I came into lab this morning with a few very unhappy students, for I did not have time yesterday to update my blog. Although I felt bad about it, it was also pretty heartwarming that some of my friends are actually enjoying reading as much as I am writing!
Yesterday we did Thailand and Vietnam and the food was phenomenal. Hot and sour noodles with prawns, DELICIOUS spring rolls, spicy cucumber salad, and the Thai style salmon were just a few of the many dishes produced that turned out tasting and looking great. I made crab fried rice and to be honest, I thought it turned out REALLY good. I only allowed myself a few bites, as we all know it is not the healthiest, but everyone who tried it smiled and that is what reminded me why I love cooking so much.
By the way, I apologize for not having the menu set up the way I usually do…I got home from lab today, showered, headed to Starbucks (my Mac is telling me that Starbucks is not spelled correctly and you would think by now it is popular enough to be well placed inside a dictionary), got my desperately needed latte, sat down, only to realize I forgot my folder with the menus, so please just bear with me…
NEW INGREDIENT NUMBER ONE: Tamarind. Ever heard of it?
This is actually Tamarind in paste form, but it is ideal in Thai cooking. Vinegar in Chinese food is Tamarind in Thai food and is primarily used, along with lime juice, to take the sides of your tongue for a ride down the sour street. I curiously took off a little piece, put it in my mouth, and I could instantly feel my jaw tightening up the way it would after eating a pack of sour patch kids. However, it honestly tasted really good!
NEW INGREDIENT NUMBER TWO: Lime Leaves
Fairly large, and fairly waxy, the aroma that came off these leaves was borderline overpowering for me. I am a huge fan of lime in many ways (salsa, pies, coronas, etc..), but even I was almost getting a bit nauseated by the intense smell. They come from the Kaffir lime, a type native only to a few countries (Indonesia and Thailand, to name a couple). It is again, used to sour dishes, and can be compared to the way we use bay leaves to flavor broths, stocks, and sauces. They come both dried and fresh.
I was very excited to “go for a wok” because I have never made fried rice before. I once saw Tyler Florence make some with leftover white rice from chinese takeout and thought that was a GENIUS idea! Anyway, the first thing I did was make about 7 or 8 “crepes” with beaten eggs that fried up instantly in the blazing hot wok, removed them, than cut them into strips (I cooked A LOT of rice). Then I sweated the onions and ginger together:
Then added everything else together (rice, scallions, crab, egg, soy sauce…)
I cooked it just long enough so the rice was just starting to get crispy, and voila!
Heres a couple of the plates that were served in the dining room as well:
Beautiful, sour, light, and very refreshing spring rolls.
Thai style salmon with mixed stir-fried veggies and my crab rice (pre fried).
Hot and sour noodles with prawns. Many compliments came from the dining room about this dish. Great job Jillian!
Now moving onto today, India. Hope you are not zoning off into space yet; I will try my best to keep you awake!
To be completely honest, I was a little nervous about class today. I am not the biggest fan of curry. I have tried it in very small amounts and have not minded it, but the powerful smell can give me a headache after a while. However, I was very surprised how much of the food tasted absolutely pleasing. And I did not even need Advil!
It is so fascinating to me how serious countries all over the world are about their food. In India, utensils are never used and food is only eaten with the right hand. You could literally be excused from the table if seen using your left, as the left hand is viewed as the hand of the devil. Americans would look at that and laugh as they scarf down preservatives and hydrogenated oils with a spork. Also, it is taboo for a chef to taste his/her own food! What do you hear on food network all the time? “Always taste everything..” What is pounded into our brains here at Johnson and Wales? “Make. Sure. You. Taste. Everything!” Indian chefs rely on sight and memorization when making their food which certainly sounds like it takes a lot of practice.
My partner Kelly and I were assigned Samosa’s, which are basically India’s version of Empanadas. I made the dough, while Kelly started working on our filling consisting of mashed potatoes, peas, scallions, curry powder, coriander, and salt. A little mishap occurred after all the ingredients were combined and he had to “mash” it all together; the potatoes were not cooked long enough! So, how did that problem get solved? Oh, just picking every stinkin’ pea out of the pile of potatoes and reboiling them.
I have long since forgiven you Kelly :). After re-boiling, re-seasoning, and re-mashing (although there technically was not a first mashing stage), it was al-together and tasted INCREDIBLE. I definitely could have eaten that whole bowl as is.
I am aware that it is not exactly “eye-appealing”, but trust me it was savory, had great texture, and instantly had me thinking about Thanksgiving ( I cannot wait!).
I tried to take some step-by-step pictures of making these Samosa’s and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
Then of course, to finish it off, gets deep fried. You HAVE to get your hands on one (even if you have just one ;)).
I suppose that about sums up the past two very hectic days of mine. We normally do not have class on Fridays, but being that this is our last lab and we have to get a full 9 days in, we do. Off to the Middle East! I am making Tabouleh!