We had a killer curry for dinner last night. The last time I made such a concoction I nearly died, choking on water I was gulping down to mitigate the fire at the precise moment that Akira cracked a joke. I sucked too much water into my lungs, I thought I was drowning (so did the baby…he looked VERY worried for a long time after!) So, this is not for the faint hearted.
I guess this is not strictly a recipe, since I am no Thai cooking school graduate. It is a general set of principles I follow, to concoct something that approaches the very fine red curries we had when backpacking round Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam in 2005.
The best Penang Curry was had on Koh Samet, perhaps the most romantic meal we had – on little low tables with hurricane lanterns, under a large tree that was right on the beach. The food was prepared at a restaurant across the road and the waiters ran across the road with our meals. Sitting under the stars with the waves practically lapping our feet – magic. Akira proposed to me on this trip, and I had my wedding dress made in Vietnam, so brewing up a Thai curry always holds a melting pot of mythical memories for me.
Anyway, the Delmar Loop is awash with Thai curry houses, our favourite being the very strange Thai Pizza house. We have yet to sample the odd delicacy that is the Thai Pizza, since we are always seduced by their pick-and-mix style noodle bowls. In true US style, the restaurant offers curries in varying degrees of hotness, from 1 – 5. Akira usually orders a 5-strength. So it is with some satisfaction that I have managed to out-5 the local Thai restaurant by using a few simple ingredients from the local Chinese grocers.
I’ve been buying tiny Thai tins of curry paste by a company called Maesri. One tin is meant to do one curry with only one tin of coconut milk. DO NOT fall for this trick. I did once…it is amazing, but evil, in it’s hotness! So, I use one tin of Maesri Red paste, two tins of whatever cheap coconut milk is on offer and mix up the sauce in a separate pan. Then I chop up and saute the veges I am using (last night was a concoction of broccoli, yellow and green capsicum, carrots, courgettes, onions, potatoes and tiny brown mushrooms). I add fresh ginger, garlic, coriander, a little salt and liberal splashes of fish sauce to the veges while they are being sauteed. Then I add most of the sauce to the veges and let them simmer while I cook about a cup of white rice.
Finally, just as we are about to eat, I fry some tiny cubes of chicken for the carnivore, and add the reserved curry sauce to them once they are done. Then I throw them on top of his rice and vege-sauce mixture. Hey presto, hot, hot, hot red Thai curry.