And I Can Cook, Too

Monday, June 04, 2007

May 28, 2007

The First Last Supper

Carol and Louise had returned home from their Ocean Road trip and immediately begun packing for their move to Tasmania. Although we’d enjoyed numerous laughs and as many glasses of beautiful wines, the weeks had slipped away and we were now just counting the days until we said goodbye. I’d heard many mentions of Thai food in the weeks they’d been home, and realized that I hadn’t had a bite of one of my own favorites in months. I hit the Central Market’s Asian store after class, caught the train home, and got stuck in. (I am becoming so very Australian). I went with my tried and true Thai standby’s: Evil Jungle Chicken, Eggplant and Tofu, and Garlic Cabbage. As we ate (and they showered me with praise which I only somewhat graciously accepted), we determined that we couldn’t possibly let this be the last night we had together, and we promptly made plans for a final going away meal the night before I moved out.

Garlic Cabbage So Good You’ll Wish You Had a Flip Top Head:

6-8 C. Cabbage, coarsely chopped
1-2 Cans Coconut Milk* (enough to just almost cover the cabbage in a pan.)
Lots: Garlic, minced. Use as much as you think you’re going to like. I used probably 5-6 large cloves, and it was wonderful.
Some: Thai Bird Chili.** Again, what do you like? I think one is hot, others need 5.*** Start with a little and add more if you want it.

Some: Fish Sauce. See above.
Oil for cooking

Put the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until it is just starting to turn a golden color. Add the chili and cook another minute more. Add the cabbage and stir to blend. Add fish sauce. Top with coconut milk and cover pan. Simmer until cabbage is tender. You most likely won’t need salt and pepper, but by all means taste and add as desired.

Prepare to wish you had a flip top head.

*Now I know that we all know that coconut milk is inherently evil and a heart attack on a plate. I also know that in every English speaking country I’ve been to you can get ‘diet’ coconut milk. I also know that “The Debt to Pleasure” is a great book I highly recommend but I digress. My point is, don’t use low-fat coconut milk in this recipe. If this were a curry, or a tom yum, or something else where there was enough spice going on, I’d say go for it. But with this, you must use the full fat real thing. If you don’t, it won’t taste as good. And then you will never experience true happiness.

**It is a tried and true rule of the culinary industry that if you chop Thai bird chilis without latex gloves you will then immediately stick your fingers in your eyes. I keep latex gloves on hand for this reason and this reason only. For no other reason than this. Just this.

***I’ve read that it’s the seeds of the chili that holds the heat, so if you want flavor with heat, remove the seeds. I’ve read that it’s the rib of the inside of the chili that holds the heat, so if you want flavor without heat remove the rib. Every chef I’ve asked has answered the same way: “Yes.”


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