This all started when I went to cook up a Thai-style pork rib recipe from Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok cookbook. The recipe included an optional jaew, a spicy, tart dipping sauce for meat – which I thought would be quick and easy to whip up. The ribs needed to marinate for at least two hours. It couldn’t possibly take that long to make the jaew. After all, this wasn't like my first rodeo.
I got the ribs marinating then read the jaew recipe. Boy, was I an idiot. The Thai dipping sauce had 3 sub-recipes – palm sugar syrup, toasted chile powder, and ground toasted sticky rice. The palm sugar syrup required chopping up the sugar (a lazy-day sub is light brown sugar), the chile powder required Mexican puya chiles (I had Arbol chiles), and the toasted rice flour requried soaking raw sticky rice (I usually don’t soak my rice and was out of sticky rice). I had to make a decision: Would I take shortcuts to lighten my load and defy Ricker’s position against substitutions, or would I go the Full Monty and follow the recipe instructions laid out by Ricker and co-author J J Goode?