Thursday, June 28, 2012


 A major migration took place in the 13th century when the Mongol hordes under Kublai Khan were subjugating China.  In 1238 the independent Kingdom of  Siam (modern Thailand) was formed by Chinese expatriates and to this day remains a monarchy,

Thai cuisine was influenced by China and India, evident in the stir-fry technique and the curry concept. But Thai food is definitely distinct from both since they use their own spices, fresh herbs and vegetables; and is characterized by a particularly  balanced combination of sweet, salty, bitter, sour and spicy tastes. Thai cookery flourished because it is very artful, and employs stimulating ingredients such as tangy fish sauce, coconut milk, and fragrant lemongrass, basil, coriander, and citrus fruits.

We love all those wonderfully vibrant Thai red, green, yellow, masaman and panang curries. All are delectable. I recently enjoyed a Thai green fish curry locally that was so laudably luscious it deserved mention. Happily, the green fish curry in my kitchen is every bit as enthralling as that prepared in local Thai restaurants.

Green curry is made with fresh, young green chilies, and is usually significantly hotter than other curries but not necessarily; as you can control the heat by manipulating the ratio between the amount of chilies and the coriander. Green curry tends to lean toward a sweeter flavor as opposed to say a red which tends toward the savory.

Here is my Thai Green Fish Curry                    serves 4


2 tablespoons peanut or other vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons (or more to taste) green curry paste, store-bought or use recipe below
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced or 2 cups trimmed green beans
½ cup of coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound of firm fish filets, such as halibut, cod, snapper, northern pike, sea bass and such
½ cup fish stock or bouillon
2 teaspoons each, grated zest of lemon and lime
15 leaves of Thai basil, (if unavailable use half regular basil and half fresh mint leaves or just basil)


  • Heat the oil in a skillet or wok.
  • When very hot add the garlic
  • As it turns a golden colour add the curry paste, stirring well
  • Add  eggplant or green beans, stir-fry 4 minutes
  • Add the coconut milk and bring to boiling
  • Stir well as milk thickens
  • Stir in the fish sauce and sugar
  • Put in the fish pieces and bouillon
  • Simmer while stirring occasionally for 3 minutes to cook fish
  • If more liquid is required, add a little more coconut milk
  • Add the basil and lemon and lime zest, cooking one more minute

You can serve this aromatic ambrosia over steamed rice.  

Thai Green Curry Paste
5 fresh green chilies, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 small or medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander stems or stems and leaves
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
½ teaspoon salt

Put all the ingredients in a blender and whirl to a paste. If necessary add a little water.
If you cannot find shrimp paste, forget about it. More green chilies can be used if desired or less for a milder taste. If using less, add a little more fresh coriander.

Thai green fish curry is a flavour phenomenon; I hope you will try some soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


My little baby-sugar daughter's spouse happens to like the sweet and tangy pickles I make, so every time I give him some, he eats them with relish. Well, not pickle relish of course; that would be redundant, but he definitely delights in eating them. As I dote on them as much as he, I plant a garden to grow my own pickles, so I plant some, like these:

Here is my little garden plot, devoted to my son-in-law’s pickle supply. As you can see, some are already finished.

Since I’m growing the pickles I think why not grow the jars too. I plant pint jars and already some have grown into quart-size.

Here they are

Oh look, one is filled with pickles already.

Putting up your own sweet and tangy pickles is a good idea since you control the ingredients and can tweak the spice amounts to your taste. For instance, try star anise or a cardamom pod in a batch if you like. Here is the way I do it.

Adapted from: Retro Barbecue, Linda Everett, Collectors Press, Portland, OR, 2002

Sweet and Tangy Pickle Slices

Ingredients:                       Makes 10 pints

7 pounds cucumbers, washed and cut into slices *
2 gallons cold water
2 cups dehydrating lime (for canning)

6 cups apple cider vinegar
4 pounds plus 1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 ½ teaspoons pickling spices
1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon whole cloves


  • Place the sliced cucumbers, the canning lime and the cold water in a big stainless steel bowl.
  • Mix gently to combine
  • Let the cucumbers set in a cool place for 24 hours
  • Stir occasionally

  • After the 24 hour period, drain the cucumbers and rinse well.
  • Cover the cucumbers with more cold water and let sit for 3 hours
  • Drain well

  • In a large saucepan or pot, put in the remaining ingredients
  • Stir to thoroughly dissolve sugar while bringing to simmer
  • Let the syrup mixture cool
  • When cool, pour over the cucumbers
  • Let sit overnight

  • Next day, bring the cucumbers and syrup to simmering
  • Gently cook for about 25 minutes, when cucumbers become transparent
  • Boil plenty of water to sterilize canning jars, seals and lids as well as to submerge the filled jars
  • Carefully remove the jars, seals and lids and proceed to fill jars with cucumbers
  • Seal jars and process in the boiling water for 10 minutes.(if your pot is not large enough to hold all the jars, then do in batches)
  • Remove from water and they are done

There is a certain sequence to this pickling procedure but it is not difficult. All you need is a big pot to hold the jars covered in boiling water, the jars, lids and the ingredients listed.

Last year I had an abundance of pears on my trees and made a lovely pear relish, so you may want to “can” other fruits and vegetables. I had plenty  many tomatoes last year and made a couple gallons of home-made tomato sauce, which was a blessing. It is not difficult to “can”, so, yes you can “can”. You can start with these Sweet and Tangy Pickles; you won’t believe how great they taste, on sandwiches, with bread and butter or right out of the jar like bro’ in law.

* Look for pickling type cucumbers; they are smallish with “bumps” on them. Most importantly be sure they do not have a wax coating on them.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...