I'm so excited!
At a recently family reunion, I got chatting with a relative of Theresa's from California about Thai Food. I talked about the magic of the Kaffir Lime – to my amazement she proclaimed "Oh – we have a Kaffir Lime bush in our garden." …
I even went so far as trying to grow my own tree, but sadly that wasn't happening in our climate. Kaffir Limes are hard to come by in Washington State. The FDA hasn't approved them for produce sale (According to the grocer at Uwajimaya) and so at Asian grocery stores – all we can get are the Kaffir Lime Leaves, not the limes themselves.
When making thai curry pastes, the peel of the Kaffir Lime imparts an intense amazing flavor that really sets them apart from other curries.
Today, I received a shipment of their Kaffir Lime harvest! They are perfect, beautiful and smell so wonderful!
The timing couldn't have been more perfect. After maxing-out on my last plate of turkey left-overs, I'm ready to cook some more Thai Food.
I'm going to make a beef Panaeng Curry from scratch (making the paste itself) in the next few days to take advantage of these deliciously fresh limes.
Palm sugar is a secret weapon in making the best Thai curry.
Palm sugar is far less processed than your typical brown sugars, and retains an intense caramel-like taste.
Look for a Thai brand – you can find one like this at Viet Wah or Uwajimaya. Sometimes it is sold in smaller tubs, or packets containing little 'half-tennis-balls' of sugar.
I prefer the jars as it's a little easier to keep it soft, which makes it more workable when scooping.
If you get the jar – they are sealed with a wax layer ontop of the sugar. Makes sure you scrape off the top 1/16" layer of wax before using.
Thirsty for even more info?
One of the secrets to cooking great Thai food, is the right coconut milk. There are only two brands you should ever get – both available at Uwajimaya.
Mae Ploy is my favourite, it is very rich and creamy.
The other great brand is Chao Koh. This one is easy to remember as you can look for the "A-OK" in the middle of the word.
If a recipe calls for "Coconut Cream" – don't buy a special can of it, just put your Mae Ploy in the fridge overnight and the cream will float to the top.
Likewise, don't be tempted by "Lite Coconut Milk". It's just coconut milk with water added. If you are making a soup – like Tom Kah Gai, then you can use this technique to water down the coconut milk to make it lighter on the palette.
Don't be fooled by other brands, or think you can get by with "Thai Kitchen" brand from QFC.
Ahh… the quintessential ingredient in Thai cooking. Fish sauce is known as "Thai salt" – it's added to everything to beef up the salty qualities of the dish.
Finding the right bottle of fish sauce is a make-or-break deal with cooking Thaifood. The brand of choice here is "Golden Boy" – made in Thailand – which features a red label showing a baby sitting on a globe with a bottle of fish sauce in his arms.
Finding the right bottle of fish sauce is a make-or-break deal with cooking Thaifood. The brand of choice here is "Golden Boy" – made in Thailand – which features a red label showing a baby sitting on a globe with a bottle of fish sauce in his arms. Uwajimaya from time to time has stocked Golden Boy, but these days it's rare to find.
On a recent business trip to Atimi Software in Vancouver, I discovered T & T supermaket that sells Golden Boy. You'll get weird looks carting 3 cases of the stuff back across the border, but it's worth its price in embarassment.
Tra Chang is a good backup and can be bought online from a local distributor in Issaquah, WA.
Uwajimaya in Seattle, has Squid Band to get you rolling – it has a green label and green cap.
Check out Michaels in-depth write up on fish sauce.