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May COTM quicky runoff thread -- VOTE BY APRIL 19

This has been such a close race! I conferred with a previous Cookbook of the Month moderator and she concurs -- we're going to hold a quicky runoff between the top two vote-getters this month. We want to make sure the selected book will ensure maximum participation for COTM.

THIS IS JUST A RUNOFF SO IT WILL BE A THREE DAY VOTE, ONLY -- this Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I know it's not a lot of time for voting, but again this is just a runoff to ensure maximum participation in May COTM. I'd like to leave ample time for book ordering. If you are getting the book from the library, I would suggest requesting both options so that you can have whichever one wins and start cooking!

Please cast your vote, in all capitals, BY THE END OF THE DAY SUNDAY APRIL 19 (Pacific time), for one of these two books:

BON APPETIT Y'ALL: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis




A note: I have given considerable thought to the recent discussion on our cookbook selection process, and I appreciate the input. For now, the nomination process will continue each month, so we'll all have the chance to continue suggesting old favorites while also tossing new titles into the mix. I do believe that the nominating process is pivotal for COTM's vibrancy, and for attracting new participants and honoring the seasons in which we cook. I certainly wouldn't want to eliminate the monthly discussion that flourishes as part of the nominations. (Now, don't anyone throw food at me - please!


Thanks and it's my pleasure, as always.

*foxy fairy*

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    (BAY isn't at my library...sounds good tho, and I like her website)

              1. CRADLE OF FLAVOR, please. Thanks foxy fairy!


                1 Reply
                1. CRADLE OF FLAVOUR!

                  I'd happily do the other, although when I mentioned to my hubbie that it was a Southern cookbook, he got this look of fear in his eyes. Not exactly light eating.

                  1. As much as I'm enjoying Bon Ap, my vote goes for CRADLE OF FLAVOR. Thanks FF!

                    1. CRADLE OF FLAVOR
                      Thanks foxy fairy.

                              1. I can't decide, but as I've cracked and bought both of them (what can I say - I got paid this week) I will wait to see what happens!

                                  1. CRADLE OF FLAVOR. This is the reason that Columbus went to sea.

                                      1. CRADLE OF FLAVOR. Now i just have to get it back from the friend I lent it to.

                                                1. I'm going with CRADLE.

                                                    1. Cradle of Flavor has charmed me -- it is utterly beguiling. I couldn't resist getting a jump start. I am going to curl up and read Oseland's introduction tonight for fun. Soooo ---

                                                      Today I started acquiring ingredients for Cradle of Flavor. I discovered a new (to me) Laotian-owned market near me in Providence, courtesy of a tip on my local chow board. I picked up some of the more elusive ingredients: kaffir lime leaves (yes, found them!), galangal (fresh), lemongrass, and restocked some other more accessible stuff like cinnamon sticks, peanut oil, coconut milk, a LOT of shallot and ginger and garlic, and some bamboo skewers for satay, woohoo!

                                                      In case you're worried about cooking from the book because you can't make a big investment in ingredients that you'll scarcely use, take note --- I'm pleased to see, scanning recipes and paging through Oseland's list of ingredients starting on page 43, that I have quite a few of the ingredients already (mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds) in my crate of goodies for Indian cooking. So that's great for the budget. Plus, a number of the new-to-me fresh ingredients, like galangal and lemongrass, are featured throughout the book, so I'll use it all up as I cook from the book in May. That's key for the foxy cook on a budget.

                                                      Now -- for the still-elusive: DRIED DAUN SALAM (page 64).
                                                      I stopped at three stores (a Laotian grocery where I found all of the above, an Indian grocery, and Whole Foods because you never know) and called yet another Asian grocer. No dice anywhere. I am so curious about the "subtle spicy, woodsy flavor that has no precedent in the West" so I wlll keep searching. He specifies that bay leaf is NOT a substitute although daun salam can be labeled as Indian Bay Leaves.

                                                      In other news, I'm starting on my first recipe tonight! Naughty moderator getting a head start... but I've been sick with the FLU and in need of chicken soup, so I am making the Javanese chicken curry (page 275) on this chilly chilly raw night! I will save the report for MAY.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: foxy fairy

                                                        I am still waiting for my library transfer to get the book to my local branch. Though I am in a larger city, I am a little worried about finding the appropriate ingredients. Glad to hear that you have made a good start.

                                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                                          I received my copy yesterday and haven't had a chance to have a good look yet. On first perusal, I have most of the ingredients already, with the exception of daun pandam , dried daun salam, shrimp paste and double soy sauce. I have a great Asian supermarket near my house, luckily, so will have a look to see if they stock them there. It looks like a great book.

                                                          I have a good friend who's from Singapore and of Malay-Chinese heritage, so hopefully will be able to ask her if I get stuck! I met one of her friends recently who apparently cooks great Nonya curries so maybe I'll get them round to give me a cooking lesson...

                                                          1. re: foxy fairy

                                                            food fairy: great synopsis on how easy it will be for lots of us to get the ingredients.

                                                            If you've found fresh galangal and kaffir leaves, you're armed with the two main powerhouse components. Fresh galangal also implies that fresh turmeric is available at the same place. Galangal is the strongest cousin along the ginger-turmeric-galangal scale, all related species.

                                                            Daun Salam is indeed elusive and hard to find, understandably in the limited market demand. Over the years I've had Malay/Indonesian friends who say that 1) it's okay to just omit it, or 2) sub a wee bit of the pulverized leaf of thai basil... essential components are methylchavicol and eugenol, also found in daun salam. This time around I just might get some.

                                                            Online: http://www.google.com/products?q=daun...

                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                              Oh man, that online source is fantastic. Thanks so much foodfuser. I went to my local asian store yesterday and stocked up, but as also unable to find the daun salam.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                For additional options: in the links thread, I added a link for an online source that Oseland recommends. I'm on the go right now, but I can find the link later if people are interested.

                                                                FF--So exciting that you're already inspired by the book.


                                                            2. re: foxy fairy

                                                              If your experience at your local Asian store is like mine, you're asking in English a question to a Vietnamese-speaking staff member and using a Malaysian word, like "galangal". Some pics are worth a thousand of such words:

                                                              fresh galangal:

                                                              fresh turmeric, to distinguish:

                                                            3. I'm confused about the sweet bean paste. Was greeted by blank looks when I asked for it at the Chinese supermarket. I do have yellow bean sauce and a bean sauce from Taiwan and am wondering if either of these are the same thing. Oseland says that bean paste goes by different names - it's all a bit confusing!

                                                              27 Replies
                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                Id look for a brand from Singapore (could be Yeo's [Correction]), Vietnam, Malaysia or thailand. Sometimes SEA stuff is in a different area in Chinese stores. In the kind I currently have (thai) and others, it is rather soupy in texture and you can see pieces of bean; sugar is a listed ingredient and it is labeled simply soy bean paste and is brown in color. Most likely you could sub chinese brown bean paste and add a bit of sugar if you are totally stymied

                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                  I finally found it in a Thai market in NYC Chinatown after have been unable to find it in any number of large, mostly Chinese, Asian markets. I didn't realize until I looked it up just now that this is the brand Oseland says is his favorite. Since the label is in Thai, I doubt it will help much in a Chinese market, but this, fwiw, is what it looks like.

                                                                  ETA: Forgot to mention that I saw on the Cook's Thesaurus Web site that you can substitute hoisin sauce, which is milder.

                                                                  ETA, again (I'm in the midst of cooking something so my mind is a bit more scattered than usual). I'll bet your yellow bean sauce is the thing. Does it have bean halves floating in it? The ingredients in mine read soy beans, rice flour, salt, sugar & water.

                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                    The yellow bean sauce isn't particularly soupy. It's the Lee Kum Kee brand. They did have fermented soy beans, which are quite soupy, which I think he also mentions. Will have another look in the Thai section though, plus there's a Thai supermarket near work that is another source of ingredients.

                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                      I woulnt fuss over this too much at all - I would just add a bit of sugar if the fermented beans you wind up with lack that.

                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                        I have some fermented black bean paste on hand from a Dunlop recipe and just did a taste test of one against the other. There wasn't a significant difference in taste. I was surprised that the soy bean sauce really wasn't much sweeter than the fermented bean paste. And both were quite salty. But there is a huge difference in color and texture. The fermented bean paste is very thick and almost black; the Thai bean sauce is dark, golden yellow and definitely soupy with the halves of soy beans floating in it.

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          I just checked some of my other relevant cookbooks -Carol Selvah Rajah Malaysian cookbook (Makan-Lah), which is excellent and she refers to fermented black (soy) beans as taucheo and uses them (rather than the golden) in her recipes.

                                                                          Sri Owen's Indonesian Food and Cookery (1986), writing about tauco, says the following: "two kinds of beans are used, black and yellow. the beans should be crushed to a smooth paste before being mixed with the other ingredients. I prefer the taste of the black beans but they do make the sauce look rather dark and they leave small black fragments in it. The yellow beans taste very nearly as good and they make a beautiful old gold coloured sauce which looks more tempting......you can buy tinned salted black or yellow bean sauce but i would recommend the beans themselves if you have the choice. In Indonesia you buy toauco by weight, spooned out from big stoneware jars"

                                                                          In his book The Cooking of Singapore, Chris Yeo notes that the fermented beans and sauces used in asia are essentially interchangeable and used sparingly, tho he hotes that the malaysian tau cheo is golden in color.


                                                                          since I have the recommended type that is what i will use, but I would not feel at all upset, based on the above in substituting other similar products. (note in David Thompson's Thai book, he recommends draining the juice off the products which look like beans in broth and just grinding up the beans) and using them sparingly. Im hoping to give a try to some of my alternative recipes for some of the Cradle dishes to see if I can get a fix on the quality of his recipes vs. others.

                                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                                            That's really interesting. And you clearly have a far larger library of Asian cookbooks than I . . . and I'm envious. The recipes I looked at in Cradle that call for bean paste say nothing about crushing them to a paste first or, for that matter, draining the juice.

                                                                            I really look forward to your posts and will be especially eager to hear how you think the recipes compare with similar ones you've made. And you'll be sure to let me know, won't you?, if I'm going to need to buy another book.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              a few years ago when the first really good malaysian restaurants sprouted in NY, I went on a mission to find good recipes for these dishes and accumulated virtually all the decent english language books in the cuisines, including ordering from publishers in the region. but it can get depressing when you realize that so many of the traditional ingredients - herbs, leaves, flowers, fruits that local cooks take for granted - are simply not available here or even in cities in the region. We have had an explosion of asian ingredient availability (so that the shortcuts of old books like Copeland Marks or some of theolder chinese, thai and viet books ) are not needed but yet its a challenge to get to the authentic tastes in my local books. Thats why a book like Cradle of Flavor or Carol Selvah Rajahs, or Fuschia Dunlop, or David thompson, for example, which do a careful job of cross cultural translation are so great.

                                                                              My cookbook accumulation gets ahead of my cooking time so I am hardly an expert at cooking this stuff, but I do hope to be able to try some variant recipes as I said..

                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                      JoanN, are you talking about that place on Mosco St?

                                                                      Thanks all for the invaluable trail of breadcrumbs above!

                                                                      1. re: pitu

                                                                        No, the Mosco St. place didn't have it. They didn't have the Rose brand wedge-shaped rice papers I was looking for either. Found both at Tan Tin Hung @ 121 Bowery, on the east side of the street just south of Grand.

                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                          This place, Asia Market on Mulberry would be my first stop shopping for Indonesian products if I wasnt so wedded to my car. It is one of the few places in NYC that focuses on Indonesian and malaysian food products specifically.

                                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                                            I like Asia market and they do have a large selection. I haven't looked specifically for Indonesian ingredients, but iirc, they didn't have a much in the way of fresh herbs or even fresh or frozen galangal, turmeric, or daun pandan. Last time I was there, they didn't even have water spinach. Am I wrong about that? Perhaps it's time to take another look with an Indonesian focus.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              Ive not been recently, but Asia Market does have a lot of Indonesianstuff specifically,- less fresh than frozen and packaged, just look around in there.

                                                                              the only other place in NY (could be one out in queens but Ive not seen) that I can think of that does is Kalustyan - the last time I was there they had candlenuts and curryleaves (not really indonesian) fresh turmeric, - they also have packaged goods like from time to time gula melaka syrup, sambals, ketjap manis - they may have daun salaam, dont remember. Look in their freezer compartment too for Galangal, kaffir lime leaves, etc - I think Ive seen it there, and their spices are very fresh.

                                                                              Bangla Nagar on Church Ave (Brooklyn) - date palm sugar, jaggery, mangoes (ripe and green) and indian veg, including small eggplants. Stores on that bangladeshi strip sell goat meat and fish as well.

                                                                              . Most of the good indian stores and some Chinese will have fresh turmeric. In addition to the thai stores, many chinese Supermarkets (Im thinking Hong Kong Supermarket in Brooklyn, specifically) will carry frozen galangal, pandan leaves and turmeric, as well as thai basil. Ive never seen lemon basil for sale anywhere except the occasional farmers market. I havent fully scoped out the two big new chinese markets in the 60s for SEAsian but my feeling is that they offer less in this area than HK. Pretty much all of these stores should have frozen grated coconut, coconut milk, black rice, fresh lemon grass. the Chinese greengrocers should have water spinach in season, noodles, bags of shallots.

                                                                              In NJ, I shop at a big Kam Man on Rte 10 in E. Hanover, which has a lot of Philipino, Vietnamese and Japanese ingredients - not a noticeable specific focus on Indonesia, but they do have gula melaka (malaysian palm sugar) bean pastes, sambal oelek and many other items. Very useful if you are in the area, Cpl of Subzi Mandis on Rte 46 and LIttleton Rd in Parsippany with Fresh Turmerric, good spices, frozen grated coconut,jaggery, green mangoes sometimes, fresh green and red chiles, pandan and curry leaves, etc..the places in Jackson Hts on 37th Ave similarly.

                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                Great rundown, Jen. And thanks for it.

                                                                                Was in Kalustyan’s just a couple of weeks ago and they didn’t have daun salaam. They did, though, have the Maesri curry pastes which I think are very good. It’s my fallback store since I’m in the neighborhood fairly often, but it is significantly more expensive than any place else.

                                                                                I’ve also been to the Hong Kong supermarket in Flushing (didn’t even know there was one in Brooklyn) a few times in the past month and find it very hit or miss. I’m surprised at how often they don’t have the brands or the products I’m looking for. And even their fresh produce can be unreliable. On one trip their lemongrass looked worse than what I can get at Fairway, although on another it was beautiful. I only saw pandan leaves once in three trips, but they always had Thai basil and it was very nice.

                                                                                Don’t have a car so I don’t get to northern Jersey, but my Mom lives near the Asian Food Center on Route 27 in Edison. That’s a huge store with sections for Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, but mostly Chinese ingredients and that’s where I found nearly everything I was looking for: candlenuts, frozen pandan leaves, galangal, turmeric, Thai palm sugar and rock sugar, great selection of dried shrimp. Don’t know if you get that far south, but I’ve read that it’s the largest and best-stocked of all the NJ Asian Food Markets, although I’ve not been to the others to compare.

                                                                                Haven’t been to Brooklyn Chinatown at all. Will have to set aside a day and explore that.

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  Joan, I was recently at the Hong Kong supermarket in Flushing - the one by Joe's Shanghai - and I have to say, I vastly prefer the Brooklyn version. They stock vastly different wares. I was really surprised.

                                                                                  Bklyn version is on 8th Ave at 61st St - there a parking lot free to customers, and a subway stop around the corner.

                                                                                  1. re: pitu

                                                                                    Good to know. And it looks like it's just a short spit from the N train. Will definitely have to get out there and explore one of these days since I'm not all that crazy about the one in Manhattan either.

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      Like I say elsewhere, it doesnt have the best produce and its not the cleanest and newest market, but It does have quite a good selection of SEA ingredients packaged and frozen, as well as herbs (in Summer others in addition to the basil for Vietnamese dishes) packaged in plastic packs. I just buy the basil. Its an interesting neighborhood to wander.

                                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                        jen kalb's got it -- fresh thai basil is usually there, and occasionally some more unusual stuff like rau ram

                                                                                        The frozen case is totally worth a long look -- I love the frozen spring rolls from vietnam
                                                                                        and a butcher/live fish on site

                                                                                        but good brands and variety on the SEA shelf-stable jars and cans too

                                                                                2. re: jen kalb

                                                                                  What big new Chinese marhkets in the 60's? Off 4th Ave in Sunset Park? Or elsewhere?

                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                    There are two new mega chinese markets , and there have been threads, but I cant remember the names. One is on the west side of 8th Ave at around 83rd Street - the second is on Ft. Ham Parkway at around 67-68 in a huge old theater building. both have parking. The latter seems to have better produce - certainly better than HK Supermarket and its just a block from Three Guys,

                                                                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                      Thank you very much. No car so it looks like Sunset Park for us. Nothing makes me happier than a new Chinese supermarket to check out!

                                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                        I just noted a mistake in the above - the first mentioned market is near 63rd, not 83rd, sorry for the typo. so it is just a block or so away from the Ft. ham N exit at 8th Ave/60/61st St..

                                                                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                          as in, walking distance from Hong Kong Market, on the otherside of the overpass?

                                                                                          1. re: pitu

                                                                                            exactly, just a cpl blocks away.

                                                                                3. re: jen kalb

                                                                                  which begs the question...
                                                                                  where do you go for Indo/Malay groceries with your husband the car?
                                                                                  : )
                                                                                  and can I go with you?

                                                                          2. re: greedygirl

                                                                            <I'm confused about the sweet bean paste.>

                                                                            I buy sweet red bean paste at the supermarket in Chinatown. I would guess that would be similar, if not the same.

                                                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                                                              Very different- the red bean paste is very sweet and made with adzuki beans rather tnan soy beans - you are looking for a fermented soy bean paste with just a touch of sugar, not a sweet product.