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.

 


Grilled Red and Green Chicken

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Adapted from
Joshua McFadden
Food & Wine Magazine
June 2017

This clever grilled chicken recipe was adapted from Chef Joshua McFadden of Portland, Oregon and is currently featured in the June 2017 issue of Food & Wine Magazine. This spectacular dish involves making two simple sauces—a spicy red one with ’nduja, a spreadable pork sausage; and a green one packed with fresh herbs and briny capers and anchovies—that are brushed on the chicken and served alongside. Both sauces are incredibly versatile, so keep those leftovers for other dishes yo may have on your menu or you can try the red sauce smeared on a grilled cheese sandwich and the green drizzled over grilled vegetables or mixed with more olive oil and white wine vinegar for an herbaceous vinaigrette for grilled fish.

 

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
For the red sauce:
1/2 cup ’nduja (See Cook’s Notes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

For the fresh green herb sauce:
1 cup each lightly packed parsley, mint, cilantro, tarragon and basil leaves
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup drained capers
4 anchovy fillets
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

For the chicken:
Canola oil, for brushing
One 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:
Make the red sauce In a food processor, pulse the ’nduja with the tomato paste and vinegar until nearly smooth. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Scrape the sauce into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Clean the food processor.

Make the green sauce In the food processor, pulse the herbs, scallions, capers and anchovies until very finely chopped. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated. Scrape the sauce into a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Light a grill and oil the grate. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest piece registers 155°F, about 25 minutes. Brush half the chicken with some of the red sauce and half with some of the green sauce and continue to grill, turning and brushing with the sauces, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest piece registers 165°F, 7 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve with lemon wedges, passing the remaining sauces at the table.

Cook’s Notes:
The sauces can be refrigerated separately overnight.

‘Nduja is a spicy, spreadable pork sausage made out of prosciutto. You can find it at the cheese counter at your local Whole Foods.

 

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Poulet Rochambeau

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Poulet Rochambeau with two sauces.

Poulet Rochambeau (Chicken Rochambeau)

The tradition of Réveillon, the dinner parties held by the French on Christmas Eve is alive and well in New Orleans.  In order to stay awake until Midnight Mass, French families would draw out dinner right up till it was time to leave for church.

That means lots of good Creole-French food, of which Chicken Rochambeau is one of my favorites dishes. This is a great dish to make around holiday time because it calls for roast chicken, and there’s bound to be lots of roast chicken or turkey leftovers around many a New Orleans household at Christmas time.  Traditionally, this Louisiana Creole dish is half a chicken (breast, leg, and thigh), which is boned , leaving the skin intact. The chicken is then  roasted and served as a layered dish – first a slice of baked ham, followed by a brown, Rochambeau sauce made of chicken stock and brown sugar, with a final nap of Béarnaise sauce covering the chicken

Personally, I like to serve this dish with a rich  Marchand de Vin Sauce. which I used in this recipe. The  traditional brown sugar sauce is listed below, if you want to serve the dish in that  fashion.

Trying  to find the origins of this dish is just as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Antoine’s,  the  oldest family-run restaurant  in the United States, established   in New Orleans, Louisiana  in 1840, is famous for this chicken dish. The story is that the restaurateur Antoine Alciatore,  a French immigrant and the restaurant’s namesake, created the dish to honor the Comte du Rochambeau.

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The most famous Frenchman known in America was the Marquis de Lafayette, an American Revolutionary hero who has  parks named in his honor throughout the United States. However there is another French aristocrat who fought on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War and has been long neglected by history and his name was Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau (1725 – 1807). In 1780, he was was given the rank of Lieutenant General along with 7,000 troops to help George Washington defeat the British. Eventually his forces left Rhode Island for Connecticut to join Washington on the Hudson River. This culminated in the march of their combined forces, the siege of Yorktown, and (along with the aid of the Marquis de Lafayette) the defeat of Cornwallis.

Upon his return to France, Rochambeau was honored by King Louis XVI and was made governor of the province of Picardy. He supported the French Revolution of 1789, and on 28 December 1791 he and Nicolas Luckner became the last two generals created Marshal of France by Louis XVI. When the French Revolutionary Wars broke out, he commanded the Armée du Nord for a time in 1792 but resigned after several reversals to the Austrians. He was arrested during the Reign of Terror in 1793–94 and narrowly escaped the guillotine. He was subsequently pensioned by Napoleon and died at Thoré-la-Rochette during the Empire.

A statue of Rochambeau by sculptor Ferdinand Hamar was unveiled in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square, by President Theodore Roosevelt on 24 May 1902, as a gift from France to the United States. The ceremony was made the occasion 300px-comte_de_rochambeau_statue_dcof a great demonstration of friendship between the two nations. France was represented by ambassador Jules Cambon, Admiral Fournier and General Henri Brugère, as well as a detachment of sailors and marines from the battleship Gaulois. Representatives of the Lafayette and Rochambeau families also attended.

In 1934, American A. Kingsley Macomber donated a statue of General Rochambeau to the city of Newport, Rhode Island. The sculpture is a replica of a statue in Paris. It depicts the scene in Newport at the time when General Rochambeau departed with his army to join General Washington to march on to the Siege of Yorktown.

Ironically, Lafayette Square in New Orleans has neither a statue of Lafayette, nor one in Rochambeau’s honor, but the city does have a way of creating monumental culinary dishes. Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans is famous for its Poulet Rochambeau.

general rochambeau statue.jpg

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 slices French bread toast, 1/2 inch thick rounds, toasted under the broiler on both sides
4 large slices roast chicken
4 large slices boiled or baked ham
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup Béarnaise Sauce
1 cup Marchand de Vin Sauce (See Recipe Below)
Parsley, finely chopped for garnish (See Recipe Below)

Directions:
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and fry the ham. Warm the chicken slices.

To assemble:
In the center of two heated serving plates, place the French bread rounds. Next, place the ham and top with a generous portion of Marchand de Vin. Place the chicken on top of the Marchand de Vin, finish the dish with a generous portion of Bearnaise. Garnish with the chopped parsley.

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Marchand de Vin Sauce
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely minced ham
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups beef stock
3/4 cup red wine
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dash of Cayenne

Directions:
To make the Marchand de Vin Sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and sauté the ham, scallions, mushrooms, and garlic over medium heat until the whites of the onions are translucent. Add the flour and cook, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes. Add the beef stock and red wine  and bring to a boil. Add seasonings. Let simmer for about 40 minutes. The sauce should  be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set sauce aside until ready to serve.

Béarnaise Sauce
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 Tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon cold water

Directions:
To Make the Béarnaise Sauce: Add the butter in a small heavy saucepan and let it melt slowly. Skim off the foam that rises to the surface. Heat the shallots, vinegar, peppercorns, salt and tarragon in another saucepan and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Remove from the heat and let the saucepan cool slightly. Add the egg yolks and the water to the shallots.

Return the saucepan to the stove and stir the yolk mixture vigorously over very low heat. Do not overheat or the mixture will curdle. Remove the saucepan from the heat and place it on a cold surface. Add the melted butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition. After incorporating the butter, remove from the heat and set aside until ready to serve.

For the Chicken Rochambeau with Brown Sugar Sauce

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Ingredients:

Brown Sugar Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup dry vermouth

Directions:
Prepare the brown sugar sauce by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk until mixture is a caramel color.  Slowly whisk in the brown sugar, salt and vermouth.  Increase heat to medium high and whisk constantly until mixture is  slightly thickened, and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.

Prepare the  toasts, ham , chicken and Béarnaise sauce as indicated above.

To assemble:  Spoon a portion of the brown sugar sauce to the center of the  plate. Place the French bread toast on top of the brown sugar sauce and add the  ham on top of the bread. Top the ham with a generous amount  Béarnaise sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve.

All photographs and content are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

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