I’m back! Kramer and I were in Thailand for a week with my parents and brothers, and it was absolutely wonderful. We had never been anywhere like it before, and I hope that we get to go back to Southeast Asia again soon. The weather was wonderful, the food was delicious and the people were incredibly friendly. The worst part was, of course, the travel. On our way out, we started with a 13 and a half hour flight from New York City to Beijing. Kramer and I were able to sleep through a good portion of the flight, thankfully, but being crammed into a giant plane with a hundred other people for that period of time is exhausting all on its own and no amount of sleep can repair you from it. Of course, our flight was a bit delayed taking off, so we hustled through customs in Beijing, found our next flight, and hopped on for a 5 hour trip from Beijing to Bangkok. I think that we both slept through all of this flight, too, and Kramer even got upgraded (I graciously allowed him to keep it instead of taking it for myself because I am a benevolent dictator)! In Bangkok, we rendezvoused with my brothers, who just got in from Tokyo, and thus began our 6 hour layover. It was midnight and at this point Kramer and I had been traveling for 24 hours. We grabbed some food, had a coffee, then sat down and waited (and waited and waited) for the Bangkok Airways booth to be open so that we could get our tickets and hop on the puddle jumper that would take us from Bangkok to Koh Samui, our final destination. I will say that even on that little 50 minute flight, we were served food. The rest of the world knows what’s up. I hate domestic airlines. Anyway, I could have kissed the ground when we finally arrived in Samui. We got in a car and met up with my parents at our hotel, where I could have immediately fell into bed, but of course I was not allowed to do this and instead had some breakfast with my family. The breakfast at the hotel was awesome, by the way. They had congee with poached eggs, shrimp and fish sauce, pad see ew, stir fried pork, steamed buns, smoked salmon…it was endless and fantastically savory. I stuffed my face each and every morning.
Me in my natural state.
On our first day, after breakfast, we just relaxed. We squeezed into our bathing suits and hit the beach, beers and duty-free tequila in hand. The sun felt absolutely amazing after coming from cold, snowy New York, and we did nothing for the next few hours but sit by the beach, then sit by the pool. By 2pm, though, I was out of it. It was time for a nap. My brothers, Kramer and my dad went to explore the small town outside of the hotel, while I took a much needed shower and a two hour snooze fest. I also may or may not have ordered a tuna sandwich from room service. I just needed it, okay? After I scarfed that down (in bed) and fell asleep with the TV on, Kramer came back, shook me awake, and chided me about needing to stay awake at least until 7 or 8 so that our sleep schedule wasn’t screwed up. Good luck with that, pal. We shuffled to dinner with my parents and my brother, Wyatt (Dane apparently wasn’t as up for being awake as I was and got mad when he was woken up – I can completely sympathize with this). Dinner was just what we needed – green curry, tom yum soup, grilled and stuffed squid, rice and, of course, a beer or two. At that point, I was sticking with Coke, but I could appreciate the beers. Kramer was determined to try to stay awake after dinner, so we hit the hotel lobby for a coffee and a giant ice cream sundae (my idea). After being (mostly) awake for almost 48 hours, though, no amount of caffeine and sugar could keep us awake and we conked out as soon as our heads hit our pillows.
I made this pozole before I went to Thailand, but I think that it is appropriate because it is a combination of the Mexican classic with a bit of a Thai twist. Pozole is typically made with a fatty cut of pork, or sometimes chicken thighs and drumsticks, and simmered with chiles and whatever spices you like, such as cumin or maybe a bit of cinnamon. It’s one of my favorite things to order on a cold day or on a day where I’m feeling under the weather. If you’ve never had pozole, definitely make this or seek it out. Pozole is made with hominy, which is similar to corn, but instead of being eaten fresh, it is dried and then soaked to bring it back to live. Hominy has a wonderfully chewy bite to it and is perfect for a warming, hearty dinner. The shrimp made for slightly lighter fare, and instead of a thick, stew-like broth, I went for a thinner chile variety. I will say that this is certainly a spicy dish. If you don’t like heat, look elsewhere. If you enjoy a kick with your meal, though, you will be more than pleased with this pozole. Kramer and I ate this for three days in a row, and one night we even had it with a poached egg added in, which was obviously the best thing ever.
On the beach.
Wandering around town with my brothers.
Life is rough.
Massaman curry and pineapple rice.
I always like to get my ingredients prepped before I start cooking.
Soak or simmer your hominy until tender – set aside.
Cook your bacon until crisp, then set aside.
Soak your chiles. I made a big batch to freeze and use intermittently.
Puree your chiles, reserve some water and set aside.
Cook your onion, jalapeño and garlic in the bacon fat, then add in the chile puree, hominy and water, followed by the cilantro, bacon and shrimp. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Garnish with avocado, cilantro and scallions.
- 1 pound dried hominy (soaked overnight or simmered for 3 hours)
- 1 ounce dried red chile peppers, seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 large onion, minced
- 2 jalapeños, minced
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pound shrimp, cleaned and sliced in half
- 1 large bunch cilantro leaves, plus more for serving
- salt, to taste
- 1 avocado, cubed, for serving
- sliced scallions, for serving
- First, you need to soak your hominy. You can either place it in a bowl of water, covered, for 12 hours, or you can place it in a pot, cover with water, and simmer gently for 3 hours. I went the simmering route because I did not think ahead, as usual. Simmer the hominy, covered, until it is tender, stirring every so often.
- Once the hominy is ready, set it aside. Now you need to rehydrate your chiles. Cut off the tops of the dried chiles and shake out any seeds (a few seeds remaining is fine). Place them in a bowl and cover with boiling hot water (I just used the microwave to heat up the water). Cover with a paper towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit for 30 minutes or so. Once the chiles are rehydrated, reserve 3-4 cups of the chile water, then drain the rest and puree the chiles in a food processor or blender until smooth, adding in a bit of water as needed. Set aside. As a side note, you will have a lot of chile puree and probably won't use all of it. I divided mine up into smaller portions and froze it to use at later dates in other recipes.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat your olive oil over high heat. Add in your bacon and cook until crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add your onion and jalapeños to the bacon fat, and cook until the onions have become translucent, about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add in the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add in 2 tablespoons of the chile puree, stir, then add in 3-4 cups of the chile water (if you'd like it to be less spicy, you can just use regular water or use half chile water and half regular water) and the hominy.
- Taste and add another tablespoon of chile puree if you would like more heat (I did). Stir to combine and add some plain water to cover the hominy if it isn't completely covered. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, then add in the bacon, a big handful of cilantro leaves, and the cleaned and sliced shrimp. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes over medium heat. Taste and add salt as desired. Serve with cilantro leaves, avocado and scallions.