Pok Pok Party

27 Jan

Last weekend, my friend Moriah invited us over to her house for a Thai cooking party. She was inspired to throw this party after her roommate received the new Pok Pok cookbook for Christmas.  A surprising twist?  Alex bought me the exact same gift!

I first became interested in Chef Andy Ricker after watching Anthony Bourdain devour his famous fish sauce chicken wings on the final episode of “No Reservations”.  Bourdain raved about the food at Pok Pok NY, claiming that it was the best and most authentic Thai food available outside of Thailand.

I’d like to fancy myself as a Thai cook.  I mean, I grew up eating Thai food and my mother owns a Thai restaurant!  I should pretty much be an expert in the cuisine.  But I have to admit that when I first glanced through Ricker’s cookbook at a local bookstore I realized that I still had much to learn.  Sure I knew how to make Som Tum, Larb, and Phat Si Ew….but I had never even attempted to make half of the recipes that Ricker (a white guy) had mastered.

The cookbook itself is pretty awesome. Its filled with authentic recipes that are not at all simplified to make cooking easier. In fact, I would even venture to say that they are so authentic that some of the ingredients he mentions are items I’ve never boughten before in my life (sad). To read more about the Pok Pok cookbook, check out this article in Food and Wine: How to Make Real-Deal Thai Food at Home.

Oh so back to the Pok Pok Party….It was a blast! We all picked a recipe from the Pok Pok cookbook and bought all the necessary ingredients to Moriah’s house.

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Moriah’s dining room table was transformed into a prep station.  This is where all of the slicing, dicing and ,apparently, drinking occurred.  There are a ton of herbs used in Thai cooking so there was certainly a lot of prep work involved.  It took three people to chop up the papaya for the Som Tum!

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There were essentially two crews of people, the preppers and the cookers.  So while Alex was in the dining room enjoying a beer and casually chopping papaya, I was slaving over the stove frying shallots.

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One of the best dishes of the evening was the candied pork.  It was essentially like a Thai-ed up version of pork carnitas.  The Gai Kra Pow (spicy chicken with basil) was also delicious.  Although I have cooked this  dish in the past, I had never made it with tamarind water.  It definitely added good flavor.

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The most laborious recipe was the Som Tum (papaya salad).  What made this so difficult? 1) Chopping up the papaya 2) Accidentally chopping up WAY too much papaya 2) Not having a large enough mortar and pestle to crush the ingredients together.  But all the hard work paid off because everyone loved it.

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I contributed sticky rice, spicy sauce and a spicy pork belly salad. All of these were kind of cop out dishes since they were all things I’ve made several times.  But I did use Ricker’s cookbook to tweak my pork belly salad recipe a bit.

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After a long day of cooking, we all kicked back to a 49ers game and enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

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3 Responses to “Pok Pok Party”

  1. The High Heel Gourmet January 31, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    Nice!…Som Tam party 🙂
    BTW: When you make Som Tam, you are not suppose to make more than one or two portion anyway. The largest size mortar that the vendors have are so they have room to toss the green papaya around quickly and won’t get splash. If you watch them, they don’t make large portion. You are doing well with yummy looking Som Tam salad there.

    • chewmeblog January 31, 2014 at 2:07 am #

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time. Come to think of it, my mom only makes one portion at a time!

      • The High Heel Gourmet January 31, 2014 at 2:29 am #

        Right, I always wonder why they can’t make a whole tray in a big mortar. One time I borrow a big mortar from a friend (she sell SomTam at the fairground sometime) for my party.

        I try to make a batch for 5 and boy, what’s a disaster! There is no way to mix the large amount in the small space. I ended up have to take them all out of the mortar, put them in a big bowl and start over with the same green papaya but made a portion for two.

        The question was answered for me that regardless of the size of the mortar, I still have to make SomTam the same way I mad stir fried noodles, for one or two portion at a time.

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