CHEF SAMBRANO Food Articles Video Recipes

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PERSONAL CHEF

PERSONAL CHEF
FOOD FOR REAL PEOPLE

Friday, July 29, 2011

TOFU STEW FOR VEGAN KIDS

To the left is a picture of a block of organic tofu, made from soy. If your children aren't allergic to soy, then tofu is a great protein for them if they are vegan. Vegan means a person that doesn't eat any animal based products. Here is a simple recipe for a vegan meal. It should serve 4 kids.


First make about 2 cups of organic brown rice for the side.


TOFU STEW
14 oz. block of firm organic tofu cut into cubes and set aside, leave in a colander and strain out most of the water
16 fl. oz of organic tomato sauce
1 small can of organic tomato paste
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 large russet potato peeled and cubed into bite-size pieces
1 large carrot cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 stalks of celery cut diagonally 1/4 inch
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. steak sauce
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
Sea salt to taste


1. Heat up a pot to medium high heat, add in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, and vegetable broth, bring to a boil, then lower to simmer.
2. Add in the potatoes and carrots, cook for 10 minutes to soften. Then add in the celery and the rest of the ingredients. Season with the salt to taste.
3. Add in the tofu, and simmer for 15 minutes, off the heat. Serve with brown rice.


This is a great meal for lowering your cholesterol, for it has no saturated animal fats.

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THAI COOKING 101: Really? Thai Style Meat Loaf? Yep!

Okay this is an improvised dish, my long time friend and brother of many fun trips on the golf course and beyond wanted some meat loaf. But since I am on a Thai cooking thang, let's all improvise a Thai style meat loaf that will be sure to please. First let's get about 3 lbs. of ground beef.
Raw ground beef
I like to get ground beef that is not so lean, because having some fat content in the ground beef will lend a great tasting gravy when the loaf is done roasting. The more flavors added to the mixture your loaf will be the talk of the hood for sure.


Let's get us some ingredients to make this meatloaf work. We're going to work with 3 lbs. of ground beef with these seasonings below.








3 lbs. ground beef
2 eggs beaten
1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced lemongrass
1/4 cup minced scallions
6 red chille peppers minced
2 tbsp. minced ginger
3 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)


1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. f.; grease a pan deep enough to hold 3 lbs. of ground beef or a medium loaf pan or medium casserole pan.
2. Break apart the ground beef into a mixing bowl. Add in some salt and pepper, then the eggs, mix that well before adding in the bread crumbs. Then add in the bread crumbs, lemongrass, scallions, chile peppers, ginger, ketchup, soy sauce and Nam Pla. Mix this really well.
3. Place this mixture into a large enough loaf pan or casserole dish, bake for about 1 hour. Remove and let it rest.
4. Carefully cut each piece into desired shape and thickness.
5. Remove the fat and juices from loaf pan, add it into a sauce pan and bring it to a high boil, then turn down heat to medium. Add in about 3 tbsp. of flour, maybe more. And then add in a can and a half of low sodium beef broth, stir with whisk until it thickens. Pour gravy over the loaf and enjoy.



Monday, July 25, 2011

Being A Great Home Cook Takes Practice & Patience

If you are delving in cooking for the first time in your life, don't be afraid to fail, just keep on trying until you got the dish right. Some people pick up on things faster than others. Take sports for instance, some kids pick up basketball and excel quicker than others, and the others,  well they need more work. But with anything, persistence will get you there, just don't quit because you burnt the shrimp with garlic stir-fry, or your braised short ribs were like soup. Don't quit.


A tip I keep suggesting to beginning foodies at home is this, practice creating that dish you always wanted to create. Let's say you want to cook a  great beef curry. Well, ask the chef that makes it how he or she does it. If they don't want to share, then buy some cookbooks that have beef curry in it and practice. Cook not just for yourself, but make a fun time out of it, invite your friends that knows how to cook, and have them walk you through things, like how to cut a potato into a cube.


Once you have mastered it, then move on to another dish. First master one dish at a time. You're not in a competition, so don't get flustered, don't get discouraged. And oh yes, there's going to be critics out there so watch out. Like people can be nice in front of you, but be ready for the 2 faced peeps out there, they come in sheep's clothing but are wolves. They'll say nice things about that beef curry, but when you turn your back... watch out! I've been there before, and at times just wanted to throw in the towel but I keep on going and learning, that's how you succeed, you never quit, develop some thick skin and you're good to go.


Keep on trying!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Southern Thai Cooking; A Look at Coconut Milk

There is nothing better than to have meals made from scratch, imagine making all of your sauces from scratch, all of your condiments, meats, all made custom. But, like I said many times in this day and age who has the time to really make any meal from scratch, when time is really a serious matter. Do we whip up our own mayonnaise? Probably not, even some great chefs use ready made ones in their high end restaurants. Do we brew ripened tomatoes to make ketchup? No, probably not, we just buy a bottle. You get my drift? So when we talk about Southern Thai cooking, one of the main ingredients is coconut milk. No, it's not utilized in all of the dishes, but it is a vital part of some of the dishes.


Coconut milk can be bought in cans, and are not too expensive, and even the finest of Thai chefs use canned coconut milk, so don't feel bad if you got a friend that picks his own and makes his own coconut milk, to me it's just ridiculous, because canned coconut milk is good enough.


When you buy canned coconut milk, look at the date on the can. If it has been expired, do not use it. If there are dents do not use it. Rust? Never use it. Use cans that are still valid, without any dents, or bad printing on the labels.


Coconut milk is not coconut water, or coconut juice. Coconut juice is coconut water with some kind of fruit juice added in for flavor. Hence lime coconut, orange coconut etc. Coconut water is the water that is in the coconuts itself. It's the meat of the coconut that is grated and mixed in with water and strained several times, mature coconuts are generally used.


Some chefs want the rich thicker creamier coconut milks for richer sauces, or soups. Thinner coconut milk is utilized by most chefs, if they want it thicker, they'll add a thickening agent to it such as cornstarch and water, or flour and butter (roux).


So without any recipes, try this for an exercise, heat up a small saucepan over medium high heat. Note: If you are cooking on someone else's stove, get used to the model of stove, because I am used to using gas, and the last time I used a friend's induction flat top, I had a hard time getting the right heat, I actually got frustrated!


So do this, heat up the sauce pan, add a tbsp. of vegetable oil, and a tsp. of minced ginger, heat that up for about 30  seconds. Then add in 2 tsp. of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce), heat that up for about 30 seconds. Now add in a can of coconut milk. Bring this to a boil, then immediately low it down to a simmer. Cook this for about 15 minutes, it should thicken slightly, the longer you cook it it will reduce in volume and get thicker. You can season this with minced lemongrass, some cilantro, basil and mix it into a beef stir fry, creating a coconut beef stir fry, Thai style.


Sorry no pics.


Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LOSING INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE

It's been a crazy month. A few weeks ago I lost a good friend in Shirley Fong Torres, a person who always gave me positive vibes, feedback, and was a supporter of what I been doing with food, videos, and trying to get my first cookbook started, even lending me her pictures and a recipe for the book. Losing Shirley this past Father's Day weekend was one of my saddest days. Whenever you lose a friend that supports you, and you're trying to do what she did, it left a hole in my creative life. When I found out Shirley died, really a part of me died too. Like they say, life is too short.


Fast forward a few weeks, and I got word that my brother Harold passed on. I was numb. I couldn't believe Harold is gone. Like Shirley, Harold was a chef, and a foodie, a businessman, teacher, brother, father, grandpa. His affinity for Chinese food was known by lots of people. As a partner in one of Maui's most celebrated Chinese restaurants Ming Yuen and Ming Court, Harold and his staff put out some of the most awesome Schezuan food in the history of this island. Now I lost two inspirational forces in the culinary world, and both of them were supportive of what I was trying to do. Shirley lending an ear all the time, and Harold asking me what I was doing, and also offering his ears, and a few tips on cooking. "God...I miss them, they can't be replaced."


So now where do I go? I go forward, I promised Shirley that my cookbook was going to be done, and I am going to get it done. My brother Harold only two weeks before he died told me, "Finish what you've started, just put God in front of it first." Okay then, though my heart has a hole in it, make that three, my biggest fan was mom who died in 09, Shirley and now Harold, all three were foodies deep down in their souls. I promise you guys, I'll finish what I started, though not having them around... well they are looking down from heaven... Maybe this is God's way of saying to me, "Look man, life is too short so get off your ass and finish it, just do it!" Okay. Okay, this is the real deal now. I'm coming. I'm coming, and like a hitter in a slump, I'll refine my game, I'll remember everything Shirley said, and what Harold said. This makes me stronger, watch out, I'm coming, and I'm not losing this time. Never, I'll not quit, I'll not complain. I'm coming. Watch out because this time I got them on my side in spirit, and that makes a man much more stronger and wiser. Though they aren't here on earth, I feel them next to me as I write. 


 Mom, Shirley, and Harold. They touched the face of God in that order. Now.... it's my turn to carry on the promoting of food, cooking, and all that stuff. I can never ever fill those big shoes my brother wore, I'll never be Shirley with her success, but I'll be me, with their wisdom I'll be me, and continue to show people what food is about, and I'll also keep an open mind to learn more about life and people.


I miss all three of you guys... Ma, Shirley, and now brother Harold. But... I'm coming, I won't quit, I am coming... no one will get in my way... I'm coming, and hopefully when I'm gone from this earth, I will at least transform as many lives that I can for the better.
Chef Harold a month and a half before leaving us


My friend Kelsey and I had a nice time at Saigon Cafe with Harold, the food and time together was classic. Thanksgiving this year was supposed to be a Chinese feast made by Harold. We'll have to get the wok and heat it up ourselves.






My friend Shirley Fong Torres a.k.a. wok wiz


Hard to imagine two of the important people in my life recently is gone. Life is too short. Both of them were Chinese chefs, foodies, business people, and very good human beings. If anything to be learned from my talks with both Shirley and my brother Harold, is this... Just be a good person.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

THAI COOKING 101: Thai Style Chopped Steak

1 lb. flank steak
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic


1 small round onion sliced thin
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
1 cup of thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup shredded carrots


3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)


2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. water


1. Slice the flank steak thin across the grain. Heat up a non-stick skillet with oil over medium high heat. Sautee the ginger, garlic for a minute. 
2. Add in the steak and cook until it just turns color, then add in the veggies and cook tossing frequently for a few minutes.
3. Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl, then add into skillet and cook for a few minutes until heated through, about 7 minutes. Add in the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken the sauce. Stir a few times and set it  on a platter for service. Serve hot with Jasmine rice. Salt and pepper to individual specification.
Raw Flank Steak

Sunday, July 17, 2011

THAI COOKING 101: Thai Style Fish Soup Improvised

1 lb. of cubed white fish
1 onion minced
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 inch ginger chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
3 tbsp. vegetable oil

Directions:
Heat up the oil in a small pot, over medium high. Add in the onions, scallions, ginger, garlic, and sautee for about 5 minutes. Add in the fish and cook for 5 minutes.


4 cups of water
1/4 cup of chopped dried squid (in packets in Asian sections)
2 tbsp. of red pepper flakes
2 red chilies chopped with seeds
1/2 cup of soy sauce
4 tbsp. of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 tbsp. of peanut butter


Add in the water, bring to a boil, then add in the dried squid, pepper flakes, red chilies, soy sauce, Nam Pla. Cook for about 5-8 minutes on medium heat. Stir in peanut butter, simmer for about 3-4 minutes.


1 package thin rice noodles.


Add in the rice noodles, and let it cook down to soften. Off heat. Serve in bowls, garnish with chopped Chinese cabbage.

THAI COOKING 101: Thai Style Pizza an Improvised Dish

This is a creation I just thought of, maybe someone has thought of it also, but here is my creation. Sorry no pics but here's the creation. A Thai Style Pizza made on French rolls or slices off a loaf.


6 slices of French rolls or off of a loaf.


1 cup of cream cheese
1 tbsp. of minced garlic
1 tsp. of minced ginger
1 tbsp. of Nam Pla (Thai Fish Sauce)
1 tsp. of minced lemongrass
1 tsp. of minced red chili peppers
1 tbsp. of soy sauce


Mix this well and spoon it over the slices of bread.


3/4 lb. of minced fresh shrimp
1/4 lb. of ground pork
1 1/4 cups of grated cheddar cheese


Mix all of the ingredients together, then divide it on top of the rolls or slices of French bread.


Preheat oven to 370 deg. f.


Place slices of pizza on a baking sheet, and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until it is cooked through.



Friday, July 15, 2011

THAI COOKING 101: Real Thai Chefs Coming Soon

Coming soon, I'll be interviewing some professional Thai Chefs here from the island of Maui. Stay tuned and see what's up when we delve into real Thai style cooking and the business of Thai restaurants.


Will be posting on facebook, twitter, and blogger. Taking place withing the next month. Stay in the loop on www.chefsambrano.blogspot.com


Hope to have videos also, if not some great photos for sure.


Thanks

THAI COOKING 101: Pad Thai

Pad Thai, you've probably heard or seen this dish somewhere, Pad Thai, what is it? Pad Thai. Okay let's all learn together what is Pad Thai.


Pad Thai is generally stir fried rice noodles, with a combination of Thai ingredients. Vegetables may include, bean sprouts, scallions, onions, cabbage. Spices may include peppers, ginger, garlic. Proteins may include fish, shellfish, chicken or tofu. Fish sauce for sure, or Nam Pla (Thai Fish Sauce). And garnished with crushed peanuts, minced coriander, mint, chopped dried peppers, and a chef or home cook can get very creative in creating Pad Thai.
Pad Thai dish with delicious shrimp and veggies.














Pad Thai noodles, there are various excellent brands
Pictured is A Taste of Thai Thin Rice Noodle




Most dried rice noodles need to be re hydrated in warm water to soften before stir frying or to be used.


1. Get a bowl of warm water enough to soak the amount of rice noodles being used.


2. Place the rice noodles in the warm water for about 10 minutes, drain and set aside until ready to be used. It may take sooner than 10 minutes, just keep an eye on it or else it will become mushy.

THAI COOKING 101: Satays and Satay Sauce

Here we go delving into one of my favorite cuisines, Thai food, and when I think of Thai food satays comes to mind. First let's make a simple satay sauce utilizing some ingredients that can be purchased at most supermarkets in the Asian sections. Or if you want more organic and rooted ingredients from Thailand, some out of the way Asian food marts or farmer's markets may have those ingredients, but you can make some great sauces with supermarket stocked brands.


Chicken Satay picture to right
Grilled marinated skewered Chicken Satay


A basic Satay Sauce:


1 can about 10 fl. oz. of coconut milk
1/2 cup to 1/3 cup of crunchy freshly made peanut butter, or chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup of finely chopped sweet Maui onion, or Pearl Onion
3 tbsp. of soy sauce, use dark soy sauce if available
2 tbsp. of raw brown sugar
1 tbsp. of honey
1 tsp. of red pepper flakes


Directions:
Heat a saucepan over medium heat, not too hot. Add all of the ingredients into it, and heat up, stirring constantly into a very smooth sauce. Once you stir it into a smooth sauce, turn up the heat and bring it to a boil, then lower to simmer. Simmer for a few minutes until it thickens slightly, and off the heat. Keep warm.


Drizzle over skewered meats, chicken, or any other protein.  You can use this sauce to baste your skewered meats when cooking over hot coals, and saving the rest to use as a dip.


Food Safety: When basting, you might want to pour the sauce carefully over the skewered meats or protein, never return a brush or other utensil to the sauce, the particles of raw meats can cause cross contamination leading to possible food poisoning..


As far aw marinating the skewered meats or protein, there are a myriad of recipes out there in Thai cooking. A simple marinade can be one like this, and I'll just improvise.


1 lb. of sliced meat/chicken etc.


3/4 cup of filtered water
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. minced scallions
1 tsp. pepper flakes
1 tsp. chopped jalapeno pepper
2 tbsp. of vinegar
3 tbsp. of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tbsp. peanut butter


In a mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients really well. Chill for about two hours, add the protein and marinate covered for about 2 hours, keep chilled. Heat up grill, and skewer the protein and cook to desired and safe temperature.





























Tuesday, July 12, 2011

THAI COOKING 101: Regions

Understanding Thai cooking is understanding the different regions that lies within this country. It is divided into 5 regions. The north, northeast, south (including the Gulf of Thailand), the central plains, and Bankok. Regions depict the native foods, ingredients, and culture that leads to the foods that are prepared for eating.

Map from http://www.en.18dao.net/Map/Thailand

Click to enlarge picture.

Let's talk about the North this includes the city of Chiangmai. Coconuts are not found in this region, so unlike other regions that utilize coconuts in their dishes such as the south, the northern people don't have that for an ingredient unless a traveler happens to supply them with it. Also fish or seafood is not common here, though red meat is found, and various vegetables. A popular dish is the Thai Jungle Curry, this spicy dish comes from the north. Also lettuce wraps with spicy dips are popular Northern Thai dishes. Sticky rice is eaten daily, but not as a dessert like other regions. Learning? I am.

Now let's see what the Northeast region is like. It is very poor, very very poor. Like the north, you won't find coconuts or coconut milk. Red meats are eaten here as well as chicken and pork and wild game. If an animal is eaten, nothing goes to waste. It is common for a Thai cook to utilize an animal's togue, heart, intenstines, and any part that can be cooked.

Now one of the richer regions of Thailand, the South including the Gulf of Thailand. This area borders with Malaysia, lots of white sand beaches, mountains, to the west lots of island that are visited by millions each year. Fishing is a major industry, so seafood is popular here, and the abundance of coconuts, this area lends to the the popular Thai style of cooking we are familiar with. Look at the map as Malaysia sits close by, Malaysian cooking resembles Southern Thai cooking with the useage of coconuts and spicy peppers for curries. Fish sauce is made in this region, a condiment that is vital to Thai style cooking, or Nam Pla as it is called, or simply Thai fish sauce. Also tropical fruits can be found in the south, like mangoes, coconuts, pineapple, papaya, and mangosteen.

So now let's converse about the Central Plains, this area is prone to flooding during monsoon season, it acts as a basin where water is trapped, making this region famous for their cultivation of rice. Pad Thai is famous here. Rice is exported by the tons around the world, Jasmine rice is popular. Varieties of meats can be found in the Central Plains as well, from chicken and beef and fish too. It is common to find desserts made from mangoes and papayas here.

And then we have Bankok. Bankok says a friend of mine, he's been there several times. "Bankok has a lot of street food, stalls all along the streets cooking up awesome foods which are pretty clean and healthy." He continues, "Satays are big, it's just meats that are marinated and pierced with skewers and grilled to perfection." He also talked about fish cakes, and spring rolls with the fish sauce, Nam Pla. In Bankok, all the regional foods are found there, noodles and rice dishes, soups, grilled meats, fish, desserts, spicy, mild and everything in between can be found in Bankok. "If you want to learn to be a Thai cook, Bankok is the place to visit because it represents the whole Thai culinary experience, and it is a happening city for any foodie. Chinese influences are found in Bankok, wok cooking, sweet and sour dishes. It is really a nuts kind of place if you love food."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

THAI COOKING 101: Thai Style Chicken Wings

Continuing on Thai cooking, here's a simple Thai Style Chicken Wings someone handed this recipe to me. Haven't tried it, but it looks good.


3 lbs. chicken wings
1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup or so of brown sugar raw
about 1/4 cup of Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla)
2-3 tbsp. of ume vinegar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup or so of chopped garlic
2-4 tbsp. of minced jalapeno peppers with seeds
1/2 of small red bell peppers sliced


1. Preheat oven to about 400 deg. f.
2. In a large non reactive bowl, add in the chicken broth, raw brown sugar, Nam Pla, ume vinegar, cornstarch, paprika, and set it on to the side.
3. Heat up a wok over high heat, add canola oil, saute the garlic, and minced jalapeno peppers for a few seconds until aroma is released, then turn heat down to medium high. Add the sauce mixture and cook until it reduces a bit and thickens, about 10-15 minutes, off heat keep it warm. (This sauce will be used to pour over the baked wings)
4. Place the wings in a greased baking sheet, spread out the wings. (Best to remove the tips, and separate it so it has two separate pieces) I would sprinkle some salt and pepper over them, and then bake them for about 1 hour or until it gets crispy.
5. Place the wings on to a service tray, pour the sauce over it. I would actually put the cooked wings into the bowl of sauce and toss it it around to coat it. Garnish with sliced red bells.


Just remember to keep trying in your cooking endeavors, always keep an open mind, read books, watch videos. With the advent of social media, you have a wealth of information at your disposal, from checking online via your iPhone or Droid, info is here use it to your advantage.


I promote cooking on your own for one simple reason, you can eat healthier, if anything, you can utilize healthier alternatives, such as organic or all natural products as opposed to ones with lots of preservatives. You Tube has many cooks and chefs for you to watch on your own time. Like I said, make use of your mobile phones and computers for information. Keep on cooking healthy, and have fun, do not get discouraged if your meals aren't to someone else's standards, keep on cooking and learning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

TRY COOKING "VINDALOO" PORTUGUESE INFLUENCED BUT CAN BE FOUND IN SOME INDIAN DIGS

Vindaloo is a very spicey, hot dish depending on the cook that's preparing it. It's conducive to many Portuguese kitchens. But some Indian joints will sell Vindaloo. There are many recipes out there, and many claim that their mom's or grandma's is the best vindaloo.

Here is a simple recipe for Vindaloo. The protein can be whatever you desire, beef, pork, chicken, fish, tofu, anything.

2 1/2 pounds of diced (we'll use chicken breast)

Vindaloo sauce ingredients (you will need a blender to blend these dried spices)
1 tbsp. or so of coriander seeds
1 tsp. maybe 2 of cardomom seeds
1 1/2 tsp. whole black pepper corns
10-12 whole cloves
1 1/2 tbsp. of chili powder
3-4 cinnamon sticks
2-3 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1-2 tsp. fresh minced ginger
2-3 tsp. cumin seeds

In a dry frying pan, gently toast all of these ingredients for 3-5 minutes. Now put these toasted ingredients in a blender with 2 1/2 tsp. of mustard powder, 2 1/2 tsp. of turmeric powder, 2 tsp. of sea salt, 2 tsp. of minced garlic, 1 cup of vinegar, and blend it into a smooth paste, to make the sauce. Add a little water if you want to make it more moist.

In a stainless steel pan heat up about 4-6 tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add in 2 small onions (chopped) and 3 large bay leaves, sautee those until the onions are translucent. Then remove the bay leaves and throw them away, and set a side the cooked onions.

Return the pan to the heat, add in a little more oil to sautee the diced chicken, sautee it for about 4 minutes to release the juices, add the sauce to the chicken, add in more water if it looks too dry, not too much, you don't want it soupy. Add in the onions, lower heat to simmering, cover with a lid or foil, and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the sauce reduces and thickens. Add more salt to taste and pepper or chili to taste.

Garnish with cilantro leaves, and serve with hot basmati rice.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Thai Cooking 101 cont. 2

Thai cooking 101 continued: Coconut milk is another ingredient to have in your Thai cooking arsenal. When you think about it, Thai cooking is pretty healthy in a sense it doesn't utilize a lot of braising, where fatty meats are seared and then cooked to melt all fat and soften tissues and muscle, and all that is led to a sauce that one will consume. But Thai's utilize a lot of coconut milk for such things as curries, or gravies.

There's nothing like fresh coconut milk, made with fresh coconuts and its natural juices. But let us be real here guys, it's difficult to go pick a coconut off of a 50 foot tree, climb back down and hatchet that sucker open to scrape out the meat. Personally yours truly would rather have someone else do that, or simply........... DUN DUN DUN DUN......... buy it.

So how is coconut milk incoporated into a Thai dish? Usually when I'm cooking a Thai dish, the coconut milk is added in to the pan when there's seasonings already at the cooking stage. For example. Making a red curry for a pork chop. First the pork chop is cooked in oil and then removed. And then returning that same pan to the heat, I'll add in red curry paste, maybe some fish sauce, some ginger and garlic, maybe some minced lemongrass, and maybe some red chiles that's chopped up, and some other herb or sauce. As it cooks I'll add in a cup or so of coconut milk, and cook it until it reduces a little bit to thicken. Usually a cup will reduce pretty quick in a pan or wok that is going hot at medium high heat.

As far as reducing coconut milk, it will thicken as the liquid reduces, but I've seen chefs that don't reduce it much, but have it shall I say on the wet side, meaning the sauce or curry is usually on the thin or runny side. There's really no right or wrong way to make a sauce, some people just don't like thick sauces. If you don't want to wait for a sauce to reduce, simply add in a some cornstarch and water mixture to the coconut milk to thicken it.

Below is some different brands of coconut milk.
Chaokoh brand coconut milk














Mae Ploy brand coconut milk














TCC brand coconut milk














Coconut milk adds richness and flavor to lots of curries, gravies, sauces, and also desserts. Try using these brands that can be found in most Asian marts, and is not expensive, you'll spend a few dollars on a can, and if you're cooking for just 2 or 4 people, one can can be enough depending on the dish you'll be preparing.


Friday, July 1, 2011

THAI COOKING 101 Part 1

Thai foods are awesome, my take on this kind of cuisine is this, it's made with lots of ingredients similar to Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino, and Vietnamese cooking. If you can sort of master some of the ingredients used in Thai style cooking you'll do pretty good.

Here are some of the things I will suggest you getting if you are a new foodie, and just delving into cooking for yourself and family.

1. A wok, there's some nice carbon steel ones, but if you are a home cook, get a nonstick one, and or a stainless steel one. Because when you cook with lemons, or limes or vinegars, it can discolor carbon steel ones, or aluminum pans and you'll taste it. Non reactive ones work well.

2. A sharp knife, I'd suggest a 7" Santoku, it's nice and thin at the cutting blade.

3. Have your herbs, spices, and sauces at the ready.

Nam Pla or Thai Fish sauce is used frequently. This is a bottle of Tiparos brand Thai Fish sauce that can be purchased in most Asian marts, or in some chain supermarkets or if you live where you can't get this then you may be in trouble, most companies won't mail this to you. But I'd bet you can find it somewhere around the city or suburbs for  sure.

















Cilantro is another herb used quite frequently, mint leaves, Kaffir lime leaves, basil leaves, lemongrass, cumin, salt, pepper, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, peanuts, peanut butter, red, yellow, green chile peppers, chile flakes, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, onions, scallions, various different cooking oils.

I'd suggest reading lots of Thai cookbooks to get you going, and for sure, go take a Thai cooking class around your area. You can find these usually at your local community college or sometimes even church groups will have cooking classes that feature different ethnic styles.

Good luck!