Tuesday, January 24, 2023

"Hot Shot" Spicy Gin-Lime Cocktail


Hot Shot cocktail photo
This is a lightly spicy gin-lime cocktail which was reverse-engineered from the menu description at Blue Water Distilling in Everett WA. It has obvious flavors of jalapeno, cilantro, celery, and lime, rounded out with ginger simple syrup. The heat level is quite moderate, but it's not a drink you'll want to chug. 

To make this cocktail you will need to make three infusions... One spicy vodka, one celery tincture, and one ginger simple syrup. You'll combine those ingredients with gin and lime juice, and garnish with cucumber and Tajin. Nothing is difficult to prepare.


I'm mixing units, it's true. You'll cope. 

Jalapeño-cilantro vodka

12 fl oz vodka
50 g green jalapeño (de-seeded, membrane scraped out, and roughly chopped)
20 g cilantro (leaves and stems)

Celery tincture

6 oz Everclear (vodka would be OK)
1 tablespoon celery seed (lightly pan roasted)
10 g celery leaf

Ginger simple syrup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
30 g ginger (rough chopped, skin on OK)

Other drink ingredients

Lime juice


Cucumber (your favorite variety)


Jalapeño-cilantro vodka

1. Combine the vodka, jalapeno, and cilantro in a Mason jar or vacuum bag. Muddle the veggies and seal the container

2. Sous vide the mixture at 150F for 1 hour.

3. Strain the mixture into a jar for storage. 

The infused vodka should be medium-dark green, have moderate spiciness, and rich veggie flavors. It's a good start for other spicy cocktails. 

Celery tincture

1. Toast the celery seeds in a dry pan over medium heat, until the smell is strong. If you see any smoke at all, stop -- you're done. Pour the seeds into a bowl to stop toasting. (Optional: Lightly grind the toasted seeds, but don't powder them--just crack them.)

2. Combine the Everclear, celery seeds, celery leaves in a Mason jar or vacuum bag. Muddle the leaves and seal the container. 

3. Sous vide the mixture at 150F for 1 hour.

4. Strain the mixture into a jar for storage. 

The dark green tincture should have a very strong celery flavor and slight bitterness.

Ginger simple syrup

1. Combine the water, sugar, and ginger in a pan.

2. Beat up the ginger with a muddler or other tool, but don't break it into fine pieces.

3. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and hold for about 5 minutes. 

4. Strain the mixture into a jar for storage. 

The syrup should have an obvious but not overpowering ginger flavor, and a light yellow color. 


1. Skin the cucumber if needed, and chop into semicircles about 1/4" thick.

2. Make a slit in the flat side of the cucumber so it can be easily pushed onto the rim of a glass.

3. Coat half of each cucumber slice in Tajin.

Cocktail assembly

Use these proportions as a starting point. Be careful about adding too much celery tincture or lime juice, as they can easily overpower everything else. 

1 part gin

1 part jalapeño-cilantro vodka

1/2 part ginger simple syrup

1/2 part lime

1/8 part celery tincture

Put a Tajin cucumber on the rim of the glass. Consider a shake of Tajin on the top of the drink, or even rimming the glass with Tajin, as the salt/sour/chile flavor is important to round out the flavors. 



The infusions can be scaled up as big as you wish. 

You could make less of the celery tincture, as it's used in a much smaller amount than the vodka. 

You could probably make the simple syrup with the same sous vide time and temperature settings, but a quick simmer extracts plenty of ginger flavor. 

A strainer will remove the veggies from the infusions, but you'll be left with some fine particles. You can strain the infusions through a coffee filter to clarify them further, but it probably isn't worth the effort as the lime juice will make the final drink cloudy anyway. Just try to let the particles settle to the bottom of the storage jars, and make an effort to not stir them up when you decant. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Like Thai curry? You should go to your Asian market right now.

The title of this site tells you it's about complicated cooking, but to make the time for kitchen complications I like to save time where I can.

Here's a tasty, cheap, and easy way to make Thai-style curry that is likely gonna be as good as what you are getting at your take-out joint. Hit your Asian market and look for Mae Ploy brand curry paste. A 400 g tub should cost about three bucks, and it will make several giant batches of very tasty curry. It's a ridiculously good deal.

This post is not a Mae Ploy commercial, though it probably looks like it!

Mae Ploy curry paste comes in several varieties, but in my opinion the best tasting ones by far are the panang and massaman curry. They're all good, but I keep coming back to these two.

Take a look at the ingredients. It's all spices herbs and spices and shrimp paste. I couldn't put this together from scratch for three bucks.

Mae Ploy curry paste isn't always vegan-friendly, but read the labels on other brands in the same area. AROY-D has some vegan-friendly curry pastes.

The directions for all Mae Ploy curry varieties are very similar. Stir-fry the seasoning paste, add meat, water, and coconut milk, simmer and then add some final seasonings like sugar or fish sauce. Tweak those last additions to taste, but do not skip them. They are critical! 

If I am making chicken curry, I start by chopping chicken thighs into chunks about 1" across. Then I sear the pieces, because browned meat is always better, and then I start paying attention to the instructions again. But if I am in a real hurry and I don't want to brown the chicken? You can get away with that too. 

In the case of the Mae Ploy massaman curry, it calls for tamarind paste as the final ingredient. You can probably find some where you're buying your curry paste. Check the ingredients. You want to find something that has tamarind and water and maybe some preservative, but nothing else. Don't get a solid block of tamarind, do get a pre-made paste.

There's one last thing you need to enter cheap curry paradise, and that is good coconut milk. There are a lot of cans on the shelf, but I really recommend Mae Ploy coconut cream. It should only be a couple of bucks a can. If you have a restaurant supply store near you, you can even get a case of this stuff!

When I make curry from a store-bought seasoning paste, I usually scale up the seasoning and meats to match the volume of the coconut cream I'm using. Sometimes, I am trying to use up a Costco-sized chicken pack. Do some math to scale the recipe on the curry jar to your own situation.

Oh, you're going to need rice, too. How about making perfect rice in your Instant Pot? This writer figured out all the cooking times for all kinds of rice.

It's a good site that you should visit, but let me give you a quick preview: for white rice, add equal parts by volume rice and water to your Instant Pot, cook on Manual mode, High pressure for 3 minutes, and then wait for the pressure to release naturally. It will take about 25 minutes total.

If there is no Asian market near you, here are some Amazon links, but ... go find an Asian market. It's going to be a lot cheaper, and you'll find some other great stuff there, too.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Pot Sticker Dipping Sauce

This fantastic sauce was reverse-engineered from the excellent example at a local Szechuan joint. Key to this condiment is the base of soy sauce and vinegar. A ratio of 1:1 is a good starting point. A little sweetness is also required. Ginger, garlic, green onions, and chili heat make up the rest of the show.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Essential Beef Jerky

This recipe produces jerky with a good balance of salty, savory, sweet, smoky, and spicy. It's great on its own, and a good foundation for further experimentation.

For more heat, I recommend topping the meat slices with pepper flakes or ground black pepper when dehydrating, as opposed to altering the marinade.

Read on for the complete recipe and all the other information you'll need to succeed.