Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Thai Green Curry + Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Paste
Several weeks back, when Toronto was experiencing Winter's Last Hurrah and the idea of spring was seeming more and more like some cruel joke, I found myself in the north of the city with my friend Anna, both of us hungry for a warm dinner. It was rather fortuitous for us, then, that we also happened to be walking along a strip of Yonge Street populated with Asian restaurants and noodle joints. It still took several minutes of wandering (not including a stop for sweets at an Iranian bakery) before we could decide which kind of hot and spicy dinner we were craving, but eventually we walked into a fusion restaurant and ordered some Thai green curry.
I have to say, if there's something in this world that can both warm your Canadian-winter-beaten soul and brighten your senses, it's a Thai curry. Most comfort food I grew up with was of the heavier variety - mac'n cheese, potato soup, scalloped potatoes, hamburger soup - it was hot, filling, and always delicious, but it also almost always made you want to take a 4-hour nap afterwards.
But a Thai curry...it's comforting, but it also has the ability to set your mouth on fire (depending on how adventurous you are) and it's rather difficult to take a nap when it feels like a part of your body is in flames. (I recently ate an entire Thai green chile on a dare, which caused me to experience such intense sensations that I cried against my will, shoved crackers into my face, then stood in the hallway and emitted a noise that can only be described as that of a baby dinosaur who's been abandoned by its mother.)
Suffice to say, the dinner Anna and I had that day (which also ended in a snowstorm) made me realize the deficiency of Thai curry in my life, a lack I henceforth decided to remedy.
I have since made this recipe three times, so I think I have thus far done a good job of remedying my Thai curry deficiency. I hope it brings some slightly fiery comfort to you as well in these early wet days of spring.
Thai Green Curry
Adapted from Canadian Living: The Vegetarian Collection
This curry is full of bright flavours, and manages to be filling and comforting without being heavy. This recipe makes a lot, but taste as good if not better the next day. You can of course use just about any vegetables you have on hand rather than the ones listed, like carrots, peas, green beans, etc - another wonderful aspect of this recipe.
1/3 cup Thai green curry paste (see recipe below)
1 tbsp oil
2 400 mL cans full-fat coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
2 stalks lemongrass, peeled & halved
2 thick slices galangal (Thai ginger) OR ginger
2 1/2 cups (350 g) extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 heads broccoli, chopped
2 bell peppers, seeded & chopped
2 baby eggplants, halved & sliced
1 tbsp lime juice
salt, to taste
1 cup uncooked brown rice + 2 1/4 cups water
Serves 4 - 6.
1. Before you start your curry, prepare your rice. Place the uncooked rice and water in a pot with a generous pinch of salt and cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, until all the water as been absorbed, 40 - 60 minutes. Once cooked, remove the lid and let stand for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
2. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over low-medium heat, then add oil and curry paste. Saute for about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Add the peeled & halved stalks of lemon grass, the galangal slices, and the cubes of tofu. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook uncovered over medium-low heat for at least 20 minutes to let the flavours deepen, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, you can remove the stalks of lemongrass, or leave them in if you want the flavour to be more pronounced.
4. While the curry is cooking, wash and prep your vegetables. Once the curry has stewed for at least 20 minutes, add the chopped vegetables. Cover the pot and lower the heat slightly, cooking the curry until the eggplant is soft and cooked through, about 8 - 15 minutes.
5. Once the vegetables have cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the lime juice. Season with salt, to taste. Serve immediately over rice. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Paste
Adapted from Canadian Living: The Vegetarian Collection
Once you start making your own curry paste, you'll never want to stop. It's the foundation of a good Thai curry recipe, and making it yourself also means you can control the heat level as well. It also couldn't be easier, and will store well in the fridge. A batch or two of this on hand means several delicious dinners in your future.
12 Thai green chiles
1/2 cup cilantro stems & roots
2 tbsp grated galangal (Thai ginger) OR ginger
2 tbsp grated ginger
1/4 cup lemongrass, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup diced shallots
1/4 cup minced garlic
4 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
1 tbsp corainder seeds (or ground coriander)
1 tsp turmeric
1. For an extra spicy curry paste, don't seed your chiles, just cut off the stems. I seeded half the chiles and left the other half whole. Place in a food processor.
2. Add the cilantro stems, galangal, ginger, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and lime zest to the food processor.
3. In a dry skillet, toast the cumin seeds, then the coriander seeds. Grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
4. Add the cumin, coriander, and turmeric to the food processor. Blend all of the ingredients together, adding up to 1/4 cup of water, to create a paste, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary. Once well blended, transfer to an airtight jar and store in the fridge for up to a month.