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How I developed a passion for cooking


By Tom Tillman

    I developed a passion for cooking while trying to be more cost effective with my children and my meals. I realized cooking at home is so much cheaper, and I enjoy shopping to gather ingredients. My daughters really liked my simple meals, and now I am taking my cooking to the next level.
    
My favorite things to cook : I’ll try to cook almost anything. I really enjoy making salsas, pasta dishes, baked fish, stewed chicken, curries, Asian dishes, Mexican dishes, grilled foods… I could go on.
    I also love to replicate dishes from restaurants
.
    
The kitchen tools  I can’t live without are a nice set of stainless measuring spoons, at least one good knife, a two-cup measuring cup with all the odd measurements, a whisk, a decent-sized cutting board, a silicone spatula, large mixing bowls, and a sturdy set of tongs. Everything else I can make or do without. I don’t need fancy machines or processors. That’s just something else to clean. If I need to chop or stir, that’s what’s the knife and whisk are for!
    
My mom took me to United States when I was teenager. I actually learned to cook from fresh ingredients at one of my previous jobs at our own family restaurant “Gordo’s” in Riverside, California. Other places I’ve worked, food was thawed and heat to serve; everything was pre-prepared. So without trying, I really learned how to pair ingredients and spices to create a cohesive meal. Following recipes at work made me want to go home and experiment with different meal ideas. As a result, my family is enjoying my new-found cooking talents.

  • I love salt, but lots of spice mixtures already have salt in them and saltiness may overpower the food. So, I try to find seasonings that do not have salt in them and add salt later.

  • A lot of recipes seem to leave out important directions out. Like “form into balls before frying or add this here.”   It’s trial and error and a lot of common sense to figure out what’s missing.

  • Most recipes leave ingredients out or ask for too much. Experimentation is a key. Substitutions can be used, but the food will taste better if you don’t.

  • Real butter also makes everything taste better.

  • And taste everything you can while cooking.




Tom Yum Goong

    This is one of my favorite recipes and method of making tom yum goong. It is simple and fast to make. This is definitely a recipe that you can only balance by taste because tom yum goong should never be bland, but hot and sour.

***2 Servings, Prep Time: 20 Minutes, Total Time: 20 Minutes***

  • 3 chili peppers

  • 5 sprigs cilantro

  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 3 kaffir lime leaves

  • 1 lemongrass

  • 1-2 limes

  • 5 Mushrooms

  • 1 tablespoon Chili Pest (Nam Prig Pow) Optional

  • 1 cup shrimp

  • 4 cups water


    
Boil water in a 2 quart pot. Peel and de-vein the shrimp and set them aside. Cut lemon grass into pieces, 5-6 inches long. Use the back of your knife to pound the lemon grass, just to bruise it to release the flavor. Tie the lemon grass into a knot to make it easier to manage. Drop the lemon grass in water and let boil for 5 minutes.

    
Put the fish sauce and 1 lime’s juice into the bottom of the bowls you will serve the soup in. Crush chili pepper and add to the bowl.

    
Remove the stems from the kaffir lime leaves and add the leafy part to the pot. Clean and halve the mushrooms and add them to the pot. Let it boil. Add the shrimp and turn off the heat. Shrimp gets tough very quickly, and will cook even when it is just sitting in the warm broth. Scoop the shrimp and liquid into the serving bowls immediately. As soon as you add the liquid to the serving bowl, you will see that the broth becomes cloudy because of the lime juice. Add the Chili Pest (Nam Prig Pow). Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Be very careful, the peppers can be hot. Take a small sip at a time. Add more fish sauce and/or lime juice if it tastes bland.

Hope you all enjoy my special menu.


 
 
 
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