Spice Up Your Comfort Food

img_2212My blogging has really fallen off a cliff as of late, the real world has become so distracting I find it harder and harder to focus on writing, even though I think any distraction at this point would be an improvement over fretting about the new political reality in America.

Even Thanksgiving this year has been hard to motivate for.  I kept saying to Neil that we should just go out for Chinese or Indian food, but in the end decided to cook and have some friends and relatives over.  Bonding with loved ones seems more important than ever these days.

So what to make?

As much as I like all the traditional foods that we associate with this harvest festival I find more and more I prefer to spice things up.  In the past few years what that means is to make what I like to call: Thai Turkey.  I make a big wok full of vegetarian Pad Thai,this recipe calls for broccoli, lately I’ve swapped it for Chinese broccoli or even sometimes Bok Choy which I serve as a side dish.  I like it when the Pad Thai acts as a canvas and people can add things to it as they like.

I don’t buy a Turkey, but rather 2 or 3  turkey legs and 1 breast. This way you don’t have to over cook the breast because the legs need more time and it can all be done well in advance.

I do this early in the day and when the meat has cooled sufficiently de-bone it and serve it on a platter with the Chili Dipping Sauce: Nam Jeam Jeaw.  Funky, Spicy with just the right kick of heat.  Traditionally served with roast chicken, sticky rice and green papaya salad.

Instead of the papaya salad I make brussels sprouts in a vinaigrette redolent of fish sauce.

Regardless of what you are making for Thanksgiving you will want to have this dipping sauce in your fridge. It keeps for ever and can be refreshed after a couple of weeks with some more mint and scallions. Oh and did I say it goes great with Turkey?

Nam Jeam Jeaw

In a small cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat toast 2 teaspoons of raw Jasmine rice (or any other long grain rice you have on hand).   Roast until the grains turn a deep golden brown.  Transfer to a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) to cool, then process until a fine powder and pour into a medium bowl

In the same skillet toast 15 dried red Thai chilies until they are slightly colored and fragrant no more than a minute. Coarsely crush the chilies with the mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) add the ground chilies to the rice powder. Stir into the dry ingredients: 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce, the Juice of 2 limes, 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped mint leaves, 1 scallion finely chopped mix to incorporate.

Trust me once you make this it will become your favorite condiment.  It keeps in the refrigerator for ever, as it ages the heat mellows.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers and to every one else have a great week, and remember you don’t need a special occasion to make dinner and share it with friends and loved ones.

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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