From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tongue Thai'ed

After raving about the new Thai restaurant (Tong’s Thai) that I lunched at last week, I was able to convince Kim and the girls to go there for dinner on Friday. (The whole, pre-made lasagna thing was just not going to work for us.)

I think that the reason I was able to convince everyone to go there was because they offer the standard Chinese menu as well as sushi, so for those unwilling to try something new, there were no worries.

Kim ordered the California roll (of course) and another roll that had fried fish in it. With that came an order of spring rolls and chicken Sa-Tay. Eleyna had a California roll minus the avocado, because she and I are both allergic to them, and Madison had her standard bowl of Egg Drop Soup. I was surprised just how much Kim enjoyed the sushi, calling her California Roll the best she had ever tasted. The chicken Sa-Tay, served on skewers, were marinated in coconut milk, curry and other spices, and they were served with a cucumber sauce and a light peanut sauce.

I ordered an item that was not on the menu; Duck Krapao. It was a spicy dish, with chopped duck meat served on a bed of zucchini, bell peppers, onions, green onions and fresh Thai basil. Unfortunately, because I was so full, after having enjoyed the Spring Rolls and the Chicken Sa-Tay, and the sushi, I was not able to fully enjoy the Duck Krapao. Thankfully, it made for good planned-overs.
It was amusing watching Eleyna and Kim pick at the water chestnuts that were sprinkled into my Krapao, because it was SPICY and it bit right back. Watching the stunned reaction from the two of them, after the peppers kicked in, was hilarious, because I had already had a chance to taste the dish. Both sets of eyes widened to the size of saucers, and what remaining water and tea were left was quickly downed.

For dessert? Another Bubble Drink, at the pleasure of our server. I advised him to pick one for me, but pick wisely. He brought one that was sort of greenish in color, and it tasted good. There was no dominant flavor, and as my tongue started tingling, I ended up having to ask what the main ingredient was. It was avocado. Uh oh… needless to say, Madi ended up finishing it for me.

Thai food has a reputation for being spicy, and such spice adds to its lore as well as its healthy reputation.

To really enjoy Thai food as it's meant to be eaten you’re going to have to get your mouth in shape and build that chili tolerance.

Spicy Thai food tastes better, but even beyond taste - there are a number of health reasons to feel the burn and start adding a few more chili's to home cooked meals.

Health benefits of capsaicin (the spicy heat molecule in chili peppers)

Chili peppers cool you down on hot days. One of the reasons why people from hot countries embrace the fire is because it influences natural temperature regulating mechanisms in the body and makes a sweltering day a bit more bearable. Capsaicin makes us feel hotter than we are, which fools the body into building a sweat and boosting blood circulation to the skin. The net effect of all this is a lowering in body temperature.

Capsaicin also helps to moderate caloric intake. Spicy food is more satiating than bland food, meaning you need to eat less of it to feel full. The heat of the chili actually stimulates brain chemicals that signal fullness!

Additionally, spicy food boosts the metabolism. Not only does mouth fire satiate, it also fires the body into overdrive!

Capsaicin does not cause stomach ulcers (as was once thought) and early research shows that it may play a role in the body's fight against certain cancers, it may act as a natural anti embolism substance and it is a natural analgesic.

Hot enough for ya…?

You can build a tolerance to the subjective effects of capsaicin – that is, you can learn to love spicier food. Start off by adding smallish quantities of less potent chilis, and work your way up from there.

If you're feeling timid as you do work on that tolerance, you can reduce the spice of a chili by removing the seeds and membrane from the interior before use.

If you cook with chili in advance, remember too that the pungency and heat of a dish will increase with time, as more of the active capsaicin leaches from the chili and into the surrounding food.

The Heat Rankings…

Chilis are ranked according to their pungency (heat) on a scale called the Scoville Scale.

Some examples of heat scores are:

Red bell peppers 0-600

Jalapeno peppers 2500 – 10 000

Serrano peppers 10 000 – 25 000

Habanero peppers 80 000 - 150 000

Dealing with a mouth fire…

If you do bite off more than you can chew…(haha) cool that fire with cold sweet liquid. Ice water, cold beer and margaritas work nicely (You can sort of "freeze" the capsaicin receptors into inaction with coldness - but carbonation increases the subjective sensation of heat) or by eating starchy foods such as rice, breads or tortillas.

To start, go easy and don’t overdo the heat. Food can be ruined by diners adding too much heat to the dish, to the point of not being able to taste the food. Little by little, add more, until you are at a point to where you worry you might be uncomfortable eating any more, and that is the limit to your level of heat. Always start a recipe without any heat, and allow your fellow diners to add their own. Otherwise, caveat eater, or biter beware.

Until then, Good Eating, Friends…

Spicy Thai Slow Cooker Chicken


• • 2 tsp powdered sugar

• ½ tsp paprika

• ½ tsp dry mustard

• salt to taste

• 1/2-c. currant jelly, melted

• 1/4-c. fresh lemon juice

• 1-c. walnut oil

• 1Tbsp cider vinegar, I used rice vinegar

• 1 tablespoon Thai chili paste, or more to taste

• 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste

• 2 tablespoons peanut butter

• 6 pieces skinless boneless chicken (such as breast halves and thighs)


1. Stir together the all ingredients in a bowl until the mixture is well combined. Dip chicken pieces in the mixture, and place into a slow cooker. Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken. Set the cooker to Low, and cook 4 to 6 hours, until the chicken is very tender.

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