Je Mange

“I eat therefore I am”– Culinary Genius

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Broiled Thai Curry Shrimp


8 shrimp (about 25-30 count) with heads and shells intact
1 T Thai red curry paste

  • Marinate shrimp with curry paste in a bag for 30-60 minutes. Dilute paste with some water if necessary.
  • Cover broiler pan with foil and preheat for atleast 15 minutes.
  • When read to cook remove shrimp and pat dry.
  • Cook in a single layer for about 20 seconds. If using smaller shrimp reduce this time, it should cook about ⅓ of the way.
  • Using tongs flip shrimp and cook for another 20 seconds.
  • Remove immediately lest they become over cooked. They should be slightly under done to account for carry over heat/cooking.
  • Serve immediately. Try serving with Thai sweet chili sauce.

Seafood Dinner

So my girlfriend has been very health conscious lately. By request I made lots of seafood for her. We went to a windy Chinatown and bought: 2 lbs of shrimp (with heads and shells intact), ½ lbs bay scallops and 2 salmon tails.

I ended up making:
  1. Broiled Thai Curry Shrimp
  2. Sautéed Salmon Fillet in Teriyaki Broth
  3. Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops with a Crustacean Butter Cream Sauce
  4. Kombu Dashi Rice Pilaf
I also served very cold and very good sake. Unfortunately the sake was ill received. Also the scallops were of poor quality upon tasting, in my opinion.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Thai Curry Paste

Well I had some success. After three hours of intermittent pounding I developed approximately 2 cups of brown sludge. It is terrifically flavourful and very hot.

Certainly I'm not pleased with spending so much time and watching so many crappy movies. However I feel that I've learned a thing or two about using a mortar and pestal; I think next time it will take me much less time.

I also think it's helpful to prep the ingredients as best as possible. For instance the recipe calls for chopped items, I could process them in a small food processor. (Why not do the whole thing in a food processor you ask? Well there's lots of oils and flavours that develop through pounding; such as the seeds of the chilies all have to be crushed.)

The ingredients, going clockwise, starting left of the yellow can, at the 6:10 position.
  1. chopped garlic
  2. chopped cilantro roots and stems
  3. chopped reconstituted dried chilies, half seeded
  4. chopped roasted fresh chilies
  5. ground roasted coriander seed and Thai white peppercorns
  6. ground roasted cumin and caraway
  7. freshly grated nutmeg
  8. chopped lemongrass
  9. rind/zest of kaffir lime
  10. chopped shallots
  11. shrimp paste
And there is salt in the mortar. First you begin with the garlic and form a paste, adding each successive ingredient only when the current is well incorporated.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Thai Showdown

So it all began with some friendly competition of gift giving between Shayo and I at Christmas. A food book she had given me, which proved to be exceptional, lead me to 'Cracking the Coconut' by Su-Mei Yu. (Incidentally the book I was given was Steingarten's 'It must have been something I ate'. She trumped me in books but I won overall. Varily I gave her no books since she's not read any books I gave her from the Christmas prior.)

Yu's book takes a traditional approach to Thai cooking. Last week I found a huge mortar and pestal in Chinatown and schlepped the 40 lb weight back home. According to Yu the cornerstone of Thai foods flavour is composed of in a base paste consisting of salt, garlic, Thai peppercorns and the stems and roots of cilantro. Thankfully we buy a full case of cilantro at work every week, dirty roots included. Normally we curse and toss them out but I snagged and cleaned some for my experiments.

I've done my research. I've consulted my Thai grocer. I've bought the necessary(and the unnecessary) ingredients and corresponding gadgets (actually I still lack a full sized food processor). I even have a fresh coconut and a backup of frozen shredded coconut defrosting in the fridge. I felt this precaution prudent since fresh coconuts are notorious for not being fresh (the water inside is rancid, the flesh is brown, bugs infest the skin, its molding etc).

So with the final purchase of some whole nutmeg I feel confident in tomorrows Thai showdown where the true curry is distinguished from the posers. I'm not actually battling anyone but my chef and Thai grocer want to have a taste. I personally hope to create something better than the ubiquitous Thai pastes found in those colourful cans, tastes so commonly found in the scores of those charming Thai restaurants which abound in New York City.