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Monday, August 06, 2012

Food, Glorious Food

For Prommie

Because every now and then you just need to hold on to your babi. I mean babby. Honest.

How many recipes can I share with this bugger? And is this gonna become famous, like my goddamned Brussels sprouts?

Who cares.

Gaeng Masaman

2 lb stewing beef 2 cans coconut milk, preferably Kara brand
2 large yellow onions 1 lb Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes
3 daun salam (Indonesian bay leaf) 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tamarind pods 2 tsp palm sugar or gula jawa
2-4 Tbsp fish sauce 1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
4 small green cardamom pods 2" pc cinnamon stick
Masaman curry paste (see next table

Cut potatoes in halves or quarters. Rinse to remove excess starch, drain well and salt.

Dice the onions. Shell the tamarind, pour boiling water over, and cover for about 20 minutes. Remove cover and squeeze the tamarind in the (hopefully cool) water till the seeds and skins separate from the pulp. Strain the liquid and discard the solids. Add the sugar to the tamarind water and mix till it dissolves.

Skim the cream off the canned coconut milk. You should have up to 10 tablespoons (if not, open another can).

Place 2 Tbsp of the cream in a pot large enough to hold all the meat and potatoes. Add the reserved coconut milk, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaves, and black peppercorns, and salt to taste, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the meat, stirring to coat, lower the heat, and cook for about 20 minutes, or till tender.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a flat-bottomed skillet and fry potatoes till golden, turning occasionally. Drain on paper towels. Pour off most of the oil.

Add the reserved coconut cream to the pan, keeping the heat at medium, and stir till the oil emerges. Add the onions, stir till golden brown and fragrant, then add the curry paste. Cook, stirring, till fragrant, then add to the stew pot in which the beef is cooking, and stir so that the paste coats the beef. Add potatoes and peanuts, stir to coat, add tamarind water and sugar, and fish sauce, stir and taste, adjusting seasoning as necessary. Masaman curry paste:

10 dried chillies 1 Tbsp cumin seed
1 Tbsp coriander seed 2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 star anise 4 small green cardamom pods
3 stalks lemongrass 6 whole cloves
2 tsp whole mace 2" cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp galangkal 2 green or spring onions
1 Tbsp blachan 5 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Place the dried red chillies in a small bowl or cup. Remove the woody stalks and cut into thirds. Pour boiling water over and let soak for about 10 minutes, covered.

Wash and trim the lemongrass and green onion. Slice the thick, woody stalk into small slices. You can either discard the leafy top third, or freeze it for use in soup. Slice the green onion. Chop garlic.

Chop the galangka root and then process it in the Cuisinart till it is light and fluffy. Add lemongrass and continue processing. Add sliced green onions and chopped garlic and pulse to blend.

Heat a small cast-iron skillet and toast the spices, beginning with the largest/woodiest down to the mace, which only needs a few seconds. When the spices release their fragrance, remove them from the heat. Let cool and then grind to a powder in a coffee-grinder (which for god's sake, please do not use your spice grinder to grind coffee or anything BUT spices, because smells do cling, boy howdy do they), and add to the processor. Drain the red chillies, reserving the liquid, and add to the processor. (Leave out the seeds if you don't want the extra heat.)

If using bottled blachan (ngapi, terasi, mam tom, kapi), add it now, together with the oil. If using blachan cake, toast it first till it becomes crumbly and aromatic, then add it. Process until you have a paste, adding the reserved chilli-soaking water in tiny amounts as needed.

If you don't use all the paste, store it covered with oil in a tightly-sealed jar in the refrigerator. And use it within a couple of weeks, at most.

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