Thai Inspired Bento
Cooking for twelve presents it's whole new challenges than cooking for six. You can't do a recipe that calls for caramelized onions in one go, in my home kitchen you'd be steaming said onions not caramelizing them. Instead of one stock pot poaching chicken, now you have two. Sure cooking for six is easier than cooking for one, but cooking for twelve becomes cooking everything twice. Normally this is not an issue, I like challenges, unfortunately cooking for twelve has turned into standing for hours of prep, cook, plating, photos, and finally cleanup. This presents a challenge and is re-injuring an old injury for me that I'm not letting heal week after week. In a commercial kitchen you have staff, but here it's only little ol me. If I include soup that's 90 portions of food i'm preparing and since most of my folks have enough to eat over two days it's more like 180. I'm not whining, I'd do it in a heartbeat if not for being on crutches or my pimp cane (it's got a dragon head for a grip) for the rest of the week. So it is with great regret I must take a small hiatus until my doctor can give me direction on what to do. (two weeks so it's not really all that bad I'll try to put up some intermediate posts)
Today's bento came from a lot of Thai influences probably because I just went to a great local Thai restaurant last week. I love Thai food. the spices, the curries, and of course the fusion of cuisines from their neighbors makes this a fun one to cook. In the interests of not being on a cane or crutches tomorrow, I decided to fuse Thai influences on the easiest things I could produce. I still spread the work over two days to minimize injury but hopefully my humble offering still taste good.
We'll start with the pork tenderloin. I've said it in the past, this is possibly the most cuisine adaptable food on the planet. No exception tonight. I used soy sauce, fish sauce, galanga, and bevy of seasonings to produce a tasty Thai influenced marinade and dropped a few tenderloins in. The result was awesome. I did rotations in the oven to make sure that the pork was cooked consistently, the resulting pan sauce was a great balance between salty and sweet definitely an asian taste there. I can't speak highly enough of pork tenderloin, it's cheap, it holds up well under marinade, it takes no time to cook, and "it's the other white meat".
I had a nice pack of soba noodles that I had been meaning to do something with and today seemed like a good day to break it out. Problem is, soba noodles are Japanese in origin. A nice spicy peanut based sauce comes to the rescue. I used a peanut sauce I had for a satay dip and just expanded on it a bit with some soy, chili and sesame oil. I may have laid it on a bit thick, but the tasty sweet sauce was a great Thai splash to the noodles I think. If I had to do it over, I'd probably lighten up on the sauce, but if you eat it with the pork it'd be just right.
EDIT: This recipe was requested you can find it here
This is a dish I found on a Thai food blog that resembles the japanese dish Chawanmushi. This is a finiky dish to prepare, it's basically a steamed egg custard. Cook it too short and it's not done and too runny. Cook it too long and it over rises and falls like a bad souffle because you develop air pockets in the custard. I think I managed to get it just right with my new steamer. Usually in a traditional Japanese Chawanmushi you have shitake mushrooms dried shrimp and a dashi base. The Thai version called Khai Toon Puk, it includes Chinese long beans, carrots, and green onions cooked in a chicken broth base. I think next time a bit of fish sauce might have helped this one along.
Finally for dessert I pulled together a simple Mango pudding. It uses gelatin to get it's body, a simple mango puree and bit of sugar and we're done. Can't ask for simpler than that. I liked the fresh tastes that the mango puree brought. It has a fresher taste compared to what you think of as pudding. Upon tasting this morning, I think i'd forgo the gelatin, although it gives it more body, I simple puree with coconut milk to thicken is enough, still good but I'm not happy with the texture. I have a bit to share for left overs if anyone wants some :) This won't be the last thai based box to make, there's so much to explore that I'll have to do another.
This was indeed a simple box to create, I did spread it over two days, but at least I can still walk.
I'm bummed that my hobby is causing me pain. I'm hopeful that this two week hiatus will clear things up and I can return (with fewer eaters) to the blog. I've got a foodie event this week so there will be another post and I'm sure there's some amount of stuff I can yammer about to keep you all entertained.
- Thai Marinated Pork Tenderloin
- Soba Noodles in Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Khai Toon Puk
- Mango Pudding