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April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

That recipe sounds and looks delicious!

1 day ago
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Ike's Vietnamese Fish-Sauce Wings, p.249

It seems that after two solid weeks of Thai food for dinner, the fellow eaters in my household were becoming bored. To maintain interest, I allowed The Offspring to select the menu for one night, so of course they picked the least-Thai item in the book. Luckily, it was delicious so I didn't mind.

Split wings are marinated overnight in a mixture of fish sauce, sugar, salt, and garlic water (the garlic mince used to flavour the water is strained and reserved for later). Half of the marinade liquid is set aside, pre-meat soak, for later use. The leftover garlic is fried to golden brown in a small amount of oil. When ready to cook, drain wings well and toss in a breading of rice flour and tempura batter (I just used a blend of rice flour and corn starch) and deep fry in batches. For the glaze, the leftover marinate is reduced in a pan with extra water and some roasted chile paste, and the wings are tossed in it and cooked along with the fried garlic until the glaze adheres and darkens several shades.
The wings were really tasty--the sweetness of the glaze with the fried garlic was similar to a honey-garlic style, only much better. The fish sauce adds a really great briny depth to the wings, and the optional roasted chile paste gives the only form of heat . I would add even more next time. We served this with the recommended carrot/daikon pickle, cucumber, mint, and lettuce leaves, which was a welcome counter to the highly-flavoured, salty wings. They really were quite saline, so I would always have that neutral addition at the table. To make this a meal, I also cooked up a batch of sticky rice and some sweet chile sauce. To increase the heat in the wings we found ourselves dipping into the sweet chile rather frequently. This recipe would be a great introduction for the fish-sauce fearing folk. If I decide to undertake wings again, this will be repeated.

1 day ago
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

Gulp, high expectations. I hope it lives up to the hype! Looking forward to hearing about it.

Apr 18, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

As an official taste-tester I can now say that yes, the cucumber salad would work very well here. I would, however, up the tang a bit (maybe adding tamarind as per the papaya salad?), or lower the sugar content touch--it wasn't quite as fabulous a pairing but did a great job.

Apr 17, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

Tam Taeng Kwa, Thai Cucumber Salad, pg. 45

I still had some shredded sweet pork leftovers and cooked up a small batch of coconut rice for lunch, but was out of green papaya. This recipe came to the rescue! It delivered.

This was my christening moment with nam pla raa. I have to admit that I was more than slightly nervous when I was opening the bottle and noticed it had *four* separate lid-sealing methods employed to contain the contents of the little glass receptacle. Four! Anticipating the most foul odour known to man (fish sauce is ripe, but fermented fish sauce?) , imagine my surprise when the sniff-test yielded a sweet, pleasantly funky aroma. Not terrible at all!

The salad itself was very nice and it was great to use the same method with another vegetable, one that I always have on hand, too. Again those lime wedges in the salad were a great counter-flavour. I'd make this again.

Apr 17, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

I'm glad you liked it so well! After reading your review I'm now fondly reminiscing about that meal. I'd say it's a good candidate for a twice-in-a-month dish.

Apr 17, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

It hadn't occurred to me until after the fact that I should have warmed the pot up first. Luckily nothing went awry but that could easily happen next time! I did, however, come thisclose to placing the just-removed-from-tao donabe into the snow. My brain kicked in just in time for that one.

Apr 17, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Great improvisation skills you've got there!

@ncw--I bet your tagine would work swimmingly! My second cooking deviceI used in this recipe was cazuela-ish in appearance, but was in actuality a terracotta plant pot base....

Apr 17, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

Som Tam Thai, Central Thai-Style Papaya Salad, p.38

Well, the verdict is in. My dreams of becoming a professional papaya-shredder are dashed, if speed and very nearly-removed digits have any say in things. Luckily for my ego, this salad was a delicious rendition of what is quickly becoming a favourite dish.

Softened palm sugar, garlic, and chiles are lightly pounded in a clay mortar to a "chunky sludge". A few small lime pieces go in the mix, along with toasted dried shrimp, and then long beans to bruise. I had used up all my long beans earlier (oops) and added in a bit of apple eggplant for variety. Next up, lime juice, fish sauce, tamarind water, and the shredded papaya get a friendly beating, then add tomatoes and peanuts. Serve with a side of crisp, neutral cabbage.

In the page preceding the recipe, Ricker details how one can shred the papaya by hand, by holding it lengthwise on its side and cutting long grooves into the flesh every 1/16" or so, and then standing it up on end and shaving bits off as desired. He fails to mention the sticky-slipperiness of a peeled papaya, or that the act of cutting is best done by an individual with skill, finesse, and co-ordination, all of which I appear to lack. This took a hilariously lengthy amount of time for me, and by the second turn of papaya I had enough and pulled out the mandoline....sorry Mr. Ricker, I tried.

The salad, however, was lovely. It was a little too heavy on the sweet (which for this sugar addict is really saying something!) but had a great multi-dimensional sourness to it despite the fact. I loved the addition of whole lime bits and appreciated the bitterness of the peel contrasting with the rest of the salad.

Apr 14, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Khao Man Som Tam, Papaya Salad with Coconut Rice and Sweet Pork, p.193

Wow. Please excuse the broken record over here, but this was truly an incredible dish. I have had coconut rice, I have had papaya salad, and even sweet pork, but never together in the same wondrous, fantastically palate-blowing bite at the same time! How have I never experienced this taste sensation before?

MelMM has done an excellent job of writing this up already (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9666...) so I won't go into it again. I cooked the pork pretty much as written, except after mashing the meat and reducing the liquid I took it a step further and let it go on low heat for another 3/4 hour or so, stirring occasionally, until the pork was semi-dried out and had a nice chewy-crispy thing going on. I used shoulder steaks (that'll show me for showing up at the butcher shop on a Sunday an hour before closing) so I had no long shreds of meat in my pot; it was more like a pork floss. A delicious, addictive porky candy that needed guarding at all times. And perhaps some additional taste-testing, to ensure the quality was still supreme.

This recipe makes quite a bit of pork, and I only plated about half the recommended amount per serving. Nobody complained--the pork was quite sweet and salty and I thought it would have been overkill to add any extra, and now I have a ton of leftovers, to which I can look forward to with giddy anticipation. The way these flavours combined--the subtle fragrant sweetness of the soft coconut rice (mayhap I'll add a pandanus leaf to the pot next time) with the explosive papaya salad: crispy,crunchy sweet, sour,salty all at once; and the sweet and chewy umami-rich pork--together these are the makings of one memorable meal. Even the addition of a cabbage wedge was a perfect complement as a refresher. The creator of this combination is a culinary genius.

Apr 14, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? April 2014 edition!

You may be thinking of her other (excellent) cookbook, The New Spanish Table. It nearly made cotm for the recent-ish Spanish month. I'm pretty sure you'd remember a purchase of Please to the Table, as it's currently listed on amazon.ca for $298 for a new copy!

Apr 14, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? April 2014 edition!

Von Bremzen also has a Russian cookbook, Please to the Table, that you may want to check out.

Apr 13, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Kung Op Wun Sen, Shrimp and Glass Noodles Baked in a Clay Pot, p.210

Having an insatiable desire for noodles, it was only a matter of time before this recipe made my extensive list. Happy I got around to it--it was a lovely meal (as well as a fun excuse to play around with more outdoor charcoal cookery!) that will be repeated.

Start off by lining a Chinese sand pot with a layer of pork belly. On top of that goes an even blanket of Chinese celery, onion slivers, and a hearty dose of julienned ginger that had all been briefly stir-fried with a potent paste of coriander root, black pepper, and salt., Next, a layer of head/shell-on shrimp, followed by more coarsely cracked pepper. Soaked and drained glass noodles are tossed with black soy sauce and spread atop the medley in the pot, and then drizzled with a sauce made up of thin soy, oyster sauce, seasoning sauce, sugar, water, and sesame oil, and topped with a sprinkle of Chinese celery leaves.
I did a double batch in two separate cooking vessels. I don't have a sand pot (yet! this is a perfect excuse to buy one) and made do with a donabe and a cazuela of sorts that I covered with a pot lid. Used sweet soy in place of black and omitted the sugar. Upped the shrimp to about a 10 smaller ones per batch, still about 1/2 lb, and made one batch with rice noodles. The clay pot is covered and placed atop a tao to bubble and cook and entice eager, hungry diners.

Entice it did. The lovely fragrance wafting up from the brazier was simply irresistible and attracted the curiosity of several neighbours...or perhaps they were just poking around to gawk at the crouched nutso...err, enthusiast... fanning the flames in the middle of a snowbank. I'll stick with the former, because this really was delicious! It was sharp and spicy in only the way ginger and pepper can be, fresh and herbal from the celery and onions, savoury from the soy seasonings....and it all had a delectable smoky background note from the charcoal. It was a fabulous one-pot meal, and indubitably it will make another appearance in this household.

Apr 12, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

Nominations for May 2014 Cookbook of the Month (COTM)

Officially convinced. MY BOMBAY KITCHEN.

Apr 12, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

1. Ba-dum-tshhhh!
2. Do all chowhounds have a basement kitchen overflow? This is a familiar term.
3. The clay mortar/pestle ensembles are still inexpensive. I picked up a medium sized one for under $10 to use for this month. (Do it, BigSal, Join us.)

Apr 12, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

Nominations for May 2014 Cookbook of the Month (COTM)

Would there be any interest in My Bombay Kitchen? (not a nom, just feeler....)

Apr 12, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Phat Khanom Jiin, Stir-fried Thai Rice Noodles, p.238

This insanely easy recipe was the perfect addition to another all-pok-pok dinner, and it was so quick to prepare that it will be making additional appearances in the future.

Here it is, the instant side-dish: soak reconstituted rice vermicelli in a mix of shallot or garlic oil, black and thin soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and salt. I used my standard sweet soy sauce/less sugar trick. Stir-fry with more flavoured oil and toss in a bit of fried shallots until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with fried shallots, and season with extra sugar and fish sauce as desired.

Now, this isn't the world's prettiest plate of noodles, but what she lacks in looks she more than makes up for in personality. Salty and sweet with a subtle sea-flavour, this was a very popular selection. It is rather oily and I would perhaps reduce for next time. The shallots that went into the wok with the noodles ended up clumping together so I would likely wait until the very end to add them to the dish. Otherwise no complaints, and I heard nothing but happy chewing from my dining companions.

Apr 11, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Pok Pok: Food and Stories from the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand by Andy Ricker, JJ Goode, and David Thompson

I use dragonfly for the sweet and the light soy sauce. I have been unsuccessfully hunting for black soy sauce all month and have nearly given up the search. So far the sweet soy replacement has been working, though since I've never tried a Thai dark before, I'm not sure quite how similar in flavour this may be (anyone want to weigh in?). I am looking at a dish that is pretty heavy on the dark soy in the future and wonder if that may not turn out as well, but I shall see.
I also picked up a "vegetarian soy seasoning sauce" (chen-chen brand) that appears to be similar to the green-capped golden mountain seasoning sauce, which Leela at shesimmers.com says (in the comments here http://shesimmers.com/2010/01/soy-sau...) IS dark soy sauce. Hmm, so maybe I do have it after all. If only I could read Thai script...
Westminstress, do you have kecap manis? That would easily sub in for a Thai sweet soy sauce, if you have it already (I'm comparing the Bango brand with Dragonfly).

Apr 10, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

Nominations for May 2014 Cookbook of the Month (COTM)

Another for HAKKA!

Apr 10, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Fish pg. 72-87, Stir Fries pg. 88-103, Thai Minced Meat Salads pg. 104-121

Phat Phak Ruam Mit (Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables) p.98

A big winner here. I really enjoyed the well-chosen vegetable medley--the flavours and textures mixed together very nicely. I was out of shrimp so threw in a small amount of dried shrimp to make up for that lost depth, and I would do that again anytime. I also did as MelMM and skipped the blanching step. Cooked this on the tao, and even though I'm still trying to get the hang of the outdoor wokking it turned out very well.
I really liked this dish and it will definitely be going into the repertoire as a tasty savoury side to more assertive recipes.

Apr 09, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

Looks great!
ps- I was a food nerd long before I started taking photos of my kitchen shenanigans....

Apr 09, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking
1

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Grilled Foods pg. 122-145, Curries and Soups pg. 146-171

Wow, three strikes for this one--what a shame. The into for the recipes makes it seem like a must-try. Thanks to all for taking the hits for the team!

Apr 09, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Phat Si Ew, Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Pork and Chinese Broccoli, p.

Threw this together for lunch after noticing that I had everything on hand already made, even the sub-recipes. The time it took from opening the fridge to opening my mouth was under ten minutes--that's a big win in my books!
Confession time: I used dried rice noodles (pre-soaked 1/4" leftovers from the Boat Noodles). The grocery store offerings for "fresh" noodles were just too pitiful to purchase. I also used ground pork, since it was there, and it was easy--and so often lunch is all about fast and easy. Replaced the black soy with sweet dark and omitted the sugar. Many phat si ew recipes call for the sweet soy anyway so I figured it would be just fine. I also topped the bowl with a large handful of leftover blanched beansprouts.
I made sure to get a good sear on the rice noodles; the most important part, imho. There was a frantic moment when I realized I had overlooked the second use of garlic and had to very quickly peel and mash some cloves, but the noodles were all the better for that extra time unfussed in the wok (the air quality in the kitchen--not so much, but now I'm saved the onerous and often overlooked task of smoke-detector testing).
This was definitely the best version of phat si ew I've ever made. I did add a little extra sweet soy at near the end, and enjoyed this with the toasted chile powder and the chile/vinegar combo. It was a very delicious meal. My only gripe--it wasn't enough food! I'd make 1.5 the amount for a single serving next time. Or maybe I should just reconsider my portion sizes....

Apr 08, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking
1

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Fish pg. 72-87, Stir Fries pg. 88-103, Thai Minced Meat Salads pg. 104-121

Lovely! I have also been enticed to try one of these recipes after reading Ricker's ode to steamed fish. Your wonderful photo and review has officially sealed the deal.

Apr 06, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

Kuaytiaw Reua (Boat Noodles), p.204

Wow. This was astoundingly delicious. It lived up to all my expectations, and was easy on the eyes, too!
I made a half-recipe of the broth, and that lovely stock combined with the other flavours in the bottom of the bowl made for quite the explosion of tastes. I even opted to use the pork blood (first time ingredient for me!) and that with the deep burgundy of the toasted chile powder gave the broth an enticing brick-red hue. Every bite was so exciting and hit all the right spots on the tongue.
I served this with all the chile-laced condiments and the sugar at the table. The chiles in vinegar were a well-loved addition, and a light touch with the sugar rounded it out for me, but my dining companions preferred their bowls without the extra condiments. I used gai lan leaves in place of water spinach since I had forgotten this was on the menu and had already used up the purchase. I agree with delys that there could have been less pork and may just use the stewed shoulder for next time. The meatballs are an interesting addition but not my favourite-they were rather large and I found the whole thing too meat-heavy. But then again I'd be happy as a vegetarian so what do I know. Next time I'll customize it a little, but I am very impressed with this recipe and it's another fabulous noodle dish to add to the repertoire. A huge win here.

Apr 06, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

Thanks!
Some of the recipes that I find are a little too salty I notice are the ones that need to be spread among a lot of diners and eaten with a heaping pile of rice. The steak by itself was too salty but when mixed with the rest and plenty of grains it had a good balance--more like a condiment or side than a main dish for sure.

Apr 06, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Grilled Foods pg. 122-145, Curries and Soups pg. 146-171

That sounds fantastic! Great review--onto The List it goes. I'm glad to hear it works just as well with smaller pieces.

Apr 06, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Fish pg. 72-87, Stir Fries pg. 88-103, Thai Minced Meat Salads pg. 104-121

Yep, it's definitely snow. There's far too much of it hanging around this year and so this was my way of telling winter to get lost, lest I taunt it a second time.
I was halfheartedly looking to a tao in the Thai grocer, nearly certain I wouldn't find one, and whaddaya know--over in a corner there it sat, covered in dust and random grocery discards. Of course I had to buy it. I'm still rather new at any charcoal use but hope to get a good handle on it this year; what I'm really looking forward to is being able to get the tao screaming hot enough to do stir-fries in the true street-food fashion.

Apr 06, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: The One Plate Meal pg. 182-239, Foreign Foods pg. 240-251

I made Thompson's version for lunch today since it had been a while since I had it and I wanted to answer your question accurately. This was strictly for scientific purposes, you understand.
I am giving the win to Ricker's recipe because I love that he includes shallots and some form of greenery, but honestly they are both spectacular options for a meal and anyone should be thrilled to be offered either.

Apr 06, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking
2

April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Rice 29-33, Papaya Salad and Family pg. 34-37, Thai "Salads" pg. 48-71

Neua Naam Tok (Issan Steak Salad), p.68

I wanted to be as efficient as possible with the tao usage,so I selected a few grilled recipes from the book and this one was at the top of my list. Although this was an interesting salad it wasn't the biggest winner at the table.

Flank steak is marinated in a paste of lemongrass, peppercorns, and thin soy sauce. An exciting dressing is made up of lime juice, fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar, toasted chile powder,and beef stock (which I made as suggested with the grilled beef trimmings).Warming the dressing really does bring out all the aromatic flavourings-it smelled heavenly.
Once the steak is cooked to barely pink,, it is tossed with finely sliced shallots, mint leaves, cilantro, and toasted sticky rice powder and the dressing is mixed in. Best served with sticky rice.
I loved the steak itself, but the salad was a little too herbal and bright for me. I would likely double up the meat if I were to make this again. It was a very full-flavoured salad and I suspect it fell a little flat around here due to poor dish pairing--I served it with the the equally-stimulating eggplant salad (as well as stir-fried water spinach) and we preferred that recipe. This should be taken with a lot of rice--it is rather salty and concentrated, but we liked it well enough.

Apr 06, 2014
Allegra_K in Home Cooking