Monday, July 7, 2014

Green thai curry (from scratch)

Who else is completely shocked that half of 2014 is gone already?? These weeks are melting away and I feel like I just can't keep up. With friends I haven't spoken to/seen in months, with cooking from all my amazing cookbooks and blogs I follow, with crafty projects around my place, with staying fit, with maintaining this blog, with life.

So I'm making my mid-year resolution to try to get back on track with as much as I can by *doing* instead of *procrastinating*. Let's see how long that lasts! But in the meantime, I'm back with delicious recipes.

First up is one of the most amazing dishes I've ever made: homemade Thai coconut curry.

I'm a first generation Assyrian with parents from the Middle East, but (as any of you who regularly follow this blog already know) Thai food is one of my favorites...and dishes have appeared on this blog regularly.

So when a new Thai place opened up around the corner from us with the best coconut curry I've ever had (the owners mother-in-law makes them all from scratch!), it inspired me to tackle homemade curry.

Luckily I had some amazing guidance from the Adventures in Cooking blog, who had taken a cooking class on her travels to Thailand (you MUST check out her blog, the photos and recipes are beyond incredible!)

So off I went to Argyle for those hard-to-find ingredients critical for a proper Thai curry--galangal and kaffir lime leaf--and began my own adventure in cooking.

How can you NOT love food with such incredible flavors?! (clockwise from top) Galangal, kaffir lime leaves,
cilantro, red Thai chillies, ginger, shallots, garlic, lemon grass, and Thai basil.

Now, you can use a food processor for actually making the curry. But (a) I'm convinced the flavors of herbs change when put through a food processor (see this post on how hand-chopped basil pesto tastes totally different than the kind blitzed in the food processor) and (b) what's the fun in that?!?

My mortal/pestle is a tiny little thing (and probably not the best), so it took around 4 batches to get everything mashed together. Good time to get out all those aggressions!!

You'll notice that my curry paste isn't quite as smooth and creamy as you'll see from others. Does it make a difference? Perhaps. But really, I don't mind seeing little flecks of chilli in my curries and other bits of herbs. Although if it bothers you feel free to keep mashing/pureeing until it's a solid paste.

Sure, my curry paste may have been on the rustic side, but once it was cooked up it was something out of this world. Making the curry yourself is absolutely unmatched, and every bite punches you in the face with the most amazing flavors.

Now you'll probably have a bunch of leftover ingredients after making this dish. Here are some ideas:
  1. Finely chop the extra ingredients to make a marinade for a meaty fish like swordfish (I used 2 TBSP shallots, 2 garlic cloves, 1-2 red chillies, 4 kaffir lime leaves, handful basil, lemongrass, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp grated galangal, lime juice, 1 TBSP soy sauce, 1 TBSP fish sauce, and 2 TBSP oil; similar to this recipe that I used with my red curry)
  2. Freeze you kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and Thai chillies for future use.
  3. Make a ton of extra curry paste, freeze in 1 TBSP portions, wrap in plastic wrap, pop in a freezer safe bag, and you can whip up dinner in no time on a later date.
  4. Make a delicious basil gimlet!

I realize that it seems like a lot of work for a single dish. But the end result is worth every moment. And now I have a bunch of frozen curry in the freezer waiting for me to make this amazing meal again and again!

Yours in traveling the world through her kitchen,

Please visit the Adventures in Cooking blog to see her photos/recipes for authentic red, yellow, and green curry. Today, I'm sharing a modified version of her green curry for you. Enjoy!

Homemade Green Coconut Curry, recipe adapted from Adventures in Cooking with additional cooking tips from The High Heel Gourmet

See also this recipe for my red curry!  
Remember: double or triple the curry paste and freeze it so you can make this dish on the go in the future. If you don't want to use homemade curry paste, just use a good quality store bought kind and use the basic Thai curry recipe below.

The best part about the curry is that you can use whatever veggies/protein you like. I used sugar snap peas, baby carrots, sliced yellow bell pepper, fresh enoki mushrooms (although I would have preferred a mushroom with a bit more flavor), and boneless/skinless chicken thighs. But feel free to use potatoes, squash, eggplant, beef, tofu, etc etc.  


Green curry paste (will make 2-3 TBSP)
2 small fresh green chile peppers, chopped (I used red chile peppers)
1 TBSP finely grated lime zest
1 TBSP finely chopped lemongrass
1 TBSP finely chopped shallots
1 tsp finely chopped galangal root
1 tsp finely chopped ginger root
2 tsp finely chopped cilantro stems
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cumin, toasted in frying pan for 1 minute (no oil!)
1 1/2 tsp teaspoons coriander, toasted in frying pan for 1 minute (no oil!)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Basic Thai curry
2 cups coconut milk (High Heel Gourmet recommends using just the cream part of the coconut milk; the part that rises to the top! Read her post for more details, although I've never tried it this way.)
2-3 TBSP curry paste
1 TBSP fish sauce
1-2 TBSP palm sugar or brown sugar
1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, depending on how watery you like your curry
1 cup vegetables, whole or cut into 1-inch pieces or cubes (see note above)
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
meat cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (optional) and/or tofu for extra protein
1-inch piece of lemongrass
fresh thai basil (can substitute fresh italian basil)
1 kaffir lime leaf

4 cups cooked rice, for serving

  1. For the curry paste: blend all ingredients together with a stone mortar and pestle until smooth, or blend in a food processor. (A smooth mortar/pestle will give you results more similar to my curry.) If you find your paste a bit too dry, feel free to add just a touch of oil (I used just a bit of coconut oil). Set aside.
  2. For the curry: Cook your meat until nearly cooked through (the original recipe recommended boiling the meat, but I prefer to cut my chicken thighs into little chunks and quickly sear them in a frying pan in a little bit of oil.) Set aside the meat.
  3. In a medium-sized pot, cook half of your coconut milk/cream on medium to medium high heat until bubbling. Add the curry paste and "stir fry" the paste to release the aromas. Keep stirring to prevent the paste from burning. As you cook for a few minutes, the coconut curry mixture should "break," where the cream splits from the oil (see here). Add the remaining coconut milk, and continue to cook for at least a few more minutes (the longer you cook, the more the milk will break). If your milk is not breaking (some brands with emulsifiers may not break as easily), fear not--just add a bit of coconut oil to the mixture and continue with the curry making process.
  4. Add the fish sauce, sugar, water, and onion, and vegetables and simmer until the vegetables are nearly done. Make sure to add the veggies in order of how long it will take them to cook (ie, add potatoes a lot sooner than you would sugar snap peas).
  5. Add the meat, lemongrass, basil and kaffir lime leaf and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the meat is completely cooked through.
  6. Remove from heat and serve immediately alongside the cooked  rice.


Anonymous said...

Can one start with ground cumin and coriander (if I watch them to avoid burning)? I don't have the whole seeds lying around (or a mortar and pestle)--I don't think my food processor will do a good job with such a small volume.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I just noticed the curry paste has several ingredients I don't want to invest in. (What would I do with leftover lemongrass?) Can I just buy curry paste? I know, funny question to ask on a cooking blog.

Jacqueline said...

Yes, you could definitely start with ground spices. (I actually started with ground cumin as well!) Not sure if you can toast the powders though, so you may just want to add them straight to your curry paste.

And yes, there are a lot of interesting ingredients in this dish. Not sure where you live, but here in Chicago you can buy a single stalk of lemon grass at most places for super cheap (even Jewel carries it!). It's one of my favorite flavors, so I'd totally recommend buying some and experimenting with it in soups, etc.

And of course you don't have to go through all the trouble of making your own curry! You don't even have to use green curry, any type will do. I've used pre-made red curry paste a ton in the past. (I used to have a jar in my fridge.) Personally, the reason I like making it homemade is that I can adjust the heat level--I get all those unique flavors that I love (lemongrass, ginger, spices, galangal [if you can find it]) but without an insane amount of spiciness. I found that with the pre-made curry paste I wanted to add more paste to bump up the flavor, but then it was too spicy for me (and I like some heat).

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