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Jen Keenan

Thai Cooking at Home, 2007 – 2012

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Elie (FoodMan): Wow, that looks like a delicious meal.

Dan: Thank you so much for the picture of sawtooth herb. Our Asian market carries it (unmarked, of course), so with your ID I can now start using it.

Tonight we made chicken in southern-style red curry, from True Thai. The coconut milk-based curry included sliced chicken thighs, kaffir lime leaves, halved Serrano chiles, palm sugar, fish sauce, and generous amounts of Thai basil. With lots of turmeric, this tasted like a cross between an Indian curry and a Thai red curry. Absolutely delicious.

The curry paste was relatively simple (probably an oxymoron :wink: ), containing dried red chiles (guajillos and a small hot Indian variety), lemon grass, galangal, garlic, shallots, and lots of turmeric. The recipe includes an interesting technique: ingredients were briefly pounded in the mortar to break down the fibers, and then finished in the food processor. This worked nicely.

I also discovered why the red curry paste that I made a while ago lacked heat. I have two bags of guajillo chiles, one labeled (in very small letters) “mild” and the other labeled “medium”. Apparently, I used the mild guajillo chiles last time. With the medium guajillo chiles, tonight’s curry had just the right amount of kick. I should get a kitchen scale to facilitate converting from Mexican guajillo chiles to the smaller Thai phrik haeng.

Chicken in southern-style red curry (Kaeng phed kai meng dai)

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A bit "left" of Thai cooking.. but important all the same..

I'm a totally newbie to Thai cooking... have learned TONS from Bruce (C. Sadipus) and snowangel... and multiple others.

I've done the Balancing Flavors by Kasma exercise (highly recommended!)...

...And I've come to this conclusion... Anyone who want to cook better needs to cook Thai!

Case in point... I was making Corned Beef Hash yesterday (forgive me, it was canned, but I plead chemo rebound and lack of energy for the real stuff), I was frying it in alot of butter... and I remembered... somewhere dark and quiet in my brain... an article that espoused a "spicy ketchup" which I "could not forget".

I searched my "archives" and I couldn't find the actual recipe... I vaguely remembered ketchup, chipotle, abobe, and something else...?

So I started with K-sup, added chipotle and some adobe sauce... tasted.. umm, needed salt. Added fish sauce and soy sauce.... umm... needed sweet.. grated some palm sugar (DAMN do I love this stuff!)... and tasted again... umm.. got some sour from the K-sup, but..needed more.. squeezed a quarter lime - tasted -

then the rest of the half lime .... and VOILA - a balanced, spicy, (not discernably Asian) k-sup!!!!

I so totally acknowledge my feeble attempts at Thai cooking to my feeble abilities to balance flavor.

To newbie cooks: Learn a few Thai basics first!" :biggrin:


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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To newbie cooks:  Learn a few Thai basics first!"  :biggrin:

Hear, hear! :laugh: (and thanks :smile: )

Tonight we cooked from Thailand the Beautiful: “barbecued” chicken (gai yang); Northeast cucumber salad (tam taeng); and coconut rice. The mouth-watering chicken marinade contained garlic, ginger, white pepper, cilantro, Shaoxing wine, fish sauce, soy sauce, and coconut milk. We baked the chicken at 350F and crisped up the skin on a hot grill. Not really barbecue, but quite delicious.

The cucumber salad had the usual ingredients (garlic, Thai chiles, fish sauce, sugar) with an interesting twist – it was soured with tamarind rather than lime juice.

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I'm living (and cooking) in Thailand, and whenever my wife or the staff in the kitchen are out of, or too lazy to head down to the market to get some green papaya, they just substitute cucumber.

I think it tastes pretty good too, but for some reason it seems even spicier than som tam with papaya?

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Okay, I've sworn off buying things I don't know from my recently discovered asian supermarket.... Why? Here's why...

I'm not sure why they caught my attention, but I bought...

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Frozen Sator Beans, later identified as "Stink Beans". Sources on the web identified them as an "acquired taste" that may smell like rotten eggs.

I defrosted them, opened the package and gagged. Rotten eggs my butt! They smell like VOMIT - and as a cancer patient undergoing aggressive chemo, I KNOW what vomit smells like. Strike One.

Next, I was intrigued by this frozen "Asian Meatloaf"...

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Defrosted it, and WHOA. Smells and looks like cat food - no wait - cat food AFTER it's been eaten and "processed nature's way". GAG. Strike Two.

Next trip I spied...

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Since I can only buy fresh lemongrass at the asian market (some 20 miles away), I thought this might be a good sub if I was out of fresh and needed a bit for curries, hot/sour soup, maybe even larb if it reconstituted well.

After purchase (see my continuing flaw?) all the sources online said it was NOT a sub for fresh - don't even THINK about it! :hmmm: I still have it, but have not tried it, and have resorted to those more-in-the-know and have frozen leftover lemongrass in 1-inch lengths for those unfortunate times I can't get to the asian market for fresh. I'll take any suggestions, though, on it's use.

Lastly, I needed soy sauce, and the only one I could find at my Trader Joe's was "low sodium" or some totally american version at Safeway. Granted, I need to monitor my sodium intake like everyone else "of a certain age", but low-sodium soy just bugs me... aren't I using soy FOR the sodium?? I'd rather use "full sodium", but just use less.

At any rate, I ventured to my asian super-market to get some "good stuff". I did. Scored a large bottle of "Healthy Boy Thin Soy Sauce". I adore it.

But, while shopping, what's this?

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I figure Black Soy Sauce is just a richer version than "thin" soy... but NOOOO. It's actually very sweet!

So my question(s) are:

Any suggestions for dried lemongrass?

What do I do with Black Soy Sauce?

<--- will keep trying to learn Thai cooking, but will try to only buy stuff I've read about!


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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Post script to my previous post...

I come off sounding very picky - I'm actually fairly adventurous in my dining/cooking choices! Eyeballs and really intense offal not included!

I may be less so during chemo, but I'm usually very open to new tastes, textures, and yes, even smells.

Trust me, sator beans and that "meat loaf" were definitely acquired tastes for even an adventurous American palate!

Hope I didn't offend anybody by "dissing" their favorite foods.


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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We've recently relocated from the Pacific Northwest, home of Asian foods everywhere you look, to a small town in France. We were dying for Thai food yesterday and set out hopefully. There is actually a Thai restaurant in town, but the menu was so discouraging I couldn't even go in. No noodle dish except an "appetizer" pad thai for 13 Euros, which is about $17 dollars, seemingly no salads, and no Thai names for any dish.

Until I can get up to Paris in search of Asian ingredients I'll be hanging out on this thread drooling.

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Abra:

I'd be honored to send you a Thai cooking care package....

Lets see...

Canned coco milk

Good (Mae Ploy in my mind) curry - red, green or both

Jarred Shrimp Paste

Chili Garlic sauce (Sambal)

Assorted cello and/or rice noodles

Jasmine rice

Sticky rice (not yet my thing, but...)

Good soya sauce

Fish sauce, oyster sauce

Lemon grass (Hey, you could have my dried LG! :laugh: )

Zeffir lime leaves

Thai chiles

(Not sure about produce shipping issues)

Canned water chestnuts

Canned bamboo shoots

Canned oyster mushrooms

NOTE: All or some of these might be readily available to you... You're not on a deserted island, right? :raz:

Back during my expat days in Deutschland, my mom twice sent flour tortillas Fed Ex to me and it was enough to host two big Mex food parties for my German friends...

PM me if you are interested...

And other eG-ers, add to the list... What Thai ingredients would you send to a Thai-food challenged friend in France? (Whether or not Abra takes me up on my offer!)

Jamie


Jamie Lee

Beauty fades, Dumb lasts forever. - Judge Judy

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LOL Jamie, I've been wondering where I could post my finds at the Asian Market! This looks like the right spot???

I spend HOURS walking up and down the isles looking at all the different items that are SO different than my little Midwestern grocer.

Here's some of my latest finds:

This was in the sweet section. It's chunks of aloe vera in a thick sauce??? It says you should chill it and eat it over ice cream! The words are in Spanish, though, so not quite sure of the origin of this treat.

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This was in the noodle section. I'm guessing it would be good in a light broth???

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Puffballs in brine!

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I haven't tried any of this yet, but I sure had fun!

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Jamie, maybe you could use the lemongrass like potpourri?


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Jamie: Black soy sauce is a Thai soy sauce that is fermented with a considerable amount of sugar in it; it is similar to Indonesian Kecap Manis. It isn't really a substitute for regular soy, and some people don't care for it, but a number of my favorite simple thai dishes are made with it. You can read about it here, at the bottom there are some links to recipes that use it.

As for your dried lemongrass, no it isn't a substitute for fresh, but that doesn't mean you can't find a good use for it. Try toasting in a cast iron pan over medium heat until fragant and brittle, and then after it has cooled grind it to a powder and use it in spice mixtures, as a dry rub, in marinades, or as a finisher for thai salads. You can make lovely satay with a rub that includes dried lemongrass. Failing that, I would just grind it to a powder and try experimenting with it. Smell it and taste it to see how it compares to lemongrass, and then go from there to try using it. As long as you account for how it differs from fresh, you shouldn't run into anything too unpleasant.

Abra: Here's to hoping you can get to paris soon. I often wonder what it would be like to relocate to somewhere where all the esoteric ingredients I love aren't available; I don't know that I could handle it. If you haven't been there before, or even if you have, Austin's blog RealThai is an excellent place to drool as well.

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Tonight we made a grilled beef salad (nahm dtok, modified from Thai Food). The recipe called for a dressing of equal parts lime juice and fish sauce, with a pinch each of sugar and roasted chile powder. This makes a salty, mouth-puckeringly sour dressing. We increased the sugar and chiles and added garlic, moving the dressing closer to a Vietnamese nuoc cham. We also added tomatoes from our garden. Sometimes, personal preference wins out over authenticity. :rolleyes:

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Jamie, that's awesomely kind of you to offer! We are in fact going to a suburb of Paris next week for a medical appointment. It's reputed to be the Chinese area of Paris, so we're hoping there will be some good groceries there. But I might just take you up on your offer if not.

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Jamie, that's awesomely kind of you to offer!  We are in fact going to a suburb of Paris next week for a medical appointment.  It's reputed to be the Chinese area of Paris, so we're hoping there will be some good groceries there.  But I might just take you up on your offer if not.

Is that in the 13th, Abra? Tang Freres might be a good place to start, I think.

If you're going to be eating Thai food in France, and if you enjoy spicy Thai food as I do, then memorize the following phrase: "plus de piments, si vous plait." :laugh: The French, I found, do not love the same intensity of hot/spicy that we enjoy in the US.

When you have visitors, always get them to bring a little care pkg. Alka-seltzer and chipotle chile peppers were useful, as I recall. If someone sends you something, might want to read some amusing stories at David Lebovitz' site:

No Man Is As Island. Except Me. And don't skip the Comments... Apparently, the package should be marked "Unsolicited Gift" to avoid excessive tariffs.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Duck curry here last night (no photos) -- using a red curry paste. Duck curry is extremely rich, and I was sure glad I'd made two veg dishes on the side (spinach with charred garlic from Tropp's "Modern Art of Chinese Cooking" and a simple bok choy stir fry).

But, my big scores yesterday were at the farmer's market -- beautiful spinach, bok choy and cilantro. And, given that my local farmer's market is in a neighborhood almost exclusively populated by farangs, my favorite vendor rewarded me with two sandwich baggies filled with cilantro roots!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Mmm...Thai cuisine...another one of my favourites (though truth be told, I have many favs haha).

I have a question...can anybody give me tips (or a recipe) for good, authentic pad thai?

I have tried to make this dish a few times already (straight from cook books as well) and I was unsuccessful each time! I'm pretty sure one of the reasons is because I tend to overcrowd the wok with my rice noodles (you're supposed to add bit by bit, right?) but even the flavour isn't right...it tastes NOTHING like a pad thai.

The first time I cooked it, I think added too much lemon...the 2nd time, let's not even go there, the 3rd time I used tamarind but it still tasted lemon-y and just...very different from what you'd expect from a real pad thai...

I'm very disappointed with myself! Please help :sad:


Edited by Ce'nedra (log)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Mmm...Thai cuisine...another one of my favourites (though truth be told, I have many favs haha).

I have a question...can anybody give me tips (or a recipe) for good, authentic pad thai?

I have tried to make this dish a few times already (straight from cook books as well) and I was unsuccessful each time! I'm pretty sure one of the reasons is because I tend to overcrowd the wok with my rice noodles (you're supposed to add bit by bit, right?) but even the flavour isn't right...it tastes NOTHING like a pad thai.

The first time I cooked it, I think added too much lemon...the 2nd time, let's not even go there, the 3rd time I used tamarind but it still tasted lemon-y and just...very different from what you'd expect from a real pad thai...

I'm very disappointed with myself! Please help :sad:

Since somehow becoming Thailand's "signature dish", despite being chinese in origion, there has been a proliferation of pad thai recipes out there. I don't know what recipes you've tried, but it can be pretty difficult to get a good result without a reliable source. There certainly shouldn't be any lemon in it, even though limes are known as lemons in thailand, they are definitely NOT part of traditional thai cooking. Here are two excellent recipes with detailed instructions Kasma's and Pim's. You don't want to add the noodles bit by bit as they won't cook evenly; the ones added first will be done before the ones added later are fully cooked. But I digress, both of those links contain all the info your going to need and more, and either will do you well.

Bruce: You Nahm Dtok looks great, I find thompson's dressing a bit intense as well, and even he stresses taste as the penultimate rule in thai cooking. There may very well be some thai cooks who like it the same way you do. From what I've gathered the Thai have taken well to cherry tomatoes too; perhaps not in nahm dtok, but certainly within the limits of keeping in the spirit of thai cooking. I made an unorthodox curry with them myself a few weeks ago; an orange coconut based curry with shrimp, with a seasoning emphasis on fresh tumeric and tamarind, and large bowful of amazing sungold cherry tomatoes. The combination was sublime.

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I have a question...can anybody give me tips (or a recipe) for good, authentic pad thai?

A trip through this topic might help with pad thai recipes: Pad Thai -- Cook-Off VI

I never would have thought to look for it without your question. Thanks!


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Bruce: You Nahm Dtok looks great, I find thompson's dressing a bit intense as well, and even he stresses taste as the penultimate rule in thai cooking. There may very well be some thai cooks who like it the same way you do. From what I've gathered the Thai have taken well to cherry tomatoes too; perhaps not in nahm dtok, but certainly within the limits of keeping in the spirit of thai cooking.

Thank you!

I made an unorthodox curry with them myself a few weeks ago; an orange coconut based curry with shrimp, with a seasoning emphasis on fresh tumeric and tamarind, and large bowful of amazing sungold cherry tomatoes. The combination was sublime.

Your unorthodox curry sounds delicious – I can picture how sweet Sungolds, sour tamarind, earthy turmeric, and creamy coconut would consort nicely.

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Thanks for the links Gabriel Lewis and Kouign Aman -I will be sure to check them out :biggrin:

Wow Gabriel, I never knew pad thai was originated from China? I always thought it was a full blown Thai dish other than the fact that it's based on noodles, a Chinese invention. It's not unlike alot of Chinese stir fried noodle dishes but I didn't think pad thai was a Chinese invention at all. Where did you hear about this? I'm interested in hearing about the history of different foods and dishes :wink:

Yeah the addition of lime was from one of my cookbooks from an Australian author writing about Thai food haha! One of the very Westernised looking cookbooks...After that experience, I was determined to buy cookbooks written by authors with origins (or at least has a vast knowledge) from the respective country ha!


Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Thanks for the links Gabriel Lewis and Kouign Aman -I will be sure to check them out :biggrin:

Wow Gabriel, I never knew pad thai was originated from China? I always thought it was a full blown Thai dish other than the fact that it's based on noodles, a Chinese invention. It's not unlike alot of Chinese stir fried noodle dishes but I didn't think pad thai was a Chinese invention at all. Where did you hear about this? I'm interested in hearing about the history of different foods and dishes  :wink:

Yeah the addition of lime was from one of my cookbooks from an Australian author writing about Thai food haha! One of the very Westernised looking cookbooks...After that experience, I was determined to buy cookbooks written by authors with origins (or at least has a vast knowledge) from the respective country ha!

I guess I should clarify a bit. It isn't strictly correct to say that "pad thai" originated from China; it's a bit more complicated than that. Noodles were brought to thailand from china, and it was chinese immigrants who originally came up with the dish. It was a fusion dish of sort; cooked in a chinese style, but with a flavor profile that would cater to the Thai. But don't read this second hand from me; at the bottom of Kasma's recipe under the notes section she explains the details carefully.

If you really want to know more about Thai food you should work your way through this thread. I know it's a staggering 30 pages long, but there's a wealth of information in here, and I think you'll find it pleasurable reading if you take it a few pages at a time. As people come and go I find myself answering the same questions, not that I might or anything; I am happy to help. But you'll find a lot more than I can write if you take the time to read it yourself.

To clarify, limes are definitely a part of traditional cooking, but lemons are not. All the sources I rely on seem to indicate that tamarind is the traditional souring agent for Pat Thai, but there very well may be some cooks in Thailand who make it with lime. There is no one "authentic" recipe, and the same can be said for all thai food really; my mental palate does think tamarind is definitely a prefered choice to lime though. Additionally, there are a plethora of articles on both Kasma's site and Pim's thai food section about thai cooking, ingredients, culture, and history, as well as many excellent recipes. If I had to pick one go to Thai cookbook, it would be David Thompson's Thai food. And as I mentioned above, if you work your way through the thread you will discover many other great Thai cooking resources.

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Tonight we made two dishes from Thai Food: chicken curry with holy basil, ginger, and peanuts (geng gai haeng); and flounder simmered with pickled garlic syrup (dtom pla nahm gratiam dong). Following a tip in True Thai, we pounded the paste in the mortar and finished it in the food processor, which worked nicely.

The fish soup was simple and light, contrasting nicely with the rich curry. We poached sliced flounder fillets (substitute for trout) in homemade chicken stock and pickled garlic syrup, seasoned with fish sauce and lime juice, and finished with scallions, white pepper, and cilantro.

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