April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Grilled Foods pg. 122-145, Curries and Soups pg. 146-171
Please use this thread to post your reviews of the following:
Grilled Foods pg. 122-145
Curries and Soups pg. 146-171
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Jaw Phak Kat (Mustard Green Soup with Tamarind and Pork Ribs)
Made a trip to a large Asian grocery yesterday to buy supplies; had to add a trip to another nearby store which has a better selection of Thai (as opposed to Korean) specialties. Managed to find every thing I needed: Korean salted shrimp, Thai shrimp paste, yellow bean sauce, yu choy. Already had tamarind in the refrigerator.
Very good. After adding the spicy paste to the simmering water for the pork was terrified I'd made it too spicy, but it really mellowed out by the end. It had a very complex, deep flavor. Great over steamed sticky rice (also already had that).
Jaw Phak Kat, pg. 151
We're suckers for the Southeast Asian soups that combine greens with pork ribs, and this one didn't disappoint. I made a half batch, and subbed toasted ground tua nao for the yellow bean paste, otherwise went by the book.
Like DG above, we thought it had a wonderful complex flavor. Yu choy ( which around here is usually labelled as "yu choy", not mustard green, but I know it varies by region) is called for, and what I used, but really any brassica, would probably do fine in this.
Kaeng Som Kung, Sour Curry with Shrimp, p.163
This was a powerful boiled curry that packed a lot of punchy flavours into one pot, and is a far cry from the creamy coconut milk-based dishes that usually comes to mind.
To make the paste, pound ingredients one at a time with a mortar and pestle: puya and Thai chiles, krachai, garlic, shallots, and shrimp paste. It can be made up to a week in advance.
I haven't located puyas and used a big floppy guajillo and an extra Thai chile as my replacement. I found it a bit odd that Ricker doesn't have the cook soak the dried chiles in water to make for an easier job of pounding, and after working up a sweat over the granite bowl and barely managing to break them in half I tossed the chiles in a spice grinder to pulverize them. I also implemented qianning's seriously awesome tip of grating the remaining ingredients with a micro-plane and will be doing that every time from now on--it made easy work paste-making. I will, however, ensure next time that when working with such a sharp object that my ingredients are fully thawed so that when I grate my fingertips into the mortar I actually feel the sensation and stop. Good thing my dining companions already share some of my DNA!
When ready to cook, finish the paste by incorporating 3 fresh prawns into the blend until completely broken down. The paste is then mixed in a pot with water and simmered along with some tamarind water, palm sugar, fish sauce. Daikon, napa cabbage, long beans, and chayote meet with the flavours and all is simmered until the veggies are mostly tender with a bit of crunch. The burner is turned off and shrimp is added to the pot to cook in the residual heat.
This is a fiery, soupy curry that goes well with a heaping pile of rice. It has a completely different flavour profile than the usual suspects--the krachai adds an astringent, almost medicinal quality while the tamarind puckers the lips. The small amount of sugar just barely balances on the edge--in fact I found it too tangy and added an extra teaspoon to my taste. There is a prominent shrimp-paste depth in this curry and I would suggest reducing if one was averse to those flavours. I added extra veggies in order to make this more of a one-pot affair and welcomed the various textures of the nicely-complemented melange. This is definitely a more wild, rustic curry that may not be loved by all but as it was we enjoyed it quite well.
Kaeng Hung Leh--Burmese Style Pork Belly Curry, pg. 170
This is a difficult recipe to review. On the one hand if this recipe had come with a different name in Ricker's book, I'd probably give it a pretty good thumbs up. But on the other hand I've made other Kaeng Hung Leh that I liked much, much better than this one, so the results were, for me, a bit of a let down.
It is effectively a slow braise based on a paste (lemongrass, salt, galangal, chiles, shallots, shrimp paste) lightly cooked in oil, to which shallots, "curry powder", turmeric powder, are added, then the meats for a quick stir to break the rawness, then the liquids, fish sauce, black soy, pickled garlic juice, and some palm sugar. Add in tamarind liquid and water, and simmer 45 min, then add in julienned ginger, simmer an additional 45 min, add pickled garlic, then long beans, then its done. I made an exact 1/2 batch, and the only change I made to the recipe was to skim some of the surface fat off before adding the pickled garlic.
My biggest quibble with this recipe is the "mild Indian curry powder" ; really is that what Ricker uses at Pok Pok? What brand? I really really missed the more exact and interesting spicing for other versions.
My second biggest quibble, there isn't enough ginger. Really Really missed that too.
Anyway, this is a good dish, but also a rich dish; a half batch will easily go three meals, served with rice and a side green, for the two of us. We had on third the night it was made, a second third a couple of days later, and final third is in the freezer. When reheating it, I added in some fresh chunks of long bean, so that there was still some crispness to the dish.
Jin Hoom Neua (Northern Thai Stewed Beef Soup) Ipad Version
This was dinner for us last night and we really disliked it. I must begin by saying that I made a few substitutions which likely might have impacted the flavour, but I suspect it wouldn't have been a winner for us either way.
Essentially you create a paste out of lemongrass, galangal, turmeric root, rehydrated chilies, salt, garlic, shallot, and shrimp paste. Herein lies the problem, the amount of galangal and turmeric root (2.5oz) overpowered everything else. Even after cooking for 2.5 hours I felt like the broth was something a chinese herbalist might prescribe. The lemongrass, garlic, and shallot were completely lost.
There were two more issues with the broth but those were likely my error. Firstly I couldn't find anything but dried thai chiles at my market so I used about 1/3 the amount of chiles called for, plus the recipe has you add 3 tb of the toasted chile powder to the broth. I was already worried about heat so I went with 1 tb. Now we aren't the toughest when it comes to spice but we aren't total wimps either. That said for us, the dish was far too fiery. It may have been the thai chiles so I'll take the blame if that is what it was. Secondly, the dish takes 1.5 tb of home made shrimp paste. Having not been able to find the required Korean dried shrimp I decided just to buy a thai brand of shrimp paste. Knowing how funky this stuff can be I went with about half as much as required, thinking the commercial stuff might be more potent. Not sure if it is or isn't, but I did find the shrimp paste was one of the only things that I could taste through the heat and medicine cabinet, and not in a good way.
Anyhow, I had the 2lbs of sliced beef shank in there so I determined to strain the liquid and separate it from the beef. I then mixed the broth with some chicken stock, a touch more light soy, and a good squeeze of lime. A moderate amount of this new stock went over the beef which was garnished with the herbs. Served over regular jasmine rice it was passable, but in its original incarnation I would have never been able to get through more than a few spoons full.
I realize this is a bit of a rant, but honestly, I feel like I can still taste my first sampling of the broth and it has been almost a whole day since then.
"Secondly, the dish takes 1.5 tb of home made shrimp paste.Knowing how funky this stuff can be I went with about half as much as required, thinking the commercial stuff might be more potent."
On the Pok Pok paste:
2 cups jarred Korean salted shrimp
2 tablespoons Thai shrimp paste
At 1 cup = 16 tablespoons, then the 1.5 tablespoons of PokPok paste blend contains ~3/16 of a Tablespoon of Thai shrimp paste. You used not 3/16T, not 3/8T, but 3/4 T which (even granting the flavor concentrating effect of the gapi on the comparatively mild Korean salted shrimp) gets to the official "Wowie!!!!!!!!!" level.This is amount of shrimp paste used in some gapi intense Thai dishes and the mighty Bún bò Huế, well, the Vietmanese soup calls for a bit more, but that is the rough ball park your playing in.
All of this aside, when I made the soup with the specified anount of Pok Pok blended paste I was not any happier than you with the result.
Thanks Wewwew, I thought it seemed like a lot, thank goodness I didn't go 1 to 1 on the commercial stuff. I had no idea if the dried korean shrimp would be more or less potent. Either way, I agree with you that the results would have been not so good regardless of the shrimp paste situation.
Fyi, I bet your use of thai chilies made it a lot hotter than intended.
Looking at this table of chilies and their scoville unit ranges:
Thai chilies: 50,000 - 100,000 vs Puya chilies: 5,000 - 10,000
This soup is on the menu for us tonight - will report back.
Jin Hoom Neua - Northern Stewed Beef Soup p.154
We ate this last night. The verdict was mixed. My SO thought it was great; I was less enthused.
I broke the preparation into stages - curiously, Ricker does not note to this for this dish, although he has do ahead notes for other recipes in the book. I recommend you consider breaking this up - the curry paste takes some time.
He wants you to make the paste in a mortar and pestle - I opted for the food processor. I did process the items in the same order he directs you to do: Lemongrass and salt, then galangal, then tumeric root, then soaked chilies (in place of puya I used gualillo), then garlic, then shallots, then homemade shrimp paste. The shrimp paste is a mix of prepared shrimp paste and salted shrimp that he has you pound into a paste in the mortar and pestle - again, I opted for the food processor (making the shrimp paste first, before the curry paste, meant that I didn’t need to clean out the bowl too thoroughly - hurray).
You also need toasted chile powder (another recipe in the book) - I subbed some ancho chile powder we had.
I ended up cooking this in a slow cooker (on low, 4 hours) - it was the only way I could figure to make this a week night meal. In the instructions, the onions go in halfway through cooking, but I added them at the beginning. The beef, which Ricker wants to be on the chewy side, was much more tender than he would wanted (fine by me).
Due to the chile substitutions I made (guajillo and ancho) it wasn't as spicy as we wanted, so we also added a bit of cayenne.
We found the lemongrass to be pretty prominent. There was a funkiness to it that I'm not sure the source - galangal? tumeric? We also added some lime juice - it needed something bright, even after adding the fresh herbs. We had it with sticky rice and the mushroom salad that is also in the book (one of his recommended pairings). That was great, and had the sourness that the stew needed.
My SO thought that it would be really good with a more gelatinous cut of meat - we used chuck steaks, because that's what the butcher had.
We have a ton leftover - it's a good thing one of us is excited about it. I don't think this is one I'll be craving.
Got it, thanks. FWIW, we've been liking the salads and his one plate dishes quite a bit (have a few more to write up, haven't gotten to it. Phat Thai isn't one I've tried). As for the soup, it's a type of dish, spare rib w/ bitter green, that we like, so it may just be us. A lot of the other "curries" just aren't calling me. But I may just have to try one of the laap recipes....we'll see.
Thanks for the write up fairyinthewoods, I used the suggested beef shank and it was quite tender after 1.5 hours of simmering on the stovetop. For me, as for you, this was actually a positive.
I also wanted to add that I partially followed the instructions with regards to using a mortar and pestle for the paste. I got out my small mortar and did the individual ingredients (except the chilies which went straight in to the processor) one at a time, and then combined them in the mini chopper to finish creating the paste. This saved me some time but it still took quite a while.
Kai Yaang (modified version). Whole Roasted Young Chicken [chicken thighs] page 135.
So, let me say right off the bat that I knowingly mangled what looks to be a glorious, but complicated, recipe. I streamlined Rickers brined, stuffed, marinated, basted and glazed chicken to make something more doable for me, knowing that I didn't want to spend all day in the kitchen. I used bone in skin on chicken thighs instead of small whole chickens, and I skipped the stuffing step altogether. It still was a good bit of work, but totally worth it.
First, you make a brine with salt, sugar, lemongrass, cilantro, garlic, peppercorns, green onions and ginger. I made a half batch of the brine and brined my chicken thighs overnight. The next day you drain your chicken and according to the recipe would stuff them. I skipped that and went straight to the marinade with a marinade of fish sauce, thin soy sauce, sugar and black pepper. This is brushed on and then the chicken is dried in the fridge. I wasn't sure how well this thin marinade stuck to the chicken thighs, but I soldiered on. I cooked my chicken on the Weber charcoal grill with a banked fire as directed. Given my thighs, my cooking time was less, but I followed the directions to start on indirect heat, then baste with shallot oil. Finally they are glazed with a honey mix and finished over direct heat to brown the skin.
These were the best grilled chicken I have ever made. I must admit I was a little grumpy and very hungry by the time these thighs were done, but they were incredibly good! The meat was juicy and flavorful, the skin was mahogany brown and crispy with delicious flavor from the shallot oil and honey glaze. I have never made grilled chicken before with such delectable skin. The sweet chile dipping sauce was a great accompaniment, with the fiery heat punctuating the luscious meat.
I didn't take a picture, but it was a great looking grilled chicken thigh. I served this with sticky rice and simple stir fried broccoli-- a great meal.
Kai Yaang--Whole Roasted Young Chicken, p. 135
Wow! I concur completely w/greeneggsnham: these birds are delicious and, yes, the best grilled poultry I've ever prepared.
While there are a lot of steps--brining, then fridge-drying the stuffed hens, marinating, cooking and basting, making dipping sauce--none is particularly difficult.
I followed the recipe pretty faithfully. The only changes I made were putting three Cornish hens (just over a pound each) instead of two into the brine (in a zip-lock bag, overnight) and grilling on a gas grill. I did make the stuffing (lemongrass, garlic cloves, salt, white peeper, cilantro stems). I also made one of the suggested dipping sauces, the tamarind (Naam Jim Kai Yaang), but it's definitely unnecessary.
The cooked birds were indeed juicy and infused with all the wonderful flavors from the brine, stuffing, marinade, and basting sauces.
I'd wager that this is the Pok Pok recipe that I'll repeat most often. Perfect for summer. Next time, I plan to serve it with a spicy watermelon salad.