Welcome to the series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful A – Z of Food and I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of wonderful ingredients across the food groups, spices and herbs over the year.
Welcome today it’s the letter D …I have some exotic fruits for you and some lovely recipes I hope you enjoy!
I do have as pictured above a date palm in my garden but dates don’t fare well here they like hot, dry temperatures not hot and humid.
The dates that are on my tree are picked while young and unripe and we take them to Lily’s other grandmother who loves them…so they don’t go to waste as the village ladies like them unripe but unripe the texture in your mouth is like when you eat banana peel but a lot drier and sour and not something that I like to eat but each to their own it wouldn’t do for us all to be alike, however, she also loves it when we take her fully ripe dates as a treat.
Dates are probably one of the only naturally dehydrated fruits they are also fat-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol free, sodium free and a great source of fibre.
Dates have been a staple food in the Middle East for thousands of years and many people still offer dates at each meal as a sign of hospitality or as an accompaniment to unsweetened tea or coffee.
When I was a child the only time we had dates were at Christmas they were a treat but dates now are used as appetizers wrapped in bacon the saltiness of the bacon is a good foil for the sweetness of the dates also stuffed with blue cheese they are a lovely thing and very moreish and are seen on many a buffet table.
Such a pretty coloured fruit and it just looks so exotic, doesn’t it? Also, known as Pitaya fruit or in Thailand (Kaeo Mangkon). Rich in Vitamin C, B1, B2, B3 and the minerals iron, calcium & phosphorus and one fruit is only 60 calories so a good for you fruit.
It is also said to help lower bad cholesterol levels and its high fibre content can also assist with poor digestion and constipation.
Of course, it also makes excellent smoothies; you can sip your smoothie while it works on your hair follicles. Yes if you put the juice on your scalp it will keep the hair follicles open so it’s great for tinted hair.
Then I come across a recipe for Dragon Chicken..…not a dragon fruit in sight but hey ho….it’s in the name…lol
1lb chicken breasts cut into small chunks or pieces of chicken on the bone.
Marinade for chicken:
• 1 egg white
• 1/2 tsp. pepper
• 2 tbsp. cornstarch/arrowroot
• 1 tbsp. soy sauce
• Salt to taste
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together and coat the chicken thoroughly leave to dry for 30 minutes.
- Heat some oil 375 degrees and cook chicken in batches until it is crispy.
For the sauce
• 2 tsp. of finely chopped garlic
• 1 tsp red pepper flakes
• 1 tsp of finely chopped ginger
• 3 tbsp tomato ketchup
• 1 tbsp of soy sauce
• 1/2 tsp of sugar
- Mix all these together.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small pan and add the mixture when the sauce comes to the boil add the chicken and heat for a further 1-2 minutes.
- To serve garnish with chopped spring onions, niblets of sweetcorn/peas and or sliced green chillies.
I, of course, would add more chilli flakes and probably a tsp more ginger…just saying..lol…But as you know my mantra is TASTE and TASTE again… until it is perfect for you…
King of fruits as it is known here in Thailand…
Here in Thailand, Durian is often eaten fresh with sweet sticky rice, and blocks of durian paste are sold in the markets, though much of the paste is mixed with pumpkin. Unripe durians may be cooked as a vegetable.
The shops also sell Durian chips and Durian ice cream.
I had lived here for a number of years before I even tried Durian as having heard the tales and smelt the fruit…I was not in a hurry to taste one. When at last I plucked up the courage…
What did I think? I tentatively took the smallest piece expecting the taste to be absolutely horrid instead it is a strange combination of savory, sweet, and creamy all at once.
I was hooked…..The smell I think you either love or hate it…I don’t mind it although it is really cloying and invades everything so I can understand why it is banned on airlines, some hotels, and public places.
A seasonal fruit available from June to August it is in great demand here…It is sold from the back of trucks along the road, markets and in the supermarkets. It is also quite expensive due to generally having one season a year and also its popularity…
It’s also used in traditional Asian medicine, as both an anti-fever treatment and an aphrodisiac.
A piece of traditional Asian folklore: is that getting intoxicated while eating Durians can lead to death. There have been some studies into an enzyme that Durian possesses which can react to alcohol quite strongly.
Thailand loves Durian so much that each May, the Chanthaburi Province hosts a nine-day festival to the stinky food. I hope you have enjoyed learning about this very popular Thai fruit and if you get the chance to try it …Just do it!
You will not be disappointed.
Dill is an aromatic herb with delicate, feathery green leaves. Sometimes referred to as dill weed, dill is a member of the parsley family. Dill has been around since the Middle Ages and was thought to help defend against witchcraft. It is a well-known ingredient around the world and it’s used in many European and Scandinavian dishes. It is also used here in Thailand and is found on every street market…Until I lived here I always thought of Dill being used mainly in European and Scandinavian dishes but not so…Of course it marries well with fish but is eaten raw or added to soups here…
Pickled Dill cucumbers.
• 3 medium cucumber
• 1 large Onion thinly sliced.
• 85g sea salt flakes (essential- table salt will render your efforts inedible)
• 500ml cider vinegar
• 250g granulated sugar
• 1 tsp. Coriander seeds
• 2 tsp. yellow mustard seed
• 1 tsp. peppercorn
• 1 tsp. ground turmeric
• small bunch dill
- Wash the cucumbers, split along their length and scoop out the seeds.
- Cut each half into finger-length chunks, then cut into 5mm strips.
- Mix with the onion and salt in a large bowl, cover and leave to soak overnight.
- Next day, drain the juices, rinse the vegetables in cold water and drain well.
- Put the vinegar, sugar and spices into a very large saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
- Simmer for 5 mins to let the flavours infuse.
- Add the vegetables and bring the pan to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring now and again.
- Boil for 1 min, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Tear in the dill, then pack into sterilised jars making sure that no air bubbles are trapped.
- Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.
There are dry drupes and fleshy drupes…
Mangoes, peaches, and almonds are in the same drupe family as the coconut. Although the coconut is a dry drupe and peaches and mango are fleshy drupes.
Well, I clearly am not a botanical expert but in my world, I have always thought of those as fruits so the coconut to me is a cross between a fruit and a nut which we eat the flesh off and drink the lovely juice of a huge seed.
There you have it!
De-glazing is a culinary term for removing and dissolving those lovely bits of browned food you get on the bottom of your pan when cooking… by either using wine or stock it is used to add flavor to sauces, soups, and gravies.
A small amount of an ingredient that is added to a dish technically equivalent to 1/8 tsp. and apparently you can purchase measuring spoons to that effect.
A stew, a classic French stew of inexpensive beef cooked with wine, herbs and vegetables and a famous Provencal stew known as Boeuf en Daube.
Is the name given to a spicy Cajun rice dish a traditional Creole dish. Made using white rice the dish gets its color from the chopped chicken livers, sausage or ground beef made much tastier by making your own Cajun spice mix…easy to do and if stored in a screw top jar in a dry cupboard will keep for a few months.
I normally make my own spice mixes and to be honest, it is easy and quick and I turnaround my dried spices much quicker rather than having a pot in the back of the cupboard which is used infrequently and loses its potency and flavour.
Cajun Spice Mix for Dirty Rice.
• 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
• 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
• 1 tbsp. seasoning salt
• 1 tbsp. Paprika
• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tsp. Cayenne pepper …I always add a bit more it depends on your spice level.
• 1 tsp. thyme
• 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes ( optional)
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine …Store in an airtight pot.
How easy is that???
I love making my own spices as you can adjust the heat if they are spicy and have no preservatives so quite frankly it is a win, win situation, isn’t it?
Daikon is a long white Japanese radish, which has a crunchy texture and a light peppery and sweet taste. From pickles to salad and soups to simmered dishes, it’s widely used in Japanese cooking.
The root vegetable goes by many names, including Asian radish, Chinese radish, white radish, mooli, and so on as there are different varieties of daikon being cultivated in the different region. Valued for its health nutrition, it is not only enjoyed by the Japanese, but also a favorite vegetable in Chinese, Korean, and other Southeast Asian cooking.
I always grew up thinking dandelions were just weeds of course when they went to seed we loved blowing the seed heads as most children do…It has only been in recent years that I have learnt more about the common dandelion and found out about its health benefits and uses.
Dandelion greens can be chopped up and used as a garnish or an addition to a sauce, or they can be eaten raw or cooked to minimize their somewhat bitter flavor.
You can also use the dandelion root, stems and flowers to make a delicious and super-healthy dandelion tea. Either way, you reap the benefits of this unexpected nutritional plant.
Also known as Taro …It is often used as an ornamental plant and its tubers are eaten.
Dasheen is a wetland, herbaceous perennial with huge heart-shaped leaves, hence the name Elephants ears.
The tubers can be eaten and prepared just like you would a potato…Boiled, fried, mashed…
Young Dock leaves are tender and delicious they do however get very bitter the older they get but the root boiled and drank as a tea was said to be a cure for boils I think all these old remedies are making a comeback and especially living where I do know they have a plant leaf for every ailment…
I have been doing a lot more research lately into the benefits of plants and fruits and am constantly amazed at what properties most of them have both medicinally and uses as dyes, glue and so much more.
The Broad-leaved Dock leaf was also known as Butter Dock as the leaves were used to preserve and wrap butter.
- The leaves also make a great wrap for Dolmas just a 30-second blanch in boiling water and drain on paper, pat lightly so as not to tear the leaves.
- Secondly, sweat 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and half an onion in some olive oil add 2 cups of cooked rice, stir gently to combine and remove from the heat.
- Squeeze a large lemon or lime you need about 1/4 cup into the mixture with a large handful of chopped mint and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
- Refrigerate as these are generally eaten cold with a dash of lemon and olive oil. I prefer mine heated up and just very lightly sauteed in a little oil and serve with a mayo dip.
Dock leaf crisps are also very tasty and if you boil the dock leaves down they make a sort of paste which has a lemony flavour and mixed with feta it is a lovely thing…or olive oil, chillies, garlic and black pepper…. and yes you just knew I would sneak in a chilli or two…ha ha
But remember you want the leaves from the center of the plant the young leaves just unfurling are the best….older equals bitter.
So that broad-leafed dock plant which soothed my nettle stings and was used by my mum in her kitchen when she caught her arm or hand on the oven or cooker ..has an alkaline secretion which is very good and immediately neutralize any acidic sting or burn.
And just a piece of trivia for you.
Did you know? If you slice the dock root vertically then you can age it as it has growth rings just like a tree.
Thank you for reading I hope you have enjoyed this little trip through the Culinary alphabet…Until next time when it will be the letter E.
About Carol Taylor
Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.
I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.
Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.
Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!
Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology: Amazon US
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My thanks to Carol for sharing this new series with us as she also works on her cookbook and novel this year…As always we are delighted to receive your feedback and if you could share that would be great.. thanks Sally.