5@5 - Chef Harold Dieterle
November 11th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Remember waaaaay back in 2006, when tweeting was something that only Rockin’ Robin did and Foursquare was but a lowly schoolyard game? Ah, the good ol’ days. That same year also brought us the series premiere of an unassuming reality cooking competition called “Top Chef” - to which the above gentleman, Harold Dieterle, went on to win.

The following year, Dieterle opened his first restaurant Perilla in New York City with business partner Alicia Nosenzo. And just last month after that "unassuming" cooking show announced its eighth season, Dieterle opened his second restaurant Kin Shop - a contemporary Thai eatery inspired by his many trips to the Southeast Asian country.

Five of My Favorite Thai Ingredients and How to Use Them: Harold Dieterle

1. Rice Pearls
"I really love using these, they are basically a type of toasted rice cereal. I’ll incorporate them into dishes at Perilla and Kin Shop to add a unique crunchy element and to bring a toasted rice flavor to a dish. They also work as substitute for nuts or seeds. At Kin Shop, I use them in a dish of grilled eggplant with mint and fish sauce. You can find rice pearls at any Asian specialty market."

2. Calamansi (or Calamondin)
"A fruit especially popular in Southeast Asia, but one that can be fairly expensive in the United States. It reminds me of a cross between a lime and tangerine. The fruit itself can be sour while the peel is on the sweeter side. I make a sorbet with it at Kin Shop. Home cooks might consider using the juice for a refreshing cocktail."

3. Fermented Yellow Bean Sauce
"A great condiment made with fermented yellow soy beans, salt, and water. It is a very common ingredient in Thailand and is available at most Asian markets here. I like to use it for its great depth of flavor and salinity, and as a replacement for fish sauce, on occasion. At Kin Shop, I incorporate it into the eggplant chutney and home cooks might consider adding to vegetarian or noodle dishes."

4. Green Papaya
"Technically, an unripe papaya, it’s a common fruit in Thai cuisine. I’m a big fan of its firm flesh and mild sweet flavor. At Kin Shop, I do a crispy duck tongue salad with green papaya, snake beans, ground peanuts and chili-pomegranate vinaigrette. In Thai cuisine, green papaya is most famously the star of Som Tum Salad (a.k.a. Green Papaya Salad)."

5. Pigeon Peas
"They’re in the lentil family and have great, slightly nutty texture and a high starch content, so I prepare them the same way I would a risotto. At the restaurant, we use pigeon peas in curries where we’re looking to add some texture. They really allow you to create interesting dishes. You can find pigeon peas at most grocery stores and easily substitute them at home for other legumes."

Do you cook with any of the above ingredients? If so, how do you incorporate them? And if you don't - what are some of your favorite Thai ingredients?

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Jerv

    That picture is a bowl of what? Looks like something that a Klingon would eat in Star Trek. Ugh.

    November 15, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  2. jillmarie

    I had a green papaya salad recently at a Thai restaurant- unexpected but delish flavor. I have to try the fermented bean sauce. I've seen pigeon peas in the store- gotta try them! Rice pearls sound very interesting too. I'd like to try that wacky fruit too.

    November 13, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Evil Grin

    I'll pass on the pigeon peas. They're still peas.

    I had Calamondin once. A very sweet Thai lady used to run a chinese restaurant near me, and she made such good food I was a frequent customer. She started bringing me little things they'd just gotten in, or were thinking of adding to the menu. The Calamondin was one of them. I don't think she was going to add it to the menu, but she'd gotten a bunch of them in recently and asked me to try a little. I liked it, but it was a weird taste for me. Not what I was expecting.

    November 12, 2010 at 11:47 am |
  4. Brad Burns

    The Lakehouse is playing with rice pearls today

    November 12, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  5. Liberace

    I'd like to hit that..!

    November 11, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
    • Jerv

      LMAO! Too too funny!

      November 12, 2010 at 9:31 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      That's what I'm talking about.

      November 12, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  6. Matt

    I have not used any of these ingredients before but that fermented yellow bean sauce looks good and pretty healthy for digestion. Interesting stuff.

    My blog http://www.digestforlife.com

    November 11, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
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