4/25/10

The Perfect Pad Thai

Today I conquered on of my culinary fears: I made Pad Thai! I've been attempting to make the perfect Pad Thai for 7 years now. (That's when I started cooking for myself.) And every failure makes me feel a little less Thai...

But not so long ago I found a Pad Thai recipe in the NY Times website, of all places. Now, there are a gazillion recipes for Pad Thai (most of which I have tried), all with some of the basic ingredients like fish sauce and tamarind. The version I wanted I could only describe when it hit my tongue. I just didn't know how to take it apart, ingredient at a time.

Until the NYTimes recipe!!!

Of course I was too intimidated to try it. It wasn't until my husband refused to let me go out and grab the perfect Pad Thai I'd found around the corner (because of our need to budget), did he say that HE would make me Pad Thai.

Yes, a white man was going to unravel this identity crisis I was having with Pad Thai.

And what do you know he made the yummiest Pad Thai ever. I was so jealous!!! So the next day I had to try it for myself. If my non-cooking non-Thai husband could make this in one try, why couldn't I???

So today, I mark the day as having learned how to make MY PERFECT Pad Thai.

It's a frigan holiday.Thank you husband. Without you I would have been so much less Thai than I am now :)

11/8/09

Successful Jap Chae!!


I LOOOVVVVEEEE Jap Chae. Fell in love with it and have been trying to make it for a year now. Noodles and me are not the best of friends but I desperately love them! I always make them too mushy or they come out undercooked.

Today I found a balance!

The key was SOAKING them in boiled water for 10 minutes until they were 3/4 of the way cooked and pan-frying my vegetables until they were tender and a bit wet (usually they come out very dry and the pan is overheated).

THEN I added my glass noodles. It makes a HUGE difference when I pre-cook the noodles before adding them into the pan with the veggies.

Recipe:

5-6 oz. of sweet potato Korean noodles
1/3 cup of Korean soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tbsp of honey
2-3 tbsp of sesame oil
1-2 tsp of sesame seeds
Choice of vegetables, sliced into thin sticks, 2 inches in length (carrots, cucumber, wood ear mushrooms or some sort of mushrooms, spinach, onion/green onion, red pepper are some choices)

1. Soak noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes, mixing and checking for consistency.
2. Stir fry garlic in 1 tbsp of sesame oil and then add vegetables.
3. Panfry choice of vegetables together on med-high heat, adding soy sauce once vegetables are tender. This might be about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add noodles, cutting them into smaller lengths before putting it into the pan.
5. Mix noodles and vegetables then add soy sauce liberally.
6. Add honey.
7. Add water if needed, noodles should be wet.
8. Turn off heat and serve!


YUMM!! (BTW, I just realized that this is vegan-friendly!!)

Chocolate Diary Entry 1: The BEGINNING!

I am keeping a journal of my trifflin' truffle adventures. This is in search of the perfect collection of truffle recipes.

My first recipe I used these techniques:

From ABOUT.COM:

1 lb of semi-sweet chocolate from Whole Foods
1 cup of heavy whipping cream from Organic Farms
Cocoa powder as needed

I boiled the cream and then poured it over the cut up chocolate.
Then I separate the batch, taking out about 1/3 of it. This portion I added 1/4 tsp of mint extract.


I used a whisk and mixed the chocolate and cream until a smooth consistency formed.
I put this covered in the fridge for 1 hour. It was not very firm to work with at first, the middle being the mushiest. So I put it in the fridge for another 20 minutes, taking it out to use the outer rim and putting it back into the fridge until the entire batch was completed. I used a melon baller, which did not help me create perfect balls.


Future changes: I need to use a melon baller next time.

Possibilities: Using more mint. Using other flavors.

Mistakes: Melon Baller

10/14/09

In Search of Cow...Chicken, Goat, and Pig...

Yes, I am looking for a farm. No really, I am! I know that shit is pumped into our meat, and my meat-eating habits are giving me weekly complexes when I purchase a package of meat from any grocery store. So I am in the hunt for organic and grass-fed meat that I can buy from a local farm. I have no idea what this entails, but I would like to chronicle this journey back to a simpler (but probably a much more complicated thing to obtain) way of eating meat. That is my best solution for finding cheap, good meat.

Researching Finding #1: Eat Wild

Green and Orange Spaghetti Sauce



YUMMY~~

This summer was our first time gardening. We planted Orange Heirloom tomatoes, which yielded probably 30-40 ripe tomatoes in all. Today is probably our last batch of ripe tomatoes :( so I took some green tomatoes as well for the spaghetti...for a little experiment.

So I began by dicing all my ripe and green tomatoes. I put oil in a pan and added garlic and onions. Then I added the tomatoes and simmered it down.

I didn't know how light the taste would be, since the last time I made spaghetti sauce with just orange tomatoes, it had a soft, light flavor, not a full tangy sweet flavor that is the trademark of red tomato sauce. Orange tomatoes have no kick to them. They are subtly sweet, kinda like a not quite riped bananas compared to a ripe banana. In addition, they are not as acidic. Knowing I would be adding grass-fed beef to it, I knew that the power of the beef flavor would overpower (versus chicken) the softly delicious orange tomatoes. My guess was also that the green tomatoes would be less sweet and a bit citrus-like. So, to keep the spaghetti from being too beefy with no sauce to carry its weight, I decided to add 1/2 a jar of regular spaghetti sauce.

The product was a nice hybrid of flavors. I did add a teaspoon of brown sugar to give it a balance. The sauce was robbed of its sweetness by the presence of these green and orange tomatoes, so this did the trick.
This was a great way to save the last harvest of our tomatoes :) And provide us with fresh, original Green and Orange Spaghetti Sauce!

9/30/09

My Tongue in Overdrive

This may sound gross to some people, but for those who do not realize that this is a food blog, back up your google search one page.

I am talking about a week of memories. This week I went crazy with all the yummies. What I mean is for the first time ever I attempted to make Thai food almost everyday this week. My tongue was in overdrive because I realized that I had been holding myself back from being what I am by blood, Thai (I cam to the US at 8 years old). Being by tasting, remembering by tasting, feeling a sense of home and belonging to a physical location or a cultural identity, by the memories in my tongue.

It's like a primal connection to the land, to where those spices came from -this one geographical location on Earth. It is here where only us Thai folks blended together these leaves and seeds and peppers and roots in certain proportions. Tasting Thai food made the one way it's suppose to be made, to me, is like a piece of music, a melody, that stirs my senses, most specifically my tongue, to remember. Even though I am no longer proficient in my native tongue, and Thai people would not recognize me as their own past my physical features, I am Thai according to my tongue. And even though I cannot remember a certain memory with each plate, it is more like a sense of something fits. Something feels like it belongs and fits and everything's in its place. Yes, I am seeing how strange this may be that my tongue can give me these profound feelings of nationality when I have been living in the US for 20 out of 28 years of my life.

But how profound is it really? Do we not first learn about a country by the food? How many immigrants come here to open restaurants serving food from their homeland? Do you not first think of Pad Thai or that crazy peanut sauce (which I made for the first time today PERFECTLY!!) when I mention I am Thai?

For me, I see food's connection to my identity, to memories I hold onto, to a sense of history. Instead of pictures or stories to see or hear, I am getting in touch with taste. And I have to say it's way yummier than a picture album or a song. :)

BTW, this week I feasted on Kow New Mamong (Sweet Sticky Rice with Mangos), Chicken Satay, Tod Mun (Fish Cakes with curry paste), and Soup with Stuffed Bitter Melon.


Tod Mun


Soup


Sticky Rice with Ripe Mango

7/28/09

Day 3: Working it Out

So I can not call this a dairy-free or wheat-free venture anymore. Totally cheated last night with a trip to Dairy Mat for some soft serve. Cheated tonight with Veg Lo Mein and Crab Rangoons.

But I am still meat-free, so I'll go with that.

I need more recipes and a trip to Whole foods for some back-up plans. I need to find more recipes. I need a little focus. It was harder today b/c I ran out of recipes, was sick of cooking every meal and make baby's meal on top of that, and worked today.

We'll see how tomorrow goes.

NOT craving that teriyaki chicken I made though...very strange...