Je Mange

“I eat therefore I am”– Culinary Genius

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.


  • At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great article on learning to cook Thai food. If you can't get it all from a cookbook, try this site.
    There's about 30 Thai dishes with a cooking video you can watch for each one.


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