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Thai Cooking at Home, 2007 – 2012


Jen Keenan
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This inspires us to seek out the recipes for the dishes or at least learn about them. Jitalda is on my list when I get a decent group of Thai food lovers together. Jonathon Gold has never disappointed with his reviews.

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I remember eating at Jitlada back in the 70's - it was the first Thai restaurant in L.A.

In the kitchen was one woman, at the stove, doing it all herself. The Bangkok Market soon followed, the first to carry the then-exotic Thai ingredients.

Monterey Bay area

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ojisan, I think the old Jitlada was a different operation... located up on Hollywood Blvd right? I ate there a couple of times and it was just OK - that would have been in the '90s, maybe past their prime.

The "new" one is on Sunset, and opened in 2006 or so. The Southern Thai portion of the menu (the last two pages), which is their specialty, was originally only printed in Thai. A Chicago blogger posted a translation, and people would print it out and bring it to the restaurant. Now that section of the menu is in English too. It is extraordinary cooking.

See this Chowhound post from 2007 (" Wipe away all memories of the old Jitlada, print out Eric's translation"):

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/414265

and then the life-changing Jonathan Gold review:

http://www.laweekly.com/locations/jitlada-thai-restaurant-117084/

I'm from NYC. I'd unhesitatingly put this in the top 10 restaurants in the country, and it's an unpretentious spot in a mini-mall!

Edited by patrickamory (log)
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Southern Thai-style fish fillets, from Cracking the Coconut. Made a paste in the mortar with garlic, cilantro stems, white peppercorns, and coriander seed. Marinated the fish with lime juice, sliced limes, and half of the paste. Used the remainder to make a chile paste with lemongrass, bird chiles, and turmeric.

Fried the fillets until partly cooked, and then removed to rest. Fried the chile paste and then added palm sugar, tamarind juice, fish sauce, lime leaves, white vermouth, and the drained marinade and sliced limes. Added the fillets to the sauce, and simmered until the fish was cooked through and the sauce reduced.

Flavors were bright, strong, and well-balanced, and cooking the fish in stages worked nicely. Southern Thai cooking seems to marry elements from Thai and Indian cuisines, a delightful union I would like to explore further.

Served with jasmine rice, eternal cucumbers, iceberg lettuce wedges, and surprisingly decent tomatoes.

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Patrick and Pierogi, thanks to both of you! I hurried through the grocery store so I am embarassed to admit that I don't remember what fillets I bought - cod, maybe? :unsure:

Crying tiger (seur rong hai) from Cracking the Coconut. I had to substitute some ingredients but still, this was . . . a bit disappointing. Plenty of heat, but lacked body. I should probably have fiddled with sweet-salty balance some more, but oh, well. The rest of the meal was coconut rice, green salad, and chunks of papaya, pineapple, and starfruit left over from Easter brunch.

The crumbled pork rinds were a nice touch, though.

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Crying tiger (seur rong hai) from Cracking the Coconut. I had to substitute some ingredients but still, this was . . . a bit disappointing. Plenty of heat, but lacked body.

Adding more fish sauce and some Vietnamese dark caramel sauce greatly improved the leftovers at breakfast . . .

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It is about the balance in this dish. How spicy did you go? It benefits from the full 20 bird chiles in my experience. What substitutions did you make? (No stranger to them, as you'll have seen in my recent post on the dinner thread...)

Edited by patrickamory (log)
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It is about the balance in this dish. How spicy did you go? It benefits from the full 20 bird chiles in my experience.

I used four bird chiles, so the spice level was between "crying tiger" and "slightly weepy tiger" per the author's description. Still triggered complaints from the family, but their main criticism (and a valid one) was a lack of complexity in the flavors. My primary error was not taking the time to adjust seasonings before serving. As I mentioned, a touch of sugar and a slosh of fish sauce gave the leftovers a much fuller and more rounded flavor.

What substitutions did you make? (No stranger to them, as you'll have seen in my recent post on the dinner thread...)

White peppercorns instead of green, and cilantro stems instead of stems and roots

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Hi Bruce,

Bit of a delayed reply here... I don't think those substitutions would make a huge difference, though as I'm sure you're aware that cilantro roots really do have a deeper & earthier flavor than the stems. I rarely can get enough roots myself so am constantly filling them out or substituting stems.

Aside from your flavor rebalancing it's interesting that it tasted better the next day, because I found the same thing. Possibly on the model of Texan chilis, French stews & certain Indian curries that improve after a night in the fridge? I wonder why that is the case.

(edit - my partner cannot handle full Thai spice either - I'm constantly trying to walk the tightrope. But it makes sense that with only 4 bird chiles the dish would lose complexity... I do think there's a certain minimum spice level for many Thai dishes. I've seen your earlier posts on this topic and sympathize.)

Edited by patrickamory (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thai crispy pork belly with garlic, chilli, and basil.

I boiled pork belly for 20 mins or so, patted dry and rubbed white vinegar into the skin. Refrigerated for an hour to dry out and then cubed and deep fried into 'croutons'. In a clean wok, I gently fried ALOT of garlic, some chopped ginger and red chillis, and then melted quite a bit of palm sugar and fish sauce into that to make a thick syrup. Stirred the pork cubes back in to coat, added Thai basil, and served over egg noodles, as I (GASP!) had no rice in the house..! I felt shaken to my very core by that discovery.

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Oh my god that looks so incredible rro.

Thanks, Patrick! It was pretty incredible (if I do say so myself).

Tonight I fried a little red curry paste, stirred in coconut milk, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Then mixed in prawns and chicken and simmered till just cooked. Cooled slightly and then mixed with sliced snowpeas I'd blanched for 60 seconds, mint, coriander, red onion and crispy shallots. With some rice and lime juice squeezed over to serve, this was a lovely meal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chiang Mai grilled fish salad (miang pla tu): Skin-on walleye grilled over charcoal and then flaked. Tossed the fish with cilantro, mint, slivered ginger, minced chiles, peanuts, and a delicious dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, and roasted chile paste. Served on lettuce leaves with coconut jasmine rice.

We will definitely make this again.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been making way more pastes since I got my Ultra Pride wet grinder. I've been home with no voice for the past couple of days so have been using up what I have in the fridge.

Last night I made a dry red curry of chicken with green beans. This is in David Thompson as "dry red curry of lobster," but I've found it to be an incredibly versatile paste. He deep-fries the lobster meat and reserves 5 tbs of the oil to fry the curry paste. This works equally well with chicken. Don't quite cook the chicken all the way through in the deep-frying process - save that for simmering at the very end in the seasoned curry paste and stock. He doesn't add a vegetable, but I find that the dish likes it.

I accompanied that with a Su-mei Yu salad - incredibly easy. Sliced granny smith apple soaked in cold water with lemon juice and rinds, served with deep-fried dried shrimp. She uses smoked salmon instead of the shrimp, but I went by King Chulalongkhorn's original recipe, created on tour in Europe in the 1890s when he was homesick for Thai food. Both are bathed in a simple dressing of palm sugar, white sugar, fish sauce, salt, lime juice and minced green chiles.

I have some green curry paste left over in the fridge, so tonight I'm going to try a beef green curry - assuming that my coconut turns out not to be rotten - with another Su-mei yu salad, this one of apricot, shrimp and pork. Wish me luck.

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  • 1 year later...

Let’s see if we can revive this thread – I love seeing everyone’s Thai meals.

. . . This is in David Thompson as "dry red curry of lobster," but I've found it to be an incredibly versatile paste.

Patrick – Apologies for the long-delayed response but I agree, the “dry red curry of lobster” is very versatile, and one of my favorites.

Made a curry paste tonight for the first time in quite a while – recipes mostly from Thailand the Beautiful Cookbook.

Chiang Mai curry: Beef sirloin simmered in coconut milk. Spice paste made in the Preethi - lemongrass, dried chiles, shrimp paste, fermented soybean paste, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, shallots, curry powder, and tamarind. Mrs. C, the peanut sauce fiend, added peanut butter to hers (also very good).

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Thai chef salad: Hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, sliced shallots and red chiles, green-leaf lettuce, and a dressing of cilantro, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice.

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Thanks for reviving this thread, Bruce!

Bought some beef intending to make rendang, but seeing the 2011 post from Patrick on lobster, I may do that instead as I have several lobster tails in the freezer. Bought them on sale even tho' I'm not a big lobster fan, but this may entice me. :smile:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Yes thanks for reviving Bruce. It reminded me to bookmark rro's post above with the amazing looking pork, along with yours with the Chiang Mai curry. It's interesting about your wife and peanut butter, the latter is one of the only two foods I will not eat, and in fact sometimes dishes incorporating peanuts evoke peanut butter too much for me to abide them. I think it has to do with how much the peanuts break down in the sauce (putting them in a paste would be absolutely out of the question for me) and of course how much peanut oil ends up being incorporated.

Not a health thing, a taste thing, and not entirely rational - goes back to childhood. It's funny because obviously Southeast Asian food is one of my obsessions, so a certain amount of steering is necessary for me to deal with this phobia.

Edited by patrickamory (log)
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Patrick, elder son shares your views on peanut butter, fwiw.

Election night meal from Thai Food.

Red curry of scallops (chuu chii hoi shen): We also added shrimp, cut up to the size of bay scallops. Paste of dried red chiles, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, cilantro stems, white peppercorns, and roasted shrimp paste. Coconut cream and chicken stock, simmered to concentrate and then finished with cilantro and slivered lime leaves and red chile. Gentle and delicious.

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Stir-fried asparagus: Smashed garlic, soy sauce, pinch of sugar, and white pepper. Simple and very good.

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Coconut rice: With chicken stock, light on the coconut milk.

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Eternal cucumbers

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Dinner from Thai Food

Southern Mussaman curry of beef (geng mussaman neua): This is one of the most delicious curries I have ever made or eaten. Tender beef and eggplant, rich coconut cream and peanuts, sour tamarind, a touch of sweetness, just the right amount of chile heat, and beguiling aromas of ginger, cinnamon, and roasted coconut, cardamom, bay leaves, and cloves. Everything that a curry should be.

Steamed eggs: Very nice with the rich, spicy sauce.

Jasmine rice, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes

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Bruce - so did son #1 find it too peanut buttery?

No complaints as he scarfed down seconds. :laugh:

Looks amazing, I must say.

Thanks! My last curry paste looked a little washed out, so this time I added a guajillo chile for color (with flavor as a bonus).

Glad to hear that you have power again.

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BBQ chicken (gai yang): Cooked at 400F on the Big Green Egg, indirect for 30 minutes and then over the flames to crisp up the skin. I must say – we make this frequently, and the chicken has never been this juicy. Served with sweet chile sauce, coconut rice, salad, and Mrs. C’s grilled pineapple.

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