Beef Brochettes

A Vietnamese Classic
Ideal for a Buffet Party

Cooking with Vietnamese Nuoc Mam Fish Sauce

Nuoc Mam/Fish Sauce

Reflecting the Vietnamese fondness for Beef, this Beef Brochette dish is a classic of Vietnamese cuisine.  It would be ideal for a larger buffet event, along with several other major dishes. It is intended to serve six to eight people, along with Continue reading

Indonesian Corn Fritters

Another Addictive Snack with Drinks
Bregedel Djagung

Canned corn

Corn

Like Indonesian Peanut Fritters, these are quick and easy to make and will soon become addictive, especially with drinks.  The name in Bahasa Indonesia means literally Corn Croquettes. At the E & O on Sutter Street in San Francisco, where the dish is a specialty of one of the chefs, the dish is called Indonesian Corn Fritters.

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Singapore Peanut Sauce

For Satay or Gado Gado
Galangal Mees Kemerie Meets Tamarind

Galangal, an important Southeast Asian spice

Galangal

Peanut Sauces are popular in Southeast Asian cuisines.  So, we have a Thai Peanut Sauce, and Indonesian Peanut Sauce, both of which might go with foods like Satay and salads like Gado Gado.

Singapore Cuisine has its own version of Peanut Sauce.  This is good with Satay and also can be used as a dressing for a Gado Gado salad.

This sauce takes about 10 minutes to prepare and about 15 minutes to cook. It makes about a cup and a half

Special ingredients include Galangal, Tamarind and Kemerie or Candlenuts, as well as Lemongrass.  The Candlenuts are sometimes difficult to find; Almonds can be substituted.

Peanut Sauce

Singapore

Ingredients:

Tamarind Juice, Thailand origin

Tamarind Juice

2 ounces Tamarind Pulp (may substitute Lime juice in a pinch)
2 cups Water
3 Kemerie (Candlenuts) — or could substitute Macadamia nuts or Almonds
½ ounce Galangal or 1½ teaspoons powdered Galangal
15 small dried Red Chilies
1 stalk Lemongrass
3 cloves Garlic
1 teaspoon Shrimp Paste
1 Shallot or 2 tablespoons minced Onions
½ cup Vegetable Oil

1 cup toasted unsalted Peanuts
¼ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Rice Vinegar or Malt Vinegar
¾ teaspoon Salt

Method:

First, mix the Tamarind Pulp with Water and strain it through a fine sieve.  You can also use the more refined Tamarind Juice from Thailand.

Prepare the Peanuts, by shelling them, and powdering them finely.   Originally this would be done in a mortar and pestle.  A blender or food processor works fine.

You want to do the other minor preparation — crush the Candlenuts or Macadamia Nuts coarsely, blanch and skin the Almonds if that is what you are using.,

Soak the Red Chilies in warm water and drain off the excess water.  This could be done while preparing the Peanuts.

The Garlic or Shallots need to be peeled and then minced.

The Lemongrass should be smashed lightly; the side of a heavy cleaver works well for this.

When all the preliminary preparation is ready, put the Candlenuts or whatever nuts are used, the Galangal, Chilies, Lemongrass, Garlic, Shrimp Paste and Shallots into a grinder or blender.  Process until very fine.

Then heat the Oil in a large hot saucepan or wok until the Oil is also hot.  Then add the Nut mixture, dry, stirring constantly, until it is fragrant.  Stir in the Peanuts, strained Tamarind liquid, the Sugar, Vinegar and Salt.

Boil these gently, uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring well while cooking.

Cool the sauce and allow the spices to infuse their fragrance into the Peanuts.

The sauce is served at room temperature, with Satay or Gado Gado salad. Recipe adapted from Violet Ooon.

Singapore - Skyline

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Curry Paste

Thai Cooks’ Stand-By
Home-Made or Store-Bought

Galangal, an important Southeast Asian spice

Galangal – Essential Ingredient in Penang Curry Paste

Curry pastes are aromatic mixtures of spices Thai cooks use to flavor stews, soups and other dishes. They can be made in the kitchen fresh before use, or can be bought canned, which is commonly done by households and many Thai restaurants.

Typically, these pastes come in small jars or tin cans whose labels bear the photographs of someone’s mother. There are several main varieties:

  • Red
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Penang
  • Musuman

Penang paste reflects the culinary style of the Penang area of the Malaysian Peninsula.

Musaman, that is Moslem style, reflects the cuisine of Southern Thailand, which has many Muslim people.

The red variety is commonly thought to be the most versatile and also the hottest.  Actually, it depends on the amount of Chili Peppers used by the individual cook. Thus, a Red Curry Paste can be made to taste quite mild, while a green one might be intensely hot.

Cooking with lemongrass

Lemongrass

The main ingredients in these pasts are Garlic, Lemongrass, Shallots, Chili Peppers and other spices.

The Penang Curry Paste emphasizes            flavors of Fennel and Mace and goes well with Beef, as in Penang Beef, and also also good with Chicken, Pork, and Fish.  Here is a formula for making a Penang Curry Paste:

Penang Curry Paste

Thai

Ingredients:

Using garlic to make Vietnamese soup with pork cabbage rolls

Garlic – a Key Ingredient

5 – 7 large dried Red Chili Peppers
½ teaspoon Fennel Seeds
1½ teaspoon Coriander Seeds
½ teaspoon Mace
2 teaspoons Black Pepper corns
1 stalk fresh Lemongrass
1 teaspoon chopped Lime Zest
1 teaspoon powdered Galangal
3 medium Shallows
4 cloves of Garlic

Method:

First, chop the Chilies coarsely and soak in cold Water to soften – for about a quarter hour.

While the Chilies are soaking, chop the Lemongrass finely, and also chop the Shallots and Garlic.

After the Chili Peppers are softened, remove the seeds and discard them.

Place the Chilies in a food process or blender.

Head a large, heavy dry iron skillet over very low flame and toast the Fennel Seeds,Coriander, Mace and Black Pepper corns for 5 minutes, shaking hte pan occasionally to keep the spices from burning.  Remove the s;ices and crush them finely ina  mortar and pestle or spice grinder and add to the Chilies.

Add in the Lime Zest, Shallots and Garlic and process for a few minutes at medium speed, adding a little cold Water, a few drops at a time, while processing until a thick, dark reddish-brown paste results.  This is the Penang Curry Paste.

This recipe makes about half a cup of Curry Paste.  It will keep for up to several months inthe refrigerator.

Thailand - Haadyai Platform

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Laotian Cuisine

Galangal, Lemongrass and Fish Sauce
Duck and Sticky Rice

Cooking with lemongrass

Lemongrass

Land of a Million Elephants: Laos has been called the Land of a Million Elephants. Elephants are still there, but modern Laos may now be the the .Land of a Million Motorbikes.

Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia and is home to a Continue reading

Laotian Fish Soup

Lemongrass Meets Ginger meets Galangal
Seafood Soup from a Landlocked Country

Cooking with lemongrass

Lemongrass

Although Laos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao people eat a lot of Fish and Seafood, relying on fresh water varieties, especially from the Mekong River.

One of the most popular preparations in Laotian Cuisine is a Fish Soup made with any firm white meat Fish and incorporating several of the most popular Lao seasonings – Galangal, Lemongrass and Ginger. Continue reading

Thai Cuisine

Hot, Sweet, Salty, Sour and Bitter
Variety in Flavor, Ingredients, Color

“Food is eaten not just for nourishment. For a Thai, it is an art, a topic of conversation, a source of pleasure.” — Kreesnee Ruangkritya [1]

Deva sculpture, Thailand 15th century

Deva, Thailand, 15th cent.

The core concepts of Thai cooking are hot, sweet, salty, sour and bitter.  A well-designed meal offers a variety in flavors, preparation methods, ingredients, and color.

So if a Red Curry is the main dish, the cook woul Continue reading

Indonesian Cuisine

A Nation of Islands
Rijsttafel, Sate, and Sambals

“Indonesia isn’t a country, it’s a happening.” — Christopher Lucas [1]

Garjda, Indonesia 14th cent.

Garuda, Indonesia, 14th cent.

Indonesia stretches from the Asian mainland towards Australia, like a jade necklace across the southern ocean.  The nation contains more than 17,000 islands, and its people represent several hundred ethnic groups, speaking many different languages.

Indonesia is an ancient country and its Continue reading

Ginger I

Tamil Time-Traveler
As Fundamental as Onions

“Fresh ginger is as fundamental to the Asian kitchen as onion is to European cuisine.” — Molly O’Neill

Ginger Flower

Ginger, like Rice, was an ancient Tamil time traveler around the Pacific Rim.  Ginger, which grows underground and has beautiful red and yellow flowers above ground, is one of the most important foods in Asian kitchens.  And it is healthy, too!

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Rendang

Minangkabau Legacy
Jungle-Proof Meats

“CNN has named Rendang, a traditional dish from Padang, West Sumatra on the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods, beating out French croissants and American donuts.” — Jakarta Post

The Minang ethnic group of Sumatra are known for their matrilineal society, the world’s biggest women-run social structure anywhere.

They are also famous for their elaborate folkways and evolved cultural patterns, including their food. One of their dishes may be the tastiest in the world, as CNN found. Continue reading