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Totally agree. But if you don't own a restaurant with a modern kitchen still try and make sure you have proper ventilation, heck, ours is basically open air and our fry chef still nearly died from sucking in all that smoke every day. Markets are the same. I think they're all taking years off there life!

F**king yum! So glad to have you back writing on the regular again Wris!

Eddy - I've got a 1.5hp engine and a 12' hood to suck out the smoke. It also sucks out all my air-con, but it's worth it.

Tks Atha. Come over and eat sometime!


Do you have any position on the use of Liquid Smoke as a poor-man's substitute?

As to ventilation, I put a standard cheap window fan in the window above the stove. It works pretty well. And reading this reminds me I need to let my wok get hotter.

@Jarret @Peter Our kitchen has a roof but no walls and 3 hoods. It was locally made and installed but obviously shoddy. Every kitchen here uses them. Anyway, I think it was 1 of those things - like someone who's never smoked before and still get cancer.


Ive never used liquid smoke -- do you use it occasionally? Never tried it, but I have tasted it and its (obviously) not the same... I think in an apartment kitchen Id just cook something else... You can hot-smoke pretty easily in a wok, though, Peter. Just line with foil, put some rice in there, a rack above, cap it tight. It works pretty well. Fun experiment, anyway.

I have liquid smoke, and I want to use it more. I like the idea of liquid smoke because it is such a pure, simple product. It really is smoke captured in water. How could you go wrong?

Think of it this way, if I made my own liquid smoke, I'd be the coolest kid in Queens, right?

I do use it occasionally but honestly, not too much. One problem may be that Liquid Smoke is usually hickory, geared more toward the BBQ crowd than the Thai herbs.

I wonder if charcoal liquid smoke exists...

Maybe I need to experiment more. I guess the real questions are 1) does it taste good? 2) is it best used at the beginning or end of the cooking? and 3) how much? If I come up with any answers, I'll let you know.

The wok smoked-rice concept is good. I'll try that. But I'm less interested in actually smoking things than giving my normal cooking a smokey flavor. I wonder what Zora would say if I set up a charcoal wok station on the roof? I'm sure she and the fire department would love it.

And it's hotter in New York than Bangkok right now. A sure sign of the rapture. It wouldn't so bad if somebody sold Thai iced tea on every block.

I just put a few dashes of liquid smoke (6 drops?) into a sauce for a swiss chard stir fry.

The sauce was thai red pepper paste (from a jar), tamarind concentrate, 1 patty palm sugar, shrimp paste, and a few chopped dried shrimp. I cooked all of that a bit over low heat, added fish sauce, and set aside. I whipped the wok clean, jacked up the heat, waited, added some of the strained oil, fried the greens (with a bit of onion), added the chunky sauce (and some water). Topped it all with crispy garlic. Anyway, the recipe isn't important, though it was delicious (and the kind of thing I like making myself for breakfast).

The liquid smoke verdict? Subtle, but a definite smokey plus! I think any more and the hickory flavor might be distracting. But a few drops added early works great.

Also, one of the nice things about the heat here is that the palm oil is liquid. That only happens about 4 months a year. It gets solid under about 75 degrees... bet you didn't know that in Thailand!

Experiment #2: No liquid smoke. But pork marinated in miso and chile paste. Then I got the wok as hot as I could (which is not glowing hot) and fried the pork in its lard (which I had rendered while prepping everything). The sugars in the miso, I suspect, browned and char very quickly. There's a fine line between the taste of smoke and the taste of good char. This walked that line very nicely! Hot wok was key. So is decent ventilation.

Well I wonder who those two martini drinking writers were... :)

Jarrett, you didn't tell us you had this blog also. I was checking to see where the Soul Food to Street Food post was ranking (what lives we lead, hey?) and discovered this - and Stuart's interview with you too. I'll link to that as well.

loved this post. I hope you can find time to write here more.

Jarrett, I have a question:

What the hell is Mud Fish Sauce (AKA: Mam Ca Loc)?

I bought a jar, opened it, and got scared. I mean, I know fish sauce can smell a bit funky. But this is off-the-charts horrible! Assuming it smells the way it is supposed to (how would I know if it's bad?), what could I possible cook that would end up tasting good?

The ingredients are mudfish, water, salt. It's more a paste than a liquid. And I did I mention is smells like rot?

Yep. ive got to say i loved that roasted pork, thai street food. You says it called jimjaw?

You sometimes see people selling it at street stalls, they use like an oil drum and an oven and there is a fire in the middle of it and the pork is hung around the edges.

Loveley with some kao neow and that dark chili sauce aroi maak

Hey Peter,

Im not an expert on Viet food but I think what youve got there is a freshwater, fermented fish sauce. In Thai its called plaa raa -- its a fiercely smelly thing, that is not necessarily suggestive of rotting fish, which it is. Whole river fish, water, rice and salt are fermented for several months in buckets or barrels in tropical heat. The fish is eaten after fermentation, and the resulting liquid -- usually the color of mud -- is used to season food. Its very common in Isaan and Lao cuisine. I like it sometimes, but am not a fan of som tam lao, the papaya salad seasoned with plaa raa rather than saltwater fish sauce (nam plaa). If thats what youve got, I can understand your surprise. Cheers. Jarrett    

Thanks. The bottle I have is from Thailand. I guess I could only read (and type!) the Vietnamese and English names.

Regardless, you know damn well I can't compete with Isaan. I'm not man enough.

And it's garbage night tonight.

No offense, but if there's a facebook like button, it'll be much easier for me to share.


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