Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tom Ka Gai. Thai Soup Adventures!

Whole Foods sells delicious roast chickens. Relatively cheap roast chickens if I pick at them over the course of a week for snacking and salad use. It's become a very helpful staple in my fridge, but at the end of the week I'm left with this torn through pile of meat and bones.

It wouldn't be very Grok like to toss that heap in the trash, so I rolled out my crackpot and made what turned out to be some very good chicken stock. That's step one. I still needed something to -do- with that delicious chickenwater.

Enter Tom Ka Gai, a tasty Thai soup that's simple to make, but a bitch to track down the ingredients for if you live in California. For the first time I had to venture into an asian market! ( Dun dun DUNNN. ) (( It was a cute store, actually. )) Eventually I tracked down my galanga and kaffir leaves and set out to begin.

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The gathered ingredients


Saddest story in the world. Immediately I found that I had only half the chicken stock that the recipe calls for. After a moment of sulking I continued forward with my soup, halving everything as best I could.

I managed to make quite a mess in the kitchen. All that neatly organized stuff that you see above got lost in a hustle of slicing, dicing, and poor timing, but I managed to clean as I went. By the time the soup was done I'd actually covered my tracks enough to avoid clean up and go straight into eating.

Before pulling it off the stove I took a sip and was...disappointed. I've had this soup in Thai restaurants before, and I was not up to par. I think I might have taken on a recipe a bit outside of my skill level; I need more time practicing with simple stirfry and meat before I go onto the big, compound meal stuff.


Not even half as bad as I thought it was. I went back for seconds. It didn't come out great, but it managed to hit "good." I can always shoot for improvement next time.


I want to feel like a chef. I want to pull simmering, delicious sauces off the stove and wow myself with masterful weavings of heat and spice. Does it come merely through practice or are there better steps I can take to boost my skill? I want the knowledge and feel for food that lets me not only cook recipes up well, but gives me instinct enough to devise my own! Any tips or suggestions for someone looking to get better?

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