Tag Archives: thai

Stock stock.

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Asian soupI’m a strong advocate for homemade stock. Store-bought not only lacks the same depth of flavor, but even low-sodium versions end up too salty when reduced. The answer? Make your own.

Vegetable stock is a simple mix of carrot, onion and celery, thyme sprigs and parsley stems, bay leaves and peppercorns. Simmered for 30-40 minutes, it’s flavorful and ready just as you finish the rest of your vegetable prep, easily completed for a Tuesday night meal.

“But,” you say, “I want to make chicken stock.” Simple, just add chicken parts. If you are lucky enough to live near a market that breaks down whole chickens in to breasts, wings, legs and thighs, then you can buy backs and necks for about $1 per pound. Simmer for three hours and you have beautiful, rich stock.

“But wait,” you say,” I never have three hours to cook anything.”

I’m going to make an assumption, and forgive me if I offend, but sometime in the next, let’s say 45 days, you are going to wake up on Saturday morning just a little hungover. Your big plan for the day is to sit on the couch with a giant cup of coffee and watch Tyra Banks chew out models for 8 hours straight (or you’re just checking out the models). Either way, there is no reason that a big pot of stock can’t be simmering on the back of the stove.

We’ve posted recipes for chicken stock and vegetable stock before. Here are two stocks that we use for Indian or Asian sauces, soups and braises.

Asian Stock

Perfect for soups, stir-frys and sauces.

Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 sheet kombu seaweed
  • 1-2 cups Shitake mushroom stems
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in a stock pot and cover with 8-10 cups water.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes and strain solids reserving stock.

Indian Stock

This special stock adds additional richness to Indian-flavored dishes. You could also use it for soup with the addition of lightly browned pieces of carrot, potato and chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs ghee or butter
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves

Directions:

  • Melt ghee in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and leek and cook until browned.
  • Add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Cook for 1 minute more and fill with 8 cups water.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes and strain solids reserving stock.
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Take out takeout.

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I love Asian food. Much to my husband, Jason’s, regret, I could eat it every meal of every day. If I had to pick favorites, they would be mú xī pork, tom yum soup and Thai eggplant. In pursuit of better health and frugality, I want to know how to make these at home.

It’s easier said than done. I’ve tried five recipes each for mú xī’s combination of cabbage, egg and pork wrapped in light, wheat flour pancakes, and the spicy, bright flavors of lemon grass, kaffir lime, cilantro and stock I’ve downed in bowl after bowl of tom yum. All to no avail.

Last week, after three dinners in a row of Thai eggplant, I finally cracked the code. Extra palm sugar and soy help lift and balance the earthy bitterness of the eggplant. Thai basil, chili oil and vinegar make it bright. Red peppers and shitake mushrooms give depth of flavor.

Now back to work on the other two*. Sorry honey.

*I’d welcome any suggestions on these two dishes! The sooner I get them right, the sooner Jason gets to stop eating my attempts week after week.

Stir Fried Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs peanut oil
  • 4 cups Thai or Japanese* eggplant cut in 1.5” cubes
  • 2 cups thinly sliced Shitake mushrooms
  • 1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Thai or Italian (common) basil, not packed

Sauce:

  • 2 tbs each soy sauce
  • 2 tbs palm sugar*
  • 1 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs Merken Chile Oil*
  • 1 tbs Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar*
  • 1 tbs cornstarch

*Substitutions: Yes, there are a lot of ingredients here, and many you may not have on hand. Here are some easy substitutes. Thai eggplant are small and thin. You can cube a large, Italian eggplant and use that instead. Palm sugar tastes identical to Maple sugar. You can use brown sugar too. Merken Chile Oil and Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar are both from Sapore in DC. I’ve gone through two bottles of the Serrano Chile Honey Vinegar since Renee introduced it a month ago. Order them online, or use chili oil and rice wine vinegar from the Asian section of your grocery store.

Directions:

  • Heat 2 tbs peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and cook approximately 5 minutes until softened and golden. The eggplant will look translucent. Remove from pan.
  • Reduce heat slightly, add remaining tbs peanut oil in same skillet and add red pepper and Shitakes. Cook 3-5 minutes until softened.
  • While mushrooms and peppers cook, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl with 1/4 cup warm water.
  • Add garlic and return eggplant to pan. Cook 1 minute.
  • Whisk sauce and add to pan. Stir with ingredients until it is reduced and coats the vegetables.
  • Add basil, stir through. Season to taste with white pepper and serve.

Love from the C’bus.

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C’bus is short for Columbus, OH and this week it played host, along with my dear friend Ray, to a wonderful evening of good food and even better company. The experience started with a trip to Columbus’ North Market for groceries. Big shout out to Lan Viet for her generous gift of Thai basil and to Ben and co. at North Market Spices for beautiful ground cardamom – I can’t wait to stop back and stock up before my return to DC!

These ingredients, along with fresh, ripe summer fruit, were the inspiration for our dessert: peaches and blueberries, macerated in sugar and cardamom and topped with Thai basil-infused, hand-whipped cream. The spicy, licorice-y Thai basil was pleasantly herbal, but chopping it finely with sugar covered the grassy flavor. The warm, bright cardamom brought out the rich sweetness of the peaches and acidity of the blueberries achieving perfect balance.

It was a simple finish to a spectacular evening. Thank you C’bus. It is always a pleasure.

Peaches and Blueberries with Thai Basil Whipped Cream

Macerating means letting the fruit soften in its own juices. If your peaches don’t release a little juice on their own, add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Ingredients:

  • 3 peaches, sliced*
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs roughly chopped Thai Basil
  • 1-2 tbs sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream

*You can peel the peaches if you have a fuzzy texture issue, but that just seemed like a lot of work to me. You can slice as thin or thick as you like. Thin slices give each bite a better balance with the blueberries.

Directions:

  • Toss sliced peaches and blueberries together with cardamom and sugar. Let macerate in fridge for 30-45 minutes. If they don’t release any liquid after the first 15 minutes, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. How liquify this gets depends on how juicy your fruit is. Just go with it.
  • Sprinkle the roughly chopped basil with the sugar and chop together until the basil is broken down almost as finely as the sugar.
  • Whisk the cream to soft peaks. Then whisk in the basil sugar.
  • Serve the fruit topped with a generous dollop of cream. And by “dollop” I mean “giant spoonful.”