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Anyone familiar with "thai food" by Thompson [Pana

Anyone familiar with "thai food" by Thompson [Pana
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  • Anyone familiar with "thai food" by Thompson [Pana

    Post #1 - July 30th, 2006, 8:37 pm
    Post #1 - July 30th, 2006, 8:37 pm Post #1 - July 30th, 2006, 8:37 pm
    I picked up Thai Food for $12 on half.com after spying it at Printers' Row Book Fair, and finally got a chance to start perusing it. I still can't cook with it, having no real kitchen.

    There's a lot of fantastic Thai culture and history in there, and although I did start snoring through the recounting of the various King Rama's, there are some interesting tidbits, such as the Buddhist nature of the Thais leading them to serve most flesh as small-cut, minced or shredded so as not to resemble a slaughtered animal (fish, being a lower order, doesn't seem as subject to this).

    (Note: the spellings below are the ones typical for Chicago Thai restaurants, and not the spellings he uses in the book)

    It's a little surprising, though: lots and lots of nam prik relish-style dishes, which I know my wife will never touch, and lots more fish than you see on most amerithai menus, of course. A few other things that surprised me were finding the "default" Panang curry uses beef (I've always preferred chicken) and the default pad si ew is chicken (I've always preferred beef in this sweet dish).

    But what has really amazed me is the quantities of coconut milk and cream: Panang curry uses , with 6 oz of beef (brisket or cheek), 4 cups coconut milk, 3 cups coconut cream, and another 3 cups c-milk if you don't want to finish the dish using the braising liquid (the original c-milk).

    That's a lot of liquid, and a lot of saturated fat. Is this typical for authentic recipes, and do local restaurants tone this down or am I shoving a palm kernel into my aorta every time I eat this?
    Last edited by JoelF on September 3rd, 2006, 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - July 30th, 2006, 10:00 pm
    Post #2 - July 30th, 2006, 10:00 pm Post #2 - July 30th, 2006, 10:00 pm
    That's a lot of liquid, and a lot of saturated fat. Is this typical for authentic recipes, and do local restaurants tone this down or am I shoving a palm kernel into my aorta every time I eat this?


    I think this is not a concern to Thais who use what happens to be locally available in abundance and cheap. You are eating a traditional meal made in the fashion familiar to a Thai national. If you want to put your ingredients into the context of the American obsessed "eat healthy" frame of reference, then Mexican beans made with lard isn't for you either. Since you likely eat Thai food infrequently, I wouldn't concern myself with the fats and enjoy the experience.

    David Thompson received a grant from the Thai government to write this book. I don't think I am exaggerating that David Thompson's Thai Food is considered a seminal book on par with Diana Kennedy's work with Mexican food and Julia Child's on French.

    BTW - I still miss movie popcorn with coconut fat as part of the process.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - July 30th, 2006, 10:20 pm
    Post #3 - July 30th, 2006, 10:20 pm Post #3 - July 30th, 2006, 10:20 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:...then Mexican beans made with lard isn't for you either...
    BTW - I still miss movie popcorn with coconut fat as part of the process.

    Use real butter!

    But still, there's a difference between "made with" lard, and cups and cups of it.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #4 - July 31st, 2006, 6:47 am
    Post #4 - July 31st, 2006, 6:47 am Post #4 - July 31st, 2006, 6:47 am
    Cathy2 wrote:...then Mexican beans made with lard isn't for you either...
    BTW - I still miss movie popcorn with coconut fat as part of the process.

    JoelF wrote:Use real butter!

    Joel,

    You've obviously never tasted popcorn popped with palm oil and finished with a mix of coconut oil and butter, grand, absolutely grand.

    I've cooked a bit from Thompson's book and have been exceptionally pleased with the results. Far as authentic, from what I understand Thompson's book is as close as those of us who don't read Thai or have access to a Thai grandmother are ever going to get.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - July 31st, 2006, 7:54 am
    Post #5 - July 31st, 2006, 7:54 am Post #5 - July 31st, 2006, 7:54 am
    But still, there's a difference between "made with" lard, and cups and cups of it.


    Joel,

    You are free to amend the recipes as you see fit. If they still taste the same as you experience them in best examples of Thai or Mexican, then bravo to your skills. I do hope this is something you will confine to your homecooking, rather than making it your solemn mission to alter the cooking methods at Thai restaurants.

    At Chicago Foodways Roundtable's meeting on American Food, there was a mock response to the offer of a piece of Chocolate Cake to a Frenchman and an American:

    French: Oh I can taste it now. This will be so delicious. I cannot wait.

    American: It will make me fat. Why eat it! Why not slap it onto the hips. This will make my cholesterol skyrocket.

    Both ate the cake with one very likely enjoying the experience more.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - July 31st, 2006, 7:57 am
    Post #6 - July 31st, 2006, 7:57 am Post #6 - July 31st, 2006, 7:57 am
    >I picked up Thai Food for $12 on half.com after spying it at Printers' Row Book Fair.<

    When are those dummies at the Printer's Row Book Fair going to realize that they should start selling the books they display? Just think – they go through all that effort and expense to create displays, in order to give book-lovers the benefit of their knowledge and expertise, by informing them of the existence of such celebrated masterpieces as Thai Food by David Thomson.

    … But then they ruin it all by forcing those same book-lovers through the tedious process of travelling all the way home and ordering the very same books online!

    So wasteful. If only they were smart enough actually to sell the books they display…
    Harry V.
  • Post #7 - July 31st, 2006, 8:36 am
    Post #7 - July 31st, 2006, 8:36 am Post #7 - July 31st, 2006, 8:36 am
    I was an "early-adopter" of Thompson's seminal tome. It's been mentioned many, many times on the forum. I dunno if a search would be all that helpful, tho'.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #8 - July 31st, 2006, 9:36 am
    Post #8 - July 31st, 2006, 9:36 am Post #8 - July 31st, 2006, 9:36 am
    Harry V. wrote:>I picked up Thai Food for $12 on half.com after spying it at Printers' Row Book Fair.<

    When are those dummies at the Printer's Row Book Fair going to realize that they should start selling the books they display?


    I actually nearly bought it there -- after all it was marked down to around $22 I think, compared to its around $40 list price. I mostly use Printers Row for the cheap paperback booth, and the occasional antiquarian item, and since this was off my usual radar, I was tempted but declined. The fact that MrsF can get in-print books at wholesale cost influenced that too (about the same discount as above).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #9 - August 2nd, 2006, 8:57 am
    Post #9 - August 2nd, 2006, 8:57 am Post #9 - August 2nd, 2006, 8:57 am
    I'll add to the chorus of those who endorse the book, this summer particualrly one of my favorite meals has been the pomelo salad recipe (though I tend to substitute a nice grapefruit)
  • Post #10 - September 3rd, 2006, 10:57 am
    Post #10 - September 3rd, 2006, 10:57 am Post #10 - September 3rd, 2006, 10:57 am
    I made the Panang Curry last night, as written except increasing the amount of meat used to feed the three of us, figuring (correctly) there'd be plenty of sauce for the rice. As is, there's a fair amount of meat left over -- a dish that rich doesn't need much meat.

    It's really not that hard of a recipe, it just requires a lot of steps:
    1) Braise beef in coconut milk -- watch out, the stuff will foam up and boil over easily.
    2) Prepare a paste of boiled peanuts, galangal, cilantro root (sorry, only had stems), soaked dried chiles (could have used more), lemongrass, salt, nutmeg (!), garlic and shallot
    3) "crack" coconut cream (boil out the water until you have oil floating over solids) and fry some of the paste.
    4) Add sugar and fish sauce
    5) Add the beef, now sliced, fresh coconut milk or the braising liquid, thai basil, fresh chiles and keffir lime leaves (had to make do with lime zest)
    6) Heat through, and it's done

    The flavor came out very close to what I've had in restaurants, but could have been hotter. My only real problem is that in "cracking" the coconut cream, I ended up with a very curdled mass of coconut solids, which would not incorporate into the smooth, creamy sauce that Panang Curry is known for -- it was more like bits of fresh mozzarella, with a lot of oil floating above it, which gave it a very greasy consistency.

    Any suggestions? It's possible I boiled out the water too fast or too long. I was considering on a future attempt to fry the paste in a little oil instead, and just add un-cracked coconut cream to the mixture instead.
    The coconut cream was in a frozen can bought at H-Mart, I don't remember the brand.

    Anyone have experience with this sort of recipe?
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang

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