Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thai Curry Progress

Last night, we had some family friends over for dinner and there was a special request for a vegetarian meal, which was good by me, since I had bought all these fresh seasonal vegetables from the farmer's market on Wednesday, including eggplants, peppers and salad greens.  I also had plenty of leftover tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger, all perfect for a Thai vegetable curry.  After two attempts at Thai curries over the last week, I've developed a good sense of the taste, strength and balance of the key Thai flavorings including the fish sauce, thai curry paste, coconut milk, lime juice, and herbs, so I was able to construct my own recipe.  I thought it was definitely the best Thai curry that I have made so far; just the right blend of spicy, sour and sweet, with lots of fresh vegetables.  The tempeh and tofu add just enough protein and substance to make for a very filling meal.

To prep, I thinly sliced 1 small red,1 small yellow onion (just for variety; you can use the same kind) and 3 peppers, chopped five seeded roma tomatoes, minced four cloves of garlic and about 1-2 TB of fresh ginger, seared one packaged of tofu cut into cubes (so that it doesn't fall apart in the curry), diced a package of tempeh from Trader Joes for extra protein and texture, cut up 5 small Japanese eggplants that I sprinkled with salt and let sit for about an hour to draw out the bitterness, washed and minced 2/3 cups of thai basil and a handful of cilantro, zested 1 lime and juiced 2-3 limes.  The curry served 6 people amply with some leftovers for lunch.

To cook:
  • Saute the onions in a few TB of olive oil over medium heat in a Le Creuset 5 quart oval french oven for about 5 minutes until soft
  • Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute or two until fragrant
  • Add the peppers and eggplant and saute for 5 minutes until softened, season with a little bit of salt (a lot of recipes add all the vegetables at once, but I like to add them one at a time to really bring out the flavors)
  • Add the chopped tempeh
  • Mix together half a cup of light coconut milk and 2+TB of red curry paste and then pour over all the vegetables.  Toss everything together for a few minutes so that the curry / coconut flavors really penetrate the vegetables
  • Add the tofu, the rest of the can of light coconut milk and an additional 14 oz can of light coconut milk, 2 TB of fish sauce, 1 3/4 TB of brown sugar, the cilantro and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, lime juice and zest and let it simmer for another few minutes until heated, and add the fresh thai basil and mix through, salt to taste, and serve over brown rice
We also had the watermelon, mint, feta and arugula salad that we have been making a lot this summer, and paired the meal with a refreshing 2009 Peju Rose and La Crema Pinot Noir.  

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