Inside the Thai Pantry

This is a first in a series of posts to help with adding a bit of variety to your pantry staples. Happy Eating!

The Global Pantry Series: Inside the Thai Pantry

The Table Home Chef Blog

For our money, no cuisine out there manages to hit on all the flavors – sweet, salty, sour, umami, (and yes, sometimes spicy!) like Thai food. From universally loved noodle dishes like Pad Thai, to more adventurous ones like deep fried whole fish with chili sauce or fiery minced meat dips, there’s a kaleidoscope of flavors to explore beyond what’s offered at the average takeout spot. Cooking Thai food at home can seem intimidating to many cooks, but you’d be surprised how many dishes are built on the same foundational ingredients and simple techniques. Shopping ahead of time for some key pantry items will ensure you can create those intense flavors you expect from a restaurant at home, and the rest is simple – just add vegetables, rice or rice noodles, and the protein of your choice to your weekly shopping list and you can be cooking authentic-tasting Thai food in no time.

(image via indie culinary)

Curry Paste

Thai curries can be laborious to make from scratch, as they often contain garlic, chilies, galangal, lemongrass, and dried shrimp. Luckily, some great-quality pre-made curry pastes can be purchased in your local Asian market or online, like these ones from Mae Ploy. They come in a rainbow of curries, like red, yellow, green, and panang. If you’re looking for a seafood-free version, these vegan pastes by Maesri are your best bet. A little goes a long way, and they keep well, so we recommend buying them all and finding your favorite!

(image via street smart kitchen)

Sauces

Thai cooks rely on an arsenal of sauces for the umami flavors they add to stir-fries and noodle dishes. We couldn’t choose just one sauce to recommend, so we’re suggesting two: oyster sauce, and fish sauce. These sauces are versatile and widely available, but don’t judge them by their smell straight from the bottle! They’re both used in small amounts, and don’t taste overtly fishy in the finished dish – especially if you buy from brands with high quality standards, like Red Boat and Lee Kum Kee. If you’ve just been cooking with soy sauce up until now and feel like your stir-fries or curries are missing depth of flavor, these are the two sauces that you need in your kitchen. Interested in diving in deeper? Street Smart Kitchen has a great guide to Asian sauces.

(image via inquiring chef)

Tamarind Paste

Lime juice is liberally used in many Thai dishes, but it’s not the only sour component you’ll find in the Thai pantry. Tamarind, the pulp of a tropical tree pod is both fruity and really tangy – and it’s used in savory dishes, desserts, and even drinks! You may have seen the large brown pods for sale in Mexican or Asian grocery stores, but if not, you can buy a shelf stable concentrate with no compromise in flavor. We like this one from our friends at The Spice House. but if you’re feeling intrepid, you can make your own using this guide from Inquiring Chef.

(image via inquiring chef)

Bird’s Eye Chilies

If you’ve ever ordered Thai takeout, you’re familiar with the follow up question “how spicy?” Contrary to popular belief here in the states, some Thai dishes are meant to be enjoyed spicy while others are completely mild, and you’d never order using the star rating for spice at a restaurant in Thailand. Whether you’re spice fanatical or fearful, one of the best parts about cooking Thai at home is that you can control the heat. Thai Bird’s Eye Chilies are easy to find dry or in paste form, and as a pepper that rates 50,000 – 100,000 on the Scoville scale, a little goes a long way. Serve Nam Prik Pao table-side so everyone can add as much (or as little) as they like, or if not, there’s always Sriracha.

(image via the kitchn)

Coconut Milk

There’s nothing like fresh milk straight from the coconut, but we know that’s not realistic for most of us living outside of the tropics! Great coconut milk is essential for making Thai curries, and luckily, it’s now widely available at most stores. However, there’s a lot of varieties and formats out there, and it can get confusing fast. We’ll make it easy: look for full fat, unsweetened coconut milk, in a box (or tetra pak) if you can find it. We love the Aroy-D brand, straight from Thailand.

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Lastly, there’s lime leaves. Like we’ve mentioned previously, lime juice is often  added as a final squeeze of freshness in many dishes, but Thai cooks don’t just stop at the fruit! The leaves are incredibly fragrant, and if you’ve ever enjoyed a comforting bowl of Tom Kha Gai soup, you know how distinctive the flavor they add is. As with Kaffir limes, their leaves are not easy to find fresh – look for them frozen, and next time your curry needs a dose of fresh, zesty aroma, snip in a leaf, thinly sliced.

 


Shrimp and Fried Avocado Tacos

stacked-shrimp-fried-avocado-tacos-fwx
Photo Credit: Dennis Prescott, 2016.

 

Take your avocado obsession to the next level by rolling them in breadcrumbs, baking them to crispy perfection and stuffing them in a tortilla with a few spicy shrimp. This version of a textural dream that is crunchy, spicy, and refreshing, all at the same time.We are sure that your hunger for tacos will never be the same on Taco Tuesday!

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Avocados:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large egg whites
1 cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium firm but ripe avocados

For the Slaw:
1 lime
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 small red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for serving

For the Spiced Shrimp:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24 medium (31-40 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
A squeeze of fresh lime juice

For Assembly:
8 small flour tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges, for serving
Sour cream, for serving
Chopped tomatoes, for serving

Directions:
To make the avocados:
Heat oven to 425°F.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Lightly beat the egg whites in a second small bowl. In a third small bowl, combine the panko with the oil.

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and peel. Cut each half into ½-inch-thick slices. Working with one slice at a time, coat avocado slices lightly in flour, then in the egg, letting any excess drip off and finally in the panko, pressing gently to help it adhere. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining avocado slices. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

To make the slaw: Finely grate the lime, making zest, into a large bowl, then squeeze in 2 tablespoon juice from the same lime. Whisk in the mayonnaise and a pinch of salt. Add the cabbage, scallions, and jalapeño and toss to coat; fold in the cilantro. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble to tacos.

For the shrimp: In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, garlic, cumin, chili and onion powders, paprika, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add in shrimp and toss to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 24 hours for best results.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a a large heavy-duty or cast iron skillet on high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the shrimp.and cook until  just cooked through and slightly pink, about 3 minutes. Do this in batches if necessary with more oil; the shrimp should be in a single layer.   Turn off heat and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. 

To assemble:  Grill tortillas on stove top over the flame until lightly charred.  Fill the tortillas with the avocados and top with the cabbage slaw, followed by three of four shrimp. Serve with extra cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream and chopped tomatoes, if desired.

Enjoy!


Stove-top Pork Ribs

pork ribse

 

Today, we are presenting our Stove top braised pork ribs in a soy sauce and balsamic vinegar reduction…..

Need we say more?

As you know, ribs are one of the most popular foods in the entire world, yet most people still have difficulty making them at home. Here is a foolproof braising technique that does not require any special equipment, just one pot and your stove top!

By cooking your ribs in a cooking liquid  we can guarantee that you will have a moist, tender and extremely flavorful rib. Perfectly salted with soy sauce and totally herbaceous, with taste of fresh lime to add zip to every bite. You do not have to grill your ribs over hot coals or smother them in barbecue sauce, for an authentic foodie experience and this recipe proves it just fine!

 

Adapted From
by Michael Bednarz
shared.com
May 11, 2017

Serves 4

Ingredients:
10 pork spareribs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
10 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated onion powder
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 chicken bullion cube
Kosher salt, to taste*
ground black pepper to taste
2 limes, cut into wedges, for garnish
3-4 tablespoons snipped fresh chives, for garnish

Directions:
Place the spareribs into a large pot, and fill with just enough water to cover. Add the cup soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, granulated white sugar, garlic, cumin, onion powder, fresh oregano,thyme, bay leaves, lime juice, red wine vinegar,chicken bullion cube and salt and pepper,to taste. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered over medium heat until the water has completely evaporated, about 45 minutes to an hour.

When all of the water has evaporated, remove the bay leaves, and allow meat to brown, turning occasionally using tongs. Use a spatula to scrape up browned bits and softened garlic from the bottom of the pot, and toss them with the pork. The garlic will dissolve into the meat.

Remove the meat, and drain on paper towels. Season with black pepper and garnish with lime wedges and chives.

Cook’s Notes:
Depending on the brand of soy sauce that you will use, you can completely eliminate the use of salt in this recipe if desired.

Dark soy sauce is one of the two types of soy sauce used most often in Chinese cooking. The light variety of soy sauce tends to be the other one used in Asian cuisine.

Dark soy sauce is aged for longer periods of time and usually contain molasses or caramel and a bit of cornstarch added, making it s thicker and darker in color than light soy sauce. Also note that dark soy sauce varieties tend to have a high sodium content, although not as high as light soy sauce. Because it tends to be a more full-bodied flavor, dark soy sauce is frequently added to marinades and sauces to add color and flavor to a dish.

Although dark soy sauce is used primarily in cooking, as it needs heating to bring out its full flavor, you will also sometimes find it in dipping sauce recipes.

To see how this recipe was originally made, see the video from shared.com in the video below:

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