Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Jen Keenan

Thai Cooking at Home, 2007 – 2012

Recommended Posts

Gabriel: I do like your idea of reducing the cooking time for chicken. I am pretty comfortable with how long to cook meat in stir-fries, but I definitely have room for improvement when cooking meat in liquid. I usually use chicken thighs, which have a wider window than chicken breasts.

Thanks for the tip about caramelizing palm sugar for fried curries. I have not tried that yet, but I usually have a jar of Vietnamese caramel sauce, which should have a similar effect.

Coconut sticky rice and mangos sounds delicious. We have found good mangoes in the store recently, but the boys eat them pretty quickly. What kind of crab did you use in your curry?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pan: yes, thanks for the heads up. It was in the foreign curries section so I really should have picked up on that. Looking back on it I realize Austin's curry was a Malay curry too, which is not really suprising since the recipes are nearly identical.

You are very right that it's hard labor, bloody hard labor at that. I have great respect for those expert old women, who I am sure would make a mockery of me. Truth be told, the first few pastes were pretty brutal. I honestly wondered if I was ever going to get those damned bits of dried chiles and lemongrass to resemble anything close to a paste. It gets easier every time though (mostly), and the results are unquestionable. Additionally, it is just the sort of thing that appeals to me. If it is feasible for me to do it from scratch, and I think it will produce a better result, I'll make it from scratch. I get great pleasure from "having made everything with my own two hands", and I feel much more connected to the whole process. To me, the transformation of the beginning ingredients to a smooth and pungent paste is quite dramatic, and in doing it I feel like I'm really learning something.

On a related note, I bought a new mortar and pestle the other day:

gallery_44574_3991_251431.jpg

This is a big improvement. I especially like the depth, as this helps with ingredients flying out, and the bigger size leaves much less room for the unpulverized bits to hide. That said though, even with this bigger one I still found it easier to take out some of the ingredients as I went along. I think I am now convinced that the best way to go about making the paste is incrementally. For the tough ingredients add a small amount (say 1-2 tbsp) of chopped ingredient, smash to a paste, remove said paste to a bowl, and proceed with the next batch until all of an ingredient is used up. Leave a small amount of the last ingredient in the mortar before proceeding to the next, and incorporate each ingredient into the original paste as you go along. This isn't really necessary for soft ingredients like garlic or shallots, but when you have a couple tablespoons of lemongrass or dried chiles this seems to be the way to go.

Gabriel, that is one scary looking crab.

He was very tasty too. And quite sedate I might add; the crack in the board is the result of attempting to use gravity to unbend it at one point. I would appreciate any tips on how to fix it. I'm glad you like the pictures, I actually have a lot more I could post if you'd like.

Given that we seem to think similarily in a lot of ways, I would highly recommend Thompson's book. It is a tome, and his recipes are "cheflike" (he is a chef), but to me these are not bad things (I like a lot of detail, can you tell?). Based on people's comments, one impression I have is that people aren't paying attention to his sections on technique and ingredients. He goes into great detail on all the basic techniques and ingredients of thai cooking, which I find very helpful. Not all of his recipes are accessible in terms of ingredients or technical difficulty, but there are so many recipes and there are lots of simpler ones too, and the more complex ones make for great projects. To date, I don't think I have been disappointed with a single recipe (at this point I've probably made atleast 30 or so of his recipes).

Bruce: Yes I am a huge fan of chicken thighs too. Breasts are good for certain applications, but little to say for themselves in my opinion.

As for caramelizing, thank Thompson not me. Vietnamese caramel sauce might work well for some of the darker, spice laden curries, but I don't think I'd use it for every curry (It is my understanding that caramel sauce is a very darkly caramelized). I usually just let the sugar melt and wait for it to bubble up/darken (see thompson's section on frying the paste for more detail).

I have been using the delicious Ataulfo mangoes for my sticky rice (and just eating), which are all over the markets right now. I didn't actually remember to ask what sort of crab it was, but looking at some old threads I am pretty sure it was snow crab. They are from the gaspe region of Quebec.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight’s dinner was unusual for me. Not the meal itself, but how the meal came about. Mrs. C accidentally thawed a bag of bay scallops and I had leftover red curry paste in the fridge. A little googling turned up this recipe (clickety), which looked perfect.

This was my best red curry so far. I added mace and white pepper to the red curry paste from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. Vigorously frying the curry paste for about five minutes in cracked coconut cream mellowed the raw flavors into a seamless whole. Previous red curries had been a bit light, but caramelizing the palm sugar (per Gabriel Lewis’ suggestion) deepened the color and flavor. After adjusting the seasoning with fish sauce and Chinkiang vinegar, I added the scallops and cooked them until barely done.

A pot full of red curry with bay scallops.

gallery_42956_2536_12766.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bruce: Great looking curry. It's probably good that you used your own paste; the recipe you linked to looks pretty light on seasoning to me.

I haven't had much time to cook lately, but a few days ago I made Chicken Satay with Kasma's Nam Jim Tua (peanut sauce):

gallery_44574_3991_993522.jpg

Not strictly Thai, but they are quite popular in Thailand, and on this side of the pond in Thai restaurants. I had been wanting to try Kasma's sauce for a while, and one of Austin's recent posts on Satay provided the impetus. It was very good, rich and creamy with a good amount of peanut flavor and nice and spicy. I used chile de arbol for the dried red chiles.

As is it is still crab season here in Quebec, I picked up another snow crab and made kao pat buu (crab fried rice):

gallery_44574_3991_439124.jpg

This was quite good also, and I look forward to using the rest of my crab.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alot of people order pad thai or curry when eating Thai food, but the first thing I order is pad see ew, which is basically beef chow fun thai style. The first time I had it, my girlfriend ordered it and I ordered pad thai. I tasted it and it's been my regular dish since. I could never figure out how to make it good, it always ends up either really soggy with sauce or burnt. I can never get that sweet eggy savory flavor the that restaurants get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight we made our first meal from Crying Tiger by Supatra Johnson: crying tiger (sua rong hai); crying tiger sauce (nam jin gaew); salad of lettuce, basil, mint, and cucumbers; and sticky rice. Porterhouse steaks emerged juicy and flavorful from the grill after marinating in soy sauce, garlic, black pepper, and salt. The crying tiger sauce was spicy, salty, sour, aromatic, and delicious – made from soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, roasted chile powder, roasted rice powder, scallions, and cilantro. We had an unexpected dinner guest, so no pictures (and no leftovers).

Ms. Johnson hails from Issan (northeast Thailand), and many of the recipes are from that region. The author takes an easygoing approach to ingredients, providing recipes to make curry pastes from scratch while approving the use of pre-made pastes. I look forward to trying other recipes from this book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More from Crying Tiger: stir-fried prik king curry with seafood and yard-long beans (prik king pad talay). This was a nice way to use up odd lots of shrimp and a lonely flounder fillet in the freezer. The curry paste had dried chiles, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and shrimp paste. This was quite good for a first-time attempt, but next time I will fry the curry a little longer to mellow the shrimp paste.

gallery_42956_2536_40623.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend of mine was able to find very excellent Thai restaurant. Their food and ambience were amazing:

Thai01.jpg

Thai02.jpg

Thai03.jpg

Thai04.jpg

Thai05.jpg

Thai06.jpg

The whole experience inspired me to make a red curry at home:

Red_Thai_Curry_01.jpg

Red_Thai_Curry_02.jpg

Red_Thai_Curry_03.jpg

(chicken, coconut milk, red curry paste, fishsauce, three sorts of eggplant, bell pepper, horopa, shoots, scallions)


Edited by ChryZ (log)

Christian Z. aka ChryZ

[ 1337 3475 - LEET EATS ] Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight we made chicken with lemongrass (gai tod ta-krai) from Crying Tiger. The marinade contained garlic, black pepper, ground bird chiles, palm sugar, salt, fish sauce, and bruised 1-inch sections of lemongrass. The marinade cooked down to a deliciously fragrant, salty-spicy glaze. Next time I will try slicing the lemongrass thinly across the grain to reduce stringiness.

gallery_42956_2536_3327.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight’s dinner was marinated beef salad (pla neua sot) from David Thompson’s Thai Food. We grilled a Delmonico steak (should have been rare, wound up closer to medium), sliced the steak thinly after resting, and then marinated it briefly in lime juice with a little salt, sugar, and crushed Thai chiles. The salad included shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, mint, and red chile slivers. We added basil, Thai basil, and some leftover lettuce. Jasmine rice and tomatoes on the side.

The more authentic version of the recipe is essentially “steak ceviche” – beef fillet marinated in the lime juice mixture and served raw. The dressing was very sour, so next time I’ll balance the lime with a bit more sugar and fish sauce - more like nuoc cham.

Marinated beef salad (pla neua sot)

gallery_42956_2536_44101.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That beef salad looks great as do all your dishes Bruce. I sometimes wonder especially with SouthEast Asian and Indian cuisines if things seem off balance because we are using one dish as a "main dish" whereas a typical extended family meal would have small portions of a variety of different tastes. I am doing this dish tomorrow just for myself. Did your wife enjoy it? It seems Weight Watcher friendly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
. . . I sometimes wonder especially with SouthEast Asian and Indian cuisines if things seem off balance because we are using one dish as a "main dish" whereas a typical extended family meal would have small portions of a variety of different tastes.

Heidih: Thank you very much. You are probably right about the balance of flavors with a main dish vs. a number of smaller dishes. Unfortunately, multiple dishes are usually impractical for weeknight cooking, so sometimes we adapt recipes accordingly.

I am doing this dish tomorrow just for myself. Did your wife enjoy it? It seems Weight Watcher friendly.

I will be very interested to hear about your version of the dish. Mrs. C found it a bit sour, but otherwise loved the combination of steak with aromatic herbs. The grownups split about ¾ of a pound of beef (before grilling and trimming), so this was a reasonably WW-friendly way to enjoy steak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tonight we made grilled fish salad, based on the recipe for pla pla lom kwan in Thai Food. We started by grilling shallots, apple eggplant, chiles, garlic, and galangal until charred and soft.

gallery_42956_2536_5934.jpg

The recipe called for smoked catfish, but I found fresh walleye fillets at the store and grilled them in banana leaves.

gallery_42956_2536_12743.jpg

Everything was tossed with green mango slivers, basil, mint, yard-long beans, roasted rice powder, and a dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, and a little simple syrup. The recipe did not call for sugar, but we like to soften the lime juice a bit. This was delicious, but I would love to try it with fish that had been smoked over grated coconut, jasmine rice, and palm sugar. :wub:

gallery_42956_2536_13993.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So my Kaffir lime tree is starting to grow limes.  What can/should I do with them?  The leaves have really slowed down in production.

The juice and zest of kaffir limes is delicious! Use it the same way you'd use the juice and zest of other limes, and enjoy the wonderful perfume!


Michael aka "Pan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So my Kaffir lime tree is starting to grow limes. What can/should I do with them?
Octaveman: You lucky dog – lots of Thai recipes call for kaffir lime zest or juice, and we can’t get kaffir limes around here. Send them to me? :rolleyes:

Tonight’s dinner was from Thai Food. I have considered the portions in this book rather small, so I wanted to test Mr. Thompson’s assertion that a curry, soup, salad, relish, and rice would feed four. Not to kill the suspense, but the combination fed four quite nicely (especially since two of the four had been eating blueberries all afternoon :biggrin: ). I was really happy with how dinner turned out, and the boys liked everything except the grilled banana chile salad (which might have been my favorite if I could choose a favorite).

Stir-fried beef with spices (neua pat nahm prik pao kaek) – This is street food rather than a curry, but I wanted something simple. Thinly-sliced chuck steaks were marinated with fish sauce and toasted, ground coriander and cumin seeds. We stir-fried the beef quickly, lowered the heat, and mixed in roasted chile jam and deep-fried shallots. Delicious, nutty, just the right amount of spice.

gallery_42956_2536_23722.jpg

Grilled banana chile salad with poached chicken and shrimp (yam prik yeak pao) – Grilled banana chiles and shallots mixed with sliced shallots, mint, scallions, and a dressing of palm sugar, lime juice, roasted chile powder, and fish sauce. We poached and then shredded chicken in half-strength chicken stock, poached the shrimp in the stock, and then used the stock for the braised trout (below). Next time I will probably commit fusion and use Poblano chiles. :wub:

gallery_42956_2536_3253.jpg

Trout braised with caramel, celery, and fish sauce (dtom kemp la keun chai) – We fried the spice paste (cilantro stems, salt, garlic, white pepper), added palm sugar, heated until the sugar caramelized lightly, and then cooled the pan with fish sauce. We then poured in the chicken/shrimp stock (from the dish above), slipped in the trout, and added boiling water to cover. We simmered the mixture very slowly until the trout was done, and then finished the dish with cilantro, white pepper, and sliced shallots. The chicken and shrimp-enriched stock really made this dish.

gallery_42956_2536_62073.jpg

Cucumber relish (ajat dtaeng gwa) – eternal cukes, shallots, and thinly-slivered ginger and chiles in a sweet and sour syrup. That’ll be tomorrow morning’s breakfast. The ginger was a bit overpowering - I'll use less next time.

gallery_42956_2536_48481.jpg

Edited to 'splain better.


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are all so inspiring!

I am a Thai food newbie. I started with the safest (I thought) - so-called "wet" curries. I'm now a curry junkie!

I've done pork, chicken, shrimp, scallops. Red, green - commercial, but not yet homemade. Veggies of every color and flavor, add-ins that seem appropriate. All have been - more or less - a success! :biggrin:

I have all but a few needed ingredients for larb, but I've found a good Asian market to visit tomorrow.

But I have a few questions:

1. Is there any way to tell the heat of a chile? I know all about varieties, but I can buy two of the same chiles and one is bland and the other blows your socks off! How can you tell - at the point of sale, and/or at the point of cooking?

2. Why do some recipes separate coconut cream from coconut milk, then recombine them? Others "let" you shake the can and skip that step. Why does it matter?

3. Is there a way to make sticky rice without specialized equipment, in a poorly outfitted rental kitchen? If I make larb and serve it with Thai jasmine rice (instead of sticky rice) is the outcome so different?

TIA. Jamie


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, Jamie!

But I have a few questions:

1.  Is there any way to tell the heat of a chile?  I know all about varieties, but I can buy two of the same chiles and one is bland and the other blows your socks off!  How can you tell - at the point of sale, and/or at the point of cooking?

Besides knowing the varieties, when you start chopping the chiles you can eat a tiny chunk from the stem end of the chile. The heat is in the seeds and ribs (placenta), so the tip may not be representative. You may want to have some yogurt or cheese on hand if you try this with bird chiles. :wink:

2. Why do some recipes separate coconut cream from coconut milk, then recombine them?  Others "let" you shake the can and skip that step.  Why does it matter?
For many Thai curries, you separate the cream and "crack" it (cook it until the oil separates) and then fry the curry paste in the oil. Frying the curry paste will mellow the flavors, giving a very different end result compared with boiling the curry paste.
3.  Is there a way to make sticky rice without specialized equipment, in a poorly outfitted rental kitchen?  If I make larb and serve it with Thai jasmine rice (instead of sticky rice) is the outcome so different?

You can make sticky rice in a regular steamer. The kind that fits inside a large pot works best. Some folks line the steamer with cheesecloth, but I have not found that necessary. Kasma Loha-Unchit (click) gives instructions on her excellent site.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry if anything i say has been posted already i don't have the time to read 17 pages worth right now...

In Australia (dunno if it's available anywhere else) I use Volcam (spelling??) brand of paste for my green curry and i love it. I have found that the secret to making it best is to add the juice of a whole lime and then balance out the acidity with dark brown sugar (or palm sugar). I have had the Mae Ploy in red but I'm not really that keen on red. I will try it soon with their green. I recently made a green paste from scratch and it was good, really fresh tasting. But From the effort it took to get all the different ingredients and make it up, it didn't quite stack up to the Volcam. One other thing i've found is that here I can only get one brand of coconut cream in the supermarket (Ayam brand) that is 100% pure coconut cream. All the rest are varying between 30% to 70% cream, then watered down and thickened. It has this info in the ingredients on the can. Using the 100% stuff makes a big difference as well.


"Alternatively, marry a good man or woman, have plenty of children, and train them to do it while you drink a glass of wine and grow a moustache." -Moby Pomerance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cucumber relish (ajat dtaeng gwa) – eternal cukes, shallots, and thinly-slivered ginger and chiles in a sweet and sour syrup. That’ll be tomorrow morning’s breakfast. The ginger was a bit overpowering - I'll use less next time.

gallery_42956_2536_48481.jpg

Edited to 'splain better.

Bruce, I think that cucumber relish is one of my very favorite things, but I do prefer it sans ginger. It also makes a great topping for scrambled eggs, on top of a burger, or with smoked pork on a tortilla!

And, Jamie, if I have leftover jasmine rice, and larb, I'll often eat them together, although sticky rice is more traditional (and probably my favorite). But, sticky rice requires some advance planning!

Now, check out these cilantro roots:

gallery_6263_35_35948.jpg


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bruce and Natho - Many thanks for the quick response(s)!

Bruce: I'll try the split coco cream technique soon, altho I'll miss the "shake the can" technique! :biggrin: <--- lazy at heart!

Also: I guess the web sites I've searched are true - you can't know the heat of a chile until you've tasted, and commited. It's just so bizarre that one chile you buy can be boringly "plain" and the next one, bought from the same vendor, at the same time can kick your butt! (Just survived this phenonomen with my last two curries - the first serrano was so mellow I had to add additional heat elements, the second just about knocked me over).

Natho: I'll look for Volcam on my trip to a large Asian market today, altho from the US, people are recommending Mae Ploy, from what I can see. I totally am pleased to know that someone else enjoys green more than red... Thought I was the only one! I know many will "scream" - but I'm so intimidated by the curry paste from scratch process that I adore ready-made curry pastes! Maybe one day I'll give it a try.

Anyone else want to chime in, please do!


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please forgive my ignorant questions amongst you experts but...

Susan: A photo of the equipment you use for sticky rice and a brief synopsis of your method would be greatly appreciated!

Also, what do you use cilantro roots for? How much of the root do you use - i.e. how much up the stem do you use? How does it taste different from the leaves/stems?

TIA, J.

ETA: stupid typos.


Edited by Jamie Lee (log)

Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jamie, keep asking questions! Do you have any Thai cookbooks?

For sticky rice, click on the link Bruce provided above. I use a steamer just like the one she uses (the two tiered one), and follow those directions. I have a friend whose pasta pot has two inserts -- one a deep one and one shallower -- and she uses the smaller insert.

I use the cilantro roots when I make curry paste (although I do always have tubs of Mae Ploy or cans of Maesri on hand!). They have a stronger, more concentrated flavour. While I can't get cilantro with roots at my local supermarket, it's often available at the Asian market, and all of the Hmong vendors sell the cilantro with the roots on.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bruce, I think that cucumber relish is one of my very favorite things, but I do prefer it sans ginger.  It also makes a great topping for scrambled eggs, on top of a burger, or with smoked pork on a tortilla!

Susan, I prefer cucumber relish with ginger, but only when the ginger is young and mellow-tasting. If the ginger is older, the flavor gets harsh and I agree that the cucumber relish is better sans ginger. Cucumber relish on scrambled eggs and tortillas – yep! I haven’t tried cucumber relish on a burger though (yet).

Now, check out these cilantro roots:

gallery_6263_35_35948.jpg

I envy your cilantro roots, especially such nice-looking ones. We have to grow our own cilantro if we want roots. The sad thing is that the grocery store used to sell cilantro with roots, but that was before I knew that the roots were useful. :angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...