My go to cuisines are French and Italian, probably because of my undying love of cheese and butter, and the fact that these are what my parents, who both taught me how to cook, generally tended towards. This year I want to branch out and cook different types of cuisine, specifically various Asian cuisines. I started a little bit last year, cooking some recipes from 660 Curries, an immense tome that Andrew bought for me years ago. He gave me an ultimatum…cook twice from this book before we move or else it’s going to Goodwill. As December of 2015, I had cooked exactly zero recipes from this cookbook, so I was a little freaked out. The thing that had stopped me thus far was all the sub recipes. For any given recipe in the book, no matter how simple seeming, there seemed to be at least three sub recipes. They ranged from simple, like garlic and ginger paste, to more complex spice mixes (there are 4 different kinds of garam masala you say?). Finally, one Sunday when I was feeling rested enough to tackle a couple recipes, I made some ghee (clarified butter, yo…not too complex), whipped up about 8 tablespoons each of ginger and garlic paste (most recipes call for one tablespoon of each so I froze the remainder), bought some generic garam masala (let’s not get too crazy here people) and I was off! Of course I picked two Indian takeout faves, Chicken Tikka Masala and Saag Paneer. It took about three hours in all and the flavor ended up being pretty close to some of my favorite Indian places…although I have a suspicion that many places add cream to their sauces (the recipes I used only called for the clarified butter) which really does give them that richness.
My Indian adventure happened in December and to continue my culinary education, I recently purchased Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes and on Saturday, in preparation for a party which required a decent foundation, I whipped up one of their fried rice recipes. Whenever I cook rice for a recipe, I usually cook more than it calls for and freeze the extra for just this type of situation. Fried rice is actually better with day old (or more if it’s been frozen) rice. The day prior, I defrosted about three cups of rice, made sure I had the ingredients (the “strangest” ingredient for this particular recipe was fish sauce, which I already had for some reason, kicking it in the back of the pantry) and 30 minutes later, we had some delicious fried rice. I have to say, I could get used to this! I’m not even missing the cheese and butter!