Food Challenge

I’m aiming this one particularly at isaiah543 and mathuaerknedam because I know they like to cook and like their spices but anyone is free to comment here. I’m far more of a baker and dessert maker than a ‘cook’ and I really don’t use a wide variety of seasoning.

A Japanese acquaintance of mine introduced me to a curry mix called S&B Golden Curry (MILD) and I absolutely love it (and most of the family likes it too). It comes in a foil covered packet with a consistency of a chocolate bar. The ingredients are: wheat flour, edible oils (palm oil, canola oil), salt, sugar, curry powder, spices, caramel color, msg, malic acid, dsg, disodim inosinate. The ‘serving suggestion’ is to cook 1-1 1/3 lbs of lean beef, chicken, lamb or shrimp, 1 lb onions, 2 T. cooking oil, 2 1/2 c. water and the mix. I usually cook cubed chicken breast in chicken broth with onions, carrots, sometimes potato, and later add peas, leave out the oil (it doesn’t need it) and after the chicken is cooked and the carrots are tender, I stir in the curry mix until it’s well mixed and thickened.

My problem is the sodium content in this stuff is 990 mg (41% of the daily value) for 1/5 of the package and I’d like to approximate the same taste with less salt/sodium. When I smell the curry powder I have, which includes coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, bay leaves, celery seed, nutmet, cloves, onion, red pepper and ginger, it has a much ‘sharper’ smell than the curry mix. Now I realize that part of that is the curry mix is diluted with the flour for thickening the gravy and the sugar, but when I’ve used the curry powder I have, no one (including me) has liked it so I’m trying to figure out how to imitate the Golden Curry mix. Any suggestions? I’ll give you a package of it if you want to deconstruct it ๐Ÿ™‚
It’s sort of a surprise I got the Husband to eat any of this in the first place. When we were in grad school we went out with another student who was introducing us to his latest girlfriend and he took us to some Thai or Vietnamese restaurant. Now, Husband is not fond of Asian foods to begin with, but he ordered a ‘pineapple curry’ dish that I tried to dissuade him from getting and when it arrived it quite literally looked like a bowl of vomit. It didn’t particularly taste good either. He swore off curry for a life time after that experience. This S&B curry doesn’t taste like Indonesian or Indian curries I’ve tasted before either — it’s very mild and it’s not a ‘soupy’ kind of meal. And now you know the story of why when we go to a restaurant the Husband is likely to look at me and ask ‘what do you think I want to eat?’ ๐Ÿ˜›

So, anyone up for a food challenge?

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21 Responses

  1. Hm, the significant tastes would tend to be salt, sugar, curry, spices, and MSG. That’s not a lot to go by, especially considering that there are different curries. I could try sniffing the packet, but my weak sense of smell will likely preclude a successful analysis. And the inclusion of MSG (toxic, gives me hives) means I don’t want to conduct a taste analysis.

  2. Bummer. It just makes my hands and feet swell a little but it’s one of the reasons I’d like to imitate the flavor w/o the sodium additives. Since I’m not very good at recognizing different spices, I hate when a package just says ‘spices’ as an ingredient b/c I usually can’t figure it out.

  3. Perhaps MobileOak can help. Or maybe one of the lurkers.

    I’m willing to give it a sniff, but I don’t have high hopes of success.

  4. Hi, just found this. I’d love the challenge of trying to mimic it, although I don’t have much experience with curry (I love it, but am not a connoisseur) and making my own. I don’t use it often enough (there are too many wonderful things to cook), so I haven’t gotten through the overpriced grocery store container and on to the huge packet I got at Am-Ko yet. If the family liked one type and not the other I’d be tempted to shop around (I love how the international students have allowed us such a variety of food stores). Am-Ko, the International foods, etc. would all get a visit until I found one that fit well.

    I’d be willing to help figure out a good imitation recipe, but I don’t have several of the spices you listed.

    I have no idea whether I react to MSG.

  5. MobileOak:

    Not knowing you very well, I guess it’s not surprising I didn’t know that you cook. I tend to expect all men to behave like my Husband who can burn eggs and grill burgers but we’re all happier if I do the cooking and he does the car/house repair. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I have a curry packet on hand that I’ll give to your wife when she comes over on Tues to have some wine cooler — so you can try your hand at deconstructing. I’d like to wander the aisles of the international stores more frequently but having 4 kids in tow really limits my desire to do that ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The last time I was in one I think was about 3 yrs ago when I bought some sofrito. On the MBTI perspective, I become very ‘P’ when I think of making new foods and shopping in international stores — I get so excited by all the jars of things I’ve never used before.

    Have you eaten Chinese food at a restaurant? Most likely you have had MSG if you have. There’s a little hole in the wall place near Sam’s Club called ‘The Best Wok’ and they don’t use MSG but it’s rare for a Chinese place. It’s also in most canned soups, chicken broth, buillion cubes, other things that I think most Americans have been exposed to.

    So if you hang out at the international food stores, what is it you like to cook??

  6. I do all sort of things. My specialty (if I have one) is Italian – I frequently make my own spaghetti sauce. I go into Am-Ko occasionally to buy stuff for asian dishes (suprising, I know!), such as soy sauce, rice, thai noodles, and such. Probably my most exotic dish was taught to me by a former roommate who is Filipino. It’s generically called ‘adobo chicken’, and involves a marinade composed of filipino soy sauce, cane or palm vinegar, garlic, and some other stuff.

  7. MSG and it’s ilk are used in a *lot* of different things. It’s cheap and magically makes food taste better. It has negative side-effects (often subtle) for a lot of people, but it gets used because of the econimic incentives. Kinda like High Fructose Corn Syrup.

  8. MobileOak is a great cook! I’m the one who burns the eggs in this house! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Spaghetti — that brings up interesting food ‘issues’ in our house. I LOVE pasta and could happily eat it several days each week just as I did in grad school. I love red sauces of numerous varieties. Daughter #2 also likes it and Daughter #4 likes it; Daughter #3 is ambivalent; Daughter #1 HATES red sauce and will practically not eat if I put it on the noodles and Husband #1 dislikes red sauces. The latter two far prefer plain noodles sprinkled with cheeses, pesto, white al fredo sauces, garlic/scampi, carbonara — almost *anything* but tomato. As an only child I somehow imagined that most people in the household would like similar foods (I greatly dislike beets although my mother loved them, but generally speaking I liked what we ate) and having kids has really opened my eyes to just how *different* individuals in one family can be. Spaghetti is just one example.

  10. MBTI related:

    I like to say that the older two can make themselves a healthy meal if they don’t like what I have made, but that they cannot complain about what I have made.

    Gorfchild is more inclined toward the “this is what’s to eat, take it or get nothing” approach.

    hmmm…… where do you folks fall in the food battle?

    FWIW I love the red sauce, and so does Gorf, but the rest are all cheese-only fans. So I serve the sauce on the side. And I love all sorts of pasta. But my favorite is the tiny angle hair pasta, cold, in a spicy veggie salad. yummmmm-yummy!

  11. Eight years ago when Daughter#1 didn’t like something and requested something else I’d jump like a jack-in-the-box getting anything she requested and fortunately the Husband put a quick end to that! For a while we fought with the kids at the table about eating food but then we found a strategy that doesn’t make meals a battle. I make the food and they have the option to eat it or not. If they choose not to eat it, they may have no snacks until the next meal — ie, skip lunch or dinner and 20 min later be in the food closet looking for granola bars b/c ‘they’re hungry’.

    I expect them to at least taste everything I cook but I don’t expect them to like it and the Husband expects them to not complain about how ‘diiiiisguuuuusting’ it is. In general when I’m making my menu plan for the week if I plan to make something that may be questionable from their viewpoint, I’ll try to plan in the same meal something I know they will like for a side dish or serve leftovers they previously liked at the same meal or something and I try not to make more than one or two objectionable meals in a week. It often means that I’m not cooking the way I prefer but it has also meant that the kids are exposed to more than the average fare and sometimes they find something they really like — like the spicy peanut chicken.

    The not fighting or expecting them to clean their plates makes me happy that there are less ‘food issues’ in our house than there might be and having them try everything I make has at least broadened their tastes so they actually count among their favorites things like potstickers, eggrolls, green enchiladas, and so on.

    But here’s a funny quote from Daughter #2 — after some event here she asked me why it is that several people commented they think I’m a good cook? She doesn’t think so and I make such ‘ordinary foods’ anyway — what’s the big deal? From her perspective, I do make ordinary foods — she eats them every day! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Um, perchance was comment 10 made by Egana while posting as Gorfchild?

  13. What do you do about the fact that behavior degrades without proper nutrition? Or is it less of an issue with older children?

    We try to always cook something Elizabeth “likes” for each meal, but we try to make it at least somewhat related to (or a variation on) what we are eating. She always has to at least taste everything on her plate, but we don’t want to force her to eat food that she doesn’t like. She also doesn’t have to finish all of her food, but we do try to make sure that she eats enough to no have her stomach tempting her to sin. Sometimes this means making something “extra” after we have finished eating. We’re not too excited about doing this, but it seems that without food in her stomach, she cannot help but be unpleasant to be around.

  14. I’m inclined to offer the food as cooked, and allow children to cook their own food as long as it meets parental approval*. My mom did this because I didn’t care so much for fish sticks and Hamburger Helper, and I attribute it as a main cause for my interest in cooking today.

    It’s probably MBTI related, but I don’t see any reason to not allow children to do otherwise.

    *Parental approval includes consideration of both desired food, and appropriate supervision.

  15. 12 is right about 10

    *wink*

  16. As I continue to think about this, I think I have misrepresented Gorf. I think he was stating that an equal case could be made for the “eat it or nothing” approach as for the “don’t complain, you’re on your own” approach. And it was he who speculated that it was MBTI related, in the way a parent applies limits and freedoms to food, family eating, and its routines and rituals.

    To further clarify, I agree that the “on your own” approach is certainly within approved limits. Candy, cookies, chips, etc. are not among the “green-light foods” in our house.

    Last year we read a picture book that descirbed foods in three categories: green light, yellow light, and red light.

    “Green light foods” are the foods that make you feel good, give you energy, and you can eat as much of it as you want.

    “Yellow light foods” are the ones that may taste good, but make you slow down, feel sleepy or cranky, and you should take a cue from your body to eat these foods in careful amounts, being aware of how they make you feel.

    “Red light foods” are the ones that, while they also taste good, are filled with preservatives and chemicals and are not good for your body at all. The book recommended that you avoid red light foods completely. But the Krejci house does not do this, although we eat these foods seldom, and in small amounts.

    It has been pretty interesting to talk with Jon after he eats a whole bag of candy during church, and then wants to lie down and sleep when his friends are playing. He will come up to us and say groaningly: “I aaaate tooooo muuuuch red liiiiiight fooooooodssssssss….” He can be taught!

    So, all this to say, that when they request to make their own food instead of eat what I am preparing, they have that freedom, as long as they choose “green light foods.”

  17. MN:
    The food rules I mentioned are definitely not so strictly enforced at the three year old stage — there is some loosely defined gradient with higher expectations for older kids. In the mornings they eat a carby breakfast generally — muffins, bagels, cereal, yogurt, mid morning they have a snack — usually fruit, sometimes yogurt, sometimes a granola bar, we have lunch which is usually some form of protein, some veggies and a carb (but they often times skip the carb at lunch so if they had fruit in the morning they’ll eat a granola bar in the afternoon, etc) and then we have a dinner with protein, carbs & veggies. With the girls having varying degrees of lactose intolerance we have a hard time getting calcium requirements met so I encourage yogurts and buy calcium fortified granola bars and give them chewable calcium tablets. As I think about how this has evolved over the last 8 years, I think we’ve gotten to the point that we just don’t let the kids refuse to eat dinner and then turn to some alternative sugary/junk food and it’s not a ‘power play’ issue as it was initially.

    But this brings me to another thought — growth spurts. One thing of which I have become more keenly aware in the last 4 years or so is to be sensitive to growth spurts. They can yield PMS-like symptoms in some people in our house and other symptoms include awkwardness, clumsiness, sleepiness, general forgetfulness/mental fog (some of the girls have seemed like they can’t grow and think at the same time), and a ravenous appetite. I have one kid who barely eats anything and suddenly she’ll eat adult portions at the meals for a couple of weeks and then she’ll be back to a few tablespoons at most — she is also *extremely* emotional . . . we dread PMS. Another kid usually eats well but in a growth spurt cannot seem to be filled — after each item consumed she asks again ‘what else can I eat, Mom?’ If I provide them with ample calcium and protein, lower my general expectations of them for a week or two (may suddenly need naps for instance when they stopped doing that regularly years ago and it’s not a good time to introduce new mathematical concepts) and not get frustrated by the constant search for food, we’re all happier. The key for me is to recognize what is going on *at the beginning* of the cycle rather than in hindsight! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Of course the four girls are not ‘in sync’ so I’m never doing a great job at it, but I definitely find myself more sensitive to their needs than I was just a few years ago. I just have to watch for the patterns each one has.

  18. egana:
    what is the name of the book? it sounds similar to the general concepts I try to teach the kids about foods but in a kid-friendly wrapping that they might like. Maybe you could post it in the ‘reader’s corner’ page?

  19. After comparing the Golden Curry bar with the three curry powders I have in my house, the one closest in flavor is:

    McCormick’s Gourmet Collectionยฎ Red Curry Powder

    The McCormick’s has most/all of the flavors that the Golden Curry has and an additional one that my (short) analysis wasn’t able to determine (Cardamom?). I’ll probably try again later.

  20. Mobile Oak:
    I *really* appreciate you trying this for me! I tried a ‘Sharwood’s Mild Indian Curry Powder’ and it is close but it’s missing some flavor but I have no idea what it is. It has a recipe on the side that is way different than Japanese curry — yogurt & almonds in it. But it calls for using garlic and fresh ginger. The powder itself already has dehydrated garlic but more could be good and ginger seems like a normal Japanese flavor so maybe next time I’ll try adding some of that. I can’t get away with making this too often around here, even in the name of experimentation ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Even better – I managed to track down the site of the manufacturer of your Golden Curry, S&B foods. It looks like they have a curry powder. Whether or not it contains MSG isn’t obvious, but it is described as containing “no additives and 100% pure spice & herb ingredients only.”

    I don’t know if you can get it in town somewhere, but you can order it on the internet here , and here.

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