VDP: Green Curry with Tofu with Rice Noodles

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thai curry paste preparation is typically a bit complex. The number of items that go into the past can be huge, anything from dried shrimp to Kefir lime leaves to coriander roots. This one is a fairly simple one I improvised to make a quick weekday dinner. To make it faster I also used a mini-processor instead of my usual granite mortar and pestle. The result was very good for a tasty Thai-style green curry that took less than an hour from start to finish.

The past included garlic, galangal, turmeric (fresh NOT dried…well actually frozen and it looks like a miniature knob of ginger), shallots, lemongrass from my garden, Kefir lime leaves also from my own tree and cilantro. I pulverized the ingredients as well as I could in a small processor than sautéed them in coconut cream. Good Thai coconut cream separates in the can. So, you end up with a top layer of thick coconut cream, almost like sour cream in texture, and a more liquid part that is the coconut milk. Roughly about 30% of each can is cream. After the paste is cooked for a while and a bit dried, I added palm sugar, tamarind pulp, fish sauce and the coconut milk left in the can. I le this simmer VERY gently (or it will curdle) and then added my cubed soft tofu. I finished the curry with cilantro leaves and some shredded Kefir lime leaves.

I intentionally made the curry on the soupy side. The idea is sort of like a curry noodle soup of sorts! Heresy maybe, but the taste was exceptional. That blob of brown in the opening picture, by the way, is a Thai Chilli jam . I bring that up because it looks odd but it is so delicious. This mixture of chillies, dried shrimp, galangal and shallots among many other things is one of the best recipes I culled from David Thompson’s amazing tome, Thai Food.

VDP: Asiah’s Eggplant Curry

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I’ve never had an eggplant dish that I did not at least like and I doubt I will. IF I do, it will probably be due to pure execution or pure conception. I am sure it will in no way shape or form be the fault of this divine purple fruit. Eggplant in my book can do no wrong. So, how did this dish taste. This was nothing short of heavenly, I had it for lunch for two days after Tuesday’s dinner and I could’ve eaten more!

The recipe, Asiah’s Eggplant Curry, is from James Oseland’s wonderful book on the cuisine of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia “The Cradle of Flavor“.  If you are a fan of southeast Asian cuisine, then this book is a must. The prose is well composed and the chapters make for a great read about the area, it’s people, ingredients and of course recipes. Everything I have tried has been excellent including the best satays ever (which are NOT Thai BTW). For more information, back on egullet.org the members went through the whole book and cooked every single recipe. I contributed one or two myself. You can find that thread by clicking here.

The trickiest step in the recipe is frying the eggplant, other than that it is a quick weeknight dinner. I suppose you can bake them, but I bet they won’t be as luscious. So, the eggplant is rubbed with turmeric and fried. Then it is cooked in a mixture of coconut milk (I don’t think I’ve had a coconut milk based dish that I’ve hated either), shallots, garlic, cinnamon, anise, coriander seeds and tamarind pulp. The taste clearly reflects an Indian influence with the assertive use of spice.

To serve with it, I made another one of the recipes in the book. A simple carrot, shallot and cucumber pickle (Javanese Cucumber and Carrot Pickle). The vegetables are sliced finely on the mandolin and quick pickled using salt, boiling water and vinegar. It’s a refreshing cross between a pickle and a salad. Of course there was also a dollop of sambal and steamed rice. I normally would’ve made jasmine rice, but I had a lot of regular rice already made from last night and did not want to waste it.