Tagine of Clams with Olives and Chilies

Tagine of clams, olives, and chiliesSteamer clams, like the ones pictured above, are a nostalgic food for me and I typically associate them with summer.  You see, summer was the time that my family often spent time camping on the west side of Puget Sound on a body of water called Hood Canal.  Gathering and eating various forms of seafood was always a part of the experience and I spent many happy hours sifting through the beach gravels in search of various types of clams.  We would then take them back to camp, clean them up, and have them steamed with garlic butter, or toss them in the cioppino pot simmering on the fire.

Although a lot can be said for the merits of eating succulent, sweet clams like Manillas or littlenecks with nothing more than a well-seasoned butter sauce, there are simply other things to do with clams.  In this dish, the clams are bathed in a rich and very slightly spicy tomato-based sauce.  Cumin and garlic are accented by the fresh flavors of the red bell pepper and the lightly simmered poblano chili.  … 

Read More »

Corn Cakes with Sweet and Tart Relish

Corn CakesThere are many different versions of this classic Thai appetizer out there, this one just happens to be the one that we cook at our house.  They may not look like much, but these corn cakes are absolutely fantastic.  Frying at a high heat brings out the pungent flavors of the curry paste that, along with the bread crumbs and a little corn starch, binds the vegetables together.  Despite being deep fried, the corn and beans retain just a little bit of crunch and the kaffir lime leaves provide a fragrant citrus bite…. 

Read More »

Red Curry Peanut Sauce

Red Curry Peanut SauceThere are few things that do not taste better with this sauce on them.  It is quite spicy and will induce a little bit of sweat while you are eating it, but it is generally not unpleasantly hot.  This is the classic peanut sauce to serve with Chicken Sateh.  It is richly flavored and would be overly sweet if it weren’t for the tamarind, which adds a fantastic tart flavor that pulls it back from the brink.

DSC_0001There are a couple of things worth noting about this recipe.  There is not much complicated about the technique here, but the ingredients that you use matter.  If you don’t do much Thai cooking, you may not be familiar with the concept of curry paste.  When you say the work “curry” in teh context of Thai cooking, this is the stuff that you are talking about.  Rather than the yellow powder that you buy in a jar, curry paste is a complex blend of chilies, garlic, shallots, lemon grass, galangal, lime leaves/rind, and other spices.  Fortunately, it comes in a plastic tub so you don’t have to make it yourself.  Mae Ploy is the brand I use and it is available in most asian grocery stores.  If you can’t find it, drop me a line and I can explain how to make it from scratch…. 

Read More »

Shrimp Pad Thai with Chicken Sateh

DSC_0076Something that the rest of the country may not know about the Pacific Northwest is just how abundant Thai food is here.  I am not sure why, but the population here has embraced the flavors of southeast Asia with gusto.  Even in my medium sized city, I can choose from about 12 different Thai restaurants that are within 10 miles of my house…and I don’t live in town.  With so many options to choose from, the quality of food that these establishments kick out is usually pretty good since competition is a bit stiff.  One item that is always on the menu is some variant of Pad Thai.

I am really not clear why people here developed such a fever for Thai food; maybe it’s the dismal weather.  I do have a vague recollection of Thai food becoming common place some time in the late 1980’s.  I do know that pad thai was a staple food for me in college, as it was very cheap and highly available in Seattle.  And honestly, there is a lot to love about pad thai.  The fried rice noodles are satisfying, filling, and have a delightful sweet and sour flavor.  The chili and fish sauce accent both the sauce in which the noodles are cooked and the stir-fried ingredients in the dish.  And what a great variety of ingredients there are; you typically get your choice of meat (shrimp, chicken, pork, beef) to go with the array of vegetables and tofu that the cook selected.

… 

Read More »

Tagine of Onions and Dates

Tagine of OnionCaramelized onions are simply wonderful.  There is a reason that French onion soup is so popular, and it isn’t the cheese melted over the top…although that probably doesn’t hurt.  This dish combines two things I really like, caramelized onions and dates, with a sweet and almost desert-like spice scheme.  The result is a side dish that would be a great match for most roast chicken dishes, probably would work well with lamb, and presents a really special flavor profile that lands just this side of being too sweet (at least to me)…. 

Read More »