Welcome to my sixth In-Depth blog post.
I have been doing a lot of cooking over the last couple weeks. I tried two new recipes called cashew chicken and chicken satay. Cashew chicken was surprisingly simple. It was only a sauce and a few basic ingredients, but combined it formed a delightful dish. The sauce was made with chili paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. We were out of lime juice, so I substituted it for lemon juice which provided similar sour sweetness. The rest of the ingredients were chicken, chopped red pepper, coriander, and roasted cashews. I also added habanero peppers to create some spice. Once I had all the ingredients prepared, I added some oil and garlic to my wok and started stir frying. The end result was a spicy and sweet chicken dish with slightly sour sauce. It was wonderful. The two habaneros I added gave the dish a strong, but not overpowering spice level.
I continued to practice my plating skills with the cashew chicken. I took a ¾ measuring cup and filled it with cooked rice. I then placed the rice in the middle of the plate and started adding ingredients around it. The plate was not big enough to fit all the food I added to the plate, so the final result was a little crowded. To improve the aesthetics next time, I will add less rice and make the main dish the focal point.
The second new meal I made was called chicken satay. Chicken satay can be found across Thailand being sold off charcoal stoves near the side of the road. It is a simple meat skewer that packs a lot of flavour. Pork satay is a common substitute for chicken, and it can also be found across Thailand.
I thought chicken satay only required a couple of chicken breasts and skewers. I was wrong. To make chicken satay, you need to make a complex marinade. As I learned, a marinade is a sauce that meat soaks in to acquire a new or different flavour. When I first attempted to make chicken satay, I was unaware that I had to marinate the chicken. I started cooking at six o’clock and would not have time to properly marinate the chicken, so I made another Thai meal. My first attempt ended in disappointment, but I did not give up. I later made the marinade and let the chicken soak overnight. The next day at about 5 o’clock, I took the chicken out of the fridge to find it completely soaked in marinade. I stuck a few pieces of chicken on each skewer then started to warm up the barbecue. I covered the grill with spray oil and put the skewers in. I let them cook for about ten minutes flipping them occasionally. After that I pulled them off the grill and served them with peanut sauce.
They were quite flavourful. Allowing them to marinate for 24 hours let the chicken absorb the sauce’s flavour. My only complaint is that they felt like they were missing something. The flavour was a mix of turmeric and coriander, with other small accents. But it felt like an important ingredient was missing. Next time I will add lime or lemon juice. Some acidic and sour juice would balance the powerful flavour of the spices.
For my demonstration and learning center on May 31st, I want to do a live cooking demonstration. I will be making a small serving of red curry with beef. I chose to make red curry because it is quick to make and allows me to demonstrate multiple different skills I have learned. I will be bringing my mortar and pestle to demonstrate creating curry paste. I would like to make it interactive by allowing people to try the mortar and pestle, but that will not work. I would need to clean the pestle between every use, which could contaminate the curry paste. To make the post interactive, I will allow people to try fundamental Thai ingredients like basil and chili peppers. I will have hand sanitizer near my stove for people to use before they try the ingredients. I will also hand out the ingredients with tongs to reduce contact. I will be cooking on a gas-powered Coleman stove, so I will need to be outside, so I don’t get smoke in the school. The Coleman stove requires propane so I will need space for a propane bottle and the stove. I think this would work best with a table. Before I present, I need to practice cooking on the Coleman stove to make sure I can moderate heat level properly. I will also need to practice making red curry efficiently, so I am familiar with the steps. I will probably have time to repeat the red curry recipe, so I need to make sure I bring enough ingredients.