Thai Curry? No Sweat! Try Jet Tila’s Simple Kitchen Secrets

09/26/2013 at 04:24 PM ET

Jet Tila
Jet Tila; Inset: Myleen Hollero

Thai curry is one of those foods we love ordering in but can never get right in our own kitchen—it’s always missing that zing!

But it’s time to cool it with the takeout and heat up our mouths with a spicy, salty homemade curry. Cutthroat Kitchen judge Jet Tila—who is putting together Hollywood’s inaugural Thai Food Festival at the Paramount Studios backlot this Sunday—shares his simple tips to coax the right flavors out of any curry.

Milk the right ingredients. “Never buy light coconut milk because the cream of the coconut is what makes curry silky and luxurious,” Tila tells PEOPLE. “It’s like saying I want thick chowder but using skim milk.” Also, never shake the can. For the best flavor: “Scoop out the solid top layer and fry your Thai curry paste in the coconut cream first. Once that paste looks thick like peanut butter, add the rest of the coconut milk and reduce into a sauce.”

Skip the saltSome recipes say you can sub salt for fish sauce, but don’t do it, Tila says—you’ll miss out on an important depth of flavor the curry needs.

Feeling hot? Nix this tip if you want a milder slurp, but you can make your curry extra spicy by adding a few fresh Thai chilies the last few minutes of cooking, Tila says.

Sweeten the pot. The key to the perfect curry is balancing four flavors: salt, heat, sweet and acid. Just a sprinkle of sugar and a few drops of an acidic juice will do. “I tend to go with brown sugar,” Tila says. “It has a nice molasses taste. And a touch of tamarind juice really rounds out the dish.”

—Marissa Conrad


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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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