Thai Green Curry

I was having curry at a local Thai restaurant last weekend and it wasn’t so great, the so-called “Royal Curry” is similar to a peanut coconut curry, but it was way too sweet, and the consistency is too thick (they most likely used starch to thicken it). And I realized that overly-sweetness is actually a common theme in Thai food in Western countries, and after doing some research, the reason behind it is that for a dish like Thai Green Curry or Kaeng Khiao Wan (“Kaeng” meaning curry, “Khiao” meaning green, “Wan” meaning sweet), the sweet is usually understood too literally, when it actually meant to describe the particular color green of this curry, which is more like a cream green.

So, to make your Thai curry experience more authentic at home, we are going to make a pretty traditional Thai curry from Central Thailand, Kaeng Khiao Wan or Green Curry.

This recipe serves 4.

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For The Paste, You’ll Need:

  • IMG_3082140 g or 5 oz Green Thai (or Birdeye) Chilies
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 Shallots
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass (just the root)
  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of Galangal (or ginger, they are very similar in flavor)
  • 1 piece of Lime Peel
  • 1 tbsp Mix Peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Shrimp Paste (or anchovy paste)
  • 1/2 tbsp Rock Sugar
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seed
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seed
  • 1 tsp Salt

For the Curry, You’ll Need:

  • 1.5 kg or 3 lb of river fish (like bass, pike or carb) or fish balls
  • 0.7 kg or 1.5 lb of mushroom
  • 500 ml or 2 cups of seafood stock (water)
  • 500 ml or 2 cups of coconut cream
  • 5 – 10 stems of Thai sweet basil
  • 2 red chilies

How to make this:

  1.  IMG_3110.jpgFirst, we make the paste, roughly chop the green Thai chilies, garlic, lime leaves, shallots, lemongrass, galangal and lime peel, lightly toast the peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds, then blend everything together with a food processor or a pestle & mortar, then add the shrimp paste, salt and sugar. Blend or smash it to an almost paste-like consistency. (At this point, you can either make the curry or freeze the paste and use it in the future)
  2. Bring the seafood stock to a boil, then add all paste to the stock, cook for about 8 min or until it turns to a cream like color. At this step, you can either strain the stock and make a smooth curry, or keep the small bits in there and make a more rustic version of the dish.
  3. Add the mushroom and fish(or fishball) to the soup, pouch both until they are cooked, then add the coconut cream, mix gently so you don’t break apart the fish. Bring the curry to a boil and remove the mixture from the heat. Add the chopped red chilies and basil leaves, sever it with some rice, and enjoy!

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This is one of the easier Thai dishes, and take almost no time to cook, but it’s packed with amazing flavors and the freshness of the dish is unbelievable! The paste can be frozen into cubes and use in the future, and you can use almost any meat or mushroom or tofu you want, actually, Korean style fish cake is perfect for this dish. Give it a try, it’s really easy!

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Mushroom Risotto

Growing up in China, we eat rice for almost every meal, a warm bowl of congee for breakfast, a plate of savory & oily fried rice for lunch, and some light & fully steamed rice for dinner. Since rice was brought to Italy in the 1400s by spice merchants through the silk road, and most rice dishes around the world have a Chinese root, that’s why when I started cooking in an Italian restaurant, risotto was the first thing that I mastered, a creamy, tender rice dish that is perfect for almost any occasion. It’s perfect as the primo, a dish before the main course; however, it is also perfect with osso buco alla milanese, which is one of my favorite Italian dishes.

Since risotto is a dish that the city Milan is famous for, it requires some butter (most Italian dish uses only olive oil, but not this one), and the lovely mushrooms that can only be find in the northern Italian forests. Some of these mushroom might be hard to find, but I will provide a more common substitute in the recipe.

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You’ll Need:

  • 400 mL or 1 3/4 cup stock (chicken stock image3normally, you can use vegetable stock for vegetarian/vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 tbsp or 75 g unsalted butter (replace wit margarine for vegan)
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb length celery
  • 30 g or 1 oz  dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water
    • dried porcini mushroom, bold nutty flavor (common)
    • dried shiitake mushroom, earthy & smokey flavors (common)
    • dried chanterelle mushroom, subtle peppery & apricot flavors with firm texture (common)
    • dried morels, strong beefy flavors (rare & expensive)
  • 200 g or 7 oz mushrooms
    • crimini mushroom, mild flavor (common)
    • shiitake mushroom, rich, buttery, and meaty flavors (common)
    • trumpet mushroom, similar to the texture & flavor of abalone when cooked (optional)
    • maitake mushroom, intense fruity, earthy and spicy flavors and absorb companion flavors when cooked (optional)
    • pioppini mushroom, peppery flavors with a firm texture (optional)
    • shimeji/clamshell mushroom, delicate shellfish-like flavor with firm texture (optional)
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 200 g or 7 oz rice
    • arborio rice , short grain, starchy and firm (common)
    • carnaroli, maratelli and Vialone Nano, traditional but hard to find (rare & expensive)
  • 125 mL or 1 cup dry white wine
  • sea salt  & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp freshly Parmesan cheese

How to make this:

  1. Place the dried mushrooms into a bowl and cover with boiling water, this will re-hydrate the mushroom.
  2. Heat up a deep pan over medium-low heat, add half of the butter with the olive oil. Peel and finely chop the celery, garlic and onion, add them into the pan with some salt & black pepper and cook them for about 10 min or until they turn soft.
  3. Add the rice into the pan, lightly fry while stirring it until it turns slightly translucent.
  4. Strain the dried mushrooms, save the liquid. Clean and roughly chop the mushrooms, add them into the pan with thyme springs, turn up the heat to medium then cook until most of the liquid are evaporated.
  5. Pour in the wine and cook until the liquid turns viscous, then add 1/2 cup of the mushroom liquid and the stock. Bring everything to a boil and reduce the heat back to medium-low, stir constantly, and cook for about 20 min, add more liquid if need.
  6. Once the rice hits al dente, pick out the thyme and add the rest of the butter with the Parmesan cheese, stir until it becomes amazingly creamy and oozy. Sever it with some extra Parmesan and herbs, and enjoy!

Salmon Poke

Okay, before this recipe even starts, here’s a quick little history lesson on eating raw salmon. Some of you might not remember this, but there was a time when making nigiri or sashimi with salmon was unthinkable, since parasites are common among Pacific salmon and the only way to kill them is to cook them. However, some dude in Norway figured out that Atlantic Salmon don’t have parasites in them, so after a lot of marketing work making it popular in Japan and the U.S. in the 90s, raw salmon finally became a thing.

You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup pine nut
  • 1 lb (about 1/2 kg) raw, skinless sashimi-grade salmon
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 sheet nori, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallots
  • 4 teaspoons (about 20ml) soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (about 10ml) sesame oil

How to make this:

  1. Quickly brine the salmon is salt & sugar water for 5 min, dry it well and wrap it and let in sit in the fridge for 30 min
  2. Finely mince the shallot, then mix it with the macadamia nuts, pine nut, sliced scallion, sliced nori, sesame seeds, fried shallots, soy sauce, and sesame oil
  3. Cut the salmon into 1 cm or 1/2 inch cube, fold them into the sauce mix, try not to mix it too hard
  4. Wrap it, and let it sit in fridge for another 2 hours for the flovur to go into the salmon
  5. Serve it with some rice and extra scallion & sesame seeds

Scotch Egg

As the weather gets nicer and nicer, I like to go out and have picnics. There are a lot of things you can bring, sandwiches, salad, skewers, and more, but one thing people don’t make very often anymore is the Scotch egg. Which is weird because if you think about it, it is the ultimate picnic snack, the crispy breaded shell with a satisfyingly runny center is just the perfect combination, no sauce needed! This recipe makes 8 Scotch eggs

You’ll Need:

  • 10 large eggs
  • 1.75lb or 800g sausage meat
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
  • all-purpose flour
  • 5oz or 150g breadcrumbs

How to make this:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, then soft-boil 8 eggs for about 6 min, then rinse the egg in ice water, this will make sure that the eggs’ yolk stays runny. Peel the eggs and let them chill in the fridge
  2. Mix together the chopped parsley leaves with the sausage meat, you can use any sausage you want (I used sweet Italian sausages, but breakfast sausage works great too), then divide the meat mixture into 8 same size balls
  3. Flatten one of the sausage balls into a pattie, then roll a peeled egg in flour, then place it in the middle of the pattie, and gently shape the meat around the egg with your hands, at the end, wet you hands to create a smooth surface, like this:ezgif-1-3822834f3c.gif
  4. Roll the sausage-covered eggs in the flour, soaked it in the beat eggs, then cover it in bread crumbs
  5. Heat up half pot of oil to around 170C or 340F, then fry the breaded, sausage-covered eggs for about 5-6 min, take them out and let it rest for about 10 min before eating

Nashville Hot Chicken

There are three things I absolutely love about Tennesse, the sweet & oaky Jack Denial whiskey, tender & juicy Memphis style BBQ, and the infamous Nashville hot chicken. As fried chicken goes, this is as good as it gets, a perfectly golden crispy crust hides the most tender & juiciest meat, smothered in a layer of hot & spicy butter/lard, served on top of the plainest white bread to soak up all its juicy goodness, creating a truly “finger-lickin’ good” fried chicken.

Even though in Nashville, the true originator and the populizer of this style of fried chicken, Prince’s and Hattie B’s, pretty much set the gold standard for all hot chicken, you can still find this signature dish of Tennesse almost on every street corner. However, if you don’t live in Tennessee and want to try this amazing dish, it’s actually not that hard to make at home since it’s based on traditional southern fried chicken, which the best of the best is almost always made at home.

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So, here’s how to make this.

You’ll need:

  • 1 whole chicken (or 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts & 2 wings)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup pickle brine
  • 3 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 egg
  • tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

How to make this:

  1. Mix together the buttermilk, pickle brine, egg, hot sauce, salt, and pepper using a whisk, then soak the chicken in the marinade for about 4 to 6 hours
  2. Combine the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Dry the chicken using some paper towel, then coat the chicken with the flour, dip it in the buttermilk marinade again, then coat it with another layer of flour
  3. Heat the oil in a large heavy-duty pot (like a dutch oven), fill it half full and heat it till the oil reaches 150C or 300F degrees. Then fry them for about 10 to 13 min, and let them sit for about 10 min
  4. In a small pan, heat up the butter & lard over medium heat, then add the cayenne, paprika powder, and brown sugar, turn off the heat, then stir for about 2 min or until the sauce turns smooth
  5. Smother or brush on a layer of sauce, serve it over some white toasts or waffle, with some pickle chips

Carbonara

If you ask me what the easiest pasta to make is, my answer would probably be Carbonara. It only needs 5 ingredients, takes about 15 min to make, and it’s absolutely delicious with a creamy sauce made egg, parmesan & pecorino romano. This pasta is so good that I use it as a standardized test for every Italian restaurant I visit, and it is the only pasta that I would make on a daily basis for a quick and delicious meal or snack. Since this dish is originated in Rome, but with some of the ingredients that are very hard to find outside Italy, so I make some recontamination on what to use in the ingredients list.

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You’ll Need:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 oz freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 oz freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 oz cured pork (options):
    •  guanciale (It’s very hard to find & expensive, but the Romans love it, it’s cured pork jowl)
    • pancetta (Also very hard to find & expensive, but very popular in Italy, it’s cured pork belly)
    • bacon (Very easy to find & cheap, thick cut, smoked and cured pork belly)
  • 3/4 lb dried pasta (options):
    • bucatini (a hollow, thick spaghetti-like pasta, very light, not easy to find)
    • spaghetti (very easy to find and cheap)

How to make this:

  1. Heat up a large pot of water with salt over high heat, and bring to a boil, cook the pasta until it’s just a bit over al dente
  2. While the pasta is cooking, sliced the cured pork of your choice into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square, then sauté the cured pork in a large skillet over medium heat until the fat just renders, just so that the edge are crispy but not hard, then remove from heat and set aside
  3. Whisk together the egg yolks, Pecorino and Parmesan in another bowl, season with black pepper
  4. Save a ladle of pasta water, add the drained pasta to the pan, stir it for about 20 seconds, then add in the egg yolk cheese mix, stir constantly, then add a little bit if the pasta water at a time, mix until the yolk thickens
  5. Server with some extra Pecorino or Parmesan

Teriyaki Salmon

I lived in Seattle for about 5 years, and one thing I absolutely adored is the teriyaki. However, the teriyaki most of us who live outside Japan are familiar with is very different from the traditional teriyaki. This is not only in the flavor of the sauce (traditional sauce tends to be more savory than sweet) but also the choice of meat. In Japan, fish are usually the preferred protein to go with this sauce, whereas most places outside Japan like to use chicken & beef. The preparation method is also very different, very often, the fish are not marinated but simply seared/grilled then brushed with a layer of sauce, which make the natural flavor of the fish more outstanding. Despite all that, everyone has their favorites, and for me personly, the two style has diverged so much from each other that I wouldn’t even consider them to be the same dish, and I enjoy them both equally.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb salmon with skin (very important to have the skin on, once you fry it, it will become crispy like chips)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sake (or Chinese rice wine or dry sherry)
  • 1 tbsp mirin (or 1 tbsp sake + 1 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

How to make this:

  1. Slice the salmon across into 2-3 inch wide pieces, this will help the skin crisp up faster, pad them dry with some paper towel and lightly season it with salt and black pepper
  2. Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat with the oil, when the pan is heated, place the salmon skin down onto the pan, there will be some oil splatters if you didn’t dry the skin enough, so make sure the salmon skin are dried
  3. Bring the heat down to medium, then let it sear for 2-3 min or until the skin has crispened up (or no longer sticks to the pan), then flip the salmon over, turn up the heat a little bit, then pour in the sake, mirin, sugar & soy sauce mix, once it starts to simmer, turn the heat back to medium and  let the sauce slowly thickens, this will take about 2-3 min, do not cover the pan at any point
  4. Once the sauce holds a syrup like texture, it means the salmon is done too, place the salmon on another plate, then brush on the chicken sauce, which at this point is more like a beautiful glaze
  5. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and chopped spring onion, serve it with some rice and steamed veg

 

If you want to find out how to make the non-tridtional teriyaki chicken, you can find it here