Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Hands Were Thai-d.

"So you've made this before?"

"Kinda, Whitney and I made something like this."

"But you have a recipe."

"Well yeah, but mostly I used it for rough list of what to buy. I'm making a lot of it up..."

"Oh... well you know I want to put this on the blog, I mean it's pretty exotic. I've never even had Thai food. How much of that sauce did you put in?"

"Um... whatever is gone from the bottle?"

"O..k... and the soy sauce?"

"I'd say like, 8 long drips?"

"I don't think a 'drip' is a standard measurement."

"Probably not..."

"Err... Erin, look, the point of this blog is somewhat just to log our escapades, but also the idea is that a person would be able to remake a recipe themselves based on what we write... Have you measured anything?"

"No. I put about a fifth of the bottle of cayenne pepper sauce in though. That is sorta a measurement?"

"I can't cook with you anymore."


Matty, we miss you.

The Conquistadors, or Conquistador + guests, have been at it again folks! This time the undertaking was something truly exotic - Thai food.

Now I, dear readers, have never experienced Thai food. I realized how astoundingly hard to believe this must be given the culinary expertise exhibited on this blog regularly, but alas, Thai has not previously been part of my repertoire. All I know about Thai food is that it is supposedly peanut-y and spicy.

If that is truly all it takes for a Thai dish to be wildly successful, then hold your hats and try not to fall out of your seats - this one's an award winner.

That is, if you can actually make it.

As you may have effectively gleaned from the introduction to this wonderful post, we had some... issues with the bookkeeping. My lovely guest Erin was the chef de cuisine for this meal and apparently they teach cooking a little bit different in the far-off, secluded land of Indiana.

It was her opinion that food is to be made in the moment - a rough idea of ingredients and process and an adventurous spirit is all that it takes to make a memorable dish. This is a commendable idea to be certain; the Culinary Conquistadors exist not because of our years of training in the crafting of food, but because of our desire to submit to good old-fashioned trial and error. This approach to cooking, unfortunately, has two side effects. The first is that you, the reader of this laudable blog, have very little information to go off should you wish to re-create this dish, and secondly it seems that the less you follow directions, the spicier food becomes.

This second point may merit further research.

Anyhow, as things stand I will do my best to relay to you at least what ingredients were used and will post a link to the recipe on which this creation was roughly based... I wish you the best of luck should you attempt to follow our path.


Our Ingredients
- Creamy Peanut Butter
- Red Bell Pepper
- Green Bell Pepper
- Soy Sauce
- Spicy Thai Chili Sauce
- Garlic (cloves)
- Paprika
- Chili Powder
- "China Bowl Five Spice Powder"
- Classic Olive Oil
- Sweet & Hot Mustard
- Large can of Tyson chicken
- Small can of Tyson chicken
- Brown Sugar
- Spring Roll Skins
- Red Onion
- Cayenne Pepper Sauce
- Lots o' TLC

I won't attempt to place any measurements on any of these ingredients as, to be honest, they'd be wrong. The assembly itself wasn't too difficult. Before starting, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Next, mix everything (that isn't the spring roll skins) in a medium mixing bowl. Start with the peanut butter, add peppers, garlic (pressed), sauces, and spices, then chicken last. Be tasting the mixture as you progress, deciding on level of spiciness. Be aware, my fingers (24 hours and at least two-showers of scrubbing later) still smell like garlic.

Peanut butter seems to absorb spiciness from things such as chili powder, pepper sauce, or thai chili sauce, but baking seems to lessen the mitigating effect of the peanut butter. For this reason you may want to continually augment the mixture with more spicy additions, but be aware that the final product will probably end up slightly spicier than the pre-cooked mixture. I don't claim to understand the physics. I blame oils.

Once your mixture is "up to snuff", lay out your spring roll skins (or any sort of asian wraps ought to work). The Vietnamese wraps we used were made of rice starch primarily, and were extremely brittle... You honestly couldn't tell they weren't ultra-thin plastic circles. For this reason they will break when you try to bend them. The solution, we found, is to take the wraps and wet them beforehand... we rotated the wraps in a large salad bowl of water to give them pliability.

Take a wet wrap, place it on a plate. Take some of the filling-mixture you just created and place a line of it off-center atop the flat wrap: maybe an inch-wide line of mixture, about three inches long would be good. Take the edges of the wrap and fold it burrito-style. Here is an explanation I found on how to do this. Lay the filled rolls on a butter-coated baking sheet (will help prevent sticking). We made enough to comfortably fill one sheet with some space between the rolls (as a point of reference). Place the sheet in the oven, and begin cooking. I am unsure exactly how long we left ours in for, but check them periodically every 5 minutes or so after the first 10 minutes to check temperature and whether they seem to be baked.

Once you remove them from the oven the rolls should be ready for consumption - don't worry if they aren't pretty... they aren't really supposed to be. We chose to pour some of the extra Spicy Thai Chili sauce to garnish the rolls / for dipping; I would recommend trying this as I thought it worked out well IF you want it extra spicy. Otherwise you may want to skip it.

The final result was good, tasted much like I believe it was supposed to, just bowel-shakingly spicy given our zeal for heat. To be quite honest there is a high likelihood of your digestive system being in a bit of disarray after this one. Here is the link to the real recipe. You'll note that it is clearly not at all what we produced, but should give you an idea of some of the measurements.

Erin, unfortunately, had to head back to Indiana today, but she did succeed in leaving us a "recipe" and a lesson: "winging-it" can lead to a positive outcome!

With the return of Matty on Monday our culinary team will once more be complete. Best of luck on this recipe and try not to burn off ALL of your tastebuds... more concoctions (and hopefully more witty writing) will abound in the near future!

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