisely the right pasty texture.

I seasoned with fish sauce 5 minutes earlier than specified. I was conservative with it - following David Thompson - but should have added the full two tablespoons specified. Again, the lack of palm sugar threw me a bit.

Their method of cracking the coconut cream worked, which impressed me - it's hard to crack canned coconut cream. That said, I don't think I'll be using canned cream again anytime soon - the stabilizers add an unwelcome powdery note on the tongue. It is hell to make it fresh, I admit - I'm going to try using frozen coconut meat and will report back on that front.

Two successful recipes from this book - I guess I'm keeping it!

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It wasn't so simple since I made the red curry paste they specified, and it's a good one. I didn't have kaffir limes so had to substitute regular lime zest. I roasted the shrimp paste, as I always do. And I used 2/3 of the dried red chiles specified, since my partner can't take the heat. Still a wonderfully balanced paste, and I have about a cup of left in the fridge.

Sounds good; I need to go buy some additional ingredients and get back to this book. I noticed that they do talk about roasting the shrimp paste in the ingredient glossary, but don't mention it in any of the individual recipes, which I think is an oversight.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I finally did get around to making one last dish from this book, but sadly it had to go back to the library today, so I guess I won't be doing anything else from it for at least a little while.

The last dish I made was the jungle curry: I managed to source all the ingredients for the paste - including krachai - but had to use frozen galangal, because the store was out of stock of fresh when I went to buy it. Here are all the ingredients except the shrimp paste:

Jungle curry paste ingredients.jpg

I've only made curry paste once before, so I'm kind of fumbling here. I don't have a large enough mortar, so I tried using a mini food processor, since it's such a small amount. Naturally, that just sprayed the ingredients all over the inside of the processor bowl, so I ended up pounding it in my tiny little mortar in batches. This is what I ended up with:

Jungle curry paste.jpg

It's a lovely shade of grey from the dark grey, insanely pungent shrimp paste I was using. (And yes, I toasted the shrimp paste, though not, I think, long enough.) My impression is that this isn't pounded quite fine enough, since you can still see individual pieces of lime leaf and chilli, but it wasn't noticeable in the dish itself.

The curry I ended up with:

Jungle curry.jpg

It was quite tasty, leaning toward salty and umami, with little in the way of hot, sour or sweet. The lack of heat actually kind of bothered me, because the headnote makes it sound like a jungle curry is supposed to be quite spicy, and Thompson agrees. I suppose my chillis might just be old, but I would definitely add more if making it again. (The benefit to making your own curry pastes, I suppose.)

I think I've got a reliable source for coriander roots for at least the rest of the summer, so I'll no doubt try making other curry pastes at some point... I'm in Toronto in a couple of weeks, and will be shopping for a mortar and pestle then. In the meantime, I have to decide if I'm ready to move up to any of the recipes in Thompson, or whether I have to plan to check Hot Sour Salty Sweet out of the library again.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I bought this book along with Thai Food about a week ago. I think I'm going to start experimenting with this one though given the somewhat less intimidating recipes. Has anybody cooked extensively enough with it to suggest a good recipe to start with?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Now that I've finally acquired a large mortar and pestle, I returned to the library and checked out this book again, to make the red curry paste. Clearly I'm still getting the hang of pounding in a mortar and pestle, because the resulting paste was more fibrous than smooth. In particular, the pieces of skin from the chillis didn't really break down. Maybe I'm just not pounding long enough?

Red curry paste.jpg

In any case, I thought the resulting red curry chicken was pretty tasty, though it had way more coconut milk than was necessary. My husband thought it a little bland, since his usual red curry chicken recipe calls for the same amount of curry paste in half the amount of coconut milk.

Red curry chicken.jpg

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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  • 2 weeks later...

So we tried the red curry paste again last night, using my husband's standard red curry recipe from Simply Thai Cooking, which uses 3 tablespoons of curry paste for 2 cups of coconut milk, versus 5 cups of coconut milk in HSSS. Made to our usual proportions, I really, really liked the homemade paste. To me, it seemed much more vibrant than the canned paste we've used in the past. Definitely worth making again, and getting better at it!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is so much better than canned paste. From your earlier pounding photo, it looks to me that perhaps you were grinding in circles rather than pounding up and down? it has to be an up-and-down pounding motion, not grinding as in a western mortar & pestle. Either that, or you are not waiting for the previous ingredient to be completely pulverized before adding the next one.

Chile skin is one of the tougher ingredients to pulverize. Lime zest is another.

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Thanks for the input, patrickamory. I was using a combination of up-and-down and circular motions, so I suspect I just wasn't working it for long enough.

Another question: I know it says in HSSS that if you find yourself with extra coriander roots, that you should freeze them. I've had some beautiful roots sitting in my fridge for... too long now, though they still look and smell OK. What's the best way to freeze them? Whole? Minced?

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Good question, I've never frozen them but I should have. They do last for a surprisingly long time, longer than the stems and leaves (and longer if you wrap them in damp paper towels and lightly with clingfilm). Either whole or minced would work fine I think.

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I've frozen my cilantro roots whole. Then when i need them i scrape them with a knife to clean them and mash them up..

I clean mine, freeze them on a small sheet pan and finally put in zip top bag. This way you can grab a few or a lot.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, all, for the feedback on the coriander roots. I ended up freezing them whole, so we'll see how it goes.

I'm just back from a trip to Ottawa, where I went to Domus Housewares. Lo and behold, they had all their books on sale for 20% off, including two copies of Hot Sour Salty Sweet. By the time I left the store, there was only one copy on the shelf.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I've been cooking a lot from this book lately. The Smoked fish and Green Mango salad has been a standout so far, as is the Chicken and Rau Ram salad. Last night I did the Thai grilled eggplant salad, lemongrass beef, peanut sauce, and cucumber/lettuce/herb plate with daikon pickle (and sticky rice of course).

Almost every dish I make from this book I like, but I couldn't get the tapioca dough for the tapioca dumplings with pork. HSSS is a bit too succinct on how to make this dough--is there a trick to making it that's not in the book?

nunc est bibendum...

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Made the Thai fried rice tonight. Quite delicious, once all the condiments were added! I'm looking forward to trying the variations with a little curry paste or roasted chili paste mixed in, too. I imagine I'll be starting to make extra rice just to have some on hand from now on.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Almost every dish I make from this book I like, but I couldn't get the tapioca dough for the tapioca dumplings with pork. HSSS is a bit too succinct on how to make this dough--is there a trick to making it that's not in the book?

May be this post will be helpful.

http://blog.junbelen.com/2010/02/18/how-to-make-har-gow-shrimp-dumplings-at-home/

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DSCN0527.jpg

Just had to show you these cilantro roots. Every Friday after I finish working at the Men's Mission and the Salvation Army clinics I tend to drop by the Asian store and see what I need. It's a great source of inexpensive limes and lemons compared to the regular grocery store.

I always have a look at the cilantro and see if it has any roots. Well yesterday I found these beauties - biggest roots I've ever seen on cilantro - so had to grab a couple to tuck into the freezer for future cooks.

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2012-09-10 09.42.40.jpg

This is the way cilantro regularly comes to many of the Wegmans near me. I'm posting it simply to make Kerry and Matt jealous. :raz:

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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2012-09-10 09.42.40.jpg

This is the way cilantro regularly comes to many of the Wegmans near me. I'm posting it simply to make Kerry and Matt jealous. :raz:

MelissaH

Ya got me too ! I have never, ever seen cilantro like that in my normal MegaMarts. I really need to start frequenting the Asian and Mexican markets more regularly.

That is simply lovely, Melissa.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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