Saturday, September 12, 2009

Taste Overload!!!...... Whoa! Must be Las Vegas......

I've finally decided that I need to go back to some kind of schedule. All this moving around has left my world disordered and chaotic.(I kind of like the chaos part as I shall explain.....

I'm a friend of chaos as well as mathematics or I wouldn't have studied the subject, yet the definition of this term applies so well to my life that I have to comment on it:

Chaos theory
is a branch of mathematics that studies the behavior of certain dynamic systems (namely Me!) that may be highly sensitive to initial conditions. This sensitivity is popularly referred to as the "butterfly effect" (no, I don't mean the movie, ok?) As a result of this sensitivity, which manifests itself as an exponential growth of error, the behavior of chaotic systems appears to be random (once again, me, me, me). That is, tiny differences in the starting state of the system can lead to enormous differences in the final state of the system even over fairly small timescales. (you starting to see parallels here? now you understand why things get all out of whack!...) Giving the impression that the system is behaving randomly (and I don't mean being psychotic either...) This happens even though these systems are deterministic, which means their future dynamics are fully determined by their initial conditions with no random elements involved. (what? no randomness? we're predictable? that's almost death!) This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply "chaos" (aka Belina

I'm also sure I'm not the only one drawing similarities here either.... it's just the way this has all been laid out. It has also been said that another explanation for the randomness of chaos can be explained with the popular saying: "Why God throws dice instead....", letting us know there's some dominoes being played someplace way up high over the rainbow.....

Anyway, so much for philosophizing, ok? Onward to more important subjects like food where we have a touch more control...... plus it just tastes better. What better place to apply the random chaos theory or God playing dice than good old Lost Wages? Then use the result and add tasty food into the mix? This is a total AHA! moment folks..... truly. I bow to karma and continue on the path to enlightenment..... Ohm.....

Guess I've been doing too many things at the same time, huh? But I did have to report that after sometime of being immersed in traditional Mexican Food and then landing in Oz and hitting the sights while revisiting old haunts and favorite hang outs that I can once more come to appreciate this Twilight Zone, since culinarily speaking, it's really up here. Serious.

Amid the glitz and glamour you will find both big outfits and small Mom & Pop's ready to receive and impress you with their wares. Doesn't matter what your tastes run to, it's all here. Sometimes you will have to go on the hunt while others are right there where you are, but in all cases the scavenger hunt is well rewarded. This week I revisited a most excellent Thai Food temple owned by some old neighbors of mine who produce some of the best, fresh Thai food at the most reasonable prices anywhere. While the place is a dive (I love these!) and doesn't have anything to show, once the food comes out of the kitchen you won't even look at the funky decor. Thai BBQ has 2 outlets and both are excellent.

Here's some of their offerings (as I watch their great aunt cook them in the kitchen over the biggest woks you've ever seen).... steam, oil spatters, fish sauce and unintelligible language all come together to perfect the spices..... they make me some dishes that aren't even on the menu and each and every time I am delighted! YUM!

Thai Wings of Angel or Stuffed Boneless Chicken Wings.- A very popular dish beloved by many that we like as appetizers.... Can be done sweet, salty or very spicy- your choice and might be labor intensive but worth the work:

1/2 kg chicken wings
1 cup ground pork or chicken
1 cup ground or minced shrimp
1/2 cup mushrooms and grated carrots
1 cup bean thread noodles
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp corriander root

Sauce: Optional
This is for the sweet sauce and I think it needs to be cooked to reduce the water and have the sugar thicken. If you want spicy, add more chopped garlic and Thai hot sauce.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chopped red chilli

Debone chicken wings leaving the wing tip intact, while removing the chicken meat and leaving the skin. Mix all ingredients together. Stuff each wing with mixture. You can always fold over the end flap of skin and secure it with a toothpick.
Deep fry until golden and cooked. Let cool. Slice across each wing into pieces and serve with hot and sweet chilli sauces.
Thai BBQ Ribs.- This special Thai Barbecue Ribs recipe turns out tangy-sticky good! Based on Chinese barbeque ribs, this Thai version is even more flavorful and tender. The marinade/bbq sauce is very easy to stir together, then just grill up the ribs for a special dinner treat everyone in the family will love. These ribs also makes for a great party finger food. ENJOY!

1.5 lbs pork ribs, back or side
4 Tbl oyster sauce (I used Golden Dragon brand
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl fish sauce (available in tall bottles at Asian food stores) or make your own
1 Tbl black Chinese vinegar (or substitute regular white or apple cider vinegar)
1 Tbl dark soy sauce
1/4 cup syrup (I used agave syrup) you can use any kind
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
Optional: 1 fresh red chili, minced, OR 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 1-2 tsp. chili sauce (to taste)
Garnish: 2 spring onions, finely sliced

Cut the ribs into easy-to-eat segments and place in a large bowl. Place all remaining ingredients (except the garnish) together in a sauce pan. Stir well to dissolve the syrup. Pour half of this sauce over the ribs. Stir well to coat and place ribs in the refrigerator to marinate 15-20 min (or up to 24 hours).

Cook ribs over a med-hot grill, brushing over any leftover marinade from the bottom of the bowl for the first couple of turns. Grill until well done (meat near the bone should be white for very light pink). Tip: Med heat for a longer period is better, otherwise the ribs may burn on the outside while remaining uncooked on the inside. Warm up the reserved sauce and serve together with the ribs (this sauce is excellent over rice). Sprinkle the spring onion over the ribs and ENJOY!

Note: Oven Instructions: If the weather doesn't cooperate, place marinated ribs in a covered casserole dish. Bake 45 min at 350. Then transfer ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush with some of the reserved sauce and place the sheet under the broiler. Broil 5-7 min, or until ribs are dark and sticky on the outside and tender inside. Warm up the remaining sauce and serve together with rice.

Thai Mango Sticky Rice.- This easy Thai dessert starts with Thai sweet rice (also called sticky rice) which is surrounded by a "bath" of coconut milk, then topped with slices of fresh (or frozen) mango. If you like mangos, you're going to love this very simple but tropical dessert. Mmmmm!

1 cup Thai Sweet Rice (also called "sticky rice", or short grain rice)
1 3/4 cups water
1-2 ripe mangoes, cut into bite-size pieces (look for mangoes that are fragrant and easily bruised), or 1 pkg frozen mango, thawed
1/4 cup sugar or whatever you like
1 can good-quality coconut milk
1/4 tsp. + pinch of salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Soak the sweet rice in 1 cup water for 20 min, or up to 1 hour. The sticky rice can be steamed or made in a pot. To make it in a pot, do not drain. Add 3/4 cup (more) water to the rice, cook until rice is tender.

Take the can of coconut milk, sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir this into the hot rice, lifting any rice grains that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cover with a lid and leave to "steam" cook for 5-10 min. Rice will be creamy and will firm up. You can use right away, or store the rice (covered) in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

Toast the shredded coconut until it begin to get golden brown. Add to the warm rice and toss.
Add slices/pieces of ripe fresh mango. (If using frozen mango, be sure to give it enough time to thaw before serving. You can make a bed of mango and top with the rice or mix it in with the rice, your choice.

Portion out into serving bowls, making sure everyone has equal amounts of rice, mango, and sauce. Enjoy!
So much for this week's adventures and still have so much more to get organized before I can feel done. No rest for the wicked, whoo hoo!
Sending everyone good vibes, hoping this late summer shines on everyone while we take advantage of these last days of summer warmth before the first cooling temps begin.... Take care all and talk soon......

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