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Thai Vegetable Stew January 3, 2009

Posted by panterazero in chicken, exotic!, Kip of the Week, soups and stews, Thai.
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Okay.  Our international readers don’t have this problem, but in the United States, the two holidays when turkey is classically served — Thanksgiving and Christmas — unfortunately happen to be only a month apart.  After two turkeys in the space of a month, it’ll probably be six months before you want to even think about cooking and eating another turkey, and six months after Christmas, you can’t find one to buy.  So, whether for personal or logistical reasons, we’re all through with turkey for the moment.  Let’s tackle something that in its format, in its ingredients, and in its seasoning is a complete relief.

Complicated?  Yes.  Healthy?  Yes.  Bliss-inducing?  Surprisingly.

First Day

Prepare stock:
2 quarts water
1 quart box chicken stock
6 boneless, skinless (Costco) chicken thighs; no need to thaw first
one whole stalk celery with leaves
a piece of fresh ginger the size of your thumb, peeled, and cut in quarters lengthwise
two bay leaves

Bring the water to a boil.  Add the stock and bring to a boil again (you don’t want to boil box stock very long).  Add all other ingredients, cover pot and put in 225° oven for 2 hours.

Take the pot out of the oven.  Remove the chicken thighs, put them on a plate or in a bowl, and refrigerate them.  Return stock to oven for another 2 hours.  Remove and discard the celery, ginger and bay leaves.  Cover the stock and refrigerate it overnight.

Second Day

Skim the fat off the stock, strain it if necessary, and warm it slowly.

Prepare garlic:
10 cloves garlic
2 T corn or canola oil

Chop garlic (a food processor helps) and mix it with the oil in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave one minute at a time, checking, till the garlic takes on color, then thirty seconds at a time till the garlic is golden brown.  (This should take about three minutes total, but that depends very much on your microwave.  Don’t take it beyond golden brown or it may be unusable.)

Add to the stock:
the prepared garlic
one large yellow onion skinned and chopped
six medium carrots pared and cut in thick hunks
1 lb. white mushrooms washed and sliced thick

Bring to a boil, then simmer on lowest heat (you don’t want the carrots to disintegrate) for about an hour.  Meanwhile

Prepare the topping:
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 green onions, white part and healthy-looking green part, sliced
1 cup Trader Joe’s Lime and Chile Peanuts [or:
1 cup roasted peanuts
half teaspoon red flake pepper
zested rind of one small lime ]

In a food processor mince the garlic, add the green onions and mince, add the peanuts and pulse-chop till everything is sort of chunky and sticky.  Put the mixture in a serving bowl and refrigerate.  Take the poached chicken thighs, remove and discard any fat, and shred the meat.

Stem and soak your greens (see below) if they’re not prewashed.

Add to the soup:
the shredded chicken
one 14-oz can coconut milk
2 to 4 small zucchini, diced
one 1-lb bag baby spinach
one bunch broccoli rabe, stemmed and chopped

Bring the soup to a boil and stir just until the zucchini is tender.  Serve very hot with the topping on the side; the serving spoon for the topping should hold a generous tablespoon (e. g. Chinese soup spoon).

© /KC January 2009

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KotW: Kip’s Koftas September 10, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in Kip of the Week, red meat, Thai.
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As you’ll realize from the parade of chicken and vegetable recipes in here, I don’t cook red meat that often. When I do, it’s an occasion, and I put a little extra work into it. So it is that hamburger — whose attraction used to be that you only needed to shape it and put it near some heat — works its way into dishes with several ingredients and a slightly fancy presentation. These koftas have a venerable Middle Eastern attitude toward ground beef, but with a bit of Thai spin in the details.

Piece of fresh ginger the size of your thumb, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup prepared red curry sauce (I use Trader Joe’s)
[or:
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
pinch salt ]

In a food processor, grind the ginger and garlic as fine as possible. Add the onions, curry powder, allspice and nutmeg, and pulse-chop until minced but not mushy.

Preheat broiler. By hand, combine the onion mixture, ground beef, egg, and curry sauce. Shape into eight thin patties and broil five to six minutes each side. Serve with rice and with more curry sauce if desired. Serves four as a main meat course or eight as an appetizer.

© /KC September 2008

Saeng’s Orient Review. June 29, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in New Mexico, restaurants, reviews, Thai.
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Kip and I have an announcement to make: There is water in the desert. And by “water,” we mean “good Thai food.” It’s hard to find decent Asian food of any variety ’round these parts (these parts being the Land of Enchantment, er, Enchiladas) — Adri had been telling me about Saeng’s Orient  for three years, but I never got around to going. This weekend being what it was — Adri, Kip, and I sitting around thinking of things to eat — the topic of Saeng’s came up again. The difference was, this time we actually went.

Saeng’s Orient is the kind of restaurant that doesn’t exist on the plains. It’s a bright blue, hand-painted metal structure that may have originally been a trailer. It’s on a classic two-lane blacktop road, halfway between civilization and an Air Force base. You would have to see the “neon” “sign” to believe it; the thing is nothing more than several strings of Christmas lights tortured and twisted into letters that spell out “Saeng’s Orient” in four different, jarring colors.

The dining room is more reassuring — but not by much — than the exterior, with sturdy wooden tables that seat four, nondescript carpeting, and bright calendars and posters of Thailand. We were encouraged to choose our own table, and it’s a good thing we liked it, because we ordered and then waited a while. (A good while, as it turned out — as the waitress told us after twenty minutes, “Saeng likes to make this stuff fresh, you know.” To which we said, “Okay.” Who’s gonna argue with totally fresh Thai?)

The menu, with about twenty-five Thai dishes and fifteen Chinese dishes, also does some tongue-in-cheek borrowing from Japan (chuka soba) and the Philippines (pansit), and includes several dishes that might baffle even an aficionado of big-city Asian cuisine. Any dish can be ordered at one of six (!) levels of spiciness, ranging from “no hot,” which actually isn’t, to “X-hot,” which is recommended only for those with seriously armored mouths. (Or for those upon whom you wish unending suffering, according to Adri.) “Medium” is a good compromise, which allows for all the flavor but won’t leave you with nagging blisters.

We started with fried gilozi and pork satay with peanut sauce. You might think that gilozi are like Japanese gyoza, but they’re not — the skins are thicker, the ends are tucked, and the filling is more finely ground. (Sara called them “a demon cross between an egg roll and a wonton” at the time, and she’s not wrong.) The crimson, translucent Thai sweet & sour sauce served with them involves pineapple juice, coconut milk, tamarind juice, red curry paste, and several other ingredients — this is not shopping-mall sweet & sour sauce. The satay, meanwhile, were adorned with grill stripes, gloriously chewy, and thickly coated with homemade peanut sauce comprising impossible amounts of garlic. (Sara interjects here to say NOM NOM NOM.)

The first entrée, Michael’s basil-and-beef stir-fry in brown sauce, proves that “no hot” emphatically doesn’t mean “not spicy.” The flavorful deep-brown sauce contained galanga, turmeric, and other ingredients that complemented the basil perfectly — but, unusually for a Thai dish, no chili pepper, which made the interplay of flavors very gentle. Although the dish was definitively “no hot,” the most amusing moment of the dinner came when Michael was about twelve bites in: we all looked over to see him, bright red and terribly sweaty, with his eyes bulging from his head and a terribly distraught look on his face. “It’s good,” he said, “but it TASTES like something.” The “something” was, in fact, nothing more sinister than basil.

Kip had the pad prik khing, rich with chunks of marinated pork and fresh green beans, but prepared “medium,” meaning with enough chili pepper to cause total surrender of his sinuses. The same chili was the armature of Adri’s delightful red chicken curry, the light coconut-based sauce of which was speckled with scarlet grains that really packed a wallop. Unusually, the only vegetable included was bamboo shoots, but the straightforward quality of the ingredients gave the sauce the priority it deserved. Sara’s pad thai was absolutely fantastic, and absolutely huge. The testament to its greatness came when writing this entry: there was plenty of the basil and beef left over for reference purposes, but absolutely none of the pad thai. Served mild, it was absolutely perfect — the curry had a nice sharp bite, but didn’t overpower the onion, peanut, and yellow sauce. The noodles, too often a sticky afterthought in this dish, were firm, translucent, and obviously delicious on their own. (NOM.)

We would write about dessert, but we left right after the meal, stuffed to capacity and dizzy with food shock. We’ll take it on faith that Saeng’s Orient offers some of the finest Asian food in New Mexico.