Death by Noodles

Monday, May 3, 2010
For Christmas, Andy gave me a Thai cookbook. We cook a fair amount of rice-based, noodley, tofu-ish stuff and I was happy to have a go-to guide to Thai cooking instead of having to rely on search engines for my Thai food cooking forays. While helpful in some regards, I feel as though the internet has yet to replace the value of a good cookbook when it comes to recipes.

Over the past few months, we’ve been experimenting with the cookbook with pretty much across the board successes, with the exception of one rather bland stir-fry. I’ve been wanting to cook more from the book, but haven't always had the time and usually lack some key ingredient. Although at the moment I’m busy with plenty of freelance stuff, my time is fairly unstructured and I find myself with the time and inclination to make more creative dinners. On Saturday night, I made a noodley chicken and broccoli dish that was wonderful. Last night, after a trip to town for ingredients, I decided to whip up some Chiang Mai noodles which calls for, among other things, coconut milk, curry powder, shitake mushrooms, red peppers, celery and peanuts. It seemed hard to go wrong.

I browned the minced garlic in the oil and stirred in 2 tablespoons of red curry paste. 2 tablespoons?!

Yup. 2 Tablespoons. 
It seemed a little spicy to me (I don’t think I’ve ever used more than a teaspoon of red curry paste in a recipe before) but it was what the recipe called for, so I forged ahead. Half an hour later, we sat down to dinner.

I tentatively took a bite. It was spicy. Really spicy at that. After about three bites, I felt as though my mouth was glowing. My lips seemed to reverberate with heat. My face might have turned a little red. I wasn’t sure I could make it through the whole bowl of food. The heat was so intense it masks any other flavors in the dish.

“Whew,” said Andy, setting down his bowl of noodles to take a break from the heat. “That’s really spicy stuff. I mean, that’s really hot, I mean . . .”

He took another bite. Then he threw up: all over a batch of clips I’d been meaning to scan into my portfolio. (He claims he bit the inside of his mouth and that's what trigger this incident, but I have my doubts.)

“Throw it out,” Andy gasped as he ran to the fridge to get a glass of cold water.

But those shitake mushrooms were expensive. I didn’t want to waste them. So I popped the remaining noodles back into the colander. I filled up the bowl the noodles had been in with water and dumped the bowl of water over the noodles in the colander. Noodles with a Curry Wash. It worked perfectly. The awful spiciness went down the drain, leaving behind the noodles' more delicate flavors and just a hint of spice. It still wasn’t the best thing in the world. But we were able to eat it and now there’s just a small container of leftovers in the fridge.

Today seems like such a Monday. Things are getting done, kind of. Mostly the day has been a nightmare of correspondence in which I make plans to get things done. Well, that’s something at least. I should get one article draft done before the end of the afternoon and should also tackle some reading I need to do for another project. There's a drudgery of housework that could use some attention, but that can wait just a bit longer.

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