Shophouse is an architectural style often seen in South East Asian cities and towns in which the business is at the street level and the family quarters are in the back or upstairs. Business and family are only separated by thin cement walls and inevitably the two realms mix creating a unique retail experience. The retail experience that we are interested in is the dining and eating experience. To us, Thai cuisine is all about eating among the cacophony of family, friends, strangers and whoever happens to be nearby.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Burnt Rubber and Smashing Garlic

burning rubber Photo by Paula Bronstein

One of my colleagues once complained that the aroma emanating from the Thai restaurant next to his apartment smelled like "burnt rubber." Granted, he was a snooty Francophile that believed any garlic cooked past the shade of a Twinkie was considered burnt. However, frying garlic is integral to Thai cooking, as a condiment, in some nam prik, or just to get some sauteed veggies going. The most important part is using your mortar and pestle to smash the garlic. This method smashes it all flat so it will cook evenly, get crispy and not burn.
Yes, people still use the mortar and pestle. You hear it everyday in Anytown, Thailand for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The clunk, clunk, ponk, ponk goes on somewhere. It is an incessant sound that becomes white noise after awhile, like the sound of the motorbike ripping around. You hear it when your are lost in the alleyways or lost in the forest.
The cost of a decent granite mortar and pestle is comparable to a blender, but the mortar and pestle gives you a texture and taste that is incomparable. Come find out why at our Monday dinners at Licorous.
One final thing to add - be sure to follow the superstitious rules about the mortar and pestle concerning the female and male anatomy that state: don't store the pestle in the mortar, don't bang the pestle in an empty or dry mortar and wash it right away. Seriously.
not burnt rubber

1 comment:

  1. Another superstition I just heard is that potential parents-in-law judge the potential daughter-in-law on how she clunks her mortar and pestle. Is she strong and steady or wimpy and inconsistent.