This chapter acts as a comprehensive guide to building the flavors of Southeast Asia in your own kitchen. This book will enable you to become a better cook and this chapter guides you foundation to making you a better cook that can adapt to the environment. Each person’s dish will look and taste different. But hopefully the extensive research, testing, writing and photography in this book pave the road for your stress-free cooking pleasure.
Guidelines for Using the Recipes in This Book
You can trust these recipes...they work. I have tested them numerous times. If followed, they will provide you with authentic flavors of Southeast Asia. That said, ingredients vary, and their overall flavor attributes such as color, taste, and texture are not standardized (thank goodness). In addition, each kitchen is different and variables such as the heat output on each stove differs. The cookware we have is shaped differently and made of different materials, so the cooking that results is not consistent, even if you follow every step. That's okay; just use your common sense and the food will come out tasting delicious as you adjust your cooking techniques and seasonings to your liking. This book will enable you to become a better cook, and this chapter builds a foundation for making you a better cook who can adapt to the environment. Each person's dish will look and taste different. But hopefully the extensive research, testing, writing, and photography in this book pave the road for your stress-free cooking pleasure.
"How and Why" and Other Forms of Chef Tips in My Recipes My recipes include not just the basic steps to make a dish, but some added details that fine-tune it. Each recipe has a section titled "How and Why." An illustrative photo usually accompanies these tips on critical points in a recipe, along with an explanation of why I've chosen that particular technique. It may be as simple as the shape and cut of the meat (as this can determine the tenderness). When the texture of a pounded spice paste is just right, it not only flavors a curry but also thickens the sauce and adds a fine desirable texture. The heat of the wok or saute pan for a stir-fry must be adequate, or the characteristic charred flavor and browned edges of the dish will not result. The recipes in this book spell out these details for you. I include tips not just because "it's always been done that way," but because it's the way to achieve authentic flavors of Southeast Asia in your home kitchen. To my professional culinarian colleagues: You know what to do to adapt the recipes for the professional kitchen! Don't Be Afraid to Innovate . . . They Do Those less familiar with these foods and their cooking techniques should stay on course. As you begin to understand the cuisines, go for it and experiment as do the cooks in these lands. I appreciate and revel in the traditional foods, but there is nothing wrong with...more can be found within the pages of Southeast Asian Flavors
Mango and Sticky Rice
Sticky rice is addictive. It’s chewy, opalescent grains stick together, making the rice easy to handle, and to scoop up spicy salads, fiery curries, and palm sugar syrups. Thai Northerners prefer long grain sticky rice over the fragrant jasmine rice of the central plains and southern tropical areas. The rice is usually eaten with one’s hands; it is pinched into balls, and then used to scoop up curries and other saucy flavorful dishes.
Umami – The Fifth Dimension of Taste
Umami may sound mystical, but it really isn’t. You have craved this fifth taste since the day you were born. It is only recently that the majority of scientists have come to an agreement that the tongue not only perceives sweet, salty, sour, and bitter but a fifth taste sensation called Umami, roughly translated as savory, or meaty. Innately we have an affinity for sweetness and umami. Of the twenty amino acids in breast milk, glutamic acid is the most abundant. Glutamate receptors on your palate sense the free glutamate in foods as a delicious taste. The theoretical but widely accepted postulation is that each taste we perceive helps us survive, mostly by helping us be selective about what foods we eat. This was especially important when humans lived in hunter-gatherer societies. The umami taste is essentially the indication that the food has protein. We need protein to live. This taste is responsible for a majority of the craveability of foods: that urge to pull that dark roasted bit of meat of the end of a roast, bite down into the crusty baguette, yearn for the sautéed mushrooms atop your steak or close your eyes and revel as you savor aged cheeses. Asian foods are particularly high in umami taste. Umami is a Japanese term, though the taste exists in foods of every part of the world. What makes umami different from the other four tastes is that umami has longevity. The savory, satisfying taste lingers on the palate much more than sweet and salty tastes, which dissipate first. Sourness and bitterness lag off next, leaving umami residing longest. Umami also changes the mouth feel. Lower fat foods high in umami actually feel more satisfying, as though...
more can be found within the pages of the Southeast Asian Flavors book
Ginger 101 Take a lesson from Chef Danhi on how to peel, slice, julienne and mince fresh ginger.
Don’t freak out! When purchasing fresh rice noodles it is normal for them to be packaged hot and still warm when purchased.
Steaming Sticky Rice 101
Begin with raw long grain sticky rice, erroneously called glutinous rice since there is no gluten in rice, yet its texture has that addictive chew. Ideally soak the sticky rice in room temperature water overnight, (or in lukewarm water for 1 hr), drain well.
Transfer drained rice to a Thai sticky rice steamer basket or any steamer lined with material to prevent rice from falling through (such as cheesecloth). Cover and steam over boiling water for 30-45 minutes until cooked through.
The Thais use this basket that is almost exclusively used for the presentation of sticky rice.
Recipe in the book: Spicy Pork with Roasted Rice Powder, Crispy Lime Leaves and Sticky Rice Laarb Moo
Lime Wedges In Southeast Asia they usually cut their limes into odd shaped wedges, watch this video to see how.
"Wok hay" or "breath of the wok" is the Chinese expression describing the beloved smoky flavor achieved by stir-frying in the intense heat of a wok.
The Chinese call the familiar flavor achieved in this intensity of wok cookery. It’s part smoky sear, part caramelization, and part that complex alchemy of essences that build up in the invisible pores of a vessel seasoned by long, loving use. The term is fast becoming one of the buzzwords in the industry.http://www.graceyoung.com/
This high-heat-based flavor has migrated and can be found in stir-fries across much of Asia. Regardless of where you taste this intriguing flavor, you can be sure that it is fleeting. Shortly after food leaves the wok, its wok hay diminishes measurably. In minutes, it’s gone.
Some cooks argue that only a traditional carbon-steel wok will exhibit wok-hay – no Teflon coated imitations here please. Begin with a smoky hot wok, cook your food quickly and serve it immediately. Once you have tasted cooking over that extreme heat, there’s no turning back.