Sunday, May 28, 2017

Massive Day of Cooking

To fill the need for Southeast Asian food, you need the curry pastes that are the backbone of the flavors one remembers. Thai curry pastes are fairly easy to find. But the commercial ones we've tried have way too much chile heat for our tastes. And finding curry pastes from Cambodia, Malaysia or Indonesia? Forget about it.

So I have taken to making my own pastes and freezing them. Fortunately (as I think I have posted previously) we are blessed with a great Asian supermarket here in Albuquerque and I can get just about everything I need in terms of raw ingredients. I have had to alter some of the recipes to make them work with some of the things we have here.

Integral to this process is an extreme amount of pounding with a mortar and pestle. I had done a lot or research and almost everywhere I looked it said you could not get the same flavors and consistency trying to do things in a food processor. However, I do chop up all of the various components in the food processor prior to going through the pounding process.

The Cast of Characters
Clockwise from the lower left are turmeric root, galangal root, kefir lime leaves, ginger root, lemongrass, garlic (already chopped), shallots (already chopped), and cilantro stems
These provide the basic components for the curry pastes. Not all of them have all these ingredients and their are other additions for the various pastes

I have found that the key to getting the right consistency is to go from drier to wetter and to add one ingredient at a time. So first in goes that salt and any other dried spices. The the drier roots like the galangal. Then maybe the kefir lime leaf. Then the turmeric, the lemongrass and finally the ginger, garlic and shallots in their turn.

Getting chiles to integrate has proven difficult so I use my already processed NM green chile, harissa and sambal to provide the heat component

Sample of a completed paste - the Malaysian paste in this case
Then putting them in small containers - Cambodian Amok paste in this case

In addition to the curry pastes, I also was smoking - a rack of ribs and two chickens to replenish our freezer.
Most of this work (the rub for the ribs, brining the chickens, cleaning and setting up the smoker) were done the day before. All that needs to be done is turn on the smoker and put the meat in when its hot.
If I must say so myself I am really getting the knack of producing good ribs 😏
Tomorrow I will breakdown the chickens, make some stock from the bones, turn the skin into smoked cracklings, which in turn will give me a little smoked chicken fat.

Hope you are eating well too and REMEMBER all those who have sacrificed for our country!

1 comment:

alexis said...

happy memorial day and thanks for sharing your tips on pastes! Perhaps I'll give it a go when my children are grown, lol.