New Project: The Pok Pok Cookbook

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I know, I know, it’s been forever, I’m sure you’ve all been freaking out on a regular basis about where I’ve been. Life is busy!! Projects take time.

Anyhow, here’s a new/old one: the Pok Pok Cookbook. I was actually gifted this cookbook in 2013 — a fact I was reminded of when opening the cookbook to an inscription which read: “I love you! Now cook this stuff for us! 12-25-13”. Yes, I do realize that it’s now 2018 as of tomorrow.  Yes, I understand that’s 4 whole years. The Pok Pok Cookbook is not a simple project. I have made one or two batches of Pok Pok wings over the years and there are, of course, one off meals you can make here and there but if you really want to cook the stuff in here, it takes a commitment, probably some equipment you don’t have, definitely some ingredients you will have to seriously source, and some time to cook a load of ingredients that require home cooking and are made from ingredients that have been seriously sourced. And in my defense, in this time I have acquired some of the needed cookware, not all, but one can only do so much.

Even now, I’m attacking this project in doses. This is just Part One. I’m back on Whole 30 for a couple of months come tomorrow, and so will break from this project and return for Part Two in March or April. I’m hoping, in those few months, to get a couple more things so I can cook more dishes, though I still have plenty I can make with what I’ve got.

There are seventy recipes in all, so I think we’re talking about three parts in all. I’ve definitely learned during Part One, and so I think I’ll be able to have a better plan for Part Two.

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I was hoping to have a full month of Pok Pok in December, but by the time I was able to get to the Asian market I had about two weeks left. Here’s how I approached it:

First, I went through the book and marked off recipes which interested me. (I think that was pretty much all of them). Then, I went through again, and if I didn’t have the proper equipment, I eliminated it. That probably left me with about half the recipes, cause I still don’t have a clay mortar with wooden pestle, nor an aluminum steamer; also no sticky rice steamer or long handled noodle basket, and no meat cleaver. What I DO have, and you will need to attempt pretty much any of this:

  • A flat bottomed wok and wok spatula
  • A granite mortar and pestle
  • A rice steamer

Umm…I think that’s it. If you have those three things you can make a lot of this stuff.

So, thirdly, I went through all my remaining recipes, and I wrote a list of homemade ingredients they needed, and I counted how many like ingredients there were. Any ingredient that was used three or more times got a check on that recipe.

So now I was left with about 25 recipes. I went through the book a final time and just let my instincts decide which ones were the winners for round one; partially based on what I wanted to cook and partially based on the level of complication there was in any given recipe — certainly in Part One the winners are the simpler recipes that don’t take weeks of prep.

I ended up with a list of 3 salads or appetizers, 3 sides, and 9 main courses that I was hoping to make over the last two weeks.

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I succeeded in making all three salads, 2 of the sides and 7 of the 9 main courses. My reasons for failure were missing ingredients and time. I was hoping to get as many ingredients as possible in person, and then supplement only as absolutely necessary online — which is also tricky. Still, I did pretty well, and it’s certainly been a deliciously fun adventure which has taken me all over NYC in search of the right stuffs.

My next few posts will be the recipes I tried! Forgive the photography — there was never any food left the next day to photograph anything in the daylight. Happy 2018!!

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