Safe minimum cooking temperatures

To be safe with certain meats I use a meat thermometer to ensure it is done, but I do have limits to the use, for slow cooker use of more than 4 hours I do not use a thermometer, nor do I for fried chicken or hamburgers or steaks. Use your judgement on what you to measure temps on.

Here is a guide for common items:

Beef, Veal, and Lamb (pieces and whole cuts): 63 C / 145 F, which would be medium rare.

Pork (pieces and whole cuts): 71 C / 160 F.

Ground meats (I use this for meatloaf using ground beef or pork): 71 C / 160 F.

Poultry (Chicken, Duck, Turkey, whole, checked at the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone): 82 C / 180 F.

Like I stated, I do not check temps on burgers, sausages, meat balls, pork chops or pork steaks, beef steaks, eggs, fish, fried chicken, or fried duck.

Here is the reference: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/safety-salubrite/tips-conseils/cook-temperatures-cuisson-eng.php

Butter & Cream Cheese Measurements

Butter and cream cheese in Thailand is sold different to western countries (I am referring to the US). So this post is made to clear up an confusion with this. I do not use stick measurements on the site, only cup and spoon measurements.

Butter in Thailand is normally sold in blocks of 227 grams. There is smaller half blocks, but go with the 227 gram blocks to keep the math right.

1 block = 1 cup of butter = 2 sticks of butter.
1/2 block = 1/2 cup of butter = 1 stick of butter.
1/4 block = 1/4 cup of butter = 1/2 stick of butter = 4 tablespoons of butter.
For 1 tablespoon of butter, cut 1/4 off the block, cut that piece in 4 pieces, then you have 4 separate tablespoons of butter.

Cream Cheese in Thailand, I have seen Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Caroline Cream Cheese, Caroline is made in Thailand, and the Philadelphia brand is made in Australia. This comes in a block of 250 grams, which just tad over 8 oz, many western recipes call for a package of 12 oz of cream cheese.

250 grams = 8.8 oz.
12 oz package = one and a half, 250 gram packages.

Pangasius or John Dory Fish

Many people, especially tourists in Thailand, when they look at a restaurant menu and see John Dory Fish and Chips, or just Dory Fish & Chips, priced at say 300-400 Baht per person, jump at that, not understanding, the fish is more than likely freshwater Pangasius (Shark Catfish) from Vietnam. John Dory fish are a deep water ocean fish caught off from Europe and also caught off from New Zealand, the price would be much much higher. Pangasius is about 120 Baht per kilo, that is 2 pounds of fish, keep that in mind.

Common price for Pangasius marketed at Fish & Chips in local pubs will run 150 to 180 Baht per serving, normally 2 fillets, with chips on the side, reasonable for bar grub as they have to store it, cook it, and cook chips, fair enough. To state John Dory or Dory as the fish but serve something else, well, that is common place in touristy areas.

The difference to note is the Pangasius is long and narrow, Dory is shorter, wider and much thicker.

Here are a few photos:

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This is Pangasius, long narrow fillets.

John-DoryFillets
This is John Dory, shorter, wider, and thicker fillets. So next time you are in a high class restaurant, and order Fish & Chips because the menu says Dory and your fillet looks like the one in the photo above the Dory, and you paid top dollar for it, you got robbed, as you would in a high class restaurant anyways.

Both are a firm, tender, flaky, whitefish. In my 10 years living in Thailand, I have never seen true John Dory offered in any store (Villa Market, Tesco, Tops, or even Makro) But I have seen Pangasius offered as Pangasius Dory, which is quite misleading.

Mushrooms

indexFor fans of mushrooms, Thailand is a great place!!! We stock canned button mushrooms for emergencies, but our go to mushrooms are a variety pack from Tesco! Normally 3-4 kinds of mushrooms in the pack, costs about 20-30 Baht for what would be a good handful chopped, so we normally use 2 packs per dish I make. If I make a homemade tomato based spaghetti sauce or a cream/cheese sauce, mushrooms are in there for sure.

Some mushrooms fare better than others and all have different textures. Here is some commercial cultivated Japanese edible mushroom species grown here in Thailand. Here is some examples. These are what I like, the oyster, ear, and wood mushrooms I am not a fan of.

Clockwise from the left in the picture above, Enoki, in the US these may be called Golden Mushroom. Don’t let the thin size tell you they turn to mush in a soup, they mushrooms make a great mushroom soup and retain a lot of crunchiness to them, they are very good.

Buna-shimeji, (brown type) the Thai name I do not know, we use these in a lot of pasta sauces simply chopped up and added to the sauce. We use these with the next one. My mushroom of choice when making Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup.

Bunapi-shimeji, (white type) another one I do not know the Thai name of, Tesco usually lists the Japanese, really. Great chopped up in a pasta sauce, either tomato based or cream/cheese based, excellent addition.

King oyster mushroom (Eryngii) is a favorite for omelets. Consistency is like a button mushroom, but much much larger as you can tell. Dice up 1-2 for a 3 egg omelet and you have a good breakfast right there.These are also excellent fried as they do not shrink or wilt up like other mushrooms. These can be displayed with either the English or Japanese name.

Shiitake is the Japanese standard for soups, even used on burgers if you can find large ones.

Straw MushroomsStraw Mushrooms are my favorite for soups or large pieces of mushrooms. These are delicious and and retain their size during cooking. These are sliced just in half lengthwise or even quartered lengthwise, slicing the other way would end up with chopped mushrooms. Any good Thai soups will have these in that.

Button Mushrooms, to tell you the truth, I have only seen fresh in Makro, canned is stocked in Tescos, never fresh, but we do keep canned in stock as well for emergencies. If you want a good mushroom for a pizza, you cannot beat a button mushroom.

Measurements for these recipes

The measurements I use for these recipes is based on metric for meats, canned goods, pasta, dried beans, and fresh produce. For spoon measurements, I stick with US measurements such as cup, tablespoon, teaspoon.

For measurements in 1 kilo, 500 grams, 250 grams, that is easy, 1 kilo = about 2 pounds, 500 grams = about 1 pound, and 250 grams = about 1/2 pound. Many products are packaged with the same weights as the western countries, beans and small pasta, 500 grams per bag, that is one pound that is common and average.

When I refer to can of anything, think of the average size can you seen in a grocery store, such as:

Pasta sauce (Prego) and condensed soup, 300 grams. (We keep both on hand for emergencies but normally make pasta sauce and soups here at the house.)

Veggys and such can vary by packed weight and drained weight, an example is mushrooms, corn, baked beans, black olives. All have different weights listed but the size of the can is the same.

Tomato paste I get in the 170 gram small cans, very versatile.

Whole tomatoes are a stockier can, 565 grams, drained weight is 352 grams. With canned tomatoes, uses the liquid as well. We stock this in the case we cannot get to the market, we have tomatoes to use. If a recipe calls for diced tomatoes, it takes just a few seconds to do this.

For fresh weights when a recipe calls for canned, for mushrooms use a bit over what a recipe lists for canned weight. Mushrooms also vary and there is another tip relating to that.

Save money on Chicken

Most grocery stores and even fresh markets have piles of chicken parts, such as a pile of legs, pile of thighs, piles of quarters (leg and thighs attached), piles of wings and even drumettes which is the meatier section of the wing, then there is piles of chicken breasts and many times, there will be piles of carcasses. Some places will have whole chickens as well. Each of these piles has a different price this is based on if it takes a butcher more time to cut something up, it costs more to buy that item.

Some of my recipes I like to use chicken breast, and some recipes I like to use legs and thighs. My wife likes to use wings. So what we look for is whole chickens if available. The whole chickens we get at a fresh market near our house.

A whole chicken is a money saver! You cut up the chicken and save money. Cutting up a whole chicken takes just a few minutes and you get a few extra items as well. The bonus parts are the heart, liver, gizzard, neck, feet, and the entire carcass.

Heart, liver, gizzard, boil that up for a light snack. Boil the neck as well, that is a quick snack for your dog or your neighbors dog. For the feet, give them to a Thai lady and they will cook those up. For the carcass, boil that with a carrot, an onion, and some celery and you have soup stock. Soup stock can be refrigerated for several weeks and used as needed.

Now if you like legs and thighs, get quarters, not already separated, the separated items will cost more so to save a few baht, get the quarters. So now that you have your quarters at home, you may want to separate them, this is easily done and takes just seconds. Place a quarter on a cutting board with the skin on the thigh part down in the board, pull a little skin on the leg back and you will see a line of fat between the leg part and the thigh part, using a regular chef’s knife, cut directly across that fat line and you will easily separate the two parts and you just saved money by doing that.

For wings, the same thing, buy a whole wing which has 3 sections and separate each part yourself. If you only want the drumettes (the larger meatier section with a single bone), separate all 3 sections, drummettes go in a pile, the middle section (with the 2 bones) go in another pile, can be frozen and used in another recipe. The end section, boil those up for your dog or your neighbors dog for a snack.

Tomato Paste

I have mentioned tomato paste several times, a great product to keep on hand and stocked. The 170 gram (6 oz) small cans are ideal (these are what used to be available in my location now we only have the 220 gram (7 3/4 oz) cans), and it is universal. Always buy Thai product vice an import, 1. You are helping the companies here, 2. You are saving money.

You can make all of this from tomato paste:

Tomato Puree, easy, place 2 tablespoons of paste in a measuring cup, add water to the 1 cup mark. Pour this into a bowl and whisk to remove any lumps, now you have tomato puree to use in recipes that call for that.

Tomato Sauce, easy, 1 can of paste, 2 cans of water, whisk, a little bit of sugar, and some spices like salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, etc, and you have tomato sauce. (For spices I simply use 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning, works perfect.)

Pizza Sauce, easy, 1 can of paste, 2/3 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt to taste, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Mix well, can add black pepper to taste as well. Refrigerate for several hours before use to let the flavors blend.

Tomato Juice, easy, 1 can of paste, 4 cans of water, whisk. Add a touch of sugar, salt and pepper. Perfect. I use this a lot for the chili I make and sometimes just to enjoy a cold glass of juice.

Tomato Soup, easy, 1 can of paste, 4 cans of milk, pinch of salt, teaspoon of sugar or honey and heat in a sauce pan, optional items to add is 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of cooked and crumbled bacon, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of celery seed. A can of paste costs 17 Baht, a can of tomato soup costs 50+ Baht.

Honey-based Ketchup, 1 can of tomato paste, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder. Mix in a sauce pan on medium heat, when it comes to a boil reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often, then remove from heat and cover until cool. Chill and store in the fridge.