Number 5 – Learn to cook Thai

Today I stocked up on the basics. Having gone through my recipe books last night, I made a list of all the ingredients I need to make any or all of the sauces, dressings, pastes and stocks within. What I failed to note were the main ingredients (meat, vegetables and rice/noodles). Thus, when it came time to cook, I found I had nothing but herbs, spices, leaves, roots and an assortment of other strange ingredients no more substantial than a herbal tea. At 9:30 we sat down to eat – two stuffed baby capsicums each (not particularly Thai I know, but for want of other ingredients…) supplemented by a single cob of corn and an individual-sized serve of pumpkin soup.

I  have, however, made a cumin-coriander crema  and a bastardised version of fish stock (a.k.a. chicken) for Tom Yum Goong which, I am assured, will taste better tomorrow.

***

It didn’t. Or perhaps it did but it was still bloody awful.

Tonight’s recipe comes from Cafe Pasqual’s, Spirited Recipes from Santa Fe, which is actually more Thai-inspired than it sounds.

Pan-seared salmon with roasted cumin-coriander crema and chipotle salsa, sans the chipotle salsa (and substituting chicken for salmon).

Having spent way too much on the basics, I was reluctant to fork out any more money on ingredients that had no further use past one dish. In a serendipitous turn of events, my father, who is dating a woman originally from Mexico, had a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce sitting on his kitchen table – exactly what I need for the salsa. Never before have I heard of this until last night, and then today…

So tonight I will cook pan-seared chicken with roasted cumin-coriander crema and chipotle salsa.

***

After spending many, many precious hours in the kitchen with little to show for the effort except a few strange-tasting concoctions which inevitably end up down the drain or in the bin, depending on consistency (because even the dog won’t touch them),  and discovering that I am unable to follow someone else’s recipe with any degree of success, I am returning to the original idea of creating my own signature dish. This, I imagine, must be one’s own concoction, and ideally created using ingredients that one would commonly find in one’s own kitchen.

I take a brief inventory of what is in my own.

Flour – usually (and only) enough to thicken a sauce
Black olives —  three or four swimming in a jar of vinegar
Vinegar – with a few stray olives swimming around
Grapes clearly on their way to becomming raisins
Garlic that has begun to sprout
Sprinkles (from several almost-empty packets that spill out and decorate my cupboard shelf)
Mint jelly – who bought that anyway and how long ago (and perhaps, more importantly, why can’t I bring myself to throw it out)?
Frozen peas that double as an ice-pack
Capers – how long do they last?
The remainder of the wholemeal pasta I tried once and thought I would attempt again when the original memory has faded
A dented can of tomatoes

I can now add to that:

Fish Sauce
Tamarind Paste
Two dried stalks of lemon grass
Sambal oelic
1/4 lime
A shrivelled knob of ginger
Palm Sugar
Chipotle chillies in adobo sauce
Dried galangal
Once-fresh Kaffir lime leaves
A variety of ground seeds

None of which I know how to throw together to produce anything other than the colour brown.

Perhaps I’ll just try baking a loaf of bread.

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