Monday, July 1, 2013

Green Curry / Green Curry Paste

Though some may consider it "quaint", I still use the library, especially for cookbooks.  I had waited quite a while for Terry Romero's Vegan Eats World.  When I went to pick it up, the librarian said, "This book looks really good."  I replied it would probably be good, but I would still probably be disappointed as in my experience subsequent cookbooks are rarely as good as the author's first. Wrong. This is one of the few cookbooks I have borrowed from the library that I actually purchased.


The first recipe I tried, still trying to re-create Phat Thai's green curry, was "It's Easy Being Green Curry".  It has a lot of ingredients but the author notes, "The curry paste can be made days ahead, even frozen, making this a relatively fast weeknight meal."* This recipe, like Chicken Curry (Devaka), is a made-from-scratch, not "curry-powder-curry".   In the recipe below,  loosely adapted from Romero's, I took some short cuts. I used prepared ground coriander and cumin seeds, rather than toasting and grinding the seeds myself. I used powdered galangal root, rather than the 1/2-inch-wide piece called for (though optional) and prepared lemon grass. I did not have Thai or Serrano chili so I used a jalapeno and 2 scallions instead of shallots.  Finally, since I had returned the book to the library and my copy has not yet arrived, I did not have Romero's recipe for Savory Baked Tofu, so not being a strict vegan substituted chicken. Because I used chicken breast instead of dark meat as used in Deveka's Curry, I overcooked the chicken, but the sauce itself was excellent. I've since made with dark meat with excellent results. Looking forward to trying with tofu.***

THE PASTE

Combine in a food processor:

2 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t ground pepper
1 c lightly packed cilantro sprigs with stems
Green chili to taste, coarsely chopped
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half

4 t prepared lemon grass (dried) or 1 stalk fresh, outer leaves removed and chopped

1/2 t galangal root (ground/powder)
1-inch peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 t sea salt

Pulse into a smooth thick paste, using spatula to frequently scrape the sides of the bowl.

THE SAUCE

In a 2 quart pot or wok, over medium heat, melt

2 t coconut or vegetable oil

Add the curry paste and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add and stir-fry for 2 minutes:

1/2 recipe Savory Baked Tofu or 8 oz purchased baked or fried tofu sliced into 1/4 inch strips (photo with 8 oz chicken breast - if using chicken, use skinless boneless second joints)
 .

Stir in:

1 14-oz can coconut milk (I use light)
1 1/2 c mild vegetable broth or water (I omitted first time but have since added 3/4 c chicken/vegetable stock)
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 T lime juice
2 t brown sugar
1 T Thai thin soy sauce


Increase heat to medium-high, simmer for 5 minutes then reduce heat to medium low.

Add:

1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2-strip slices (I omitted)

2 small slender zucchini **  (I used 2 medium-small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced)

1/2 c lightly packed Thai basil leaves - yum, from my garden!


Simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are slightly tender but still have a bit of firmness to them.  Serve with rice.

*   Page 146
** Romero also suggests as alternative to zucchini, 6 Thai apple eggplants, stems removed and sliced into quarters.  If using Thai eggplant, add to the curry just two minutes before curry is done.

*** December 2013 made with Savory Baked Tofu:













January 2015:  Found some Thai eggplant at the new Market Basket near us.  Either I sliced the eggplant too thick (photo left) or the eggplant was tougher and/or bigger than the kind Ms. Romero uses.  I added it late as directed but found I needed to cook it  almost long as zucchini of copmparable thickness.

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