Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Going Shopping - Amaya Oriental Market

We do most of our shopping at the co-op where Matt works.  However, we were pretty excited when our buddy, Josh, clued us in about the fact there is a dedicated Asian grocery store here.*  Amaya Oriental Market is, unfortunately for me, located pretty much across town, but none the less Matt and I made a jaunt up to the heights recently to check it out.

We were very pleased with the excursion, too, I must say.  There were loads--and I mean loads--of things that I've not seen for sale anywhere locally--brands and products.  There were brands from China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and more.  There was liver paste in a can (no thanks) and giant bags of dried galangal.  There were frozen ducks and cans of vegetarian sausage.  We had to restrain ourselves from buying an absurd amount of noodles.  There were noodles I'd never even heard of before!  We bought some that are made from tapioca...no wheat or rice involved.  We picked ourselves out a fantastic little treat for the drive home--coconut rolls--which were akin to a light butter cookie (Matt says a krumkake), but made out of coconut and palm tree-like shrub called pandanus.  Again, I'd never even heard of it before.
The Haul:  A can of toasted coconut water, two styles of rice noodles, coconut rolls, black bean sauce, fermented black beans, yellow curry paste, red curry paste, canned vegetarian sausage and vegetables, two styles of rice noodles, a pack of chili lime raman, dried shiitakes, saffron, tapioca noodles.
There were certainly products in there that I'd avoid either because they're made from animals (lots of fish and pork) or loaded with preservatives and other things I cannot pronounce, but there was plenty that was totally up my alley.  We got a yellow curry paste that was just divine--and made of ingredients I could totally picture such as lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, etc.  It is fantastic with breakfast potatoes--about a hundred times better than the rather generic (but widely available) Thai Kitchen brand we've bought in the past.  We got a can of salted black beans because we'd never had them and they periodically pop up in our Asian cookbooks.  I bought a can of coconut water with toasted bits of coconut swimming around in it.  They sell this sort of drink at Siam Thai, but I'd never considered that it might be a Thai equivalent to a can of soda.
This is the Cha'i Cha'rng (wheat-based sausage with bamboo shoots and various mushrooms) from the can on the left in the photo below.  We tossed it with rice stick noodles (also from Amaya) and Spicy Garlic Toss.
We got the most ridiculous bargain on saffron.  I admit it is likely not the highest grade, but still!  Beautiful golden saffron!  There were also a bunch of different mushrooms.  We got a substantial bag of dried shiitakes for like $3.  It was crazy.

The woman working was very friendly and helpful.  The computer system was down and she was adding up everything with a pad and pen.  She didn't seem at all ruffled by this.  There was a TV in the corner playing some foreign-language program.  That was interesting, too.  We're not known as a real diverse community, but more so than one might think, I guess.
*Note:  For years we've been aware of a small shop, of sorts, in the backroom of our favorite restaurant, Siam Thai.  They sell the products they use in cooking at the restaurant--rice noodles, curry paste, tapioca, fish sauce, etc.  We hit it up every time we visit Siam Thai, though the selection is a bit limited.  It always feels a bit weird to me, too, just making my way into the backroom, stepping around the vacuum or whatever else is stored back there, and poking around on the shelves.  I always feel obligated to ask first.  I can't just bring myself to barge into the backroom of my own direction.  Don't get me wrong.  The Siam Thai Market is totally cool, just with a pretty narrow scope.  It is a Thai market, not an Asian market, and a pretty tiny one at that.  It is much more conveniently located for me though.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Raspberry and Currant Jam

We had a great season for berries last year.  Our best yet.  We ate all of the strawberries and a lot of raspberries, but popped a few bags of raspberries and currants in the freezer for later.
Months later--last week to be exact--we were down to our last couple jars of jelly/jam.  Matt pulled the fruit from the freezer, thawed it, and made up a couple batches of some extraordinarily tasty jam.  One batch was a blend of raspberry and currant.  The other was just plain ol' raspberry, which always make me think of my grandma.  It is still not as good as Grandma's raspberry jam (what is?!), but pretty dang close.
After comparing a half dozen recipes from our various canning resources, Matt opted no to use any pectin this time.  Instead he just simmered the fruity concoction down until it was as thick as he wanted.  It has set perfectly and we've already eaten an entire jar.  At Bunco last week I made an applesauce cake and served each slice with a dollop of jam on top.  It was so simple and scrumptious I could hardly believe it.  I ate a second piece even.  I couldn't resist.
I'm so thankful we put in the berry patch pretty much first thing when we bought our house.  It will be five years years here in just a couple days.  Crazy.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Curried Breakfast Scramble With Mustard Seeds

Breakfast Potatoes are a pretty big deal around our house.  We love 'em.   We eat them a few time a week.  This is especially true when we've got freshly dug potatoes with that special, earthy flavor element that only comes from potatoes recently pulled from the earth.  When they're fresh we hardly do anything to them.  Diced and pan-fried in a splash of oil with just a pinch of salt.  When the potatoes are getting older--either because they came from the store or because they were dug from our garden months ago--I like to play around with some variations on the Breakfast Potato theme.  This is one of my new favorites.
Curried Breakfast Scramble With Mustard Seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large potato (or a couple small ones), chopped
4 oz-6oz extra firm tofu, crumbled
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 t whole mustard seed (any color or a combination will work)
2 t curry paste (any color will work)
1/2 t salt
1/4 - 1/2 t ground turmeric

1/4 t black pepper
oil, for frying

Put a tablespoon-ish of oil in a skillet.
Add chopped onions and potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they're almost fully cooked.
Add remaining ingredients and continue to cook until potatoes are completly tender.
Serves two.

If you prefer your garlic mellowed out a bit you can cook the garlic along with the onions and potatoes, but I like to add it at the end to maximize that awesome garlic flavor.

The turmeric doesn't really add much in the way of flavor, if you ask me, but I think the golden color it imparts just really seals the deal.