Wednesday cooking where I dip my toe into the Southeast Asian pool, attempting to give a flavor in this house not offered by Mrs. Ney. Small box, that.
Tom Ka Gai - Thai chicken soup - is seemingly the most basic of Thai food, almost like the club sandwich of Thailand, possessing many of the basic elements of the cuisine while not really blowing you away with oodles of originality or soul-crushing goodness. It's medium goodness and a bit ephemeral. But a good club sandwich can be a damn good thing.
This was that. After eating it, I understood why Thai people keep their face in the bowl. It's not about chasing individual bites and slurps. It's about chasing the combinations of bites as each one builds on another.
Paired with a dancing and delicately intense German riesling, we found a happy-slappy medium goodness. Would even make it again, just to figure out what makes this Thai chicken-coconut soup better.
Food: Thai chicken-coconut soup
Lemongrass, ginger, scallions, shallots, lime juice, red curry paste, cilantro and more cilantro, fish sauce, serrano peppers, chicken, mushrooms and rice noodles. Yes, please. I'll take a dozen to go.
Recipe here with modifications. Tons of ginger put in with the lemongrass in the first step. Touch more fish sauce. Three times the amount of red curry paste used (Golden Pacific has kaffir lime, galangal and Thai bird chiles super-cheap. Red curry paste has all of that ready to go). Other than that, the recipe was followed to a tee, even if a longer simmer seemed warranted. Served over rice noodles that needed a minute later but were nonetheless good.
The result was a bright yet intense coconut broth with layers of flavor galore. The broth could have been served as a shooter. Fine enough mushrooms and chicken, cooked nicely but was never stood out. Mid-level goodness everything with the added fresh bonus on top of scallions, cilantro, lime juice and serrano peppers. Having never been to Thailand, I can't speak to its authenticity. Only that this food tasted honest and delicious with great integration and pops of heat and freshness everywhere. Oh, and if you think this meal might not be substantial enough, read the fat content of coconut milk. Geesh!
Maybe wasn't something we'd randomly crave but overall fine and good with elements of "Crap! This is kinda great!"
The wine had the dance moves to bring a strut to the meal.
Wine: 2010 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese ($25 - WDC)
Had this one at a Yusho dinner with Mr. Selbach himself last year and loved-loved-loved it. Can't pin this one down. Just when I thought I got its personality, it changed. Jumps and jives defined the body and progression. Delicious peaches, limes and smoky basket of other fruits with medium minerals but this one had the lilting riesling goodness at every turn, taking the modicum of sugar and ripeness of the grape offered by its spätlese designation to fancy and jumpy levels, forming it into something that sorta defined "delicate, yet intense."
2010 in Germany has been described as the wildest in a long time. Nobody knew where it was going to go with the extremely low yields and gorilla-sized acidity. So far, in our limited exposure, they're freakin' great.
Pairing: Wouldn't say perfect by any means. Would say perfection didn't matter. This was quite good.
When a tiny loss of defined flavors occurred, the body and texture picked up the ball and ran with it, giving delicate yet firm sugar and a strength of resolve to counter the touches of heat found in the soup. Bouncy and delicious stuff. Missed a pause on a mineral-laced mid-palate that comes with great Asian food and riesling pairings but we were just fine.
More of an exploration into textural contrast but an extremely welcome exploration.
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