April 2014 COTM - Pok Pok: Chile Dips pg. 172-181, Sweets pg. 252-266, Sundry Items pg. 267-287
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Chile Dips pg. 172-181
Sweets pg. 252-266
Sundry Items (Stock, Condiments, and Pantry Staples) Pg. 267-287
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.