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A Thai cooking virgin...needs help please


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We have a pretty good Asian grocery in Peterborough, ON, although I don't think they carry fresh galangal...I bought fresh-frozen...at least not constantly.  (They also have frozen Durian which I have yet to try.  They came here 40 years ago and began their business in a hole in the wall when it was not a sure thing at all and I simply won't patronize any of the recent comers.)

 

Also...how many friends can you tell this one to?  Yesterday I pulled a pork 'butt' out of the freezer, defrosted it and slow cooked it for today's curry.  It looked funny to me, but I thought nothing of it.   Even while it was cooking...I thought strange looking butt.  My brain was out of gear as it increasingly is I fear.  Began to shred it and wondered where all the rib bones were coming from.  Duh.  It was a package of frozen spare ribs.  So now we have spare rib pork for the curry.  :raz: :raz:

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Great story, Darienne! I bet it will be delicious anyway.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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I use fresh galangal as needed then freeze the rest.  I don't find there to be a significant loss in taste/aroma/whatnot; but the frozen-then-chopped-off-and-thawed piece(s) are MUCH EASIER to slice/cut/mince/whatever.  Really fresh galangal does require a very sharp knife and significant elbow grease as it is quite woody and hard - very unlike ginger in that regard - and those who have never experienced fresh galangal might be taken aback by the relative difficulty of processing it.

 

I second the notion of using prepared Thai pastes as something that is quite respectable - and, in this regard, not just the "curry" pastes, but various other ones as well - and there are a number.

 

ETA:  When I *do* prepare pastes os this sort from scratch (Thai, Nyonya, Malay, etc) I *do* tend to use a mortar and pestle.  The grinding against stone does seem more satisfactory, even if more laborious than whizzing it in some electrical shortcut contraption.  Besides, it is also a useful way to work off excess energy, so to speak. :-)  It can also be very therapeutic in its own way.

Edited by huiray (log)
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Lunch is over.  Two photos to post.  The vegetables are: Chinese eggplant, snow peas and broccoli with coconut rice.  The curry looks as it does because it's made from shredded pork instead of sliced pork.  Also plating is not something I can do.

 

The meal was delicious...though I have nothing to compare it with.  Perhaps the next step is to eat at a reputable Thai restaurant.  I think there is one in Peterborough...although, yes, my favorite out-of-home meal is fish and chips at a local 60s sort of dive.

 

Next I need to freeze (?) all the leftover coriander, Thai basil, etc. if possible. 

 

Thanks for all the help.

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Your lunch curry looks wonderful, Darienne. I am so glad you enjoyed it. Bravo for doing all the work to make it from scratch at least once.

 

Yes, I would advise you to try a few Thai restaurants over time if you can. Though the plating can be amazing at some of the higher priced establishments, the actual food can be a disappointment at some such establishments. I would suggest trying to get a recommendation or two from someone local who likes Thai food and has eaten it around those parts a fair bit before you decide where to go, because high priced may not necessarily mean 'better' or more to your taste. Maybe Kerry or Anna can help you out there.

 

I say that because I think the best Thai I have ever had has come from a gas station. It doesn't look so pretty (no pretty carrot flowers) and it is really a take-out joint because they only have 2 seats and who wants to sit for a meal beside a washroom and the candy counter in a gas station - but the flavours are the best and the ingredients were as fresh as you could get them near where that 'restaurant' was located (in NC).

 

I also know the cook and she knows what level of spice I like. And that, by the way is another issue - trying to describe what level of heat you want in a Thai restaurant, about which I believe there has been discussion on this board before.

 

Most of the reason that I don't use recipes for Thai food is that I ate it so much that I had a good idea of what I wanted to taste and what the ingredients were that would get me there long before I cooked any at home.

 

And yes, you should be able to freeze both the basil and coriander but those might do better if those green herbs are blended a bit and put in ice cube trays.

Edited by Deryn (log)
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Just finishing up my report.  The curry I made was Panang Curry with Beef from ThempleofThai.com  (thanks for the site, djyee)

 

Left out a few of the finishing bits like the big red chili sliced (but unidentified as to proper name or type and probably not available in Peterborough anyway) and the fact that I used shredded pork instead of sliced which made the final dish look more like a dog's dinner than a proper meal. 

 

I still have a fresh coconut to make milk from and three containers of red, yellow and green curry from Arroy-D to try next, plus some fried chicken pieces now in the freezer for the next Thai curry. 

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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"Fresh coconuts" in Canada/USA are never the same as fresh ones in SE Asia or other places where they actually grow.  Maybe places with high turnover (e.g. California Bay area, etc) may have fresh coconuts which are not too bad.  Otherwise, they could be pretty old, months old even, as they sit around in both transit and in wholesaler's warehouses and in the store.  Grated frozen coconut might be a better "generalized" approach, if not simply using the canned stuff.  Of course, if you lived in a tropical region of North America with coconut palms swaying in the breeze around you that would be a different matter, IF you did have access to the coconuts from those same trees.

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Not really living in a tropical area...the snow is just gone.  I've never seen frozen coconut in a grocery store, but then I'll ask in my Asian grocery next time I'm in.  I have purchased a lot of coconuts in my life and have had only 2 or maybe 3 be bad.  Which might be dumb luck. 

 

I would expect to have better luck in Kensington Market in Toronto where there would be markets which must keep produce fresh or lost customers.  It's a great place to shop.  If you want to drive to Toronto which we no longer want to do.  Unless we have to. 

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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