"Pantry" is for ingredients, tricks, tools and all things cool.

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The fat edition


How can you not love a market where you can buy goose fat by the tin? And duck fat too. Where’s the market, you asked? Why, Borough, of course. Goose fat makes superb fries, and so does duck fat, although the best oil for fries, I must say, is horse fat.

horse butcher in Nice

When we were in the South of France last year, my friend Mikael sourced some horse fat and we cooked up some french fries -ahem, frites- in it. Gloriously beautiful fries we got from that rendered horse fat.

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Saturn rising


Saturn rising signals the return of Chez Pim from an unscheduled disruption. I hope. The computer trouble will take yet another week or two to be completely sorted, but meanwhile I’m ready to return to regularly scheduled programming here!

You’re wondering what this Saturn thing I’m talking about, aren’t you? Well, it’s the name of those cute peaches in the photo. These flat peaches have quite a few names: Ring of Saturn, Stark Saturn, and Peento among them.

Have you seen them at your local farmers market? Over here in the Bay Area, they are at the height of the season. I’ve been buying them for the past couple of weeks from the Hamada Farm stand at the Ferry Plaza farmers market. They have a delicately sweet flavor with only a hint of acidity and a lovely perfume of white peach.

Alain Passard uses sweet white peach in a summer salad with green almond and pea emulsion. These Ring of Saturn peaches would make a more fun addition to that salad than the regular round white peaches. To make it, be sure to use light vinegar, like White Wine or Champagne, so as not to overwhelm the delicate peach. A little kiss of Acacia honey in the vinaigrette would be lovely too. And remember to add the thinly sliced pieces of peach at the end. Tossing will bruise them too much.

See you tomorrow with the write-up from the Cook-off show down between Top Chef Harold and the beloved Jacques Pepin.

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Noodle with green garlic, shitake, and crab meat


So much green garlic at the farmers market yesterday in Santa Cruz, everyone was tripping over them. I couldn’t help but buy some. I also bought some fat Shitake mushrooms and plump local Dungeness crab meat.

Those, and some dried Chinese egg noodle in the cupboard, made a lovely simple dinner last night. So simple it would be a crime to write a recipe.

In a hot wok goes a little oil and then some green garlic cut up on the bias. When the garlic is nice and fragrant, throw in thinly sliced Shitake. Take the Shitake on a spin round the wok until it wilts a bit and gives up some moisture. Then the crab meat. Add a splash or two of good soy sauce. Then in goes the noodle that’s been cooked up on the side. A few quick stir. A bit of pepper if you’d like, black, white, whatever, we’re equal-opportunity around here. Another splash or two of soy sauce just to make me happy.

Four ingredients. Fifteen minutes to cook. Not a frozen pea in sight. Take that Rachael Ray.


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Ingredient: Kapi, Thai shrimp paste


You must be wondering what in the world has possessed me to put a photo
of this ugly looking thing on my blog. (And, no, it’s not what you think!) Well, you see, I’ve tried to
dress it up. Don’t you notice it’s in a perfectly formed quenelle, and
on my favorite Bernardaud Sardine plate besides? Didn’t help much
though, did it? Oh well, no matter how I dress it up, it’s just ugly
old Kapi, or Thai shrimp paste.

And you know what? It is ugly, and it tastes even worse. Well, when
eaten out of hand, that is. Yet it is an integral ingredient in so
many Thai dishes. It gives a depth of flavor in curry pastes, and
plays a starring role in a lot of Namprik relishes. One of my favorite
Thai dishes featuring Kapi is Khao Kluk Kapi. The recipe
for this is at the end of the post.

I’m not sure if I should tell you how it’s made. Perhaps it is, as
with sausages, better to just enjoy the result? But then again, this
series is about ingredients, so I guess I would have to tell all.
Shrimp paste is made from a type of tiny black-eyed shrimps called
Keuy. The Keuy shrimps are macerated with a huge amount of salt
overnight, then let dry in the sun. The process is repeated for many
days until the shrimps disintegrate and dry out completely. The
resulting dark paste is the Kapi shrimp paste. It can be kept
practically forever.

Different brands of Thai shrimp paste vary in color from light to dark
brown, often with a slight purple hue. The consistency is usually firm
(see the quenelle above). It has a very pungent smell that might need
a little getting used to.

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Ingredient: Green Garlic

picture of fresh green garlic

This Spring has sprung us quite a bit of rain -alright, quite a bit
more than a bit, in fact. The sky has been leaking almost daily for
weeks on end. It’s perfect soup weather, yes, but I haven’t been
eating much soup. I steadfastly refuse to surrender to this horrible
weather, and I’ve been doing a lot of sprightly stir-fry in defiance.

One of the ingredients I have been using a lot is green garlic. Have
you seen it? It looks like an over-grown scallion, or perhaps a meager
leek. It is a fresh shoot of a young garlic plant, before it develops
the bulbs that we are familiar with in older garlic. Young garlic has
a taste that is unmistakably garlic-ky, but in a milder and gentler
way. It turns quite sweet and delicious when cooked, and retains the
flavor of garlic without being overpowering.

I adore green garlic. In fact, the very first recipe I posted on Chez
Pim -way back before it became a food blog- actually had green garlic
as an ingredient. I have been using it a lot in stir fries, and for
dinner yesterday I did a variation of the first recipe I posted on this
blog, but this time with shrimp, a much more available and easier to
deal with than crabs.

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