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Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


Phew, now that we have pretty much wrapped up Italian cooking, we are moving on! The Monarch picked the next [sign in to see URL] honestly I was quite surprised. The guy hates seeafood! But fortunately, there were enough non-seafood dishes that I was able to make it work. So on to the Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking! The cover shows a ti leaf with typical sate (skewered meat - I've seen it written satay too) and sauce with a coconut.

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Each of these books in written by a different author so the tone/style of this one was completely new. It was more like a travel log with so many descriptions of the places he went. The lands there are so foreign to me, I was constantly [sign in to see URL] had to refer to a map every few pages! emoticon

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This author was probably equally impressed with the beautiful women he ate with as with the foods he tried! It reminded me of the stereotype of 1960s men treating even professional women as complete objects to possess. It was amusing in a eye-rolling way!

The author was also quite adventurous, trying all sorts of things that foreigners usually don't eat when travelling the area. Here's one interesting tale from Tahiti. While watching friends prepare for a feast, like a Hawaiian luau, he comments:


Earlier she had placed chunks of fresh fish in a large calabash, filled with sea water, that she keeps in her kitchen. The was for fafaru, a famed and fearsome dish that Tahitians demand at every feast but that Westerners are not likely to miss if it is omitted. The calabash is never emptied, though fresh brine is added as needed, and the odor of this aging broth is something not to be described in a book about food. The brine pickles and tenderizes the fish, bringing out the flavor so dear to Tahitians. The odor of the brine, I was assured, does not transfer itself to the fish; nevertheless I regarded the tightly stoppered gourd with some trepidation.



Later, at the feast itself:


And then came mu moment of truth, my first fafaru. With Tau at my elbow, lending encouragement, and with the whole crowd watching, I plucked a piece of fish from the strong-smelling gourd, squeezed and shook it to get rid of most of the brine, smothered it in the miti hue, and gulped it down without bothering to savor it as the Tahitians do. I cannot, I confess, describe the taste, but I can testify that a Western who eats fafaru becomes an instant social success among the Tahitians. The atmosphere changed in a flash, everyone became my friend and all my previous inquisitiveness was forgiven. (And before I left the island, my feat of eating fafaru made the font page of two Papeete papers.)



Well, we'll be skipping the fafaru! But I did manage to piece together 6 full meals, each hailing from a different location. Each meal also contains 3 or 4 dishes. During the Italian adventure, many of the side dishes were omitted for fresh vegetables from the farm but I think we will try to stick to this menu pretty well. So many of the foods he describes sound just delicious, but it was hard to track down ingredients.

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I'm excited about the adventure. There's one meal in particular that I've something similar to (I ate at an Indonesian restaurant in Holland once, but have since found out it is not very typical as the Dutch heavily influenced the cuisine they brought home - like England and Indian food). It's a huge feast and even with cutting the dishes by 1/3, it will be too much food. My brother and SIL want to join in though, so hopefully we can make a big day of cooking and eating just like the feast described in the book!

We plan to start tonight but the HUGE CHUNK OF MEAT I had to buy isn't completely defrost and I'm not sure it will. I don't want to use the microwave because I need to refreeze a bunch of it. [sign in to see URL]'ll see!
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Sumatra


Phew, first meal down! We had to drop the appetizer that contained the pork because it still wasn't defrosted. But it's a dish for the grill and my brother's family is going to come over next weekend for a meal so we are going to do it then.

So, we started the adventure with a meal from Sumatra. I constantly had to refer to a map to know where all these islands are, so I want to make sure you know too!

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Sumatra is the largest island in Indonesia and the 6th largest in the world. There are 50 million people, mostly Muslim (as is nearly all of Indonesia). The main dish we chose is the classical Sumatran feast dish - kalio - coconut beef. And a side of bawa ginoreng - spinach fritters with coconut-milk batter.

The spinach fritters were interesting. We used the big leaves and just dipped them in a batter of egg, coconut milk, garlic and flour, and then fried for a few minutes.

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The kalio was an easy dish, but took quite a while to cook. It consisted of strips of beef, onion, garlic, turmeric, coriander, salt and more coconut milk than I thought was possible. It was literally a soup. But after 3 hours in the oven, the coconut milk had reduced down into a thick paste and the beef was just falling apart. I had wanted just chuck roast but they were out so I was talked into getting something called tri-tips as a superior cut. I don't have a lot to compare to (all the other beef I've eaten so far has been ground and included in a recipe with lots of other things). But that meat was sooo tender! We served the kalio with plain white rice.

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The Monarch almost died of satisfaction at the first bite of the kalio. It was rich, creamy and the meat so tender and flavorful. I was worried he wasn't going to like a lot of these recipes because they all have copious amounts of coconut milk and he always claims to not like coconut. I think it's just he doesn't like shredded, dried flakes. I thought it was far too rich and had a hard time eating mine. But I've been feeling off all day (I couldn't eat brunch either - too rich tasting again!) so I've promised to try it again for lunch tomorrow when I might be out of pregnancy stupor. Hubby is planning on making this again - a double batch - next weekend!

The spinach fritter batter was excellent. But there may as well not have been a spinach leaf in there! I'd love to use the batter for something that has more body to it. Not sure [sign in to see URL] I can't wait to experiment!

An excellent start to our adventure. We are excited about the dishes whereas before we were a bit apprehensive.

Local ingredients:
    beef
    spinach
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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


That looks really good!

A suggestion for the [sign in to see URL] slices of green tomato! I bet that would be SO good!!! I've heard that fried ripe tomatoes are good, too. Not ever tried them, but if they are, the batter may not be too bad on them, either!

another suggestion is zuchinni. That would be an interesting combination!!

---
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~~@Saijen@~~
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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


You know, I thought that Asian cuisine would be quite daunting, especially with all the seafood (not a big fan of anything other than fish, myself).

Yet the recipe you showed sounds great. I have cooked with coconut milk, and it's not at all like the flakes, it doesn't even taste much like coconut. Glad the monarch enjoyed it!

And it looks totally yummy! emoticon emoticon emoticon

---
- Firlefanz

Mystical Adventures
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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


Great ideas Saijen! I love zucchini fritters - shredded zucchini with a simple batter of eggs and flour. I will swap out the batter for this one when we start growing them. Oh I can't wait!

Firle, I wasn't sure we were going to be able to put together any meals without seafood! Hubby doesn't like anything - fish included - and I've yet to really explore that. So I was glad there were so many vegetarian or meat recipes. By the end, I may even convince him to give one of the fish recipes a shot since I have a feeling he's going to love everything in this cookbook!

I had the kalio again for lunch. I did certainly enjoy it more than last night. It's still soooo rich. After further reflection, hubby has decided we probably don't need to cook this dish too [sign in to see URL] did the math on the FIVE cups of coconut milk in the recipe. Scary amount of calories for even the small servings we had! But certainly a dish for special occasions!
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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


Oh Zucchini fritters are to die for!
And hubby and I always order Chicken satay for an Hors d'oeuvre at some of our favorite Oriental places..
Sounds like you are off and [sign in to see URL] it all sounds delicious! emoticon

---

*The noblest art is that of making others happy ~ P.T. Barnum.*
'Stay where there are songs."....Gypsy proverb~

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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


Next is a meal from the Philippines. It's the only Christian nation in Asia, thanks to 400 years of Spanish rule as well as 50 years of American occupation. It's also the most Western of the Asian nations in many ways, including their cuisine. It consists of over [sign in to see URL] islands and now contains around 94 million people.

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The Spanish influence was immediately obvious in many of the dishes in the cookbook - olive oil, cake-like desserts and many Spanish names. Of course, there were plenty of completely foreign things as well!

We made a meal of adobo (braised and fried pork), spinach gulay (pan-fried fresh spinach) and camote frito (deep fried sweet potato chips).

The sweet potato chips were finished first as they were our appetizer. We used half "regular" sweet potatoes as well as purple yams. I couldn't tell when I bought them whether they were the true Filipino purple yam (a true yam), or the unrelated Japanese purple yam (a sweet potato). Either way, they were gorgeous! Quite shocking when you started the peel them.

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The slices of sweet potato were soaked in ice water to remove some of the [sign in to see URL] helped stir the water (which turned purple eventually!).

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And then just fried in hot oil. Filipinos serve them with powdered sugar sprinkled on them and Westerns use salt. The sugar didn't sound promising but we did half the batch sugar and half the batch salt. Honestly, I think the sugared ones made better appetizers! Yummy! The salty ones were great for munching with your meal too.

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(can you tell I was fascinated by the color? I took so many pictures of them!)

The adobo was a dish I have at least heard of before but found out that the Latin American version is (of course) quite different than the Filipino one. It's something of a national dish there, so I was glad to be making it! Filipinos are known for the taste for sour things and stew many meats in vinegar. Again, this didn't sound promising to me but this whole adventure is about expanding our horizons! So the pork was braised in vinegar and garlic until tender and then removed from the pan. The remaining juices were cooked down to a very thick sauce. Then the pork was fried in oil until it had a nice deep color and a crunchy exterior. Finally, the thick sauce is poured back over it. It certainly *looked* good, but the vinegar smell that had permeated the kitchen for the past hour had me really questioning the dish...

And the spinach was just a simple recipe, very similar to how I would make spinach anyway. Just sauteed onions and garlic with spinach.

We served it all with plain boiled rice per the recipe suggestion.

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I LOVED it all. The pork was so flavorful. Hubby didn't fall out over it, but we are both starting to think he just doesn't like the texture of pork - he always thinks its too dry. I scarfed down so much! We are going to try the recipe sometime again but try doing a real slow cook on the pork before frying so it's more tender. But I REALLY loved it just as is! So nice to be surprised like that with a dish you apprehensive about even all during the cooking process.

And wasn't that the most colorful meal you ever saw! emoticon

Local ingredients:
    orange sweet potato
    spinach
    pork
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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


That was a really pretty meal! I love the purple and orange of the potatoes. The pork sounds good, too.

I'm not real big on plain white rice. I would probably do a saffron type rice instead (LOVE yellow rice), which would have added even more color.

I wonder how venison would be cooked like this pork was. Hmmmm......

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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


I have two sister in laws (hubby's oldest brother married one right out of Nam and his youngest one married one 4 years ago.)
We LOVE Filipino [sign in to see URL] sis makes "Chicken adobo", but I think one of our favorite things is "LUMPIA"...
]Filipino Lumpia recipe Link
And don't forget the "Mafran Banana Ketchup"...

Your dinner is not only pleasing to the eye but obviously pleasing to the palette as well! emoticon

---

*The noblest art is that of making others happy ~ P.T. Barnum.*
'Stay where there are songs."....Gypsy proverb~

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Re: Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking


We made a Thai curry tonight. I've had plenty of curries from different restaurants and many of them are so similar and really not all that spectacular. Of course, there are some really outstanding ones I've had too. We've recently discovered a new Thai place near us that my dad loves so he takes me to lunch there once a week. Haven't had a dish I don't like!

So we were pretty certain we would enjoy the Thai dishes in the cookbook. But seeing the real ingredients had hubby in a fit. They all include fish sauce and shrimp paste. He put his foot down and said we weren't going to use those ingredients (sometimes you can detect fish sauce in a curry and it is overpowering to a non-fish lover). I thought about secreting them into the sauce but figured we may as well give it a try without it and if there was something obviously missing, we could add it in if we wanted to make the dish again.

So, we started off by making the curry paste. I've made curry at home once before, but using a commercial paste. The dish was so lack luster that I never attempted curry again until tonight. This paste was made from scratch using some rather hard to find ingredients including "laos" (which turned out to be galangal - at least something I'd heard of) and "sereh" (lemon grass, which we grow!). Thank goodness for google or I would have never figured out what those things were! The glossary explains them but apparently the more common names now just weren't in use back then.

Here's the ingredients of the paste:

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This was just mixed in a blender until "smooth" - I could never get the coriander and caraway seeds to completely grind up, so mine was a bit chunky.

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Then the actual curry recipe was exceedingly simple - just three ingredients: curry paste, coconut milk and the meat. We opted for tofu, handmade at the local Asian grocer. The original recipe called for chicken and hubby is just not a chicken fan but I know he likes tofu in Asian dishes. In about 45 minutes, the dish was ready to serve with white rice.

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I was a little apprehensive that it wasn't going to be all that flavorful just being a "three" ingredient meal, but I underestimated the power of the curry paste. A single tablespoon went into the dish that serves 3 to 4, and it was amazingly powerful! The taste was so much fresher and lighter than most of the ones I've had at restaurants which almost have a heavy, greasy texture and taste. It just seemed so fresh and bright. I absolutely loved it and so did hubby. Willa didn't get a chance to try it as it was on the spicy side, but I rinsed some tofu for her and she gobbled that down with rice.

Definitely a keeper and a recipe that could be the base of all sort of things. I can imagine adding carrots, potatoes, peanuts, lots of stuff and making innumerable delicious dishes!

Local ingredients:
    dried chiles
    lemon grass
    garlic
    onion
    tofu



Last edited by TexasMadness, 3/2/2012, 3:18 am
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