Dessert ingredient: Taro

We mark our 10th anniversary this year (wow). It was a small wedding; we chartered a yacht and a live jazz trio for a brunch cruise around New York Harbor with just our closest friends and family. Great memory. Our wedding cake (first photo above) got rave reviews. And now I want to recreate it, but I'll have to experiment a bit because I lost our records. I wasn't a cake fan. We considered doing without one but we found a pastry chef who, back then, was still practicing and perfecting her craft, so she was open to ideas. The typical western cake flavors weren't very inspiring. I wanted tropical mixes - using real fruits and roots, not powdered versions or syrup flavoring or extracts. She was quite accommodating, and agreed to experiment … [Read more...]

Khmer food: Svay bok Trai cha-aa

(Smashed grilled fish) I'm always discovering new Khmer dishes I haven't tried yet. My colleague brought some of this the other day for her lunch. The photo doesn't capture it well, but it's a very tasty dish (for those not turned off by pungency, that is)! It's made of fish (grilled river catfish was used here), smashed in a mortar and pestle with grated green mango and spices. I asked Sopheap to make it and watched. Into the mortar with the mango went chopped red and white onion, a little garlic, salt, peanuts, some fish sauce and herbs that they call chee (gee?), for which I don't know the English names. (I'll add to this post when I find out.) Similar to it is the more famous green papaya/mango salad. This salad has river crab, … [Read more...]

Laos: A Gastronomic Adventure

Where Thais love the calorific richness of coconut milk bases and thick sauces, Lao cuisine tends to be less demanding without compromising taste. A coarse mix of freshly prepared ingredients creates the signature raw textures and crisp flavours. It combines the bitterness of roots with citrus, the sour tang of tamarind and the pungent saltiness of fermented fish or shrimp. Sample the haute royal cuisine of the north with soups like khái pâen (river moss) and áw lám (a dense vegetable mix). And don’t miss the assorted pumpkin dishes or grilled fish served with sticky rice. More typical dishes include làap (lime-cured minced meat and herbs), mak pen (spicy grilled meat patties), thot phakop (fish beignets) and pak goot (spirally green … [Read more...]