Tom Kha Gai

Tom Kha Gai (or Tom Ka Gai as I’ve seen it spelled) is a Thai coconut soup.  It’s quick.  It’s easy.  It’s fresh.  It’s simple.  It’s awesome.  Plus, the pot I made in this video, with over 1/2 stick of butter, 4-5T of heavy whipping cream, and 3 cans of coconut milk contains about 4,000 calories and a nearly unbeatable ratio of saturated fat to polyunsaturated fat.  Mainstream health might gasp at this, but they need to take a visit to Thailand to see the kind of obesity this soup and other rich curries is causing over there… um, none.   

Nutrition aside, this soup is literally the best soup I’ve ever made and had.  The theme of Thai cooking is to keep the flavors as bright as possible.  Cooking time is meant to be as minimal as possible to preserve the brightness – almost the opposite theme of other ethnic cuisines which rely on long stewing to create deep and subdued flavors. 

Anyway, you can find out more about this soup in 180 Kitchen or in the back issues of the 180 eZine, 180DegreeHealth Report.  It is  a must-make soup.  There’s a reason why a sick woman requested that I make it for her yesterday.  It’s the best thing ever. 

(Note:  At the end of the video I make mention of “my future mother-in-law.”  Don’t worry, I’m not engaged or anything.  Just making a joke… ladies).

Important Note:  Do not eat the lemongrass and ginger chunks.  They are just for flavoring.  It’s kind of annoying to have to pick them out as you eat, but that’s how Thai people do it so get used to it!     

Mushrooms

There’s a real technique to cooking mushrooms. Most people make the five tragic mushroom errors before the shrooms even have a chance to get warm. Those five errors are:

1) Washing the mushrooms with water.

2) Slicing them crosswise.

3) Adding the mushrooms to the pan before the pan is even hot.

4) Not using enough fat.

5) Crowding the pan with too many mushrooms.

By increasing the water content of the mushrooms while simultaneously increasing the surface area for cooking by slicing them thinly, a brown sear becomes a virtual impossibility. And the sear, people, is what making the perfect sautéed mushroom is all about.

So never wash mushrooms. If you see visible dirt, brush it off with your finger or a dry paper towel or custom mushroom brush (soft bristle toothbrushes work fine, but I’m just not that anal).

When you cut them, quarter them, so that all the mushrooms will be in direct contact with the skillet.

Do not overload the pan! Use either a bigger frying pan or fewer mushrooms, but never cook mushrooms more than 1 layer deep. You’ll see the single layer technique in the video.

Use plenty of fat, preferably from leftover meat searing or plain ol’ butter, and fry these puppies up. If you don’t use enough fat, they will kind of dry cook, not get brown, but instead get dehydrated. Make sure there is so much fat that even the great fat-sponge, the mushroom, cannot soak it all up.

Salt them well, and serve right away. A perfectly-cooked mushroom does not need the help of garlic or onion, which can actually pollute and overpower the clean taste of a pure, plain, mushroom. Because the mushroom is the ultimate fat sponge, it is a fantastically delicious accompaniment to many savory meals. And the mushrooms don’t exactly have to be white truffles to be good. The plain, white button mushroom or crimini can be turned into a culinary delicacy when cooked just right. With this video, and the careful instruction on mushroom cookery given in 180 Kitchen, I hope you can get it down.

And for the Love of God – Don’t stir ’em or shake the pan too much!  Let them get brown before you even think about touching them. 

Palmer Popcorn

This one’s dedicated to my new favorite snack – brought up in 180 Kitchen, recipe #83.  This time, Aurora and I have gotten crazy and added a little nutritional yeast to our coconutty favorite.  Aurora, by the way, is the popcorn princess.  She makes it the best.  Her recipe.  Not mine. 

I must say, there is no finer use for coconut oil.  Say what you will about butter on popcorn, but a light, expeller-pressed coconut oil shatters my best friend butter.  It defies reason I know, but try it sometime, especially if you’re seeking out the metabolic advantages of coconut oil but have failed to find a way to consume it that doesn’t make you gag. 

In the following recipe, I:

1) Place a jar of coconut oil into hot water to liquefy it.

2) Cook about a half cup of Steinke’s heirloom popcorn (awesome) in an air popper.

3) Pour lots of coconut oil (5-6 Tablespoons), 2T nutritional yeast (optional), and some sea salt over the popcorn and mix it all up a bit. 

That’s about all there is to it.  Does anyone really not have time to do this at home?  Makes a great post-dinner snack.  Get’s that ol’ tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier where happy serotonin gets made and transformed into melatonin for a long, dreamy night’s rest. 

Enjoy.

Click on the pictures below to enlarge. 

Wilted Spinach

I’ve been getting back into having that side vegetable with my meals.  Fiber is no longer a foe of mine now that my digestion is so fluid, and the nourishment of a dark green vegetable is pleasing, especially when it adds so much to the overall meal in terms of flavor and texture. 

Of all the vegetable side dishes, wilted spinach is the quickest, easiest, and perhaps the most delicious.  You don’t have to wash it or cut it up prior to use like you do with other vegetables.  It is profoundly high in micronutrients such as Vitamin K (a valuable and rare substance in the modern diet).  It’s the perfect way to utilize some pan drippings from cooking meat, fish, or in this case – bacon.  If not, cook it up with a nice tablespoon of butter. 

Anyway, here’s me, my first online video, cooking up wilted spinach to accompany my breakfast of brown rice and oxtail stew the other morning.  Hope ya’ll dig it.  For more on wilted spinach, see recipe #69 in 180 Kitchen.

180DegreeHealth Kitchen Action

Oh it’s on!

The calorie slayer is live on wordpress, ready to throw down all things edible.

For starters, I’ll be posting tidbits here and there about my own personal diet.  From time to time we’ll get into some recipes and techniques, complete with instructional photos.  I’ll give you some choice links to some of my favorite things at what is hands down the best cooking website on earth at the moment – www. rouxbe.com  By 2010, I’m going to do some filming as well, getting into some excellent and 100% free cooking instruction to help you spank food’s ass like a pro. 

Welcome to the 180 Kitchen!  Get ready to splatter some grease! 

For a primer to the site, please read my February, 2009 eBook release: 180 Kitchen: 180 Tips, Recipes, and More.  Available HERE

For more on 180DegreeHealth, visit:

www.180degreehealth.com

www.180degreehealth.blogspot.com

Beef and Bleu

Bacon-wrapped ribeye with "melted" shallots, grilled asparagus, and Maytag bleu cheese