lurkitty: (fudog)
The first time I went to Thailand, I met an older gentleman from my friend's home neighborhood in Nakhorn Rachteshima. He was very nice and instisted on giving us an historical tour. Unlike any other Thai person we had met, he insisted on talking politics. Being a political animal, I was only too happy to oblige him. I found out later that he was the local mayor!

One of the issues we talked about was the (then) new Bush Administration's policy on trade. He could not understand why America was turning its collective back on Thailand, their long-time ally in the region. He said the US was trying to force Thailand to let multinational corporations into the market for it's signature crop: Thai Jasmine Rice. They were doing so by trade embargo.

There are many varieties of rice, but only Thailand can claim to grow Jasmine rice. The government closely regulates the industry, overseeing the grades of rice released for export to ensure quality. Jasmine rice is their lifeblood, but the multinational agribusinesses would like to get into the market and sell the Thai farmers terminal seed stock so that they, too would become dependent on the companies for seed stock every year.

The Thai, to their credit, have not buckled. Jasmine rice is still Jasmine rice, not genetically modified.

The Washington Post reported last week that the Dept. of Agriculture has approved a genetically modified form of rice that contains biologically active human proteins. The proteins will be extracted and used to make an anti-diarrheal medicine. What is worrisome is that proteins are what people tend to be allergic to if they are allergic to something. Adding a foreign protein to a food is adding an additional risk factor for people becoming allergic to it. The company, Ventria Bioscience, assures us that there are plenty of measures taken to ensure that the plants, seeds and their genes do not "escape"

That's good because there have been two more incidences of genes "escaping" into the general rice population, resulting in a shortage of seed.

From the second article: "Everybody's frustrated," said Bobby Hanks, who employs about 100 workers at Louisiana Rice Mill near Crowley. "At this point, the industry has very little confidence in researchers to keep these things out of the food stream."

A string of recent court rulings has revealed regulatory shortcomings for other biotech crops. In August, a federal judge criticized the USDA, saying it had "utter disregard" for the risks posed by plantings of biotech corn and sugar cane that the agency had endorsed in Hawaii. Two rulings in February took the agency to task for not fully considering the risks posed by biotech alfalfa and turf grass.


It seems the Thai people may have had a good point.
lurkitty: (Default)
This week has been about curry. I learned to make curry from a Thai person. Jiraporn stayed in the US for 9 years finishing her Master's and PhD in Fisheries Management. The only reason she was in fisheries was because she showed up for the test on the wrong day. You see, in the Thai system, you take a placement test to go to whatever college program you want. She wanted cooking. She passed the fisheries exam with flying colors and was sent to America. She is a good Buddhist and accepted her fate. She is also a great cook. Her life is filled with hard luck -- that often makes for great curry. You may not realize this, but passion is one of the main ingredients.

A friend of mine had a curry party on Friday. We were all to make our best curry. So, for your edification, I present: How to Make Curry
First, gather the ingredients. )
Tuesday:
Green Curry Paste
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp finely chopped galangal root , skin removed (can substitute ginger)
3 Tbsp finely chopped lemongrass -- bottom 1/3 only (use the top for tea!)
1 tsp grated kaffir lime peel (can substitute lime peel)
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro root
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 tsp finely chopped tumeric, skin removed (can substitute powdered)
20 thai green peppers

Large mortar and pestle

Place the coriander, cumin seeds, and pepper in a frying pan and roast until seeds are brown.
Do not burn! )
Place the browned spices and salt in the mortar and pestle andgrind until completely crushed. )Add the rest of the ingredients and grind to liquify. Add water if necessary.Should make a paste. )
Friday:
The curry paste has had some time to settle in the fridge. Curry dishes should be fresh. Thai people don't generally eat leftovers. They make get things at the market or at the restaurant the day they eat them, so I ran home from work and made Green Curry with Seitan:

2 cans coconut milk
8oz Seitan (tofu or chicken)
4 Tbsp green curry paste
1 1/2 cups pea pods
2 Tbsp palm sugar ( can substitute sucanat or brown sugar)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (or 2 Tbsp fish sauce if not veggie)
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn, stem discarded
1 cup thai basil leaves
1 large green chili, sliced
1 large red chili, sliced

Skim the thick coconut milk off the top off the top of both cans and reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish later. Place the thick coconut milk in a dry wok and fry until the oil separates. Add the curry paste and fry for another 2 minutes. Add the seitan and cook until it starts to thicken, then the thin coconut milk and peapods and simmer until the peapods turn bright green. Add the palm sugar slowly along the side of the wok so it melts, and the soy sauce, kaffir lime leaves ,half the basil leaves, and the chilis. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves and coconut milk.
This varies in heat with the peppers. )

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August 2011

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