31 August 2007

Antarctic Cuisine

Ah...Cooking. In Antarctica.

You work with what you have, and though there aren't always the freshest ingredients to work with down here, it's possible to create some seriously delicious dishes.

Antarctic cuisine has had its ebbs and flows, from OAE (Old Antarctic Explorers) who brought food down here in the form
of lots and lots of canned goods, to those who consumed seals and penguins, to the ones who brought dogs down here to help them get around by sled and then ate them.

Yesterday, with help from Diane (who in my humble opinion is one of the Best Antarctic Chefs ever), I made one of my favorite Thai dishes, called Larb. Those of you who know me well know that I love to cook this dish, and though the name rhymes with lard, Larb (or Larp) is a very refreshing, light meal that I learned how to make in Thailand, back in 2003.

At Mais Quiet Zone, on Khao Lak beach.

Mai owned a small, low-key resort with her husband, Gerard. In February 2003 I went to Thailand for the first time, and one night sitting at a table for dinner, I asked Mai what she would recommend. "Larp", she said. "Larp, of Chiang Mai. You may like it". I loved it, and asked her to show me how to make it.

Larp is a chicken or pork-based dish (or fish, if you want) that is, of course, made with liberal amounts of lemongrass, cilantro, fish sauce, and the addition of some spicy peppers, to taste. The trick is to mince the chicken or pork well so that the spices permeate it.

Every time that I make this dish I remember Mai and thank her for showing me such a great recipe. Every time I make it tastes slightly different. It's an ongoing experiment. Though we're out of fresh cilantro
and lemongrass until the boat gets here on the 17th, it tasted great, and was devoured at our station BBQ. And no penguins, seals, or dogs had to be sacrificed to make it.

Just added at left: Palmer residents Sara Russell, Dr. Shawn Vainio, Dan Simas, Karen Malesky, and Bede McCormick hard at work making cookies and prepping garlic at last Saturday's House Mouse.

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