Monday, October 13, 2008

limes Talk.

If you ask me, one thing I would choose to always have it in my kitchen, that thing has to be limes. Since I have been cooking for myself, I've noticed that I never leave my kitchen to be without limes.

Lime is a common ingredient for Thai cooking, so that most Thai houses with a bit of land are more likely growing them in their own properties. As far as I remember there are two lime trees and many more of kaffir lime trees in my mom' s edible garden. I asked her once why she grew so many of them, she said, "for sharing with other people so they don't have to buy it." She doesn't believe in buying things that can be grown in one own backyard, and yes, we never have to buy these kind of things.

In the US, especially here in New York, kaffir limes and leaves are S*O* expensive. From the fact that they can't grow in the cold weather condition, they have to be shipped from the West, and are not always available which makes me sad sometimes. That is not the case for limes, limes are everywhere. I recently found that I can buy four limes for one dollar at a nearby Asian super market in my neighborhood. I am happy about it already, but if I converted the price to Thai Baht and told my mom about it, she would call me back home.

Smooth skin is juicer than pore skin.
Choosing right limes is the key for getting the most juice out of them. I think it would be wise sharing this in my blog since this is a Thai kitchen - we use a lot of limes in Thai food. Look for limes that have smooth skin - smooth skin tells you that these limes have very thin skin and when they have thin skin, more juice will come out, and you can leave the bad limes for those who doesn't read this blog...what?...too mean of ME?...alright you can share it with them later.

The "bad" limes, limes that I will leave them there in the basket forever are limes that have visible pores on the skin - dedicates the hard, thick skin - just by squeezing a little, thick skin limes produce less juice or, like my mom would say, they are not ripe enough to fully produce juice.

Now that you know, at least, how to get juicy limes, be prepare for an extreme taste of my foods.

Egg noodle (ba-mee-hang), Eating Noodle Like Thai

My favorite noodle dish, ever. I can eat it every days, and I am not exaggerated.Oh well, I am actually a noodle girl who is addicted to all kind of noodles, but this one is at the top of them all. When I was little, my aunt knew exactly that to have me eating lunch without a bit of whining, the only choice I would jump on was, and still is, these yummy Ba-Mee-Hang. (ba-mee = egg noodle, hang = dry) So, ba-mee-hang is referable as egg noodle without soup.

Even though ba-mee-hang can be found in every noodle places or noodle stalls in Thailand, my yummy ba-mee-hang is still from the noodle place in a small town I grew up, Chumporn province. Though I can't remember the name of the place, whenever I go back to Chumporn, still, I know exactly where to go for ba-mee-hang.

Since I am now living far away from my favorite ba-mee-hang place, I have to do it myself. OK, you might say, "Just go to Chinatown - tons of Chinese restaurants serving egg noodle." Did I mention I am a noodle girl?.....I have not yet found egg noodle that is prepared like my ba-mee-hang - well, not really mind , just the Thai way of preparing them.

But I do have a favorite noodle place in Chinatown, Manhattan, when I have a sudden urge of noodles and don't want to make it myself, I would go to the noodle place called New Chow Cho on Mott St between Canal St. and Hester St. where I can season the noodle myself right there at the table. In Thailand, a condiment set which is included fish-sauce and chili (num-pla-prick), granulated sugar, dry chili power and vinegar with chili is offered for noodle seasoning at the tables - we season our noodle ourselves to suite each one taste buds - it is a common way of eating noodle in Thailand. Here, New Chow Cho makes it very kind for Thai noodle eaters and even the very best is I can sometimes order them in a Thai way because some of the waiters can speak a bit of Thai , and they understand what it means to eat noodle like Thai.

Like their reputations yield, Thai foods are spicy and strong in flavors, this noodle dish is no exception. The end result of seasoning, before putting them into your mouth is more like preparing a bowl of salad - every things in the bowl are tossed together to mix well before eating.

I am hungry already, and here is my version of making ba-mee-hang the way I like. Some ingredients are left out just to make my life more easier finding them, I get the taste I familiar with, still .

- fresh egg noodle - can be found in all Asian groceries.
- 1 tbs Lime juice
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1/2 tbs granulated sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp. black soy sauce (optional)
- Garlic oil

- 2 tbsp. chopped scallion
- 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp. ground peanuts (optional)
- vegetable of choice

- fish balls, beef balls
- 1/4 cup grounded pork
- dried shrimps (optional)

The only thing called for cooking is boiling the water.

1. seasoning ground pork with a bit of soy sauce and let it sit.
2. prepare a noodle bowl, in go lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and dried shrimps (0ptional), mix well and let it sit.
3. In a pot, bring water to boil.
4. fast boil vegetable, fetch them out, let it sit
5. boil all fish balls, beef balls for two minutes, take them out, let it sit
6. boil grounded pork till it is thoroughly cooked and put them into the preparing noodle bowl( with mixing sauces in it)
7. goes in the last, fresh egg noodle, (if you know how to boil spaghetti, you're good to go) boil them about two minutes - these noodles are fresh, so they are already soft and don't need to be dancing in boiling water for very long, fetch them out and put into the preparing noodle bowl.
8. right away, toss the noodle with garlic oil for thoroughly coated.
9. in a noodle bowl, put all boiled ingredients and later chopped cilantro, scallion, and ground peanuts (optional).
10. drizzling with black soy sauce

Before eating

like fixing salad, every things in the bowl need to be tossed so that all taste will be blended together. Now you test for the taste you like, and that you can season them as you go - love more sour - squeeze a wedge of lime, more salty - add a little bit of fish sauce, prefer slightly sweet - add a tiny bit of sugar, can't leave without spicy me me - add a little of dried chili powder, and, again, toss them to mix before eating.

Now, you can make it your own personal ba-mee-hang.

For ingredients, you can choose all ingredients you like, besides fish balls, beef balls, ground pork - make it with whatever kind of meats you like (boil it if it's needed, don't do it if it's ready cooked) - roasted pork, chicken, turkey, beef etc.

The only foundation for these yummy noodle dish is the mixing of lime juice, fish sauce and sugar - the balance taste of sour, salty and sweet which is also the foundation of cooking Thai food.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Crispy garilc in oil, kra teem jeew. A secret that need to be told.

In my last post I was talking about what I call "A jewel for Thai soup." I put in my Jok. It's called Kra Teem Jeew which is simply Crispy garlic in oil. Kra Teem means Garlic. We use this nutty smell, golden crispy garlic in oil, yes I said nutty smell, to bring the food to another level of taste and delicious smell. It really makes a different when you put these in.

It's basically kind of garlic infused with oil, but the difference is it is infused with high temperature oil - high enough to make garlic get golden and crispy.
We put it into the dish that have "almost" plain smell or very light in taste, for example clear soup(Kang Jed type), Jok, noodle and many more to complete Umami, if I can say. My kitchen never be with out it. It's SOO easy to make, but a little trick need to be told since garlic get burn easily once the oil get very hot...don't you blink.

Garlic in your hand?
- 1 big head of garlic
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- tiny pinch of salt

1. With a garlic press, press all garlic cloves.
2. Put pressed garlic into a small sauce pan, in goes the vegetable oil and salt.
3. Bring the pan to low heat, let the garlic and oil heat up together, stir often as they start to heat up, so there will be no lump of garlic stick at the bottom of the pan.


4. turn off the heat as soon as you see the color of the garlic starts to change to light golden then let them continue cooking in the hot oil with out the heat. If you let them bubbling in the pan with the heat still on till they turn golden right in the pan , it's too late - you will end up with burning garlic and a nasty, bitter garlic in oil.

let them cool down and pour them into clean little jar. I always clean and save up those little artichoke hearts jars after I finish them. These garlic in oil can be kept up to a month. Now you've got a jewel of Thai cooking - a little secret that need to be told.
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