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April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Chile Dips pg. 172-181, Sweets pg. 252-266, Sundry Items pg. 267-287

Greetings all!

Please use this thread to post your reviews of the following:

Chile Dips pg. 172-181
Sweets pg. 252-266
Sundry Items (Stock, Condiments, and Pantry Staples) Pg. 267-287

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  1. Naam Jim Kai, Sweet Chile Dipping Sauce, page 276

    I just made this to serve with a streamlined version of the Kai Yaang (Whole roasted young chicken-thighs only edition) that I'm planning on grilling tonight.

    This is easy to make. Just simmer sugar, vinegar and water together. Pound garlic, salt and thai chiles in the mortar and then add that to the sugary vinegar syrup and simmer together to thicken.

    I made a half recipe and man is it spicy. Nothing like the jarred version you can get at the supermarket. I'm a little worried that it'll blow us away, but we'll see. I'll report back on how it goes with the chicken.

    1 Reply
    1. re: greeneggsnham

      Every time I make a version of sweet chile sauce I am shocked at how impressively spicy it is vs the cloyingly sweet store-bought versions, and how much more flavour it contains!
      Looking forward to hearing about your gai yang.

    2. Sup Kraduuk Muu (Pork Stock) pg. 268 and Muu Deng (Bouncy pork Balls) pg. 269

      I made both the Pork stock and bouncy pork balls this weekend. I saw pork neck bones at the Asian market and decided to tackle the pork stock and then since many of the soup type recipes call for the pork balls, I thought I would make a triple batch this weekend to make some easy weeknight meals during the week.

      So the stock--- I have never made a pork stock before, so I appreciated Ricker's fairly detailed directions. Wash bones, cover with water, boil, drain, wash, and then put fresh water in and bring to a simmer for 3 hours, skimming occasionally. At the end, you add aromatics including a whole head of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, daikon radish, green onions, cilantro, Chinese celery (i subbed regular celery) and peppercorns. With all these aromatics, the broth smelled incredible, to the point where I kept leaning over the pot to take a big whiff. This is simmered for 30 minutes and then everything is drained. Although the aromatics smelled incredible while they were in the stock pot, the final stock is really quite mild. I was actually a little disappointed that the aromatic flavor wasn't more prominent in the final stock, although it does make it very versatile. Next time, I may simmer the aromatics longer to achieve a stronger flavor.

      The bouncy pork balls are pretty easy, although a triple batch (1.5 lbs of meat) was pretty time consuming. You boil the meatballs, which was new to me, but you end up with a tasty meatball with a nice meaty flavor highlighted by garlic and black pepper.

      I made an impromptu soup with fresh chinese wheat noodles, the pork stock seasoned with thin soy sauce and fish sauce, the pork meatballs, and poached eggs. It was delicious, but did not taste very Thai to me-- actually tasted like ramen more than anything--- but very good homemade ramen. The pork flavor was the dominant flavor. Still have 3 quarts of stock and a ton of meatballs in the fridge-- hoping for some easy weeknight meals for the fam.

      2 Replies
      1. re: greeneggsnham

        Great review. I've been wondering if those pork balls would freeze well, what do you think?

        1. Naam Phrik Kha, Dry-Fried Galangal Chile Dip, pg. 180

          These relishes really are the soul of Southeast Asian food, but I'm always so lazy about making them. Let's face it they take time, and then you only need a teaspoon or so for the table at meal. This one really intrigued me, though, and since we've been having over-all pretty good results from this book, and especially since Mr. QN volunteered (got volunteered ?) to help with the pounding, why not.

          The paste starts with un-soaked dry puyas chiles and salt. Still haven't found puyas, so my substitute for four puyas is-1 kashmiri for color and fruitiness, 2 facing heaven for heft, and 1 thai for spunk- who knows how close this is, but we've been liking the flavor. Anyway, break the chiles down in the mortar and pestle, then add lemongrass--Ricker says slice fine, but I grate mine on a micro-plane before adding it to the mortar, then add galangal, ditto on the grating--who can resist the aroma of fresh galangal? and finally add some garlic.

          You then dry fry this paste in a wok over very low heat, breaking up and stirring the clumps. this takes about a half an hour. You end up with something that looks like dried red clay; but the flavor--wow! Can't think of anything where galangal shines through like this.

          To get the texture right for dipping, we whizzed some in the spice grinder. Had it as an alternative dip for the grilled pork neck, and especially for the cabbage wedges. Can't wait to try it with lots of other veggie combinations.

          1. Jaew--Spicy, Tart Dipping Sauce for Meat, p. 278

            This was a royal PITB. I made it--and its three sub-recipes--to go with the Thai-style ribs, and in the end just didn't think this worth the effort. It certainly didn't make me love the ribs.

            Once you've made the Naam Cheuam Naam Taan Piip (the easy one: palm sugar dissolved in water; lots of other uses come to mind), the Phrik Phon Khua, and the Khao Khua--no mean feat--you mix 2 T fish sauce (Tiparos), 1½ T thin soy sauce (Healthy Boy), 3/4 tsp. Maggi seasoning, 3½ T key lime juice, 1½ T of the palm sugar simple syrup, 10 grams of thinly sliced tender lemon grass innards, and 1½ T of the Phrik Phon Khua. That sits for a while and, right before using it, you mix in 1 T ea. of the Khao Khua and chopped cilantro.

            It was spicy and tart, but just OK and a lot of work if you don't have those sub-recipe ingredients on hand.

            1. Phrik Phon Kua--Toasted-Chile Powder, p. 270

              Simple enough: you toast 1 oz stemmed puya chiles (procured from nearby Latino market) over low heat until they are "brittle and very dark brown" for, Ricker says, about 15-20 minutes, stirring and flipping constantly. Make that 40-45 minutes in my big cast iron skillet.

              I hope I never have reason to do this again. Even with door open and vents going, I ended up putting on one of those painters' masks.

              Once cooled, the chiles (minus any stray seeds) went into my nifty new Preethi multi-grind gadget (yes, I am nuts, but I'd have to be institutionalized if I had to grind these in my mortar and pestle), which works fabulously.

              Presumably I'll have other uses for the Phrik Phon Khua besides the Jaew.

              1. Khao Khua--Toasted-Sticky Rice Powder, p. 271

                Oy. Nothing difficult about this process, but a lot of time, and I'm not sure this was worth it. Maybe it will miraculously transform some other recipes, but I honestly couldn't taste what it added to the Jaew.

                One cup of uncooked Thai glutinous rice is soaked in water (overnight in my case), then drained and laid out to dry. I let mine get quite dry before proceeding. Into a large cast iron skillet (over med. low heat) goes the rice. Then you stir . . . and stir . . . and stir . . . . for me, almost twice as long as Ricker indicates.

                Since I had to be somewhere about two hours after I started and it became clear I wasn't going to be finished, I ended up doing this in two shifts (which seemed not to matter at all--just be sure to stir constantly off the heat until the pan cools before stopping the first time so the rice won't continue to cook).

                I've included photos (not sure they're all that helpful) at 25 minutes, at 60 minutes, and again at the near-peanut butter shade (1 hour, 45 minutes).

                These were cooled slightly before going into the Preethi grinder, which made very short work of transforming the rice into the texture of "coarse sand."

                I just didn't think this tasted like much.

                3 Replies
                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                  Good for you NMC, I have to say I saw this recipe and pretty much decided that I either wouldn't make anything that called for it, or I would leave it out. I assume it is meant to be used just as a thickening agent, no?

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    I made this also - I dried out my rice on a cookie sheet in a low oven (maybe 300F convection?) and then decided to leave it in there, and just stir every 10 minutes. It got partially browned, and then just stopped getting color. I think it was in the oven for about an hour. I then put it in a cast iron pan, and stirred it for a bit, but after 20 min or so, lost patience. So maybe I just needed to be more patient?

                    1. re: fairyinthewoods

                      I'm still waiting to see if the result is worth all that patience, fairyinthewoods. I'll have to try this in another recipe that calls for it. In the meantime, color me skeptical.

                  2. Sticky Rice with Durian Custard, Khao Niaw Sankhaya Turian, pg. 260

                    Typo alert. 1.5 lbs sugar for a five egg custard? No way. Probably should have been a half pound?

                    I came to that conclusion by reading the rest of the recipe--ultimately you need 1.5 Cups of softened sugar. I was making a half batch, so needed 3/4 C. I measured out 1 Cup of the palm sugar discs loosely packed, weighed it, 4 oz., and then softened it. As AR indicates, once softened I had a bit too much--so my guess is that for a full batch 6-8 oz sugar, for a half batch 3-4 oz.

                    For my half batch I used two duck eggs Full recipe calls for 5 chicken eggs to equal 1C+2 TBS EGG; my 2 duck eggs measured just over a half cup --perfect.

                    The rest is pretty easy, mix defrosted durian, eggs, coconut cream, softened palm sugar, a tapioca starch slurry, and pandan leaf. Strain through a mesh sieve. Steam for 45min to 1 hr. Mine was done in 45 minutes.

                    This should be served with sweet sticky rice--I got distracted and forgot to soak the rice, so skipped the rice. Mistake, the custard is nice enough on its own, but it really needs something a little less sweet and a tad chewier as an accompaniment.

                    1. Ajaat (cucumber relish) P. 283
                      This is a very simple relish made with sliced cucumber, shallots, Thai chilies, cilantro and equal parts (6 T each of white vinegar and sugar plus 1/2 c. H2O). I left out the chilies since I was serving this with a spicy chicken/basil dish and wanted the relish as a respite from the spice.
                      I also cut back on the sugar and did 6 T vinegar to 3 T sugar and that was sweet enough for me.
                      I added some carrot curls for color.
                      I made the spicy chicken basil recipe (pork variation) from It Rains Fishes and the relish was a delicious addition to the meal. I am going to make the Pok Pok version of the same recipe tomorrow (while the holy basil still holds out - it's an enormous bunch) so I can do a comparison of the two recipes.