Thursday, January 18, 2018

Snow/Iced-In: The Curry Edition

We're a little more than half way through January, and we've already had two snow or ice "events" that have slowed down life as we know it. This week, the forecast of snow was for Tuesday night into Wednesday. Wednesday is my gallery day, and when I can, I like to cook in our studio kitchen for myself and my studio mates (with hopefully enough for anyone else who might be around). So I had already planned on a curry, and in fact a version of this very curry, which I had developed last fall when I was cooking for all the lovely people at Sandbridge. 

Curry first day, with Rosetta's Peanut Butter Tofu
I had been making a curry for "Thai Tuesday" for the past couple of years, and they were good, but I was continually tweaking. I ran across a recipe for a red curry in the New York Times (I'd link it, but I can't remember which one it was), and that became the inspiration for this version. If you've followed any of the recipes I share here, you know that I occasionally like to follow a recipe as written, but usually use it as a guide. So images of what I actually made this week that I'm posting here may not match up exactly to the recipe as written. Perhaps I should start always adding one more ingredient: Variation. I'd say follow the recipe for the seasoning aspects, but then use what you have/love for the vegetables. And add protein, if you want. You'll see I did a couple of versions myself.

Veg Prep: I'm kind of a nerd with 'mis-en-place',
and hey, I have the bowls!
Now back to our story - I was planning to prep all my veg and have some mixed together and ready to transport to the studio to make the gallery smell all kinds of good. And then the weather that was forecast actually happened! I was home, snugly iced into my little neighborhood with a kitchen full of yummy ingredients waiting to become a seriously sexy curry.
Whenever someone questions why I have some
random thing in the pantry, I answer 'for times like this!'
Variation is often motivated by taste, but sometimes it's also a way to adapt to the unforeseen. In this case, I found out only after the weather started that I was out of curry paste. Happily, I have a habit of stocking up on interesting things at Hopey & Co., in case I find myself in a situation where I can try something new, or use parts in other recipes. I had tried Marion's Kitchen Thai Red Curry Kit before, and it's really very tasty. More important, it contains a pouch of delicious red curry paste, a pouch of dried basil and chiles, and even bamboo shoots (along with coconut milk, which I had plenty of, so I used the pouch to make my morning porridge bowl). So if you're in a rush, grab one of these - adapt it, too, if you like, and you'll have a quicker curry (although my favorite 'quick curry' is still to plotz a tub of Roots Thai Coconut Curry Hummus into my curry broth and blend it with an immersion blender). 

The recipe is a guideline - use what you have on hand.
Ok, seriously back to the recipe now - for the snow/ice day version, I used veg I had on hand, using up the last of a few things, so there are more and different components in what I made than what the recipe says. That's variation - the sauces and the process are the same.

The key to this recipe is to prepare the various parts in advance, and then put them together as ordered. This will give you much better flavors than dumping it all into one pot. It may seem tedious, if you're used to more streamlined recipes, but if you have the time, it's totally worth it. Cut up all your veg, prep your sauces, then it's just assembly and simmering!

I had my first bowl of warming, spicy curry with some Rosetta's Peanut Butter Tofu that I roasted up from my freezer stash. My intention was to take the leftovers to the studio, and for that I roasted up some chicken thighs (marinated 1 hour in olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper - roast at 375), but the cold stayed, which means the ice stayed, which means most everyone stayed home. So tonight I'm having the roasted chicken version, and tomorrow I'll take the rest to the studio - having an extra day to meld flavors, and spice (I left the chiles in the soup!) will make this even better on day three!

So here, after all that, is the recipe*!

*This recipe was first printed in the Sandbridge Calendar.

Vegetable Panang Curry

1 can coconut creme (this is simply creamed coconut - no added anything!
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth
4 tsp. tamari sauce
4 tsp. maple sugar (or brown)
6 TBSP. red curry paste (use your favorite, but if you're making it vegan, use a paste that doesn't have fish sauce - Maesri Panang Curry Paste is very good!)
1/2 cup diced onion
2/3 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
2/3 cup sliced zucchini (cut in half length wise first)
2/3 cup diced sweet potato
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
1 can baby corn (or kernels from one cob of corn)
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1 lime
8 large basil leaves, thinly sliced (chiffonade)

1 large soup/stock pot
1 large bowl
2 small-medium bowls (2 cup capacity)

Open the can of coconut creme - there will be a really thick layer on top (you can refrigerate the day before if you want to be sure of separation). Spoon that layer out into the stock pot. Pour the rest into one of the smaller bowls. To that, add the can of coconut milk, stirring well to combine.

Broth/Tamari mix on the left, Coconut Milk on the right
In the other small bowl, combine the stock/broth, tamari sauce, and sugar. Stir or whisk until the sugar is dissolved or mixed thoroughly.

As you prep the vegetables, place them in the large bowl - all together.

Stir the curry paste into simmering coconut creme
(this is a still of a video I posted in an Instagram Story).
Meanwhile, back at the stock pot: heat the pot over medium-high heat until the coconut creme bubbles. Add the curry paste (you thought I forgot, didn't you?!), stir to combine and lower the heat to medium-low. Stir constantly for about three minutes.

Curry-Coated Vegetables, ready for the coconut milk.
Dump in all the vegetables and stir to coat them all in the curry paste. Cover and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until they're all heated throughout. Add in the coconut milk, and bring it all to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook uncovered until the veggies are tender (but not squishy soft, unless that's how you like them) - about 10 minutes. Add the tamari mix, a generous squeeze of lime, and half the basil. Stir to combine, and add water if you think it's still too thick. Bring it all back to a simmer for another five minutes. Sprinkle the remaining basil on the top if serving family style, or on individual portions.

Leftovers, with more developed flavors, deeper spice.
This time served over bean thread noodles.
You can serve this as is, as a soup, or over rice or rice noodles, zoodles, or spaghetti squash. You can also add protein, like roasted chicken, baked tofu, or any other leftover or separately cooked proteins. Add them when you add the tamari, and heat throughout. This has a nice, warming spice to it, but if you're serving serious spice-heads, you might want some additional chile sauce or oil on the side. 

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