Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Payback Time

Was I just complaining that my turkey keema wasn't hot enough? It seems our local Thai joint heard me, because someone put a big ol' pinch of pepper flakes in our green curry. Three bites and I was like Yosemite Sam firing off a bunch of rounds. It was quite a buzz, and it did wonders for Margy's head cold.

This leads me to a question. What is the proper way to address spice levels in a Thai restaurant? I simply cannot figure it out. I've confirmed that Margy and I like our food a bit hotter than the average American. But the one time we went to a Thai place and I foolishly said "We like things spicy," the food blew a hole in our foreheads. (I mean, we still ate it.) So you'd think medium, like I asked for it tonight, might be the way to go. But there's something tricky about that too. I guess this is just my own bias, from having the opposite problem at Chinese restaurants, where "medium" means absolutely no heat whatsoever. (I'm not talking about good Chinese restaurants.)

And then there was another Thai joint, an excellent place in central New Jersey. There, the server said this: "How do you like your spice? 'Mild' means very spicy."

So there you go. I wanted to answer, "No, I'm pretty sure 'mild' means mild," but that wouldn't have been very nice.

Placing my order in Scoville units probably wouldn't help, would it? I guess I'll keep trying "medium" and keep noting the incredibly wide range that word suggests.


vsearch-2B8799 said...

Any post you make on north indian cooking in the future will be well received.

FDWHJP said...

Round these parts (Maine that is) the Thai joints (and there are more than you'd expect) use the star or chile system. You pick from zero to 5 stars or chiles. And yes, zero means no spice. Seems to work pretty well but it all depends on who's in the kitchen.

the cook said...

That sounds better than mild, medium, spicy, even with the inevitable variation from cook to cook. And it's great to know that Thai food has reached all the way up there!