My Thai Kitchen: The Jeff Jackson Special

I’ve mentioned my friend Jeff’s philosophy of women in the kitchen (feet up, with a glass of wine), but since I don’t have him on a daily basis to cater to my every need, I had to imagine rolling up my sleeves to get to work. Because, you know, it’s too hot to actually wear sleeves once you’re at home.

After my second visit to Jeff’s house, I decided to take better charge of my cooking life and this is the main dish that got me there. It’s the most Thailand acceptable dish (everything is bought from my market or local shops) of the MTK series and I still haven’t mastered it quite like Jeff has. The JJ special is vegetable centric meal and has been the spearhead meal to lose that layer of non-intensive exercise fat that has stuck around for the better part of a year.

It is also the only MTK with an actual recipe, provided by the master himself, in case you want to try it out:

  • Start heating your wok with about a tablespoon of oil for about two minutes.
  • Then throw in some garlic (chopped up to your liking) until it browns

I’ve learned negotiating the amounts of these three liquids can completely change the outcome of your meal. 

  • Toss in a few peppers (ha!)(Jeff thinks it’s funny that I still can’t eat moderately spicy food.)
  • Put in your vegetables.  I use eggplant, onions, baby corns … whatever. (I don’t use baby corns, but usually use the same veggies from the omelet MTK, sans cheese obviously).

I was not a big eggplant fan before Thailand. These are the eggplants (not yet cleaned) I pick up in my local market, but I’ve seen them bigger and different colors. It all depends on your region in Thailand and how large the farm is.

  • Move them around so they soak up the oil and then pour some oyster sauce on them.
  • Then pour in about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of hot water.  It makes a fun sound.
  • Add some soy sauce and let it boil and cook.
  • When the water evaporates, add more until you’re satisfied with how well it’s cooked.
  • You can add more hot water right before you’re finished to season your rice or you can serve it more dry. (I don’t have a rice cooker, so I usually just eat the veggies alone. Sometimes I get a little lump of sticky rice from my neighbor, but when I make it, it tastes fine without it.)

Voila! This particular one was a little carrot heavy since I had to finish one off, but it feels so good to be full from a plate of veggies.

Jeff suggests turning on your favorite baseball game and sometimes I watch a queued up movie (I have a strict no working while eating rule), but I’m finding myself going out to my porch more and more to take in the view, thinking about Thailand, Peace Corps, or finishing up a podcast, savoring the food I just made completely by myself.

As much as I hate to admit it, I will miss this view very much.


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