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I’d like to forward this recipe from a wonderful, compact Thai cookbook, and I’m sorry that I didn’t take photos.  I’ve mentioned this author in one of my cookbook gazetteers, a year or so back.  Eng Tie Ang published a modest volume of Thai cuisine in ‘Delightful Thai Cooking’, in 1990.

Fifteen years ago, I was happy to find her paperback title in a used book store in Minneapolis, which taught me how to shop for Thai recipe ingredients.  This was proved to be both complex and simple.  Fortunately we also have an excellent specialty Thai superstore in Minneapolis, http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2006/08/16/twin-cities-best-asian-markets

Gaeng Pet Gai (chicken curry)

4 T veg oil

10 dried red chilies, soaked, drained, chopped (I used Szechuan chilies and a hand-held food processor)

1 yellow onion chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

a 1″ dried, or 1 tsp ground galangal root (Kha, or galanga). It is sometimes referred to as Thai ginger in the local markets.  It’s also a stand-out flavor in a world-famous coconut chicken curry soup w straw mushrooms.  Do not be a stranger to this unfamiliar and beautiful spice.

1 trimmed stalk fresh lemon grass, cut into 2″ lengths (I also give them a good pounding w a wooden mallet before I slice them for cooking.  It brings all their beautiful perfume into the final dish.)

4 T fresh chopped coriander

1 tsp ground nutmeg (this ingredient caught me by surprise, but it’s good)

6 kaffir lime leaves (I used dried, but fresh is always better)

1 T ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt (I used a little less, and it was fine)

2 boned, skinned chicken breasts, in 1″ cubes (I used 4 whole thighs)

1 can bamboo shoot (6 oz), cut into fine shreds (I used an equivalent amount of shredded, sour young bamboo shoots)

one 14-oz can coconut milk

20 fresh Thai basil leaves

Heat oil in a medium sized pot, stir-frying the chilies, onion and garlic until they become highly fragrant.  Add galangal root, lemon grass, fresh coriander, nutmeg, kaffir lime leaves, ground coriander, cumin and salt.  Cook for a couple of minutes over med-high heat.

Add chicken and agitate for a minute or 2 before adding bamboo shoots (or bamboo shoot-kraut) and coconut milk.  Cover & simmer 20 min over low heat, until chicken is tender.  Fold in the Thai basil leaves, and serve over steamed white rice (of course Thai rice is recommended, but I use Basmati).

*if you use powdered or dried lemon grass -or galanga powder, add both during the last 10 min of cooking, according to Madame Eng Tie Ang

My friend Hortensia brought me  fresh tomatoes from her garden- and some other beautiful green things.  Then I went to the store & brought back another very Native fruit- the avocado- some cilantro, and a poblano pepper.

Avocados AKA Persea Americana AKA Alligator Pears are  mashed together with homemade, spicy tomato salsa, making a rich & delicious accompaniment to many foods.  That is more or less the  form of guacamole most familiar for many people here- and if you make it from scratch, it is greatly appreciated.

OK, you twisted my arm, and I will surrender my recipe to you. This is how I make my famous, authentic smoked pepper Eskimo Guac.

Please locate the following ingredients, if you can:

-a Poblano green pepper (a green, sweet pepper would also be good)

-1/2 a  small red onion, shaved thin & chopped to atoms (I use a mandolin)

-1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

-a clove of garlic, also minced to smaller atoms

-a lime, halved & juiced

-1/2 tsp cumin

-1/2 tsp hickory salt (otherwise use plain, table salt)

-one tsp chili powder (or ground, dried red chili)

a couple of dashes of tabasco sauce

-a full 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

-if you happen to have it on hand, 1/2 tsp dried, or 1 tsp fresh Epazote (fresh is better).  This is a traditional Native herb, and it gives an almost indefinable, gently sharp, chocolate flavor, when not cooked.  When cooked with beans, it aids digestion, and it also tastes very, very good.

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped

There is only one ingredient here that requires some special attention- the poblano pepper.  Roast it over a fire of some kind, or roast it almost black in a heavy skillet on top of the stove:

This may take several minutes, but be patient.  The pepper builds up steam inside & cooks.  The charred outside gives you some complex, deep flavors.

When the pepper is no longer recognizably green, take it off the heat & place it in a paper bag:

Now, seal the bag & forget about it for a while.

After a few minutes, open the bag & scrape off the charred skin.  You can use the flat of a knife, your fingers, or even paper towels.  Clean out the ribs and seeds, and then cut into fine strips.  Then chop the pepper very finely.

Now you can begin to mix your salsa together- everything all at once.  And now you can also split & mash your avocado.  I think I use almost 1/2 cup of salsa to each avocado.  Some people like to keep the avocado in big chunks, or cut in large pieces -you can do it whichever way makes you happy.

I don’t have a picture for this one.  A few weeks ago, I made  hominy and beans with green & red chilies, which is such a wonderful combination,  it would be a treat any day of the week.  I happened to mention it on my facebook page- and an amazing number of people said how much they liked the idea.

This recipe starts with ground pork (you can use almost any ground meat.  You can also entirely skip the meat, and it will still be a wonderful meal, with balanced amino acids, for vegetarian cooks).  However, you have to get the onions & garlic started first.  Chop a medium onion & a clove or 2 of garlic.

I went to the supermarket & picked out:

-1 Anaheim pepper (is that the same as ‘hatch’?,  or is that New Mexico?)  It’s often an elongated, sweet, light, green chili that sort of commands your attention)

-1 poblano- maybe not as warm as the Anaheim, but it packs a different, pleasant kind of heat.  This is where the dried, smoked Ancho pepper comes from.  Also excellent.

-1 jalapeno ( some are hot, some are not.  Unpredictable in the supermarket, so grow your own.  HOWEVER, one plant is capable of producing a quantity of fruits with varying levels of heat!  That’s what makes jalapenos interesting.)

If you have a grill, a gas ranged-oven, or a cast iron frying pan- it doesn’t matter what-, put each pepper over the fire.  Caramelize it, scorch it, burn it.  Well, please don’t actually burn it- I was exaggerating.  As you singe each pepper, put it in a paper sack, or in a bowl with a plate on top, so all the steam stays inside.  For this recipe I removed the skins- it can require some patience;  and you will also have burnt spots on your peppers, which makes all the flavors come together.

I spent a summer cheffing at a local 4- or 5 star restaurant- fancy place & pretty much a fun place to work.  I had the job of prepping pizza dough for individual pizzas, on the seasonal menu. Everything in that place was made from scratch- I had to shape them, get them quickly in & out of the oven; and then they went on to their final pizza destiny.  One time, I thought they had browned too much & lamented that I had burnt them.  Chef Beth took a cursory glance and announced:  Those aren’t burnt, those are caramelized.  CHARGE EXTRA!.

To return to the recipe:  Brown 1# of pork in some minced onions and garlic.  Just use a small amount of olive oil to first soften the onions, and then the garlic.  Garlic scorches easily, which is both good and bad.  In this case, before it gets too dark, add a pound of ground pork over medium heat, and make an even layer of meat that you can turn and cook quickly.

Then add about 2 Tbsp of good ground, dried red chili, or a good chili powder.  Also add an equal amount of masa harina or cornmeal, along with a tsp of salt, and generous amounts of fresh, ground black pepper.  Add a tsp of ground cumin and a tsp of crumbled dried epazote leaves (or Mexican oregano).

As this cooks and becomes fragrant, add about 32 oz of canned white hominy, and 16 oz of your favorite canned bean (drained, rinsed- even though you will lose some vitamins).  Keep everything over low heat for a good 10-15 minutes and you will have a decent hominy with red & green chilies.