by Malia Kirby L.Ac.
Being that we’ve been dedicating an extra hour of our lives to improving our physical fitness, cooking our evening meals has become somewhat of a stumbling block for me. I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking my way through whatever my cookbook du jour may be and, considering my predilection toward fussy cooking techniques in order to preserve flavor and texture, it’s been difficult to wean myself away from reaching for the Keller, Robuchon, and Ducasse on the shelf and return to simpler cooking styles. “But…I don’t want to! I want to do it the hard way, it’s better that way!” has become my constant two-year old refrain, so Hubbs, being Hubbs, hopped into the kitchen, sat me down, and told me he was going to make me a coconut curry…but he also wanted me to hang out in the kitchen and critique it from start to finish so he could improve upon his own cooking skills.
As he started to gather his ingredients, I noticed a wily little jar of green curry paste sitting on the counter and couldn’t stop myself from giving it the stink eye. “Really? The crusty eyeball already?” Shawn asked.
“Yup. Pre-made paste is salt in a jar. DO NOT WANT. Also, give a girl some pepper and flavor. This isn’t it. C’mere. Taste it.”
“Straight from the jar?”
“It’s not like I’m giving you a tablespoon of it. Open wide, slim.”
“Ew. Ok, you’re right. So, what do we do about it?”
“This is why food processors were created. We make our own.”
“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of ‘easy’?”
“Making pie crust sucked when I used to hand-cut the butter into the flour. Making paste by hand would be equally horrifying—well, at least after lifting for chest, shoulders, and arms. The food processor is your friend. Embrace it with sheer abandon and joy.”
“Are you going to compose a sonnet while you’re at it?”
“You know, I just might! Now, while I’m gathering the ingredients here, can you grab the wok from the cabinet?”
“The wok? I was planning on poaching everything in the sauce.”
“Nice in theory, but we’re going to need a bigger pot.”
“Ok, let’s give it a try and see if it’s better than my usual.”
From here, you’ll find our new green curry recipe, one which we enjoyed for lunch this afternoon.
Thai Green Curry
1 can coconut milk
½ c chicken stock
2-6 T green curry paste (recipe follows)
4 -6 kaffir lime leaves (use fresh if possible, otherwise reconstitute the leaves in warm water for 10 min.)
2 T fish sauce, divided
1 T palm sugar
1 c broccoli florets
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 handful snow peas
6-8 mushrooms, quartered
1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
½ c bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed (optional)
¼ c fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ c fresh thai basil, chopped
2 limes, sliced
¼ c roasted unsalted peanuts
Whisk the coconut cream from the top of the can and the green curry paste together in the wok over medium-high heat until fragrant, then whisk in the remaining coconut milk and the chicken stock. Add the kaffir lime leaves to the sauce, tearing them first to release their oils followed by half of the fish sauce and the palm sugar. Cook over until reduced by one-third.
Add the vegetables, mushrooms, and the chicken and poach until the chicken has cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve immediately with cooked rice on the side and garnish with cilantro, thai basil, sliced limes, and peanuts.
Green Curry Paste
Makes just under 1 c
6-10 Thai green chiles, preferably “Bird’s Eye” chiles
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ c lemongrass, chopped
1 T fresh cilantro stems, chopped
1 t fresh galangal, chopped
1 t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t lime zest
½ t fresh turmeric, chopped
½ t shrimp paste
½ t fresh ginger, chopped
Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely minced, then process to a fine paste (you may need to add a little water or lime juice to create a paste, depending on the food processor). Transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
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