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Old 01-06-2013, 08:09 AM   #41
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I love good Asian foods of all types. I try to avoid the Chinese restaurants near me but I can get pretty good Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean food in Pittsburgh. There are also some excellent Indian restaurants the closer one gets to Pittsburgh.

I concur with some on kimchi...a food of the Gods. I buy a non-traditional version (too little salt for my taste, also has ginger) from a local health food store and eat it with brown rice. I was first introduced to it back in the 70's by the Korean wife of an Army buddy of my husband's.

I cook my own version of a stir fry at home...onion, diced pepper, a protein source, mushrooms, bok choy, all sauteed together and served with a little soy and siracha sauce and brown rice.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:27 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by REattempt View Post
Bibimbap...just about my favorite dish in the world...

Bibimbap - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
That is good stuff! Here in our area of metro Atlanta we have one of the largest Korean populations in the USA. In addition to bibimbap I love the galbi (grilled beef ribs) and all the various forms of spicy tofu soup. And it's great that we have a wide choice of Korean & Chinese supermarkets around here. My wife is Asian so we eat mostly Asian food at home. Now I'm comfortable eating foods that I would never have touched before I met her.
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:48 AM   #43
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Maybe it's Tamarind sauce? It's a souring agent that's also used to make ketchup, Worcestershire and bbq sauces.
I think tamarind is used in Indian cuisine and I have never had any Indian food I didn't love except one thing. In one place their mango pickles smelled like Lestoil (the household cleaner) and they didn't taste very good either! So I thought I liked tamarind but I'm not sure what it tastes like.

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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
Yep - Worcestershire sauce has anchovies, just like fish sauce.
That is correct but in a health food store I found a Worcestershire sauce without anchovies.

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I like most Asian foods, at least the kind that you can find in restaurants in the U.S. Where I run into problems is with some of the more exotic (sea)foods. I don't like jellyfish (tastes like rubber bands), the whole octopus head in my soup just seemed gross so I passed on that, and dog wasn't really to my taste either.
According to Anthony Bourdain on one of his shows when he was somewhere in Asia he observed that a lot of the food contains gelatinous foods. While these are very popular in those cultures here in the US I can't think of a type of food less liked. I am sure I'd starve before I ate anything gelatinous. Jello maybe be considered gelatinous but that isn't what they have in Asian dishes. I seldom eat Jello but I have. I think it's made with horse hoofs or some animal product.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:48 AM   #44
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I don't have any issues with fish sauce at all, we make this at home quite a bit. I was just trying to isolate what the OP finds offensive in pad thai. I'm wondering if you're really that sensitive to detecting it though, most recipes I've ever seen call for 2 Tbsp to 1/3 C of fish sauce in them. Unless they're intentionally trying to substitute removing it from the recipe.
I have not made Pad Thai, so do not know the recipe, but 1/3 cup of fish sauce? In a pad thai big enough to feed an entire village? Pure fish sauce is salty!

Now, I wonder if some people are turned off because too much fish sauce was used. As I mentioned, I was surprised to learn there's fish sauce in Worcesteshire sauce. It does not smell fishy at all, does it?

And then, someone else said his pad thai was too sweet. Not the pad thai that I have had, and as I mentioned, I do not like sweet in my savory food and do not use coconut in my curry. Well, my wife's curry actually, as she knows how to make it, and I don't.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:38 PM   #45
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I always seem to get the one that say's "Don't give Head, when Tail will do"!
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:59 PM   #46
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I think tamarind is used in Indian cuisine and I have never had any Indian food I didn't love except one thing. In one place their mango pickles smelled like Lestoil (the household cleaner) and they didn't taste very good either! So I thought I liked tamarind but I'm not sure what it tastes like.
The mango pickles often use mustard oil. I'm guessing that's what you're smelling/tasting.

Tamarind tastes pretty sweet and fruity with a good tanginess. Beyond that description you'll have to try some straight.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:40 PM   #47
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According to Anthony Bourdain on one of his shows when he was somewhere in Asia he observed that a lot of the food contains gelatinous foods. While these are very popular in those cultures here in the US I can't think of a type of food less liked.
This does not apply to you as you are a vegetarian, but any type of broth or stock made with animal bones will turn gelatinous when cold. It's only a matter of degree of gelatin content.

I am one who likes to have real broth made with real bones for my soups. None of this bouillon cube, if I can help it. Real broth is also rich in mineral content. Good stuff! Of course my soup is served hot, so I would not know it is gelatinous.

See how this woman tests for gelatin content of her beef broth: Bone Broth: 12 Days Of Gelatin | Traditional Foods
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:42 PM   #48
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I have not made Pad Thai, so do not know the recipe, but 1/3 cup of fish sauce? In a pad thai big enough to feed an entire village? Pure fish sauce is salty!

Now, I wonder if some people are turned off because too much fish sauce was used. As I mentioned, I was surprised to learn there's fish sauce in Worcesteshire sauce. It does not smell fishy at all, does it?

And then, someone else said his pad thai was too sweet. Not the pad thai that I have had, and as I mentioned, I do not like sweet in my savory food and do not use coconut in my curry. Well, my wife's curry actually, as she knows how to make it, and I don't.
Yea, I think 1/3 C is a lot too. I just did a quick search of pad thai recipes on the web (#3 in results - from sweetsavorylife.com and claims it only 2 servings!) to see how much the amount varied. That recipe uses 1/2 C palm sugar, reviewer thought it was good and comments stated you need a lot of sugar to counter balance the fish sauce. We use only 2 Tbsp of fish sauce in ours. As far as Worcestershire sauce, mine states anchovies (Lea & Perrins brand). I'd imagine it's not nearly as concentrated or salty as fish sauce. I can eat anchovies on a pizza or salads, but in moderation only. I've had it on a pizza twice in my life ordered by other people. We use anchovies in our spaghetti recipe and I have a hard time tasting anything fishy in it. In contrast, I can't handle tasting fish sauce more than 1-2 drops since it's so strong and salty.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:55 PM   #49
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I have occasionally used anchovies in my cooking. I think anchovy, same as Oriental fish sauce, is used instead of salt to season a dish more than as a real ingredient. They are better than salt because they impart the savory or umami taste. Now, that taste can also be provided by MSG, which really occurs in natural food, and not bad if used in moderation. Better yet, if one can use real meat, real soup bones, then there's no need for MSG either.

I think the lack of the umami taste in vegetarian dishes is what makes them taste boring to a meat eater like myself. I get bored with vegetarian dishes quickly, no matter how good they taste to me at first bite.

And talk about MSG, I have had pho in some Vietnamese noodle shops that loaded their soup with MSG, and lots of it. Yuck! It had a bad after-taste and gave my wife and me a headache afterwards. Can one get MSG overdose or poisoning? There are pho shops that claim to use no MSG, so one needs to do a bit of research.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:08 PM   #50
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I think the lack of the umami taste in vegetarian dishes is what makes them taste boring to a meat eater like myself. I get bored with vegetarian dishes quickly, no matter how good they taste to me at first bite.
I think you need some new vegetarian chefs!

Umami is actually a made-up thing, a decision to call a sensation by a specific name. The specific stuff that generally "causes" umami are glutamates. MSG, which you mentioned, is a glutamate. The richest sources of natural glutamates are, unsurprisingly, meat, fish, and dairy. However, tomato and mushrooms are also great sources of natural glutamates. There are loads of vegetarian dishes that feature tomato and/or mushrooms (not to mention those that feature dairy). In addition, while not necessarily considered a natural source, seitan is a rich source of glutamates. We make some really rich dishes with seitan.
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:22 PM   #51
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For any who wonder, "fish sauce" has pretty much been a universal condiment in much of the world for thousands of years. There are lots of variations, but all pretty similar. The Romans called it "garum" and relied heavily on it for seasoning many of their dishes.

While I was stationed in Vietnam (back in Pre-Cambrian times), there was a nuoc mam factory nearby, and when the wind was right we had a hard time dealing with the aroma. Very tasty stuff when properly used though. I always have a bottle in my pantry. I believe in Thailand it's called nam pla.

Basically, it's just fish and salt, allowed to ferment and age, then strained.

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In the early 20th century, the celebrated Institut Pasteur in Paris studied nuoc mam for 16 years, from 1914 to 1930, to understand the fermentation process that Vietnamese peasants had been employing for centuries. The two necessary ingredients were fish and salt. The fish were usually small ones of the Clupeidae family, to which herrings and sardines belong. The fish sat in salt for three days, which produced a juice, some of which was reserved to ripen in the sun, while the remainder was pressed with the fish to produce a mush. The two were then mixed together and left for three months, sometimes much longer. Then the solid parts were strained out.

-- from Salt, A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
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Old 01-06-2013, 02:44 PM   #52
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Check out this episode of the BBC series "Supersizers" in which two hosts live and eat as in Ancient Rome for a week. Garum features prominently. Ewww!

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Old 01-06-2013, 03:35 PM   #53
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The mango pickles often use mustard oil. I'm guessing that's what you're smelling/tasting.

Tamarind tastes pretty sweet and fruity with a good tanginess. Beyond that description you'll have to try some straight.
Thanks Audrey, it sounds like I'd like tamarind. There was nothing sweet or fruity in the Pad Thai, sour maybe, again I can't put my finger on that flavor and I tried while eating it.

I had Egg Foo Young today. It was a lot to eat! I was hoping for a pint/quart option but it is a dish meal. There must have been 4-5 eggs in it and it was ok but I did not like the sauce on it. Thick and sticky, it reminded me of a too thick turkey gravy! I won't order this again.

There are only so many vegetarian dishes on the menus at Chinese restaurants and other than Chop Suey, Chow Mein and Chow Mei Fun I've tried them all. Chop Suey IIRC has a sauce similiar to what I had today. I had it once or twice as a kid and did not like it. I'd try the last two.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:48 PM   #54
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I love me some good pad thai. I prefer the omelet style. Don't forget that pad thai also has oyster sauce. Also, at least in thailand, pad thai is frequently made with small dried shrimps.

My favorite thai dish is drunken noodles (pad kee mao) which is low on the fish sauce, but strong on the thai basil. Also I like green curry and massaman curries (but many curry pastes are made with shrimp paste). And my favorite recent discovery has been khao soi.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:05 PM   #55
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Egg Foo Young is an American dish. It's really just an omelet with bean sprouts and other veggies and meat with gravy.
I always assumed Egg Foo Young was an American thing, but when I went to wiki and other sources, they say it is based on a traditional Chinese dish.

The nearest take out that we like is a bit of a drive, I haven't had Egg Foo Young in a long time, and I do like it very much. Then I recalled, I made it at home many years ago, from a 'kit' that included the canned vegetables and the sauce ingredients, and it was surprisingly good, and easy. So I looked up some 'from scratch' recipes, so I plan to make it this week. I see a variety of 'gravy' recipes, think I'll make a small batch to test. A little shrimp in the foo young, some rice, and chinese style ribs should make a meal. If I get really ambitious, I should try to make some hot & sour soup, though I'm the only one who likes it - but egg drop soup is easy, and DW likes that.

RE: Fish Sauce - I recall some Asian workers heating food in the microwaves that smelled to me like it was rotted. Might have been a strong fish sauce. That stuff scares me. DW makes a few dishes with it, and if it is used in very low quantities, it adds a nice complexity. Any more than that turns me off. But she bought a big bottle - I fear that if it breaks and leaks out in the pantry, that I'd have to burn the house down and rebuild to get rid of the smell.

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Old 01-06-2013, 08:02 PM   #56
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There are only so many vegetarian dishes on the menus at Chinese restaurants
If you find a meat dish that sounds interesting at a Chinese Restaurant, you can also ask them to prepare a vegetarian version of it. In my experience, most will work with you to adapt, since many dishes are stir fried in a wok they can often adjust easily.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:16 PM   #57
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Out of curiosity, I read the following Wikipedia on kimchi, and found out that I did not know much about it.

Kimchi - Wikipedia

As stated earlier, I ate kimchi with some Korean dishes, liked it, and did not find it to be strong in flavor at all. I thought it was just pickled cabbage, not unlike sauerkraut, except for the spiciness due to the chili. What I ate was the type sold in clear jars that I found in a local Oriental store.

However, the Wikipedia article describes so many different types of kimchi, some with fish sauce, some with fermented shrimp, some with oysters. It appears that the type that I experienced might be the most innocuous type of kimchi. Oh la la!

Anyway, the Wiki article includes the following: "Health magazine named kimchi in its list of top five "World's Healthiest Foods" for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth." This reference seems to be the same as what Braumeister cited earlier.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:16 AM   #58
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Here in our area of metro Atlanta we have one
of the largest Korean populations in the USA. .
This statement surprised me, I looked up 3-4 lists of populations and can't find Atlanta on any (Roswell,GA showed up as 100 on a list). Chicago has a good sized Korean population and has a neighborhood name Koreatown, but it's not as big as Los Angeles.
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Old 01-07-2013, 11:40 AM   #59
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I am always shocked at the Fish Sauce quantities in recipes. 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, etc? Wow that would knock my socks off with stink and saltiness. DW (who is Thai, was born in Thailand, lived in Thailand during her youth, and grew up eating what her momma cooked) agrees. DW puts splashes of this stuff in dishes to taste. Maybe 1-2 tablespoons in a big pot of something (like pad thai or fried rice).

By the way, here is a link to the pic of the pad thai sauce we sometimes buy for convenience (instead of making it from scratch): Hannaford | Asian | Maesri Pad Thai Sauce It is $2 for us locally in the asian store. We usually use 4-5 jars if we make a big batch of pad thai for family. 1 jar probably good for 2-3 servings. Of course we like plenty of sauce.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:04 PM   #60
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This statement surprised me, I looked up 3-4 lists of populations and can't find Atlanta on any (Roswell,GA showed up as 100 on a list). Chicago has a good sized Korean population and has a neighborhood name Koreatown, but it's not as big as Los Angeles.
We (Georgia as a whole) are 8th in the USA according to the 2010 Census. We're no match for CA and NY but still respectable numbers. Most live in our county as far as I can tell due to the sheer amount of signage I see in Korean and the Korean churches on every corner. You just don't see that in other metro counties.
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