Thursday, September 17, 2009

Damn Zingerman's

In my attempt to go more local, eat fresher, more flavorful foods, I'm trying to steer away from lots of processed, pre-jarred foods.  Making my own tomato sauce for pasta was a good start but geeze this asian cooking without help is tricky?!  I'm desperately trying to develop good tasting, low-sodium, low-sugar asian foods that still taste like something but let me tell you, full sodium soy sauce is fantastic.  So today, I'm sorry to disappoint you.  This isn't the blog with the recipe for curry sauce from scratch that doesn't leave your charming apartment wreaking of curry for days.  And it isn't the fool proof rolling method for those spring rolls attempted a few weeks ago. Nope, this is a full confession that Zingerman's has tempted me and I succumbed to temptation. And, truth be told, will probably do it again.

I experienced my first round of the Zingerman's extravaganza back in February.  And yes, it was an extravaganza.  Deli, bakery, food shop, coffee shop and restaurant: just 5 of the 15 establishments that make up the Zingerman's dynasty.  These folks have a lovely story, starting out as a simple mom-and-pop deli and evolving over the past 25 years into this. Makes me proud to be a foodie in the Midwest.  I loaded up on french grey sea salt, cheddar/jalapeno bread, goat cheese that I haven't seen since the Loire Valley, salumi that rivals the gents at Pike's Place, and one damn jar of Thai Green Curry Paste.

So.  This little jar has been sitting in my cabinet taunting me again and again to expand my Thai cuisine repertoire beyond Pad Thai (see pathetically easy but delicious version to your left), which only recently I've begun making without A Taste of Thai's help.  Big steps my friends, big steps.

Coconut milk has been a staple in the cabinet but for some reason, the meal just wasn't coming together in my mind...until last Saturday. Adventuring at the Green Acres stand has been a staple of my Saturday morning routine.  I've found purple carrots to make Vietnamese steak salad...(shredded purple carrots in the top corner)
Three different varieties of kale (Russian, dinosaur, and purple) that have kept me entertained... and then!!!  The very inspiration to pull out that little jar and cheat while cooking.  Thai eggplant:

so the jar says: saute 1 T oil and 1/2 the jar for 2 minutes.  Then saute 3/4 a pound of meat (steak, seafood, chicken--let's be honest, you know it's a Thai dish when you have a choice of these three meats?!) for about 10 minutes, or until tender.  Then add 1 cup of coconut milk, but I also threw in some sauteed red peppers and thai eggplant and a handful of chopped basil leaves.
I realize that this is somewhat cheating when it comes to cooking; yes, I probably should have made my own curry paste.  But once again I submit to my Swedish heritage and admit that I was coded genetically to make meatballs and gravy, not coriander and basil based sauces.  So, this weekend, when the extravaganza at Zingerman's goes for round two, I will buy another of these lovely little jars.  And to all of my dear friends that live far away and just around the corner-- I'll buy you one too.


  1. Wow this looks good. However, I recommend getting jars of curry with instructions in English on them. I had a bad experience with eggplant on a curry overdose due to a poor translation. Do these jars come with complete translation? Can you send me one?

  2. That sounds awesome; now where exactly is my jar?!? ;-0


  3. To all promised receivers: I'm desperately sorry to say that they weren't carrying the sauce this weekend?! I know have been informed that Z's Deli rotates their sauces, pastas, seasonings and while your desired item may be available through the mail order catalogue, it could not be at the store. We hit the deli Paella day, with no curries in sight.

    Makes for a good excuse to go again though... temping...

  4. I truly believe most thais use store-bought curry paste. Find something better to beat yourself up about! :)