Sunday, May 29, 2011

Asian Menus Verdicts

The month of May is almost over. Can you believe it? They say time flies when you're having fun. I can agree to that, especially now that I'm having fun in the kitchen! Awhile back you may have read my post about trying to cook some Asian dishes. As of today, all the recipes have been tried and tested, and here's how it all turned out.

The first recipe was for Coconut Curry Chicken that I found online. It sounded great, but the reviews didn't agree with what was in the ingredients, stating the taste was quite bland. With that in mind, I modified the recipe and added more curry among other spices, and used less of the saucy ingredients. My husband loved it, but I was "meh" on the flavors. The verdict: I'll make it again, but the recipe needs works. It did go great with toasted garlic naan bread, however. Here's what it looked like:

No wine pairing was tested because I decided to make it last minute, and it was a week night (not like that would have stopped me any other day!)
I think it would pair well with a Riesling or Gewurztraminer.

The first major 3 course meal I did using the slow cooker was on May 20 where I tried my hands at a Chinese themed menu, which ended up being 2 courses because it was a Friday and we were pressed for time for later plans with friends. I did a honey hoisin chicken in the slow cooker, using onions instead of sesame seeds, what I was originally going to do. My hubby makes a delicious veggie fried rice that he paired up with it. And I forgot to accompany all this with garlic stir-fried broccoli. Whoops! The rice is always good, so props to my man as usual! The chicken breast recipe I've tried before and is a keeper, especially with the onion substitution-it added great depth of flavor. The wine pairing was an unoaked Mondavi Chardonnay from Cali that I thought would show more sweet, fruity flavours, but instead had notes of butter and vanilla; tasting like it was slightly oaked! For dessert I whipped up some almond cookies. Originally I was going to try to do them a little more fancy, but they wound up being regular cookies. We had friends over later that night and they said they enjoyed the cookies (almost all were devoured!), so I'll consider that a pass where the wine pairing was an epic fail. The verdict: Tasty, and an easy dinner to whip up.

Next was Thai night on May 23, which is also the 7 year anniversary of my journey to Alberta. What better way to celebrate (and spend a rainy day indoors) than to cook a 3 course meal and pair it with my favourite Riesling, Cave Springs? I did a Thai beef curry in the slow cooker, and for lunch we had pork satays grilled on the barbecue. Although my husband loved the satays, I felt the sauce fell a little short and there wasn't enough for all the food on the skewers. I'll make it again because he loved them so much, but next time I'll double up the sauce. In my opinion, the curry fell flat on many levels-there wasn't enough spice, and to me the flavours didn't jive with what I consider traditional Thai food. However, the pairing worked wonderful with the sweetness of the Riesling and the acidity playing nice with the spiciness of both dishes! Dessert was Kluai Buat Chi, bananas boiled in sweetened coconut milk. While my hubby found the dish way too sweet, I loved it! Will do it again, but will tone down the amount of sugar called for next time. Paired well with the Riesling as well! Here's what it looked like:

The verdict: Outside of the dessert, I shouldn't quit my day job :P But the pairing proves that I'm learning something in Sommelier school!

Next up for the finale of the Biggest Loser, I cooked up Beef Madras, the recipe on the side of our bottle of red curry paste. I paired it with an Argentinian Malbec (more on that in a future post). My husband requested that I use twice as much curry paste as the recipe calls for, so I did, and boy were our mouths on fire for the duration of the show! It is the first time I've ever used naan bread for anything other than dipping-I had to use it solo to cool off my mouth between bites! And the wine didn't help because the Malbec was spicy and just re-ignited the 5 alarm blaze!
The verdict: I'll do this one again, but next time only use the amount of curry paste it calls for! I love spice, but I have my limits!

Finally, tonight was Indian night. I received a recipe for Chicken Tikka kebabs through the mail-another reflection that the best things happen by fluke. So I modified the recipe because I had some other ingredients to use up and served it on a bed of rice with a side of carrot sambal, another really spicy dish. Here's what they looked like:

The verdict: now that my nose has stopped running from all the spices, I must say that the best of the Asian dishes came out tonight, both the Tikka kebabs and the sambal (although I think the carrot dish is really a Thai side)! Next time I might style up the food for photos for aesthetic purposes.

Now that May is almost over and I have vacation coming up in June, I plan to take the month off. Maybe if I stay out of the kitchen for a little bit time will slow down and us Canadians can enjoy what little summertime we have!

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