Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kitchen Conundrums

Lately I've been exploring a career as a kitchen detective. People tell me about (or let me taste) recipes that just didn't work out. If I question them long enough, I can find that elusive detail that explains why.
My brother was obsessed with making shrimp the way my mom makes it: spicy, savory, Indian style. The ingredients were simple: garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, red pepper. He spiced up his shrimp and cooked it up and was sorely disappointed (this ironically probably makes my mom happy). We discussed the process - maybe he could try more marinating time - and the proportions - too much turmeric perhaps? Finally I discovered that he had been using ground ginger instead of fresh, or at least bottled ginger. No no no! Here's an easy rule to follow: for baking, use ground ginger. For everything else, especially on your proteins, use fresh ginger. (Bottled ginger can be substituted for fresh since it's hard to keep fresh ginger...well, fresh.)
Usually recipes gone bad can be fixed by the quality of ingredients. Peanut butter bars taste bad? How old is the peanut butter in your cupboard? Peanut butter, and other nuts can go bad and although they won't make you ill, they won't taste good at all. Keeping them in the fridge will help.
Be careful about what you cook with. A friend made some Thai curry and stored the extra fish sauce in the cupboard. The next time she made the same curry, it had a strong fishy smell and she was wise not to eat it. Fish sauce is not optional - it must be stored in the fridge! Smell things before you use them and when in doubt, throw it out.

1 comment:

  1. This entry is a grievous misrepresentation of your brother's cooking ability. Fresh ginger is for chumps. If you can cook well with ginger powder like me, that's a sign of real skill. Skillz.