Fall is coming on strong which means the holidays are just around the corner and that means office parties, social get togethers and lots of eating. For me that means firing up the kitchen at Wit’s End for more Thai cooking like today. Instead of meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop like usual my Thai Meetup group had a potluck meeting. Everyone had to fix a dish or bring something.
For this weeks blog I thought I’d share my culinary potluck adventure. This month things also means more cooking because in two more weeks it’s Halloween and I volunteered to make Pad Grapao Neua and Grapao Gai for our office Halloween potluck.
That’s the curse of being know as-
a. someone that can cook
b. can cook something exotic like Thai food and
c. is actually pretty dang good at it!
At least that’s what other people say about my cooking not me I swear! I haven’t had a customer dissatisfied yet, well, except for that time I had two friends over and one could not eat beef or anything spicy. So what did I serve, fiery Pad Grapoa Beef and Basil. I forgot I swear! But I still haven’t lived that down….
At work my department has meetings twice a month. These meetings aren’t the most exciting event in my day but they are pretty informative. Sometimes the boss has lunch catered but maybe that’s a bribe to make sure everyone shows up! So what do I do? As a glutton for punishment I offer to make Thai food for lunch at one of our meetings in December. Let’s see about 20 people, and knowing me I’ll fix at least five different dishes plus I have to get all this stuff from my house in Washington to my job in Maryland and I don’t own a car. Just like me to let my mouth write a check I have to figure out how I’m going to cash!
Today’s menu is way easier but I was running late getting started cooking this morning and be at the pot luck on time but you know I work best when I’m under pressure and some chaos going on. My secret is have everything I need to chop, pick, pluck or cut prepared ahead of time. This is how I managed to make two seperate dishes at the same time with a two hour late start and still be only an hour late. I also keep everything within an arms reach then I can stand in one spot and just pivot all day long.
You can never go wrong with Satay Gai or curry flavored chicken skewers. You can also never make too many ‘cuz trust me they’ll go fast! I like these because they are fairly easy to make just take a day or so to make them my way.
The recipe is simple, actually I cheat a little, buy the Satay mix and Satay peanut butter sauce in the package as you see here. Any decent Thai or Asian market will sell this since it’s a popular brand. You can follow the instructions or make it the way I do which is a little different but worth it. I learned this from an ex-faen who could make Satay beef that would melt in your mouth like butter! Oh man!
The Satay mix has two parts. Part A is the mix for the chicken and Part B is for making Peanut Sauce. I only use the mix for the Satay and buy the Peanut sauce in the jar. That’s UN-official Thai cooking to get it out of the bottle but I remember when I tried making it the authentic way and I don’t want my fire insurance to go up again. But enough yapping, let’s cook!
I do apologize for the photos some of them didn’t turn out the best since I was trying to cook AND take pictures at the same time. Wait till I get my mitts on a camera like Richards though, look out!
Here’s how you make Satay my way with these ingredients –
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons water
1 Part A of Satay powder mix
Mix together the Satay mix, oil, sugar and water per half-pound of chicken. Repeat these steps if making a pound or more of chicken. Stir all ingredients together well before adding chicken.
Cut the chicken into thin strips. Add the chicken to the mix and thoroughly mix it up to marinate by hand. This gets messy sometimes and that chicken is always cold!
Let the chicken marinate for several hours. I usually stick it in the fridge to sit overnight. This is the really messy part and also the most time consuming part to thread the meat onto the skewers. Plus that chicken is really cold after a night in the fridge! Brrr! Once your done it should look like this though not as messy as mine I hope.
I start grilling the Satay on my flat surface table top grill and while grilling baste the skewers with coconut milk, yummy! A heavy cast iron skillet comes in handy to press the skewers unto the grill so they cook more thoroughly.
Ta-DA! So far so good. This is also my secret weapon you saw in my first blog pic. It’s called a Tiffen and basically its a Thai farmers lunch pail. I bought it last year at the Thai market and it’s perfect for events like this. I can carry up to 4 dishes in one handy container. Cool huh? Next up-
Penang? Sure Thang!
*Groan* Ok, not my best effort but let’s see you rhyme something with Penang ok! I got this recipe off the internet at one of the best websites I know for cooking Thai food. The recipe is actually for making Penang Gai but since I was already making chicken Satay I changed things up to make the Penang with Goong, or Shrimp instead. I also added a couple of extra ingredients for some color and heat. Sounds poetic huh? Well this is the first time I’ve tried to make this before so let’s hope it turns out to be poetry good enough to eat! The ingredients are pretty simple
Half pound Shrimp, shelled and de-veined
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons Penang curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
sugar to taste
3 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
10-15 Thai basil leaves, finely shredded
Garnish with 2-3 Thai chilies
I wasn’t sure how many people would be at the potluck so I a pound of Shrimp to have plenty. I added sliced red bell pepper for color and Thai chilies for heat instead of using chilies for garnish. Garnish? Pish tosh that’s for wussies!
Shredding the Lime and Basil leaves by knife doesn’t work for me but a good pair of kitchen scissors work wonders! They cut faster and more accurately for ‘fine’ shredding. Consider that my ‘Wit’s Tip’ for the day lol.
I warmed the coconut milk but not to boiling. Add the Penang curry and let the oil and curry separate before mixing it into the coconut milk. This gives it maximum flavor or at least so the recipe says.
Add all other ingredients except lime and basil leaves. Add 2 Tablespoons of fish sauce and sugar to taste. Survey says? Just enough sugar to make that fiery taste sweet, there’s a combination for ya!
Let everything simmer so the curry and milk is absorbed into the Shrimp and thickens up. Almost in the home stretch now add the lime and basil leaves then stir fry a minute before serving.
With my Tiffen I can carry separate dishes in the top bunks and rice in the bottom bunks…sweet!
Everyone was waiting for me when I got to the potluck at my friend Dew’s house. I was getting hungry smelling my food in the cab on the way over! As expected the Satay didn’t last long and everyone loved the Penang, not too spicy but still with a bite. I thought about making Thai Tea also but just didn’t have time. My friends also made Laab Gai, Pad Thai, Pork and Lemon grass and fried bananas so I had no problem getting stuffed. In fact there were no leftovers which is always a sign the cook did good.
I wanted to take some pics of the pot luck for this blog but it’s funny how folks disappear (flee?) when you pull out the camera and announce your taking pics to go on the internet. After eating Vut kept asking about desert. At first I didn’t pick up on the hint I thought he just had a good ole Thai-American appetite for some sticky rice and mango. Boy was I fooled as a surprise they had gotten a cake for me for my belated birthday! Thanks guys, I was totally caught off guard which doesn’t happen often trust me! I had a great day with friends, fun and good food. May all our Meet ups be this good.