Thursday, March 17, 2005

that's just not right (supper edition)

I wrote once before about affronts to culinary goodness in that's just not right (breakfast edition). The topic back then was reheated scrambled eggs. I can say with relief and gratitude that I haven't had to consume an abused plate of eggs in quite a while. We've been working on the timing, and that's going well; also, eggs are not quite so heavy in the breakfast rotation these days.

Tonight's adventure takes us to the end of the day, and involves the collision between an exotic dish and the lowly potato.

The exotic dish is Masaman curry. This is a very tasty Thai stew-like dish that has (usually) beef, tomatoes, potatoes, peanuts, coconut milk, and lots of tasty Thai spices like tamarind, lemon grass, and fish sauce. It's a comfort food for me, but I'm usually too fussed to make it myself (although I have, with good results.) We get our Thai take-out from the strip-mall gem Mint Thai Cafe in Gilbert.

Which brings me to the potatoes. Potatoes -- especially cooked potatoes -- should never be refrigerated. They acquire this nasty taste that no amount of spicy sauce can camoflage. About the only thing you can try to save a refrigerated (or, heaven help us, canned) potato is frying, but even that is no assurance that you won't still taste that nasty refrigerated taste.

Yes, even leftover mashed potatoes suffer this unfortunate transformation in the refrigerator.

At this point, you may be wondering what I'm talking about, because I have the impression that some people don't or can't taste the difference between refrigerated potatoes and those that have never been chilled. If you're one of those who has never noticed a difference, you may consider yourself lucky, because there's nothing quite as nasty as biting into a potato and getting that mouthful of refrigerated taste...

... which is exactly what happened to me at dinner tonight. Masaman, like all stews, does improve overnight as the flavor settle together -- except for the potatoes! If you're going to make it up and let it sit for a day or two, just leave the potatoes out! I expect Mint Thai does not think like I do about those potatoes, and keeps its masaman, potatoes and all, in the fridge until it's time to make a new batch. So this is not all that unusual for Mint Thai, although there have been times when the potatoes have been fantastic. Fresh potatoes are fantastic in masaman curry, because they absorb all the flavors so wonderfully and quickly; they don't need to soak for days. The best thing I can say about the refrigerated potatoes is they don't contaminate the rest of the dish.

So I ended up (as usual) picking out all the potatoes, which is probably better for me anyway, carb-wise. I eat a sparing portion of the accompanying jasmine rice, and I'm fine -- there is more than enough to eat, even after picking out the generous portion of potato wedges.

I still wish there was a way to find out about those potatoes without having to actually taste one. Is the risk (nasty taste) worth the potential benefit (perfectly masaman'd potato)? Given the low probability of the latter, I'd have to say no.

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