Clicking Away in Tokyo at Komagata Dozeu: A Restaurant Operating for Over TWO CENTURIES

Komagata Dozeu

It’s very easy to spot a good restaurant in Tokyo or in most Asian countries. You look for a line outside. If the restaurant is good, they will be full at lunch or dinnertime. If the restaurant is spectacular, there will be a line waiting to get in. We Asians are not afraid to wait to get a meal. Most popular restaurants don’t taking any reservations, either.

I would like to say reservations are more part of a Western style of dining, but in the last two decades Asian restaurants are more accepting of and are starting to take reservations, but that’s still on an up-scale level. For casual dining it’s still a first come,first serve basis.

To most Asians, ambience is just an unnecessary accessory when it comes to eating. It does’t make food taste any better and it doesn’t make you any fuller.  We just want tasty food, the rest is tolerable if the food is right on.

That’s why you will see Asian restaurants with sticky chairs, dirty walls, not so spotlessly clean, loud, rude waitstaff, tight seating in a very small space, with no AC in a 90-degree climate still doing awesomely well in Asia or any place with a lot of Asian population. Not that we’re willing to accept that lesser standard, but because our standard isn’t where you might put your focus.

In fact, you could find two restaurants in the same neighborhood, one equipped with all fru-fru AC, high cleanliness, nice wait staff, cozy chairs and all but empty. The other one is as described in the above paragraph, and is packed, with a long line waiting to get in. Let me ask you, which one’s food do you want to try?

I used to be so frustrated with my husband because if he has to pick between an uncomfortable restaurant with great food over a nice and cozy restaurant with just blah food, he won’t hesitate to pick the latter, while I would definitely choose the former. His focus isn’t on how the food tastes, but how much discomfort he has to encounter for just one meal, in his mind. I am the opposite.

We do fix our differences easily, without ruining our marriage, by me letting him sit and have his meal in his comfortable and cozy place by himself, while he waits for me to come back from the “hell hole”, as he would call it or “heaven on earth”, as I would describe all places that just serve great food. We are both happy and full; mission accomplished.

So, when my husband isn’t on the trip with me, I am free to explore and search for my secret hole-in-the-wall spots. On this trip I was staying in the Asakusa area where all great foods are, so I took a walk out of the Thunder Gate (Kaminarimon Gate) in front of the Sensoji temple, crossed Kaminarimon-Dori (Street or Ave) and continued  walking on a street I think was called “Edo-Dori”.  I intended to find a restaurant with a long line. No matter what the food would be, I was committed to eat the food that was served there.

After about seven big blocks,(f our blocks between Kaminarimon-Dori and Asakusa-Dori and another three blocks past Asakusa-Dori on Edo-Dori), because I started quite late, around 7:30pm, I expected the line I was looking for probably had already gone inside or even be done with their dinner, but I still thought I would be able to find something quite interesting.

Komagata Dozeu 3

Right in the middle of the city there was an old, three-story house…

Komagata Dozeu 16

with paper lanterns line up in the front…

Komagata Dozeu 1

 

and a few benches with people still waiting to get in.

Komagata Dozeu 2

This is it! I thought. The place was big, but people were still waiting to eat at ten minutes to eight. My instinct told me that this must be a special place.

I can’t read any of the Japanese signs there, of course. So I just poked my head inside and used sign language to tell the host that I was by myself and only needed one seat. In the meantime, while he was busy writing my name down on his call sheet, I snapped a few pictures of the inside.

Komagata Dozeu 4

I thought, this is it, the traditional restaurant that you have to sit on a little cushions on top of the tatami floors and eat off a small table in front of you.

I came outside and waited just briefly, shorter than 20 minutes, and my name was called. He pointed to a place DOWNSTAIRS! What?!?! OK I didn’t realize there is an underground level. On the way going down I just spotted the stairs leading up to the second floor, too. This was a much bigger restaurant than what I expected at first. I felt lit up inside–I’m at a great place again.

The underground floor was actually better.

Komagata Dozeu 5

There were normal tables and chairs, so you didn’t need to sit on the floor, but you couldn’t avoid smoke from both cigarettes and from the small stoves on almost every table. The smell of soy sauce and sake was soaking every cubic inch of air in the room. Thank goodness the cigarette smoke was very light in this room.

I followed a very young waitress dressed in a traditional kimono to a small wooden table with little wooden chairs. I spotted several foreigners in there, and I hoped this was not the “foreigners’ room”. The waitress handed me the English menu. (Oh no! This definitely is the foreigners’ room!)  Anyhow, there were more Japanese in here than the obvious “foreigners”, so I figured I be okay.

From the menu, I saw that this restaurant is named “Komakata Dozeu Restaurant” and serves only dishes made from a little fish called Dozeu, or Dojo, which is the Japanese loach. They had five dishes made with Dozeu.

Dozeu Nabe: The fresh Dozeu is cooked in an aromatic sake broth until the bones become soft, then the Dozeu is cooked again in a sweet miso broth. The Dozeu is served on a thin iron plate filled with Warishita sauce (secret soy sauce base). The iron plate would then be placed on top of the Hibachi (charcoal grill). The customers have to finish the cooking by adding sliced greens and, if the Warishita gets dry on the plate, there is a pot of it available on the table that the customer can add to it.

Yanagawa: The Dozeu are cooked in a Yanagawa Nabe (pottery dish from Fukuoka prefecture) with shaved gobo (burdock root) and egg.

Dozeu Kabayaki: This is grilled, filleted Dozeu with sweet soy sauce, just like grilled Unagi.

Dozeu Kara-age: Fried Dozeu.

Dozeu Jiru: Dozeu cooked in Chikuma Miso (unsalted miso, which was popular in the Edo period)

Also, there were a few other a la carte dishes such as Chawanmushi (egg custard), Tamagoyaki (Edo omelette), Toru Tukune (Teriyaki chicken balls with soft boiled egg), Edo Yasai Awase (Edo vegetable salad) and Dangaku (Konuaku and tofu with miso).

That was it for the English menu. I started to wonder what would be on the Japanese menu, but that wasn’t the point right now. My one little stomach couldn’t handle all of the choices in the English menu already.

I ended up ordered the Dozeu Nabe because EVERY TABLE had ordered this; I couldn’t go wrong. Then I wanted to try the Dozeu Jiru too, so I ordered that. My order didn’t seem to have enough vegetables, so I ordered the Edo Yasai Awase, Edo vegetable salad, as well.

I was sure I wouldn’t be able to finish all of these. I wish I had someone else with me, but if I did then I wouldn’t have found this restaurant, because I was traveling with a friend who likes to set a destination and go to it. Well, my best culinary adventure trips were never about the destination but more about the journey. So I had to swallow my regret about wasting the food then.

On the table, there was a wooden box with a whole bunch of sliced Japanese green onions, and a little earthenware teapot filled with the broth.

Komagata Dozeu 6

My first course, the salad, arrived very quickly.

Komagata Dozeu 10

It was a very interesting salad consisting of thinly sliced cabbage, lettuce, whole okra, some corn, thinly sliced lotus root, and something looking like a flower that I don’t know the name of, but I’ve seen at the Tsukiji market before. The dressing was ginger and sesame and quite delicious.

I hadn’t finish my salad yet when the Dozeu Nabe arrived in an iron plate set on top of the Hibachi (the little grill stove).

Komagata Dozeu (1)

 

The whole thing looks big in the picture but the plate was just about 6-7 inches in diameter. So, the Dozeu themselves are about 4-5 inches long at the most. Well, I have to admit, they looked intimidating and unappealing to me.

Komagata Dozeu 7

So, I quickly dropped the sliced green onion on top, right away, just to cover the naked fish, according to my waitress’s recommendation. She had taught me what needed to be added to the plate before she walked away.

Komagata Dozeu 9

I also ordered rice, too. I can’t just eat pure protein without any carbs. As soon as I saw the green onion was cooked, I scooped it off and put a new set on top. At this point I thought I had to get to the fish, regardless of how they had intimidated me. So I took one fish and put it over my rice.

In the same box with the sliced green onion there were two types of seasoning. One was Shichimi-Togarashi, a ground spice mix of cayenne pepper, five other spices and dried orange peel, so I put that on the Dozeu, just to make sure that I could swallow the fish down.

Ahemm…Errr…I should have remembered the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  Oh my goshhhh…it was so light and unassumingly delicious. The flavor of the Dozeu was just so unique: no slimy texture, no weird fishy smell, even though they look kinda wwwwww.  They were so tasty, with a mysterious hint of earthiness.

The flavor was so unlike anything else I had ever tasted that I have a hard time describing it to you. On top of the “aha” moment, I discovered that the bones were so soft and really needed no effort to chew, even the head, which is all bones. I never thought that I would use the phrase, “melt in your mouth” with respect to a fish, but this Dozeu Nabe together with the bones and all dissolves right there on your tongue and is easy to swallow. The rice and the green onion turned out to be the part that you had to chew.

I had no worries about choking on the bones. I had no worry about the fishy smell nor the slime. It was only the appearance that I just had to keep covering with sliced green onions, breaking the fish in half before I took it out of the plate. I’m now no longer afraid of the Dozeu! (Well at first they kinda appear to be slimy and like a snake; I am famous for my ophidiophobia, and I refuse to even write the word down more than once.)

As soon as I figured out what the whole deal was about, the cute waitress re-appeared with a little bowl of Dozeu Jiru that didn’t look like anything but a bowl of a thick yellowish-brown contents.

Komagata Dozeu 12

Noooo, it didn’t remind me of baby poo at all, but I won’t swear to it though…haha. It smelled nicer ;) But it was so hot I just went back and focused on my new-found treat to my tongue.

I kept adding the sliced green onion, which was available for free and unlimited. It’s the sweetest green onion you will ever eat. It was huge, about half an inch in diameter, and was much less pungent than typical green onion, and three or four times sweeter. At this point I stopped adding the seasoning to the Dozeu because it made my tongue a little numb and I wanted to keep tasting these delicious fish.

On the third round of adding the green onion, the broth was almost completely evaporated, so I added more broth to the plate. I had to wait for it to start boiling again, so I turned my attention to the Dozeu Jiru. I sipped the miso broth–wow, this was really different. It was so not salty at all. It was actually sweet too. I loved loved loved this! I wished I could find this type of miso in California, yet I had no idea what this miso was called. (Dhurr…It said right there on the menu, Chikuma Miso)

I found Dozeu at the bottom of the bowl, too.

Komagata Dozeu 13

The Dozeu had the same texture as the one in Nabe: tender, tasty, with dissolvable bones. The Dozeu in the miso broth had a slightly different flavor, though. I could sense the real taste of the Dozeu more in the Nabe, but because the earthy flavor of the Dozeu just went very well with the unsalted miso, the blended flavor just gave the Dozeu another dimension.

Did I already say that I am so glad I stopped at this restaurant? I don’t think I said it enough. This was a really good find. I so want to take my hubby back here. LOL…I’m sure this statement will make his skin crawl when he edits this post and sees the photos! He doesn’t like eating most fish. He doesn’t think that fish should be human food…but my darling, you have no choice!

I ate half of the Dozeu on the plate, finished the Dozeu Jiru, and left only one third of the salad and half of the rice.  I had ordered enough for two people. The bill came to around $30, but I only drank mineral water.

From my observation, the Japanese customers also ordered the Nabe, but they seemed to have a set that went with it. I saw some of them putting some other stuff in their plate that they added more broth to. Some seemed to have a sliced raw fish that looked like carp (Koi) fish sashimi in their set, too.

The tables that had more than two parties ordered the Yanagawa dish, the Dozeu and gobo root in omelette. That looked super delicious too. I made a mental note to try it next time, together with the fried Dozeu and the grilled one. I’m sure the fried and grilled Dozeu would appeal to my husband more than the Nabe and the Jiru would, for sure.

When I left the restaurant the crowd had already died down, but I will remember this place for the next time.

Komagata Dozeu 14

Komagata Dozeu 15

While I was writing this, I finally got to do research about this Komagata Dozeu Restaurant. This restaurant has served Dozeu for over 200 years! It was founded in 1801! Oh my gosh…that’s the very same year Thomas Jefferson was elected as the President and the Irish had just joined Great Britain, just to give an idea how long ago this place was established. The generation that is running the restaurant right now is the seventh!  They must surely love doing this business, and also opened another location in Shibuya, too.

More from the research: the Dozeu used to be very abundant because they were caught in the flooded rice fields and in the streams, but these days, due to farm pesticides and rural development projects, the Dozeu have greatly diminished. Most of the Dozeu eaten in the restaurants have all come from fish farms or overseas, unfortunately.

That night must been the night that my psyche lined up with the Dozeu because, having walked back–which was the reasonable activity to assist in digestion for an over-eating girl who’s not bulimic–I passed through a neighborhood where I noticed a pub/restaurant that was still open, and had a wooden container filled with water in the front of the place…

Komagata Dozeu 17

and inside were live Dozeu fish.

Komagata Dozeu 18

So I got to meet the live Dozeu and eat them in the same night!

Nice to meet you Dozeu. You are so delicious. I’m glad we’ve met.

WHERE:

Komagata Dozeu (Asakusa Location, where I went)
1-7-12 Komagata, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3842-4001

Komagata Dozeu (Shibuya Location)
4F Renga Building
1-5-9 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3464-5522

WHEN:

Asakusa Location 11am – 9pm daily

Sibuya Location
Monday – Saturday 11:30am – 10:30pm
Sunday and Holiday 11:30am – 9:30pm

WHAT:

I would recommend the Nabe and the Jiru, but if you are not that brave, I read from a review that the Kabayaki, or grilled Dozeu, tasted sweet and eel-like. Or the Kara-age, the fried Dozeu, could be good too. I will definitely be trying the Yanagawa next time, and will report back when I do.


Clicking Away in Tokyo at Taimeiken : The Most Popular Place for Omurice

Taimeiken Tokyo 9

I haven’t been blogging lately. It’s been so many weeks I can’t even remember because I’ve been in many time zones both within the country and internationally until I’ve become quite confused. I even get the date wrong. I’m now in Tokyo, one of my most favorite cities on earth. If you are following my Facebook fan page, you probably already knew of my culinary adventures, so don’t miss my next two stops, Bangkok and Singapore.

I am here in Tokyo with no set destinations this time, and I’ve found two interesting restaurants. I discovered both on the same day, so I gave myself 6 stars on that day. I usually find something interesting if I am on my own, not needing to worry about anyone or anything. I just loosely set a destination and explore the route in between my hotel and the destination.

Tokyo is quite rainy in the late August. My initial destination was the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Shinagawa, but I changed course to go to the National Museum of Modern Art instead, due to the rain. Going to a museum is indoor activity but on the way from Shinagawa station to this museum there is a beautiful Japanese garden at the Takanawa Prince hotel that I didn’t want to miss.

Anyhow, my next destination required me to stop at Nihombashi station to change trains. So I decided to do a stopover at Nihombashi for lunch and exploring. If I wasn’t alone, I probably couldn’t do this freely. I highly recommend giving yourself some leisure time with a loose schedule during your vacation. I can guarantee that it’s going to pay off, just like my detour adventures. Do you remember my discovery two years ago, “Mr Danger”, the little restaurant serving “Humburg steak”?

I exited from Nihombashi station to the street and started walking around—luckily the rain had stopped. Nihombashi is the financial district, hosting the Tokyo Stock Exchange (Tokyo Shoken Torihikijo), Bank of Japan (Nippon Ginko) and even the Currency Museum (Kahei Hakubtsukan).

Nihombashi is quite busy during the weekday but so nice and quiet during the weekend, almost serene even. I walked across the courtyard of a building called Coredo and there I saw a long line.

Taimeiken Tokyo 1

You wouldn’t line up in the rain for no good reason, would you? So I moved closer and I could smell something yummy happening, and that was the reason for the long line for sure.

Taimeiken Tokyo 2

Before I entered the building, I inspected my surroundings and saw a brass plate for a “Kite Museum” on the entrance, but cooking kites wouldn’t give this yummy smell. I’m sure of that. I peeked through the restaurant door and all the Japanese who were quietly waiting in line were eyeing me suspiciously. Sorry, even though I’m a half Chinese my other half was taught to wait in line; I just wanted to know if the line was worth the wait.

The restaurant itself didn’t look that interesting to me, to tell you the truth. It was just a casual style restaurant serving a “Yoshoku” type meal. (See NOTE below) Omurice or omuraisu, the Japanese omelette wrapped around fried rice, was on every table of medium size restaurant (large for a Japanese restaurant) and I was too hungry to wait in line for a plate of omurice, but I had to check out the kite museum first. Near the entrance of the restaurant there was stairs leading to the second floor. I took them.

Up on the second floor was another restaurant! There were two young men sitting there smoking in front. Yeah, that’s really horrible, rude, inconsiderate, and simply unacceptable. I think Japan would be a much better country if the indoor smoking is banned but I guess it won’t be, as the Japanese’s average lifespan is always in the top ten in the world! I understood that their government has to find a way to decrease their population somehow. The island isn’t going to grow, you know. So, the cigarettes there are sold at under $5 per pack. Smokers from New York, you should consider moving to Japan, they like Americans there ;)

I asked them how to get to the kite museum, and they said the 5th floor and there I went. I purchased a ticket and asked the ticket seller (who later I’ve found is the head of the Japan Kite Association and also serves as a director of the Kite Museum, Mr. Masami Fukuoka himself) about the restaurant on the first floor. He pointed to another gentleman who had just came out form the elevator, and told me to talk to him because he happened to be the owner!

Taimeiken Tokyo 10

Wow, talk about luck! I was not doing bad here at all. He also walked me down to the 2nd floor restaurant too.

The explained (in English!) that BOTH the restaurants I saw were named Taimeiken. The first floor is a cafe style with slightly lower prices, but packed with all the fun and frantic energy of an open kitchen, while the second floor is fine dining with no line, but both use the same kitchen.

Taimeiken Tokyo 3

Bingo, a very hungry woman, and one restaurant with no line but cooking from the same kitchen as the restaurant with the line this long on Saturday, come on. I just have to pay more for the meal. Why not? Extra time to explore would be worth every penny.

Taimeiken Tokyo 4

Taimeiken is sure to be one of the most popular places for omurice in Tokyo. They served many different types of omurice, including their famous one, the “Tampopo” style, or the dandelion style. This is from the Japanese movie “Tampopo”  that was made in the eighties. My Japanese friend told me that this dish was developed by the director of that movie with cooperation from the Taimeiken restaurant chef team because Taimeiken was an old and well-respected Yoshoku restaurant in Tokyo since 1931. I had seen the movie, and found this clip on YouTube. (You have to skip to about 1 minute in order to see how the omurice is made.)

The “Tampopo” style fried rice is this: the base fried rice is ketchup-flavored fried rice with chicken. It’s laid lazily in a simple pile underneath what seems to be a plain marquis-shaped omelette. Before you eat, you would use a knife to lightly slice the omelette not so deep in to the center of the log, or just half way from the top lengthwise from one tip of the marquis shape to the other. The egg omelette then would crack open due to the creamy soft center. Then, with almost no effort, you open the slightly wet and creamy omelette to uncover the fried rice underneath. This is why you sliced the omelette only half way down and not all the way to the plate. Then you add the ketchup on top and eat. You can opt-out of the ketchup choice by asking for demi-glaze sauce or curry sauce, but believe me it’s best with ketchup.

Taimeiken Tokyo 5

Well, now there is bad news–I have no pictures for you! I learned about the “Tampopo” rice after I had already placed my order. The restaurant has an English menu, of course, but it didn’t look any different than any other menu in English. No pictures in the menu either. Maybe because this was the fine dining section. The wait staff had tried to point me to the “Chicken Omurice” by saying that this is the most popular one. Sorry, I’m not a big chicken eater. I, in fact, avoid chicken unless it is really interesting or proven an organic chicken. I’m allergic to the hormones added to meat of all kinds, and chicken is the worst in term of hormones. So, the plain “chicken omurice” passed me by.

My order was the omurice topped with demi-glazed beef stew.

Taimeiken Tokyo 8

The rice was ketchup-flavored ham fried rice wrapped with an omelette and dressed with beef stew in a demi-glaze. The stew was very tender and rich. The demi-glaze was excellent, not bitter, not too salty (as the way I’ve found it here in the US), and slightly sour, which made it interesting.

Taimeiken Tokyo 7

The omelette was soft and tasty. I wish I could finish the whole plate.

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I found myself trying to stuff more of the omelette into me even though I was already full. This was my old habit that I no longer do for a long time now. It’s easier to put in than it is to take off the weight, so I usually stop eating as soon as I’m approaching full, but the omelette here was so good I wanted more. Especially with the demi-glaze and the ham fried rice. I ended up walking out of the restaurant over-stuffed.

I made a mental note to come back to this restaurant on my next trip to Tokyo. I was wishing that I had I taken my beloved husbanditor to try this lovely restaurant. This is a great sign, because I haven’t felt that urge about a restaurant in a long time, that is, one I was impressed enough that I want to take people to try. I don’t know if it is something that happened to my palette, or if something happened to the food industry in the US, but I’ve lost interest in restaurant food lately.

This is the link to the google image of the Tampopo omurice at Taimeiken. You get an idea why they called it dandelion style. Taimeiken has several other different dishes, including a tasting menu. The price I paid for the omurice was really high though, about $30 or over for an order. (Sorry, I should have paid more attention to the price on the menu but this girl was hungry, you know!) If you don’t want to pay that price, simply wait in line at the cafe-style restaurant. The same thing is served for around twenty dollars or less.

Also I searched for this restaurant on the internet, and people raved about their soup, borsht and coleslaw too. Apparently,  their borsht isn’t the one with beets, and the coleslaw isn’t shredded cabbage drenched in creamy dressing, but I didn’t get to taste them. Well, good enough that I stumbled across this restaurant and went blindly in and ordered, guessing my order as blindly as finding the place. This is a great find and there will definitely be a next time!

WHERE:

Taimeiken
Nihombashi 1-12-10, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Website: http://www.taimeiken.co.jp

Tel for the 1st. Floor cafe style restaurant: 03-3271-2463
Tel for the 2nd. Floor fine dining restaurant: 03-3271-2464

WHEN:

1st. Floor
Monday – Saturday  11:00am – 9:00pm (Last Order 8:30pm)
Sundays, National Holidays   11:00am – 8:30pm (Last Order 8:00pm)
Never

2nd. Floor
Monday – Saturday
Lunch   11:00am – 3:00pm (Last Order 2:00pm)
Dinner  17:00pm – 9:00pm (Last Order 8:00pm)
Sundays, National Holidays   CLOSED

WHAT

Omurice no doubt

NOTE:

Yoshoku is the Western-style Japanese food. That would be how I would describe it, even though some might argue that it is actually “Japanese-style Western food”.  I still insist that Yoshoku is thoroughly Japanese even though it uses imported ingredients and is influenced by the style of Western food. I think at the least a Japanese food writer, Norimitsu Onishi of The New York Times, agrees with me on this (I don’t know him, but his name seems Japanese to me). This is the article published on March 2008 in the Dining & Wine on the New York Times (just click on this link).

Why do I say it is thoroughly Japanese? You might be interested, but before I answer that question, answer these set of questions for me.

Where in Western cuisine would you see spaghetti boiled and rinsed in cold water, then “stir-fried” in ketchup?

Where in Western cuisine would you see ground beef mixed with ground pork then covered in bread crumbs and deep-fried and eaten with demi-glaze sauce or another magical sauce, ketchup?

Where in Western cuisine would you see an omelette stuffed with ketchup-fried rice or a soft, creamy omelette lying next to the said fried rice with even more ketchup squeezed generously on top?

Any respectable chef in a French restaurant would die five times over at my three questions and probably need at the least about a dozen reincarnations to be able to “cook” those dishes voluntarily. I’m sure the ketchup would be a gigantic issue there. How about British chefs? What do you think? Swedish? Finnish? German? Dutch? Anyone want to admit that as a professional chef, you  put ketchup in your food? American chefs might be the closest to imagine those dishes but no, they don’t cook them either. “Those are rice dishes.” the American chef might have said. “We have nothing to do with it!”

Now, do you believe me that Yoshoku is thoroughly Japanese? And I like it even more than American fried rice, Thai style. I’m telling you that much.

Don’t stop exploring. The adventure makes your life worth living!

Underneath are the pictures from the Kite Museum on the 5th floor of the same building.

Kite Museum Nihombashi 1

Kite Museum Nihombashi 2

Kite Museum Nihombashi 3

Kite Museum Nihombashi 4

Kite Museum Nihombashi 5

Kite Museum Nihombashi 6

Kite Museum Nihombashi 7

Kite Museum Nihombashi 8

Kite Museum Nihombashi 9

Kite Museum Nihombashi 10


Quiche Tart with Fruit

Quiche Tart with Peach

Have you ever thrown something together with the main intention of eliminating some ingredients in your refrigerator and it turned out to be an amazing creation?

Do you know what’s the result?

You then have to re-stock your fridge with the stuff that you wanted to get rid off in the first place!

This is one of those incidents. I recently had a burger night for about half a dozen guests. I bought so many different kinds of cheese and fruit that we couldn’t finish them in one meal, so I came up with this quiche tart, and it become a hit. I wanted to share the recipe before the fresh fruit season is over. Don’t worry, I will get back to the curry and noodles and all other Thai recipes soon after this.

Okay, let’s start with the ingredients.

Ingredients for the tart shell:

(You can also use my other tart shell in the tomato tart recipe here if you are allergic to almonds or don’t want to use almond flour.)

Almond flour  140g

All purpose flour or cake flour  70g

Confectionary sugar (Icing sugar)  50g

Cold butter  75g

Cold jumbo size egg  1 (about 50-55g)

Salt  2g

Oil or butter to grease the tart shell

Method for the tart shell:

1) Measure all the flour, sugar, salt, and butter into a large bowl and turn on the oven at 350ºF.

Quiche Tart with Peach 1

2) Use a fork, pastry blender or food processor to blend the mixture by cutting the butter in to the flour.

Quiche Tart with Peach 2

3) Once the mixture is all blended well, then you add a cold egg. Combine it with the previous mixture until it forms a ball.

Quiche Tart with Peach 3

You can refrigerate the mixture if you like, but I didn’t. I use almond flour to help make my tart shell flaky without having to fuss with it so much.

4) Spray the tart shell (I used an oblong one, 13-3/4”x4-1/4”) with oil or brush butter on it, then evenly pat the dough onto the bottom and the sides of the tart shell.

Quiche Tart with Peach 4

5) Lightly prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes.

Quiche Tart with Peach 3 (1)

6) Bake for 20 minutes. While you’re waiting for the crust, make the filling.

7) Once the crust is cooked, take it out and let it cool (you are probably in the middle of making the filling anyway,) and leave the oven on. You will need it again soon after you fill the crust. Also, you won’t need to seal it with egg white or apricot glaze ;) Wait and see my “sealing method” in the next section.

Quiche Tart with Peach 6

Ingredients for the filling:

American cheese, sliced (I used the organic one from Trader Joe’s) 3 slices

Cream cheese  125g

Jumbo egg  2 eggs

Prosciutto  2 slices cut in to strips about 1/4” wide and no more than 1” long (total about 2 tablespoons)

Caramelized onion, roughly chopped  2 tablespoons

Crumbled or grated cheese of your choice (I used gorgonzola, smoked gouda and cheddar)  1/3 cup

Salt  1/2 teaspoon

Ground pepper  1 teaspoon

Green onion, sliced thinly (You can use other herbs of your choice too) about 2 tablespoons

Sliced provolone cheese  3 slices

Cut up fruits of your choice (I used figs and peaches last time. They both turned out so good. A friend reported using apricots and that was good, too.) 2 large peaches or 1/2 lb. of figs

Olive tapenade  2-3 tablespoons (This actually can be omitted if you don’t like it, but it adds wonderful flavors to the tart. If you don’t want to use this, add more salt to the cream cheese and egg mixture.)

Quiche Tart with Peach (1)

 

Method for the filling:

1) Start with the cream cheese, using a mixer, either handheld or KitchenAid; your choice. I used my handheld. Cream the cream cheese.

2) Add the eggs and salt and mix until well-blended. This would normally take quite a while. Don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t blend right away—keep mixing.

Quiche Tart with Peach 8

3) Once the mixture is all smooth, fluffy and creamy, then you can stop using the mixer. From now you only need a spatula. Add the prosciutto, caramelized onion, crumbed cheese or grated cheese and green onion; mix well.

4) Now you are ready to assemble the quiche. First, line the crust with American cheese slices. This is to protect the crust from the moisture in the filling. (Yes, this is my sealing method…yummy, isn’t it?)

Quiche Tart with Peach 9

5) Spread the olive tapenade on top of the cheese slices.

Quiche Tart with Peach 10

6) Put the cream cheese and eggs mixture inside the rest of the space.

Quiche Tart with Peach 11

7) Put the fruit on top of the cream cheese and eggs mixture. (No, I’ve not forgotten about the provolone slices. Just wait, and please don’t eat them while waiting!)

Quiche Tart with Peach 12

8) Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes.

9) Open the oven and lay the provolone cheese slices on top of the fruit. (I hope you listened to me about NOT eating them while you waited!)

Quiche Tart with Peach 13

10) Drop the temperature down to 300ºF and bake another 15 minutes, or even 20 minutes. This is to make sure that the quiche sets properly.

11) Take it out of the oven and let it cool down a little before you slice it out of the tray and cut, or the whole thing will be very runny.

Quiche Tart with Peach 14

As a variation, you could replace the fruit with mushrooms. A friend already tested this recipe and used BACON on top instead of fruit. How can any food taste bad with this amount of cheese and bacon, right? Be creative and enjoy your invention ;)

Quiche Tart with Peach 2 (1)


The Buttery Yummy Case of the Kouign-Amann and Kouignette

Kouign-Amann 41

When the summer full moon struck Manhattan Beach, it could have been forecasting a new and unexpected event, such as a Thai girl  not only making a French dessert but blogging about it too :) This is actually not the first time I’m blogging about a French dessert. In fact, my very first blog was for French macarons. This, my 101st blog, will follow the same tradition.

This time it is about Kouign-Amann, the French, or, to be exact, the Breton pastry, that has a name that sounds like it is from the Middle East but is truly French born.

OK…don’t go WTF just yet. Wait until you finish making this, and maybe even better is to wait until after you actually eat them.

Kouign-Amann is pronounced “kween-yah-mann” or “Ku-eeen Aah-man”.  No, I didn’t know how to pronounce this from birth, or by birth either.  I called Kouign-Amann “the thing” (I know…sorry) or “the Breton crunchy cake” for at the least 2-3 decades. That’s all. Not so long. It’s so difficult to figure out how to pronounce. This time I got my husbanditor-dictionary to give me the correct pronunciation. (Ahhh…good thing I married someone who can read French!)

What is this pastry exactly?

If I use French pastry terminology, I would say this is a “laminated dough with a sugar layer, baked in sugar and butter until the sugar turns into caramel”, but I don’t think there is a pastry chef who doesn’t know Kouign-Amann.

Laminated dough is the term used to describe dough that is wrapped around a block of butter, then rolled out with the butter still in between until thin, and then folded. The butter will eventually divide the dough into several layers. After the first folding, the dough is rolled out and folded several more times and that multiplies the number of layers.

Kouign-Amann uses bread dough and is laminated just like croissant dough except, after the last roll out, the dough would be covered with granulated sugar before folding.

According to many, many pastry cookbooks, Kouign-Amann is a traditional Breton dessert, including the name. Kouign = Cake, Amann = Butter (These are Breton French not French French words). This is considered a butter cake in Brittany. (For those of you geographically challenged, like me, Brittany is the Western-most province of France, closest to England.)

And so it introduced itself to me as a cake the first time we met.  I was in England and someone brought this cake back from France as a gift to the hostess. It was big and round just like cake, with the caramelized sugar crust on the top just like creme brûlée, even though the top is quite uneven. Once it got cut, I saw that it was actually not a typical texture of a cake but looked more like a very dense croissant with several layers.

It was actually not that easy to cut with a spoon. It had some resistance and crunchiness, totally unlike cake, and the first bite nearly brought tears to my eyes. How much of my life had been wasted not knowing that this thing existed?! What a shame! The crunchiness was from caramelized sugar melted with butter that was coated on the outside, just like toffee. The texture of the cake was like bread but unlike bread pudding, because that has some kind of custard mixed in. This one is dry and clean but flaky and buttery, so buttery, like the dough has been sitting in a block of butter and had just shaken off the excess in the oven right before it was served.

I know this is going to turn some of you off, thinking it is so not worth it to clog your arteries with it. Well, you are wrong. It’s worth it. (Also, read the new research about heart decease and eating saturated fat.) If I were to die from eating, my wish would be that it was from Kouign-Amann. If my last bite on this earth is Kouign-Amann, I will have died happy.

After my first introduction, I went looking into the history. (Yes, I was THAT curious about food at a young age). It said Yves René Scordia, a baker from Douarnenez in Brittany created it and began selling the pastry in 1860. Some say he was inspired by Norwegian pastry.  Some say that he was just attempting to salvage his failed bread dough by adding butter and sugar. But whatever he did, here came a wonderful dessert left behind for us to remember him by, well over hundred years later.

It was a very long time before I attempted to make my own Kouign-Amann. It was intimidating, you know. The laminated dough, the amount of butter used, the SUGAR! Oh my gosh, it was all a little too much to accomplish perfectly, having so little skill in baking as a Thai girl. Back then I didn’t even know how to make a pie crust or bread yet.

Then I was introduced to a little thing called Kouignette, a little tiny Kouign-Amann, about a four-bite size. Ohhhh…this is even BETTER! There is more area to be caramelized and you don’t have to eat a whole wedge of cake anymore. It’s like a cupcake or mini cup cake.

Kouign-Amann 1

Then I moved to America…phewwwww. You couldn’t even try to find either Kouign-Amann or Kouignette (this is back in 1992) because they were nearly non-existent back then, plus I was living on the allowance of an international graduate student that couldn’t work, so I  probably would not have been able to afford it anyway.

I finally found that actually in the US there were some bakeries selling Kouignette, but they were called Kouign-Amann regardless of the size. They didn’t look that appealing and, once the customers found out what was in them, they avoided them. You know how the Americans always eat very sensibly and always eat healthy foods (lol), low-fat, fat-free, low-carb, low-sugar, sugar-free, gluten-free, pretty confusing but all for the health, right? So, Kouign-Amann didn’t fit in any of those categories.

This little dessert is filled with carbs, flour and sugar and fat, real butter (until someone can invent a fat-free butter—come on guys, it shouldn’t be that hard!) The recipe could have freaked the US population out completely. Thank God they haven’t banned the making of this dessert. One of the original bakeries I found in NYC that made this dessert quite well has already closed, Fauchon Bakery on Park Avenue in NYC.

Then a series of bakeries in the metropolitan area slowly embraced this dessert, even though some people still called it the “poison-filled dessert”. Bouchon bakery in Beverly Hills, Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho (This one is called DKA), McCall’s Meat and Fish Co. in Los Feliz, CA, Bread Lounge in LA, Amandine Patisserie, also in LA and Starter Bakery, the bakery truck in Oakland.

So why am I making them now?

Well, since I’ve recently acquired a new set of skills, thanks to Nantana Chitman, whom I respect dearly as a mentor, who created the online group “C is for Croissant”, and pulled people to start making homemade croissants. I pushed myself through practicing making my own croissants until they come out pretty good these days.

Of course, it was this grand step that made the making of Kouign-Amann quite easy to me. Also, the closet bakery that made Kouign-Amann near my house, Bouchon, is still 15 miles away and could take me 20-40 minutes to get there. And the most important part, no one makes Kouign-Amann exactly the way I wanted. So, I ended up making my own.

What’s the “missing” ingredient in the dessert enough for me to sweat it?

Buckwheat flour!

This is a Breton dessert, and I got used to it with some buckwheat flour in the mix. Also some of those bakeries don’t bake them long enough to make the sugar caramelize, and most of them don’t make it the size I want.

Here we go; let’s start making this dessert. I want it so tiny tiny, about 1”x 1”. My plan is that I can just pop them in my mouth like candies…actually, I want to make them small so I don’t have to eat a whole big piece, because I would if it came that way.

Ingredients:

Organic all purpose flour  250g

(Optional) Buckwheat flour  25g (If you don’t want to use buckwheat flour you need to substitute with 25g more of all purpose flour or whole wheat flour)

Sugar, from 175 – 225g (I used only 175g, but most other recipes would use much more than that. This is entirely your preference. I use less sugar because I don’t want it to be too sweet inside, but I want a lot of caramelized sugar on the outside.)

Water at 90 ºF, from 145 – 172g (I gave this recipe to a friend in Thailand and she reported using less water than the recipe. She didn’t use buckwheat flour and used all 275g of all purpose flour with 140g of water. I used buckwheat flour and use 172g of water. If I used all white flour I would used 160g of water. So adjust it accordingly.)

Salt  7.5g

Fresh yeast  5g or use 2g instant yeast or 2.5g of active dry yeast (I hope you know the different between those yeasts. IMPORTANT: DO NOT USE SOURDOUGH STARTER)

Butter, a block between 150g – 225g (This depends on your laminating skill. I like using 175g of butter the most for myself, but Pierre Hermé uses 225g in his recipe, same as Ladurée)

Extra butter for brushing the mold 10 – 20g (The butter should be soft but not melted)

Method:

1) Mix the flour, salt (make sure it doesn’t touch the yeast directly), buckwheat flour and yeast with a dough hook or by hand. If you are using fresh yeast or active dry yeast, mix it in water and a tablespoon or flour first and see if it foams before mixing it in the dough. You don’t need to do this with instant yeast.

Add the water in small amounts, adding more if the dough needs it. You can tell you need more by the way that the dough won’t combine into one lump but still scatters dry bits all over the mixing bowl.

You don’t need to mix it a lot. Just mix it enough so all the ingredients are combined and form a uniform dough. No need to check for the windowpane. You shouldn’t be able to pass the windowpane test. Just clean in the bowl will be fine. We will be working the dough in  many, many more layers. If you mix it until the dough forms gluten enough to pass the windowpane test, you will have a hard time rolling the dough later.

Kouign-Amann 2

The dark speckles are from buckwheat flour. You can easily see them.

2) Put the dough in a bowl and let it rise to double in size, about 2 hours for me, but it will be different in every house depending on the temperature, humidity, and what type of yeast you are using.

I used a measuring cup so I can see the volume very easily. I sprayed or brushed the surface with oil too.

I use a measuring cup so I can see the volume very easily. I sprayed or brushed the surface with oil too.

3) While you are waiting for the dough to rise, pound the butter with a rolling pin until it’s soft.

Use the BEST butter you can afford. It is a very important ingredient.

Use the BEST butter you can afford. It is a very important ingredient.

This is my method. I cut the cold butter to pieces.

This is my method. I cut the cold butter to pieces.

Line those pieces together in the parchment paper.

Line those pieces together in parchment paper.

 

Pound the cold butter to make it soft.

Pound the pieces with a rolling pin while still cold to make them soft.

The butter should be “pliable”. Wrap the butter in parchment paper and roll it to fit the size your are working toward. I would recommend 14”x 8” size. Then put the butter in the fridge.

Once it soft, then it can be shaped.

Once it soft, then it can be shaped.

4) Once the dough has doubled in volume, take the dough out, put it on the rolling board and roll it out to a size about 1/3 longer than the length of your butter block, and the same width (21”x 8”).

Because the dough is soft, if you can't roll and get the straight edge, you can use just push the edge of the dough to the shape you want.

Because the dough is soft, if you can’t roll and get a straight edge, you can use just push the edge of the dough to the shape you want.

5) Take the butter block out of the fridge and roll the rolling pin over the butter block again one more time until it is back to the pliable stage again.

6) Place the butter to cover 2/3 of the dough on one side, leaving  1/3 uncovered.

Line the butter block along one side of the dough. Make sure that the top and bottom edge of the butter don't exceed the edge of the dough.

Line the butter block along one side of the dough. Make sure that the top and bottom edge of the butter isn’t beyond the edge of the dough.

7) Fold the uncovered side over the middle onto the butter block.

If you roll the dough to the size I recommend, you shouldn't have any problem folding from edge to edge.

If you roll the dough to the width I recommend, you shouldn’t have any problem folding from edge to edge.

8) Fold the other buttered side carefully over the middle. This is called “the envelope fold.”

Make sure that the dough is reaching from edge to edge.

Make sure that the dough reaches from edge to edge.

9) Wrap the whole block in plastic and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Kouign-Amann 14

10) Take the dough out, dust it with flour, then brush the excess flour off. The dough should be rolled out along the length of the dough block. This is called “turning the dough”. The direction of the rolling is going to be 90 degrees from the first direction.

Kouign-Amann 15

Press the dough carefully to stretch the dough first before rolling, to maintain the layers.

Kouign-Amann 16

 

Roll the dough out to 21”x 8” again, and then do the envelope fold again.

Kouign-Amann 17

11) Chill the dough again for another 30 minutes.

12) Measure the sugar and put it in a bowl now. You will need it for the next step. I didn’t measure exactly how much sugar I used in the dough itself versus in the molds, but it was about 2/3 or 3/4 of the total amount I used (175g). In other words, much more sugar in the dough than what I sprinkled in the molds.

13) Take the dough out off the fridge and roll it again to the same full size. This time you sprinkle the bottom of the rolling board with a little bit of sugar.

Kouign-Amann 18

Once you’ve rolled the dough out, then you sprinkle much more sugar on the dough.

Kouign-Amann 19

Look at the picture to see what I mean by “much more.” Pretty much covered the whole dough with sugar. That much more.

14) Roll the rolling pin over the sugar just to press the sugar down into the dough before you fold the dough. Do one more envelope fold, wrap it and put it back in the fridge.

15) Chill the dough for another 30 minutes.

16) While you are waiting, let’s prep the mold. Butter all sides of the individual molds,

Kouign-Amann 20

 

and start drizzling the sugar in to the molds.

Kouign-Amann 21

Make sure that the sugar is sticking to the butter all around the individual molds. See NOTE#1 about the proper size.

Kouign-Amann 22

17) Take the dough out of the fridge. Be very careful; the dough is going to be slightly wet because the sugar will melt a little, so handle it extremely delicately.

18) Roll the dough back to full size, or until the thickness of the dough reaches 1/4”.

Kouign-Amann 24

19) Cut the dough to the proper size to the mold. See NOTE #1 for the proper size.

Kouign-Amann 25

20) Fold all corners of the dough to the middle and put the dough in the molds.

Kouign-Amann 34

21) Let the dough proof for another hour or so until the dough increases its volume by 1/3 or 1/2.

Kouign-Amann 35

22) Bake at 350ºF 15-20 minutes for the tiny brownie molds, 20-25 minutes for the mini-muffin molds. You will need at the least 20-25 minutes to caramelize the sugar properly.

Kouign-Amann 36

24) IMPORTANT: Take them out of the molds while still hot or you will have fun digging crumbs of toffee and dough out of the molds. This is caramel; it doesn’t really change it sticky property just because there is dough stuck to it, alright? So, be quick and take the Kouignettes out of the molds as soon as they come out of the oven.

Kouign-Amann 29

These are the bite size, smaller than the size I recommended. Can you see how dark they turned out?

25) Do I need to tell you this part?

NOW EAT THEM!

NOTE:

1) I’m using a mini-muffin tin for the 2”x2” size and I have a little tiny molds for the micro size muffin, about 1.25”x1.25” brownie bite molds. I would recommend mini-muffin the first time around because the result is closer to the Kouign-Amann or Kouignette sold in the market.

The tiny brownie molds would give you either too dark and crunchy Kouignettes or not be caramelized enough because of the size. If you bake until the sugar caramelizes properly the inside will already be too dry. You won’t get the soft inside texture with the 2” x 2” size, but you would get the perfect crunchiness on the outside with soft texture on the inside.

If you want a bigger one, you can do it the way famous bakeries do by cutting the dough to a 3”x 3” or 4”x 4” size, depending on your pastry ring (1” high)  size. Butter the tray and drizzle with sugar same as the ring and place the ring on top of the tray.

Can you see how many layers of dough we are making here?

Kouign-Amann 38

Don’t worry about the rest of this, unless you can read it. It’s in Thai for my Thai followers.

ขนมอร่อยสุดๆของฝรั่งเศสอีกอย่าง เอามาแนะนำให้รู้จักกันไว้ ขนมชนิดนี้ไม่ซับซ้อนตรงเครื่องปรุง แต่ซับซ้อนนิดหน่อยในการทำ ก็สไตล์เดียวกับขนมฝรั่งเศสทั้งหลาย ไม่ถึก ไม่อึด ไม่เนี้ยบ ก็ทำได้แต่จะออกมาไม่ค่อยดี ก็ทำคุ้กกี้ เค้ก บราวนี่ไปก่อน อย่าเพิ่งคิดจะลองเจ้านี่ เดี๋ยวจะนึกว่าตัวเองไม่เก่ง จิตตกเปล่าๆ ขนมชนิดนี้ไม่ต้องใช้ฝีมือระดับครัวซองต์แต่มีก็ดี

Kouign-Amann ออกเสียงว่า “ควีนอามัน” หรือ “คูอีนน-อามัน” อย่าอ่านทีละคำเชียว จะไม่เข้าใจว่าพูดถึงเรื่องเดียวกัน

อันนี้เป็นขนมของพวกบรีตอง ซึ่งอยู่ในแค้วนบรีตานีของฝรั่งเศส พวกนี้เขามีภาษาพูดของเขาเองที่ไม่ใช่ภาษาฝรั่งเศส Kouign ในภาษาเขาแปลว่าเค้ก Amann แปลว่าเนย ขนมนี้ก็คือ เค้กเนยของบรีตองนั่นเอง

การทำขนมชนิดนี้ต้องใช้ทักษะในการรีดหรือฝรั่งเรียกว่าการลามิเนต Laminate เพราะเป็นแป้งชั้น ค่อยๆดูตามรูปข้างบนไป แป้งที่นำมาทำเป็นแป้งที่มียีสต์เช่นเดียวกับแป้งครัวซองต์ จึงต้องมีการพรูฟให้แป้งขึ้นด้วย

อย่างแรกคือการผสมแป้ง

ส่วนผสม

แป้งอเนกประสงค์ 250g (ใครอยากใช้แป้งเค้ก หรือแป้งขนมปังก็เชิญตามสะดวก texture จะต่างกันเล็กน้อยไม่มาก)

แป้งบัควีท 25g (ถ้าหาไม่ได้ใช้แป้งโฮลวีท หรือแป้งขาวแทนได้ แต่แป้งบัควีทจะเป็นแป้งที่ชาวบริตองใช้กันในขนมอบ ขนมปังหลายอย่าง แม้แต่ในเครปจึงถือว่าเป็นต้นตำรับ)

น้ำอุ่นๆ 140 – 172g (เริ่มที่ 145g ก่อน แล้วดูเอาว่าแป้งแห้งไปหรือเปล่าแล้วค่อยเติมน้ำเพิ่มทีละนิด เราใส่น้ำแค่พอให้โดจับตัวเป็นก้อน น้ำมากเกินไปแป้งจะยานเหมือนนมสาววัยเก้าสิบ น้ำน้อยเกินไปแป้งก็จะเหนียวเหมือนอึนายทุน จะรีดยากมาก หากใช้แป้งโฮลวีทหรือบัควีทจะใช้น้ำมากกว่าใช้แป้งขาว ถ้าใช้แป้งขาวทั้งหมดไม่ควรใส่น้ำเกิน 160g ระวังด้วยว่าเมืองไทยแป้งจะชื้น สูตรนี้ทำในรัฐแคลิฟอร์เนียซึ่งอากาศแห้งพอสมควร เพราะฉะนั้นอย่าได้รีบร้อนเทน้ำพรวดเดียว เดี๋ยวจะพลาดแบบกลับตัวไม่ทัน)

ยีสต์สด 5g (ถ้าจะใช้ยีสต์แห้งแบบ instant ใช้แค่ 2g, ยีสต์แห้งแบบ active dry yeast ใช้ 2.5g ถ้าไม่รู้ว่ายีสต์สามชนิดนี้ต่างกันยังไง ลองไปหาอ่านดู แต่แนะนำว่าในกรณีนี้ให้ลองซ้อมทำขนมปังอย่างอื่นสักสองสามรอบ ก่อนจะลงมือลุยกับควีนอามัน)

เกลือ 7.5g

น้ำตาล 175 – 225g (ลองหนแรกใช้ 225g เลยก็ได้ แล้วค่อยลดถ้าไม่ชอบหรือเห็นว่าหวานไป แบ่งน้ำตาลเป็นสองส่วน ส่วนแรก 3/4 ของน้ำตาลทั้งหมด อีกส่วนก็ 1/4)

เนย 150 – 225g (อันนี้แล้วแต่ฝีมือรีด มือใหม่ใช้เยอะไว้ก่อนจะรีดง่ายกว่า ขนมนี้อร่อยไม่อร่อย หอมไม่หอมขึ้นอยู่กับเนยเป็นสำคัญ ได้ข่าวว่าเมืองไทยเขาใช้เนยที่ผสมไขมันปาล์มกันเป็นปกติ อยากจะบอกว่าไม่เอานะ แต่จริงๆก็ใช้ได้ เพียงแต่ใช้เนยดีๆมันก็ยิ่งอร่อยนะ หาเนยให้ดีที่สุดเท่าที่กระเป๋าเราจะอำนวยแล้วกัน)

เนยทาพิมพ์ 10 – 20g

วิธีทำ (รูปดูจากด้านบนเทียบข้อกันได้เลย ภาษาไทยนี่เป็นลูกเมียน้อย ไม่ค่อยนิยมเขียนเพราะกฎหมายลิขสิทธิ์บ้านเรา เหมือนกติกาเด็กเล่นขายของ ตามเอาผิดกับพวกหน้าไม่อายตู่ขโมยของเขาแทบไม่ได้เลย)

1) ผสมแป้ง, ยีสต์, เกลือ, น้ำ เข้าด้วยกัน ระวังอย่าให้ยีสต์สัมผัสเกลือโดยตรง ยีสต์สด และ active  dry yeast จะต้องใส่ลงไปในน้ำอุ่นผสมแป้งแล้วรอจนมีฟองก่อนใช้ เพื่อจะปลุกยีสต์ก่อน ถ้าเป็น instant yeast ใส่ได้เลย

ผสมจนรวมเป็นเนื้อเดียวกันก็พอ ไม่ต้องขึงฟิลม์ เดี๋ยวเราต้องรีดต้องพับ ผสมมากจะรีดยาก

2) ผสมเสร็จก็ต้องรอพรูฟก่อน พรูฟให้ขึ้นสองเท่า

3) ระหว่างนั้นก็ทำบล็อกเนย นวดเนยจนนุ่มด้วยไม้นวดแป้งก่อน แล้วห่อด้วยกระดาษไข พับให้ได้ขนาดที่ต้องการ แนะนำว่าประมาณ 8 นิ้ว x 14 นิ้ว แล้วรีด จนเนยกระจายหนาเท่าๆกันในกระดาษไขที่พับให้ได้ขนาดแล้ว เอาเข้าไปเก็บในตู้เย็น

หมายเหตุ: ใครอยากใช้วิธีตัดเนยเป็นก้อนๆ แล้วโยนๆลงไปก่อนเอาแป้งห่อแล้วรีด ก็ตามสะดวก ฝีมือเจ้าของ blog นี้ไม่ระดับนั้น ถ้าไม่มี butter block จะรีดไม่ได้ชั้นสวยๆ เคยเห็นพวกโปรเขาทำกัน แต่นั่นเขาเก่ง เรามันมือประถมไม่กล้าทำตาม

4) เมื่อแป้งพรูฟได้สองเท่าแล้ว เทออกมาวางบนกระดานรีดเลย เอาแป้งนวลโรยๆเสียก่อน อย่าเยอะ เอาแค่พอไม่ติดกระดาน รีดออกมาให้ได้ขนาด 8 นิ้วนิดๆ x 21 นิ้ว

5) เอาเนยออกมาจากตู้เย็น แล้วรีดทับอีกทีเพื่อให้เนยนุ่มลง เนยกับแป้งต้องมีความนุ่มพอๆกัน แต่เนยต้องเย็น ละลายเหลวเป๋วเป็นอึเด็กเนี่ยรีบเอากลับเข้าตู้ทันที

6) พอรีดซ้ำจนได้เนยที่นุ่มและมีความยืดหยุ่น สามารถพับได้แล้วก็ เอาลงไปแปะลงในแป้งที่รีดไว้แล้ว จากปลายด้านหนึ่ง มา 2/3 ของความยาว (ก็มันทำมาแค่นั้น ใครแปะได้ยาวกว่านั้นก็มหาเทพแล้วล่ะ) ทิ้งอีกปลายไว้เปลือยๆ ไม่มีเนย

7) พับด้านเปลือยลงมาทับตรงกลางแผ่นโด ทับเนยนั่นแหละ

8) คราวนี้พับอีกหาง ด้านที่มีเนยข้างบนนั่นแหละ ทับลงไปบนหางอันแรกที่เพิ่งพับเข้ามา พับแบบนี้เขาเรียกกันว่า พับซองจดหมาย

9) เอาพลาสติกห่อ แล้วเอาเข้าตู้เย็น 30 นาที

10) พอได้เวลาก็เอาแป้งออกมา เอาแป้งนวลโรยอีก คราวนี้โรยแล้วปัดแป้งออก ราวกับว่าแป้งนี้เป็นหน้าเรา ผัดหน้าทาแป้งตอนเช้าๆ ไม่อยากให้มันเป็นจ้ำๆ ก็ทานวลแป้งให้สวยผ่องอย่างนั้น แต่อย่าพิรี้พิไร รีบๆเข้า อากาศเมืองไทยร้อนระเบิด เนยจะละลายเสียก่อน

เอ้า…รีดดดดดด…แต่อย่าเพิ่งทะเล่อทะล่า จับไม้นวดแป้งได้ก็รีดซะยืดดดด ชั้นมันจะเสีย เพราะเนยทะลัก เอาไม้นวดแป้งกด ย้ำๆไปเป็นช่วงๆ ทำแบบนี้เนยจะได้อยู่เย็นเป็นสุข ไม่ทะลักทะลาย แป้งจะได้ไม่ฉีกด้วย กดๆย้ำๆ แล้วค่อยรีดให้ยาวออกมาเท่าเดิม 8 นิ้ว x 21 นิ้ว แล้วพับซองจดหมายอีกที

อ้อ…รีดตามยาวนะ (ดูรูปด้านบน) มันจะเป็นแนวตั้งฉากกับแนวรีดเดิมที่เรารีดหนแรก

11) เอาพลาสติกชิ้นเดิมแหละห่อ อย่าทิ้งเป็นขยะ พลาสติกมันอายุยืน เราซี้แหงเหลือแต่กระดูกแล้วพลาสติกอาจจะยังปลิวดี๊ด๊าอยู่ได้เลย ห่อเสร็จก็เข้าตู้อีกอย่างเดิม ครึ่งชั่วโมง

12) ชั่งน้ำตาลได้แล้ว น้ำตาลนี้จะใช้ส่วนใหญ่ในแป้งในขั้นตอนถัดไป แต่ส่วนน้อยจะเอาไว้ใช้โรยพิมพ์ แบ่งส่วนเอาไว้ให้ดี

13) เอาแป้งออกมาแล้วก็รีดนาทาเร้นกันต่อ ก่อนรีด อย่าลืมแป้งนวล และคราวนี้โรยน้ำตาลลงไปบนบอร์ดด้วยบางๆ รีดหนนี้เกือบจะสุดท้ายแล้ว รีดให้ได้ขนาดเดิม แล้วโรยน้ำตาลให้ทั่ว อย่างเยอะเลย มองแทบไม่เห็นแป้ง

14) กลิ้งไม้นวดแป้งบนน้ำตาลเสียหน่อย ให้น้ำตาลติดกับแป้ง ไม่งั้นพับแล้วจะหล่นมากกองตามรอยพับ หวานจัดๆกันตามซอกตามหลืบ ไม่ยุติธรรม เกลี่ยให้น้ำตาลมันเสมอๆกันแล้วพับซองกันอีกรอบ

15) ห่อพลาสติก เข้าตู้เย็นอีกครึ่งชั่วโมง

16) ระหว่างรอก็เตรียมพิมพ์ ทาเนยให้ทั่วๆ แล้วโรยน้ำตาลทับ เนยจะทำให้น้ำตาลติดพิมพ์ได้ดี การเตรียมพิมพ์นี่สำคัญมากๆ ขนมจะกรอบมีคาราเมลเคลือบทั่วไม่ทั่วก็ชี้ชะตากันตรงนี้เอง อย่าขี้เหนียวเนย อย่างกน้ำตาล กลัวอ้วนอย่าทำ ขนมนี้แคลอรี่ต่อชิ้นน่ากลัวสุดๆ(ประมาณ 90 แคลอรี่ต่อชิ้นขนาดสองคำ) กินวันละสามสี่ชิ้นก็มากแล้ว

หมายเหตุ: จะใช้พิมพ์ขนาดไหนดี แนะนำว่า 2 นิ้ว x 2 นิ้ว จะดีที่สุด เพราะพิมพ์เล็กกว่านั้นมันสุกเร็วไป น้ำตาลยังไม่คาราเมลเลย ขนมสุกแล้ว จะอบจนน้ำตาลคาราเมลเลยขนมก็แทบไหม้ เพราะน้ำตาลจะคาราเมลที่อุณหภูมิ 350 ºF นี่ต้องอบอย่างน้อยๆ 20 นาที แต่อบนานขนาดนั้นขนมชิ้นจิ๋วๆจะกรอบกร้วมทั้งชิ้นเลย ก็อร่อยไปอีกแบบนะจะว่าไป แต่หนแรกเอาขนาดที่ว่าก่อน จะได้รู้ว่าของจริงเขาเป็นยังไง ที่เหลือก็ตัวใครตัวมัน

17) เอาแป้งออกมา หนนี้ต้องระวังการติดกระดานให้มากๆ น้ำตาลมันเจอน้ำในแป้ง มันก็ละลายน่ะสิ ทำให้แป้งเราเริ่มยานเป็นนมคุณยาย แถมติดหนุบติดหนับเสียอีก โรยแป้งนวลบนแป้งแล้วโรยบนโต๊ะด้วย

18) รีดอีกให้บางประมาณ 1/4 นิ้ว หรือครึ่งเซ็นต์

19) ตัดแป้งให้ได้ขนาด 2 1/2 นิ้ว x 2 1/2 นิ้ว

20) พับมุมทั้งสี่เข้ามาชนกันตรงกลาง แล้วใส่ลงไปในพิมพ์ จับจีบๆเสียหน่อยเหมือนทำทองหยิบสี่กลีบ

21) พรูฟจนแป้งฟูขึ้นมาสัก 1/3 หรือเท่าครึ่งก็ได้

22) อุ่นเตาอบ 350ºF พอเตาได้อุณหภูมิแล้ว อบ 20 – 25 นาที

23) ขั้นตอนสำคัญ: เอาออกมาจากเตาอบแล้ว รีบดึงขึ้นจากพิมพ์ทันที น้ำตาลละลายเป็นคาราเมลขนาดนั้น มันเปลี่ยนสภาพเป็นกาวชั้นดี ถ้าไม่รีบตอนนี้ ตอนจะกินก็ต้องงัดกันบ้างล่ะ เพราะกาวมันจะแห้งทำให้ขนมติดพิมพ์น่ะซิ

ใครตอบได้บ้างว่าขนมควีนอามันนี่มีกี่ชั้น

Kouign-Amann 42

ข้อความและรูปภาพ จดลิขสิทธิ์ ใครคิดจะขโมยทั้งรูปและข้อความเพื่อนำไปเผยแพร่หารายได้เข้าตัว ขอให้ผัวซ้อม เมียทิ้ง เป็นมะเร็งตับ มีลูกขอให้มันเนรคุณสมกับบุพการีที่ไม่มีหิริโอตัปปะ blog นี้เขียนเป็นวิทยาทานให้กับทุกคน อย่าได้คิดคัดลอกนำไปเบียดเบียนหากำไรจากผู้อื่น แต่ถ้าจะเอาวิชาไปทำขนมขายเชิญตามสบายค่ะ ใช้ของดีๆทำนะคะ

ผู้ที่อยากได้ภาพและวิธีทำไปแจกหรือสอนเป็นวิทยาทาน(แปลว่าสอนฟรีไม่ได้คิดค่าเรียน) เชิญติดต่อมาทางอีเมล์พร้อมรายละเอียดได้ค่ะ แต่ผู้ที่จะเปิดคลาสสอน(แปลว่าคิดตังคนมาเรียน)ลองอ่าน แล้วไปหัดทำดูก่อน ทำสักสามสี่ครั้งเป็นอย่างต่ำๆนะคะจะได้รู้ปัญหา และวิธีแก้ปัญหา นักเรียนถามจะได้ไม่ต้องยืนแทะเล็บบิดไปบิดมา ทำแล้วก็เขียนตำราเองจากประสบการณ์เสียเลยจะดีกว่ามาลอกของอิฉันนะ บ่องตง


Thai Chicken Biryani, Halal Chicken and Curry Rice, Khao Mok Gai

Thai Chicken Rice Biryani

I’m filling a special request before I continue with the noodles series. This dish is not widely known among foreigners yet, but it starting to become popular because the ingredients are quite familiar to most palettes and the flavors are just simply irresistible.

Khao Mok Gai is also a one-plate dish. It consists of yellow fragrant rice sprinkled with crispy fried shallots and served with a piece of chicken that seems to be baked (but isn’t). The authentic Thai won’t serve this dish completely by itself, of course. It would be accompanied with cucumber, tomato and the most important part, Nam Jim. The dipping sauce for this dish is very specific. I didn’t write about it in the “Basic Thai Dipping Sauce” post. Even though this looks green, it’s not the same as the “Nam Jim Seafood”. It has mint leaves and ginger, which is different than in the seafood dipping sauce.

This dish was called “Khao Buri” or “Khao Bucori” in the old times. That’s how the Thai picked up the word “Biryani”. It originated from the Persian merchants who came into the region to trade and brought their own familiar cooking methods with them. It must have been a long time ago, because the dish was mentioned in a Thai literature classic from the 18th century.

If you know how to cook Biryani, you would understand how to cook this dish. Biryani is a way to prepare rice with a lot of herbs and spices cooked along with the meat, which also has been marinated with spices as well. The flavors become quite intricate from the mixture.

The Thai name Khao(rice) Mok (bury) Gai (chicken) is pretty much self-explanatory, because the way you cook this dish is to bury the chicken with the rice and cook them together.

Did I mention that this dish is a Halal dish? Yes, right there in the title. The dish is widely prepared and eaten mostly by the Muslim-Thai, so you can safely guess that there is no such thing as a Khao-Mok-Moo (pork).

The recipe I’m giving you is my own, adapted from my family recipe. This is the first time I measured all the ingredients, so you don’t need to be so strict with the amounts. You can adjust them based on your preference. The spice list is quite intimidating, but if you can’t find some of them, just omit them. It will come out all right anyway. I have done every variation possible and all of them taste good.

You probably found some recipes for this on the Internet vary in amount and type of spices used. As long as they cook it Biryani style, cooking the chicken and the rice together and not making fried rice and serving it with baked chicken, then I would say they should all be good too. Nope, unlike with authentic Thai recipes, I’m not trashing anyone else’s recipe yet. Some would add raisins, cashews, etc.  All fine by me.

I even have the super easy cheat recipe down below. The one that involves buying an envelope of the pre-mixed spices, already-fried shallots, chicken, a cup of yogurt and a cup of coconut milk, then you will be good to go (assuming that you have rice in your cupboard at all times, like a good Asian). Even at that, you will have a wonderful Khao-Mok-Gai.

Oh…if I know a simple and easy recipe, why do I sweat it? Because everything fresh and intricate doesn’t just give you pain and no gain. Doing everything from scratch, except maybe raising your own chicken and growing rice, always gives the food much more flavor. Also, I can’t voluntarily stuff too many unknown items in my system and be happy-go-lucky anymore. That’s why! Have you ever heard that food sensitivity tends to increase the longer you live and walk the earth? (Yes, the synonym for that is called “aging”…the ugliest word on earth but still not as ugly as its effect.)

Spices used for Thai Chicken Biryani, Khao Mok Gai

Top from left to right: Clove, White Pepper, Ground Coriander, Himalayan Salt
Middle: White Cardamom, Cinnamon powder, Turmeric powder, Granulated Sugar
Bottom: Garlic, Ground Cumin, Curry powder, Bay leaf

Ingredients for the marinade: (this is for half a chicken 1 breast, 1 thigh, and 2 drum sticks,  all with skin and bone attached)

Curry powder 2 teaspoons

Turmeric powder 1 teaspoons (or about 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)

Ground Coriander 1 teaspoons (or 1-1/2 teaspoons whole seeds)

Ground Cumin 1/2 teaspoons (or 3/4 teaspoons whole seeds)

Ground Cinnamon 1 teaspoon

White pepper powder 1 teaspoons (or 1-1/2 teaspoons whole)

Chopped garlic 1 tablespoon

White Cardamom 4 pieces

Clove 4 pieces

Bay leaf  2 leaves

Salt 1 teaspoons

Granulated sugar 2-3 teaspoons

Plain Yogurt 1/2-2/3 cup

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani

Method for the marinade:

1) Roast the dried spices over medium-low heat until they release their aromas.

2) Grind all the spices, either separate or together with the yogurt. I grind them together in the Vitamix but if you don’t have a powerful blender, just buy a cheap $10 coffee grinder and grind all the dry spices together before you mix them into the yogurt.

3) Using a plastic bag or large glass container, dip the chicken pieces in the yogurt mixture, put them in the bag and leave them in the fridge over night. This is REQUIRED—you can’t skip it. At the very least you should marinate the chicken for 4-6 hours.

Thai Chicken Rice Biryani

If you don’t marinate the chicken, it won’t run away while you’re cooking, but the flavors from the spices won’t have enough time to penetrate through the chicken, and the result would be the chicken and the rice, which is full of flavor since it’s in its nature to absorb anything, are going to clash. I wouldn’t do that. If I don’t have enough time to marinate the chicken, I would make the rice and eat it with deep fried chicken instead.

Now we are ready to talk about the rest of the components: the curry rice and the dipping sauce, or Nam Jim.

Let’s start with the charisma of the dish first, the dipping sauce. Thai people have the knack for “flavor adjusting”. The dipping sauce I would make to eat with this dish is full of fresh flavors to contrast with all the spices. There are several versions of the dipping sauce. I already gave you one in the dipping sauce post, Nam Jim Gai or sweet chili sauce.

You can use that one, but this is the proper dipping sauce for this dish.

ingredients for Khao Mok Gai sauce

Ingredients for the dipping sauce:

Spearmint leaves, loosely packed  1 cup (You can get this from the Asian market)

Cilantro, loosely packed 1 cup

Garlic 1 tablespoon

Ginger 1 tablespoon

(Optional) Green chili with or without the seeds, your choice also, as much as you want

(Optional) Green onion 1 stalk (I didn’t use this)

Vinegar 1/4 cup

Salt 1 teaspoon

Sugar 1/4 cup

Water 1/4 cup (My friend told me she uses Sprite or 7-up instead—try it if you like!)

(optional) Plain yogurt 2 tablespoons

Method for the dipping sauce:

1) Boil vinegar, sugar and salt together and let it rest until cool.

2) Puree the syrup, water or Sprite (yogurt too, if used) and all the vegetables together until they are all fine.

Alright, the chicken is marinated, dipping sauce is made. We’re ready for the big day.

Thai Chicken Rice Biryani

Ingredients for the rice:

Shallots, whole  about 1 cup

Vegetable oil 1/2 – 2/3 cup

Jasmine rice 2 1/2 cups

(Optional) Fresh garlic 18g

(Optional) Fresh ginger 18g

(Optional) Fresh Turmeric 18g

Salt 1/2 teaspoon

Coconut milk 1 cup

Water 2 cups

Star Anise 2 full flowers

A lot of cucumber and some cilantro

Method for the rice:

1) Slice shallots lengthwise and spread them out in a tray and let them sit to dry out for a few hours, turning them over a few times.

drying the shallots for deep fried crispy shallots

2) Put a wok or a pot on the stove at medium heat. We will be using only one pot so choose one with a lid. Wait until the temperature of the oil reaches 350ºF,add the sliced shallots to the hot oil and reduce the heat to medium-low,

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 6

fry until they’re almost golden,

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 7

 

turn off the heat and let them turn golden in the hot oil.Once they’re golden, take them out and lay them on paper towels to drain the oil right away.

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 8

You can’t multi-task while you fry shallots (called Jiew in Thai). You have to pay full attention or you could have a mishap just like this.

Left is the one I fry with full attention. Right: I was taking pictures, trying to do something else while frying them!

Left is the one I fried with full attention.
Right: I was taking pictures, trying to do something else while frying them!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 3) Once you take crispy fried shallots out off the oil, keep the oil in the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high.

4) Take the marinated chicken pieces out of the refrigerator

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 10

and fry them in the shallot-flavored oil,

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 11

just to brown the skin. You don’t need to cook them through.

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 12

Take the chicken out and rest it.

5) If you don’t want to use fresh herbs in the rice, skip to #6.

If you decided to add fresh garlic, ginger, turmeric to the rice, mush them in a mortar or chop them in a food processor.

6) Take some of the oil out of the wok, leaving only 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) in the wok

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 14

and fry the fresh herbs mixture in the oil at medium heat until fragrant.

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 15

7) Add the raw rice into the oil,

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 16

and stir fry it also at medium heat or medium-high until the grains are no longer translucent.

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 17

8) Add the leftover yogurt mixture to the rice, lower the heat, and stir fry until mixed well.

9) Add the chicken back to the wok.

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 18

10) Add water, coconut milk, salt and star anise, bring them to a boil, lower the heat to medium low and cover the wok.

Thai Chicken Rice Briyani 19

11) Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice absorbs all the liquid and the grains are cooked through.

While you are waiting you should slice the cucumber.

12) (Optional) Near the end, increase the heat to medium or medium-high. We’re creating “Tardig”, the crispy rice at the bottom, or the Thai would call it “Khao Tung”. Cook for five more minutes or until you get crispy rice at the bottom. You can see by the color turning slightly brown.

13) Turn off the heat. You are ready to serve. Add the crispy fried shallots to the top of the rice and eat with the dipping sauce and cucumber.

Easy recipe

Ingredients for the easy recipe:

Lobo pre-mixed Khao Mok Gai powder 1 envelope

Yogurt 1 8oz. cup

Chicken 1 breast, 1 thigh, 2 drum sticks

(Optional) Shallots, sliced 1/2 cup (You can buy the pre-cooked golden fried shallots)

Rice 2 cups

(Optional) Fresh garlic 1 tablespoon

Coconut milk 1 cup

Water 1 – 1 1/2 cup

Vegetable oil 1/4 cup

Salt as needed

Method for easy recipe:

1) Mix one package of Lobo with yogurt and marinate the chicken at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

2) Fry shallots in oil, if you use the fresh ones. Please look at the detail #2 and#3  in the method for the rice above.

3) Take the shallots out of the oil, increase the heat and fry the chicken, just to brown the skin.

4) Take the chicken out of the oil and stir fry the rice with another half the package of lobo and the rest of the chicken marinade. Stir-fry the rice until the grain no longer translucent.

5) Add the chicken back to the pan and add the water and coconut milk, bring them to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the rice and the chicken are cooked.

6) Served with Nam Jim Gai and A-jad, Thai cucumber salad with shallot.

Thai Chicken Rice Biryani

 


Thai Noodles for the Beginner, Episode III: Pork Noodles, Guay Tiew Moo

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 7

After being so patient and reading my last two posts that contained no recipes, this time you finally get one. It was so difficult to decide which one was going to be the first in this series. I know that the “Boat Noodles” are quite popular among foreigners, and both noodles with barbecued pork and chicken noodles are also well known.

But I’m going to begin the series with pork noodles. It’s the most popular among the Thais, for sure. You can easily find this type of noodles in every province, even in the Islamic-dominated provinces. No, it won’t be eaten by the Islamists there, but it would be eaten by the Buddhists. So I think this is the most appropriate for the first post.

Pork noodles usually are the noodles with multiple styles of the protein. You would get pork either as pork balls, cooked ground pork, sliced pork boiled or sometimes barbecued, every kind of pork product you can imagine. Then you might get fish balls (really…this is NOT what you think it is, gender has nothing to do with it), fried fish cakes, and some internal pig organs such as intestine and liver (they are not the same as foie gras) together with the noodles and vegetables.

I order mine without the internal organs of the pig, though. I am not a big fan of them. I’m just telling you what to expect. All of these are optional and I opt-out the same way as I opt-out for the chili flakes.

Not only are “Guay Tiew Moo” (you pronounce the last word, “moo” with a high note like you are asking a question) the most popular in Thailand, but they also remind me of my happy family times in Thailand, too.

How so?

You know that most Asians usually have big extended families. We do value our family members even when they’re not so great (like me) and we get together often, like once a month at least. When I was growing up, we saw each other once a week, on the weekends. Yes, we had weekly family reunions—so what?!

Any time Thais get together, we eat. Most Asians would do the same. Guay Tiew often showed up as a feast for the gathering because it’s perfect for that. It sure to please everybody. All the accompaniments would be lined up, a boiling water pot on the stove along with another pot for the broth.

Guay Tiew can be served as soon as the water reaches the boiling point. Whoever was ready to eat could just blanch some vegetables, cook their noodles in the boiling water, and add the broth if they so chose. They would then come to the table and compose the bowl mix personalized with all the accompaniments, and season it however they liked: sour, salty, spicy or bland, your call.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 2

Can you see how this can be an all-day eating event? We ate, then we played, and the adults would be talking while we played. Then we would get hungry again, we would make some more Guay Tiew,  then go play again. We would keep doing this until the time when we had to go home. We might end up eating about 3-8 bowls of noodles easily during the course of the day. It’s so easy to digest that it goes away easily and you need a refill.

Do you see why I associate noodles with happiness?

Here in the US, I don’t have a large number family members around me, but I still do have a bunch of Thai friends who really appreciate Guay Tiew. So we get together at someone’s house and eat them together. To make them at home is quite elaborate for just yourself. In that case, I just make a simple serving where I throw everything in the same pot, just like you would do to make “extravaganza ramen” from instant ramen noodles.

I normally don’t do the full spread of ingredients unless I have more than four people coming to eat with me. So the first ingredient is to recruit enough people; if you don’t have enough kids of your own, then borrow your neighbor’s kids as props. Once you’ve got your audience, then let’s prep your noodles.

Ingredients for the pork noodles broth

Ingredients for the broth (about 1 gallon)

Pork bones about 1 lb.  preferably the leg bones (See Note#1)

Daikon root  1 root (See Note#2)

Dried shrimp or dried squid   2 tablespoons (See Note#3)

Cilantro root  1 root

Fresh garlic, whole clove 2 tablespoons

White pepper 2 tablespoons

Salt 1 tablespoon

Tung Chai 2 tablespoon

Water 1.5 gallon

(Optional) Crystal sugar just in case all else fails to give a sweet taste to the broth; you can use it but make sure you don’t tell anyone. If anyone suspects, deny it firmly. And DO NOT use granulated sugar.

Note:

1) If you can’t get leg bones, use pork ribs or chicken backs (I know they can be expensive or hard to find). If you opt for some other kind of pre-made concentrated broth, make sure that there is no MSG in it. BTW, Knorr is unacceptable. You will be banned from my HHG club for at least one thousand and one days!

2) This is the source of sweetness in the broth. You can substitute it with sweet onion, 2 large bulbs, or a few medium sized ones should be plenty. I used to use half a head of cabbage to get the sweet taste, too.

3) This is for the umami taste. We don’t need MSG for that. You can use dried scallops or dried oysters but cut the amount in half; most any dried shellfish is good. Don’t use dried fish.

Method for the broth:

1) Put cold water in the pot and put in everything except the white pepper, then set it over medium heat and go do something else.

Making pork noodles broth

2) If there is foam once it starts to boil, scoop it out.

Ingredients for the Noodles: (for 6)

Noodles of your choice as shown in the Episode I (link) or multiple choices

Ground pork  1-1/2 lb.

Thai Trio  (cilantro root, garlic and white pepper minced or mushed together) 1 tablespoon

Pork loin  1/2 lb.

Fish balls  1 package or at least 12 balls (Did I tell you that they’re NOT what you think?)

Fried fish cakes 1 package

(Optional) Hard boiled eggs with soft yolk (See Note#4)

Bean sprouts  3-4 cups (or just the whole bag)

Green beans or long beans cut diagonally as shown in Episode II 2 cups

(Optional) Crispy fried wontons (See Note#5)

(Optional) Shrimp

Accompaniments:

Fried garlic in oil

Cilantro and green onion, cut as shown in the episode II

Tung Chai

Fish sauce

Granulated sugar

Limes cut in wedges (shown in this post how to cut the limes)

Cracked roasted peanuts (I use a food processor or coffee grinder to crush them, but you can use a mortar)

Dried red chili flakes

Red jalapeño in vinegar

Note:

4) Put eggs in a pan of room temperature water, enough to cover about one inch over the eggs. It would be best if the eggs are at room temperature as well, but if not let them sit in the water for 10 minutes, pour that water out (the temperature of that water is now colder than room temperature), and add the same amount of water back in the pot. Set it over the stove at high heat, stir the eggs gently (this is optional but stirring them before the water reaches a boil will make the yolks stay in the center). Once the water comes to a full boil (212ºF, 100ºC), turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in water for full 5-6 minutes. Five minutes would you would get a hard white and half semi-soft with runny center. Six minutes, semi-soft center all the way through.

5) Take about 3 tablespoons of ground pork that is already seasoned.

Wrap the wonton skin around 1 teaspoon of ground pork mixed

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 34

and fold the skins as shown.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 33

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 32

Fry them in medium hot oil about 350ºF.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 31

The skin should fluff right away but the wonton should stay in oil for another minute for the pork to be cooked.

Method for the noodles:

1) Take the whole piece of pork loin and put it in boiling broth, wait until it’s cooked through, then take it out and slice it. I didn’t use a pork loin this time. I couldn’t get pork bones so I used pork ribs and instead of using pork loin, I used pork ribs.

2) Season the ground pork with fish sauce, Thai trio, and, if you like, a teaspoon of sugar and another teaspoon of white pepper also adds a nice touch. Add a tablespoon of water into each pound of ground pork to help make it tender.

ground pork for pork noodles and crispy wonton

3) Use two spoons to make a ball of ground pork and drop it in the boiling broth.

making pork balls

Do one at a time. Wait until they float up on the surface then scoop them out.

cooked the pork balls

Red berries are goji berries. I just decided to add them as and after-thought. It adds a  sweet taste and high nutrient.

You can either put them in a bowl waiting to be added to the noodles or just put them right in the noodle bowl.

4) If you don’t like ground pork in a ball shape, you can just cook it. We call this “Ba-Chor” style. This is how you do it. Put ground pork in a bowl

Ba Chor pork 6

and add boiling broth, about the same amount as the ground pork,

Ba Chor pork 5

stir so the hot broth cooks the pork.

Ba Chor pork 2

The first time you won’t be able to cook the pork through, so pour the broth back in the pot, add more boiling broth to the pork again,

Ba Chor pork 4

stir and pour it out, and keep doing it

Ba Chor pork 3

until you cooked the pork through.

Ba Chor pork 1

5) Slice the fried fish cakes about 1/4” thick.

6) Alright, you’ve got all your pork cooked, so now you are ready to cook your noodles. Make sure the water is boiling, add the noodle of your choice in a basket or sieve. You can buy them from the Asian market as well.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 25

Dip the basket in the boiling water, and use chopsticks to separate the noodles so they will cook evenly.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 24

7) Once the noodles cook, take them out of the boiling water, shake the sieve to get the water out of the noodles, and add the noodles to the bowl.

8) ***Important*** Toss the garlic oil with the noodles right away so the noodles won’t stick together.

toss the noodles with fried garlic and oil

9) Now blanch the vegetables

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 19

and add them to the bowl.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 18

10) Cook the fish balls and the fish cakes the same way but in the broth.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 17

10) Then start adding all of the cooked pork to the noodles,

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 15

add the Tung Chai, cilantro and green onion.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 14

Then you start seasoning it with fish sauce, sugar, chili, vinegar or lime.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 9

If you want it soup style, you better add the broth to your bowl

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 13

and season the broth.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 11

12) Garnish with crispy fried wontons, then do not wait—eat!

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 3

I mentioned before that you can have it salad style, guay tiew hang,

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 5

or soup style, guay tiew nam.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 4

If you want salad style you are ready just toss everything together after you season it. Taste to see if you get your preferred taste.

Guay Tiew Moo, Pork Noodles 1 (1)


Thai Noodles for the Beginner, Episode II: Everything Else Beyond Noodles

The essential accompaniment for Thai noodles

Noodles are just like pasta. You don’t get the full enjoyment unless there is sauce, or they’re tossed with something else to make a salad, or dropped in soup. What makes noodles great are those “accompaniments”.

What do Thai people do with noodles?

First of all, there are two types of Guay Tiew (Thai noodle dishes), one is dry like salad, Guay Tiew Haeng (Haeng=dry), noodles with no broth or very little broth. And another one is with broth just like a noodle soup, Guay Tiew Nam (Nam=water). The same vendor can make you both types and most likely Thai people would order more than one bowl and have one dry and one with soup. You have to know how to order, though.

As I already told you, Thai noodles are the “one dish meal” or “one plate food” which signifies that the dish comprises all the food groups in one bowl. Noodles take care of the carbohydrate portion, so it would be safe to guess that the accompaniments would include some kind of protein, vegetable and fat.

The main accompaniments are protein and vegetables. Those two food groups are the ones that determine what “type” of Guay Tiew we are going to be eating. Seriously, any foreigner who experienced Thai noodles for the first time would have thought, “All Guay Tiew are alike”…Noooo, they are all different, just like all Asians are, right? And you better believe me. I am not one of those Asians that you can blindfold with dental floss, my eyes are kinda round. I’m practically white, you know. :p

Let’s see what’s the possible ingredients are: beef, pork, chicken, fish, duck, meatballs, fish balls, barbecued pork, stewed pork leg, roasted duck, stewed duck, boiled chicken with herbs, tender beef, shrimp dumplings, stewed chicken wings, beef balls, stewed beef with beef blood, stewed pork with pork balls, chicken with bitter mellon, boiled fish, fried fish, and many more. This is just a short list and I haven’t counted the Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, or Singaporean variations in the list yet. I haven’t even counted the ones that have multiple meat choices in the same bowl, either!

Sometime I wonder, if I set up a competition between Asian noodles and European pasta, who would have more varieties?  I’d like  to find the answer by eating them all, eventually.

Alright, after you pick the type of protein, then you pick the vegetables. The choice of vegetables is not as wide as the meat category, but it actually can be anything. The most popular choices are
Mung bean sprouts or Thua Ngok ถั่วงอก in Thai

Mung Bean sprouts for Thai noodles
Snake bean, Yardlong bean, Asparagus bean or Thua Fak Yao ถั่วฝักยาว in Thai. This can be substituted with green bean if you can’t find them.

Yard long beans

I used this vegetable in Tod Mun, Thai fried fish cake and the Kanom Jeen Nam Ya, Thai rice noodles salad. This is how you cut long beans or green beans for Thai noodles.

Yard long beans
Chinese Broccoli or Chinese kale or Gai Lan in Chinese and Phak Ka Nar ผักคะน้า in Thai;

Chinese broccoli for Thai noodles

This is how you cut them for the Thai noodles.

Chinese broccoli
Water spinach, Water morning glory, and Chinese spinach
 are all the same vegetable with multiple names, also called Ong Choy in Chinese and Phak Boong ผักบุ้ง in Thai;
Chinese flowering cabbage or Choy Sum in Chinese and Phak Guang Toong  ผักกวางตุ้ง in Thai
Chinese cabbage or Bok Choy, Pak Choy in Chinese
Ivy gourd or Phak Tam Leung ผักตำลึง in Thai
Bitter melon or Mara มะระ in Thai
Pickled mustard greens or Phak Gad Dong ผักกาดดอง in Thai

I think I covered all of the possibilities, but I haven’t lived in my home country for nearly two decades. I might have missed something here and there.

I will discuss the proteins and vegetables in each recipe I will write about, but in this episode I would like to discuss about the common ingredients that will exist in every bowl of Thai noodles first. These are not something so prominent you would detect them right away, but they are so important.

These accompaniments are like the supporting actors in movies. You don’t really care much about them, but without them the movies would not be movies. If you miss these accompaniments, it won’t be Thai noodles.

2) The supporting characters, the accompaniments for Thai noodles

2.1) Golden fried garlic in oil, กระเทียมเจียว (Kratiam Jeaw)

fried garlic with oil, Kratiam Jiew, กระเทียมเจียว

If I don’t have freshly fried garlic, I don’t make noodles. This is how important this accompaniment is. I don’t advise you go buy the already crispy fried garlic in the jar either, because we need the remaining oil to toss with the noodles to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Golden fried garlic is a very common flavoring item in Thai household and also in Thai cuisine. Nearly every house has it in the cupboard. This is what sets Thai noodles apart from any others. We use it in many, many dishes too. The smell of fried garlic is as Thai as the curry paste, I’m telling you.

I love noodles with freshly fried garlic, or Boiled rice, Khao Tom , so I fry my garlic in small batches. Do you know why I have a microwave even though I don’t really ever use it to cook? Because there are two things that are done really well in the microwave: fried garlic and corn on the cob. Yes, I fry my garlic in the microwave. This takes about 2-5 minutes.

First you need to have at least one teaspoon of chopped garlic in oil per each bowl of noodles. (I use about one TABLESPOON in each bowl, or more if the bowl is big. It’s a little overkill but I like it this way.) Add one tablespoon of oil per each teaspoon of chopped garlic. Then you put them together in a big bowl. Yes, a  big bowl, because it is going to foam up in the microwave and eventually overflow if your bowl isn’t big enough.

I never do less than two tablespoons of garlic, so the timing here is for that amount. You can adjust it according to your microwave power.

Make fried garlic in microwave

You put the bowl in and the first round you do for two minutes. Then take the bowl out and stir. See how high the foam reached? Now you need to scrape all the garlic back into the oil.

fried garlic in microwave for Thai noodles

Then put the bowl back in, cook at high for another two minutes, take it out and stir again. This time the foam got even higher than last time. The garlic should be starting to get golden.

fried garlic for Thai noodles

I normally put it back in again for another 30 seconds and stop cooking at this point. The hot oil will continue cooking the garlic a little afterwards. You should get the more crispy garlic once the oil cools down.

This total time of 4:30 is for my own microwave and I don’t expect your microwave will work the same way. You have to try it on your own by cooking the first time for 2 minutes, then keep repeating the process one minute at a time for a few more times until you get the garlic looking golden and nearly crispy. Then stop. If your fried garlic doesn’t get crispy after you the oil cools down, then put the garlic and oil back in the microwave again. After doing this for a few times you will know the right timing for your microwave and can take it out and stir only once or twice the way I do.

Can we make fried garlic in a wok or pan?  Yes, of course. You start with medium high heat until the oil is hot then you drop the chopped garlic in and reduce the heat to medium, or even medium low.

fried garlic for Thai noodles

This method will foam up until you can’t really see the garlic, but trust it and continue cooking, stirring often.

Fried garlic stove top 2

Continue cooking, and once the garlic starts to be ready the foam will subside and you can see the garlic again. Keep the heat at the medium low at the most until you see the garlic start to golden, then turn off the heat and let it cool. Same as cooking in microwave, the hot oil will continue cooking even more so than the microwave hot oil. You should get golden crispy garlic at the end.

Fried garlic stove top 3

Traditionally, the oil of choice for me is lard, and I fry small pieces of pork fat to get it;

Making lard 2

crispy pork fat in lard for Thai noodles

Then I fry the chopped garlic in that lard. At the end I drop the crispy fried pork fat into the fried garlic mix. This is the best type of golden fried garlic. Lately, after we’ve been conned by the American soybean oil manufacturers saying that pork fat clogs your arteries, a lot of Thai vendors stopped using that…Sadly.

Well, they are starting to use it more now since they noticed that the vendors that didn’t stop using the golden crispy fried garlic with bits of pork fat didn’t cause anyone a heart attack. In fact the vendors themselves nearly got a heart attack from overwork because even more customers kept pouring in. Those lard-using vendors also employed that as an advertising point to bring in more customers.

Pork fat rules!…Yay!

By the way, please read Time Magazine’s June 26th issue (came out two weeks ago) “Eat Butter”.

2.2) Green onion and Cilantro, ต้นหอมผักชี (Ton Hom Pak Chee)

Green onion, Scallion and cilantro

This is another bits and little pieces of flavor that you can’t miss. Almost every noodle dish in Thailand would be sprinkled with roughly chopped green onion and cilantro.

You just have to slice green onion about 1/8”-1/4” long and do the same with the cilantro. You can use all the stems of the cilantro, and the green onion can be used nearly all the way down to the white part.

2.3) Tianjin preserved cabbage, ตังฉ่าย (Tang Chai)

Tianjin preserved cabbage

This is not as critical as the former two, but it would add a nice flavor to your noodle dishes. It’s an elongated cabbage, pickled. In Chinese the cabbage itself is called “michihili”. The cabbage is called Pak Kad Hang Hong, ผักกาดหางหงษ์, in Thai.

It’s salty and contains some strong flavor that also adds the smell of home (my home, not yours, obviously) to the dish. You shouldn’t use more than a teaspoon in a bowl of your noodles. You can find the Tianjin preserved cabbage in any Asian grocery store. The way to spot it is the container. The original container is small brown ceramic, never more than 3” tall, round, about 4”-7” diameter, fat in the middle with small opening on top like the picture on this site.

If you look for the container like this, you won’t miss it. It is available in every Asian market, I assure you. The shape of this container is so classic that we, the Thai people, would understand if we said someone has a “Tang Chai jar shape”, we would know that the person has a beer belly! (It’s quite insulting, even though it might be true to anyone’s eyes, and we only use it toward girls so I don’t recommend calling any girl “Kra Pook Tang Chai”, if you don’t want to get in trouble.)

I used to like the original one too, but these days there are so many pebbles in the preserved cabbage, indicating how clean the process isn’t. I’m very sketchy about buying food from China, too. I have so much food sensitivity I don’t want to risk it. I am very close to making my own, but I don’t exactly know how to yet. I will have to try someday since now I’ve got the yeast they use to ferment the cabbage already. This is the brand I’m using these days. It’s from Thailand and so far it has been clean, without pebbles and no MSG added.

Would you be surprised if I said this is the entire required list?

Yes, three items.

The rest will show up in each recipe. I am not going to discuss it now but I would like to remind you that Guay Tiew NEEDS the set of condiments called Poung Phrik. You will not see any noodle vendors in Thailand doing business without it!

3) Behind the scenes,  but still necessary for Thai Noodles, A set of condiments, Poung Phrik พวงพริก

Puang Phrik, พวงพริก set of accompaniment for Thai noodles

Remember when I wrote about Thai dipping sauce, I told you that Thai people like to dress their foods to fit their palette. This set of condiments is quite important. No one eats their noodles the same way. The chef who makes these noodle dishes is not French, you know. There are no food Nazis in Thailand.

Once you’ve got your noodles, you taste them first, then you start to add the condiments you want to adjust the taste to your preference. Sometime you don’t need to do it at all, and sometimes it doesn’t matter how many times you dress your noodles, it won’t come out the way you want.

No, I will not tell you how much of what you should put in your noodles, but I will tell you the specific condiments that you will be putting in your Poung Phrik. The basics are:

3.1) Fish sauce

3.2) Granulated sugar

Those two don’t need further explanation, and they’re staples. The other two items would be different for each noodle dish.

3.3) Vinegar, or some form of souring agent

This can be:

3.3.1) Distilled vinegar with sliced pieces of chilies.

3.3.2) Mushed chili and garlic with a little vinegar. This one can have red or yellow chilis, too.

3.3.3) No vinegar, but wedges of limes will be on the table or inside the noodle bowl.

3.3.5) No vinegar, just squeezed lime juice as the substitute.

3.3.6) Black vinegar with sliced chili.

3.4) Chili

We’re not kidding about this. Yes, you might have chili in the vinegar, but that’s not enough. We provide another type of chili as an option, too.

3.4.1) Red chili flakes or powder, the basic.

3.4.2) Chopped, cut up or mushed chilies, either bird’s eye chili or Serrano chili, dry, no vinegar of course (or else I would listed it with the vinegar section, right?)

3.4.3) Red chili flakes stir fried in oil. I’m telling you this one usually is “hellish”. Your mouth will be on fire if they serve this in the Poung Phrik. It’s a common item in Khao Soi. Scary indeed!

3.5) Cracked peanuts

This is usually shows up with the pork, duck or chicken noodles but not with beef noodles or fish noodles, but these days, I can’t guarantee you that.

พวงพริก, Puang Phrik set of accompaniment for Thai noodles

Alright, the basics are over. Next week, you will get the first noodles recipe. Thanks for putting up with me and my urge to dissect the easy task and make it complicated. ;)

Thai noodles and the essential accompaniments


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