Monday, January 10, 2011

Gaeng Som Pla or Sour Curry With Fish

I'm on a roll. Ten days in and things are getting pretty familiar. Gather, pound, mix, taste, etc. Maybe I'm diluting myself but over the last number of days I've cooked some of the best stuff that's ever come out of my kitchen. This is partly owing to the fact that I'm revisiting flavors I haven't really had in a couple of years, or maybe the newness of the process is getting me jazzed. Either way, each and every day it is a pleasure to spend some time in the kitchen and end up with a delicious dish.

However, there's this nagging feeling of soullessness to the whole thing. A few years ago while living in Bangkok I used to occasionally go try and watch some live music. I'd go see groups of young Thai men with shaggy hair, perfectly faded clothes looking the part of rock and rollers run through familiar American or British rock songs. They had the look and the general idea of the music but in the end it was usually mimicry and nothing more. It seemed rare that anyone was making any new music. And that's what I'm doing in my kitchen with the food this month. Much like the young men on stage in small cafes in Banglampoo running through 90's hits from Blur, Pulp, and maybe Oasis, I'm doing a  similar dance in my kitchen. I'm getting better with my technique and the interplay between ingredients, but at the end of the day I don't yet have it mastered to the point of doing anything different. I'm only involved in a dedicated practice of mimicry. For now, that is fine by me.

I made another delicious lunch today. On the menu was Gaeng Som Pla, or sour curry with fish. I seem to have developed a catfish addiction. I promise, it's the last time for a while.
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Gaeng Som is a dish I have always had a great fondness for. It is a strong, sour and spicy curry. My housemate remarked on the strong smell when he returned home from work and I knew that I must have done something right. It was reminder of why few Thai people either don't cook much at all, or only do it outside.

I feel that the above photo doesn't accurately show the gorgeous orange color of this curry, so here's a another shot.
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I really love this dish and I'm more than happy with being able to make it as good as this. But tomorrow is another day and another day means another dish and another chance at improving my skills. I just might make Khao Soi. See you tomorrow.

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