My Favorite Food Items of 2011 from A to Z and Giveaways


S: Som Drinking Vinegar

pok pok som

Photograph from pokpoksom.com

I’m late to the scene. Chef Andy Ricker of the famed Pok Pok Restaurant, has been making drinking vinegar (น้ำส้มสายชูผลไม้พร้อมดื่ม) called Som (ส้ม meaning “sour” in regional/archaic Thai which I’ve explained in more words than perhaps necessary in my post on Kaeng Som) since 2005, but I’d only discovered it just a few weeks ago when a friend schlepped a few bottles all the way from Portland for me. “You’ve got to try these,” he said, and I gladly complied.

Has a love poem ever been written about vinegar? If not, perhaps one is in order. My favorite flavors are honey and tamarind; you may want to try them all out to see which flavors you like the most.

You can read about the story of Som Drinking Vinegar here, and order from their shop.

T: Turmeric (ขมิ้นสด)


Since my favorite Thai grocer has started carrying fresh turmeric this year, I’ve been using it like they all could disappear tomorrow.

Whenever I can, I mash up a 2-inch piece of fresh turmeric into a paste in my granite mortar and use that in place of the ground turmeric in Grandma’s very yellow chicken stew. I’ve also used it in the seasoning paste for my turmeric-roasted fish and Thai Southern-style grilled chicken.

I sometimes mix fresh turmeric paste with some yogurt and honey and make a facial out of it. It doesn’t make me pretty; I doubt anything does. But it sure makes my facial skin feel nice. That makes up for the fact that I look slightly jaundiced for half a day after each treatment.

U: Udon Noodles in Tom Kha Gai


I don’t know if I should like this. This would probably get some fusion-averse purists’ kang keng nai in a twist. But I’ve taken to adding udon, especially homemade udon noodles (ones I knead with my own two feet), to my Tom Kha Gai this year, and I really like it.

If you’re a fan of both food items, chances are you will like them together as much as I do.

V: Vareniki, Lazy (Ленивые Вареники)

Ленивые Вареники
Here’s another dish that I’ve made much more frequently in 2011 than ever before. It could be my way of coping with the fact that it’s been a while since I last visited Ukraine and Russia. I miss them. I miss the people. I miss the food.

Until I have a chance to set foot in that part of the world again, making the classic Ukrainian vareniki, or at least “lazy vareniki” (crisped in butter), will have to do.

W: Watermelon Rinds

water melon rinds
A few months ago, I prepared some watermelon rinds so I could take the photograph above to use in my post on Thai sour curry (Kaeng Som แกงส้ม). These watermelon rinds didn’t end up in a curry pot, however. I divided them into two parts: one part got turned into watermelon rind kimchi and the other was pickled overnight using the same method described in my post on how to make quick pickled radishes.

Watermelon rinds can be candied as well; I just haven’t had a chance to get that recipe from one of Mom’s old cookbooks out for a test drive. But all year long, my head has been full of ideas on what else to do with this crunchy, refreshing part of a watermelon.

Y: Young Tamarinds (มะขามอ่อน)


Tamarind is a plant that gives and gives and gives; every part can be used. Also, what would be of Thai cuisine without this source of acidity?

I’m sure all Thai food enthusiasts are familiar with mature tamarinds that we use to make tamarind pulp, but young/green tamarinds (as well as young tamarind leaves) are also frequently used to provide tartness to different dishes.

Young tamarind pods are a rare sight in the United States and just exactly how my favorite Thai grocer has managed to get them regularly has been a source of wonder for me. Needless to say, I’m overjoyed. If you find them in your area, get them while you can and freeze them. We’ll make a very tasty fried relish with them in 2012.

Z: Zucchini


I grew zucchini in my garden this year. Growing right along with it was my appreciation for this vegetable.

Zucchini’s unassuming taste makes it a versatile ingredient that can be used in dishes originating in places where zucchini is not native. Earlier this year, I made zucchini “fish” cakes in the style of Thai fish cakes (Tod Man Pla) and used zucchini in lieu of the more traditional angled gourd in Kaeng Liang (แกงเลียง), Thai mixed vegetable soup perfumed with lemon basil leaves and spiced with a pretty heavy dose of white pepper — a favorite home dish that very rarely appears on the menus of Thai restaurants overseas.

I’ve also used zucchini as a dairy replacement. But more on that later.

GIVEAWAYS!!

Giveaway #1: The folks at Thai Food Essentials will send one 5-cc bottle of their 5% kaffir lime leaf oil to 5 people (residing anywhere in the world).

Giveaway #2: Chef Andy Ricker of Pok Pok Restaurant will have one bottle (any flavor) of Som drinking vinegar shipped to one lucky person. This giveaway is limited to those living in the United States.

Giveaway #3: Temple of Thai will ship one set of six different pastes to 3 winners who reside in the United States.
The set includes:
One 500-gram package of red curry paste
One 500-gram package of massaman curry paste
One 500-gram package of green curry paste
One 500-gram package of panang curry paste
One 500-gram package of kari curry paste
One 500-gram package of roasted chili paste in oil (Nam Prik Pao)

Rules: To enter in any of these giveaways, simply share this post with your Facebook followers and post on my Facebook wall saying you have done so or share this post on Twitter (don’t forget to include @shesimmers, so I know). One Facebook update or tweet per giveaway. State in your Facebook update or tweet which giveaway you’re vying for. You can enter all three. In fact, I would love for you to be greedy.

The deadline for all giveaways is 11:59 pm CDT on Sunday, January 8th, 2012. The winners for all giveaways will be randomly chosen and announced in the comment area beneath this post within 72 hours after the deadline.

Disclosure: SheSimmers.com has received no benefits of any kind, monetary or otherwise, from the businesses mentioned in this post or participating in the giveaways.

20 Responses to My Favorite Food Items of 2011 from A to Z and Giveaways

  1. Tangled Noodle December 31, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    Looks like 2011 was a delicious year for you! Here’s wishing you an equally tasty 2012! 8-)

  2. Anonymous December 31, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    I will just use the opportunity to say how much I love this blog, and I hope 2012 will be just as good, or even better, than 2011. :-)
    Thanks!
    Daniel

  3. Bville Yellow Dog December 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    That Lime oil looks great. Ordered! If it tests out I won’t buy the tree I was considering. Indoor citrus in pretty hopeless. They always get spider mites and die inside in the winter.

  4. Anonymous December 31, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    “I” Isaan sausage at Tac Quick in Chicago. I completely agree with you. It is fantastic and my good friend Andy is the chef and part owner of the restaurant. TAC Quick is one of the best and most authentic Thai restaurants in Chicago. Thanks for posting.

  5. Anonymous January 1, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Leela, I’m interested in hearing more about your experience with the kaffir lime oil. Is it true as they say on the website that you don’t need more than a few drops? This stuff is pricey! But if you think it’s worth the money …

    Jeff

  6. Admin January 1, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    Jeff – I’ve found that, for my taste, I prefer to use more drops than recommended on the website. For example, to make about 2 cups’ worth of Tom Kha Gai, I use about 2-3 drops of the 5% oil; for the same amount of panaeng curry, I use twice as much.

    Could be a personal thing. I really like the scent of kaffir lime.

    Also — and thanks for asking this question because I should’ve said all this in the post — I’ve found that it’s best to add the oil to the dish *after* it has been cooked. This is not always possible; you can’t do this with deep-fried dishes such as Tod Man Pla (Thai fish cakes). But when it comes to panaeng curry or infused soups such as Tom Yam or Tom Kha, this works extremely well.

    I guess heat renders the oil less potent.

  7. Laura January 1, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    I tweeted because boy am I intrigued enthused excited to try the som vinegar. Fingers crossed! Also intrigued by the kaffir oil but would feel guilty winning it given that 3 limes just fell off my tree this weekend. ;)

  8. Kevin January 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    That is a lot of tasty looking food! Happy New Year!

  9. kita January 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I love this post. A lot of things perked my interest and I have a lot of open tabs now. I believe that eggo ice cream sandwiches are best with mint chocolate chip ice cream too. ;)

  10. Hyosun Ro January 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    You have a beautiful blog! This post on your 26 favorite food items is very interesting. Great job! My goal this year is to learn how to make pad thai from this blog. Wishing you the very best in 2012!

  11. OysterCulture January 2, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Whoa, that’s a heck of a list, you’ve inspired me to branch out as I’ve been in a culinary rut lately. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  12. brillsec January 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Loved this post! I can’t wait to try the kaffir lime leaf essential oil. I live in Alaska, 90 miles from the nearest Asian market; they do carry lime leaves, but the price has gone up from $3.00/half pound to $6 for 12 leaves! Yikes. So glad to hear there’s an alternative, because my family loves Tom Yum Gai.

  13. Rachel A. January 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    I just discovered your blog, and I am in love! I live in Atlanta, and have yet to find Kaffir lime leaves, even at some Asian markets… The idea of the essential oil is fantastic. Thanks for all of your hard work and inspiring me to branch out in the kitchen.

  14. Anonymous January 10, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    Happy New Year, Leela. Must make G and I immediately. Guess who got the new 17″ Lodge pan for Christmas. Major daily hint dropping did work this time. Love your list.

    Noosker

  15. Admin January 11, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    GIVEAWAY WINNERS:

    I have listed all the entries here. Then I’ve asked @DwightTurner, the man behind Eating Thai Food to randomly choose the numbers (he had NO idea what the numbers were for).

    His choices are as follows:
    For Giveaway#1: @brberliner, @sundevilpeg, @JMWeishaar, @abredro, and Anthony Robinson from my Facebook page.
    For Giveaway #2: John Weber from my Facebook page
    For Giveaway #3: @katraena9, Joseph Spacone from my Facebook page, and @JBudd451

    Thanks for participating, everyone!

  16. Rick January 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    That’s a great year end recap… eying that grilled pork again…

  17. Mikey September 1, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    Where can I find a recipe for the salad (the yam part?) that goes with yam khai yiao ma? I recently found a store where I can buy these eggs (stoked, been hoping to find them in my country after eating them many times in Thailand), and I want to learn some traditional ways to prepare them. Thanks.

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