Category Archives: Thai

Millennium Green Thai Curry

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

The picture does not do this dish justice. Apologies for the very poor quality!

If I could re-name the summer of 2013, I’d call it the year of the zucchini. My CSA showered me with zucchini (courgettes) and summer squash. I did my best to keep up, and what wasn’t eaten raw or cooked was diced, grated, steamed, and frozen for delicious treats come February when I am tired of winter produce. With over 100lbs of zucchini and summer squash this summer, and an apartment sized deep freeze full of the stuff, I have gotten very creative! This Green Thai curry is one such example.

I have waxed poetic about the Pumpkin Thai Curry in the Millennium cookbook before, and am adamant that Eric Tucker is a genius. This Green Thai Curry version uses the same curry paste featured in that recipe, but substitutes all the winter squash for summer squash. Brilliant, right? I then used that curry sauce and included the rest of the curry vegetables that I love to use, as shown in my other Green Thai Curry recipe: eggplant, zucchini (more!), green beans, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and swiss chard. All save for the mushrooms were compliments of my CSA. I don’t know if it was the garden fresh veggies, the new and unique sauce, or the delight in knowing that I used two zucchinis for this bowl of greatness, but this Thai curry is a keeper! I love how the same ingredients for the curry sauce can end up with a completely different taste – it’s all dependent on how you cook it. The scientist in me is fascinated by the different flavour profiles if you add a certain spice in step one or step five, or if you pre-simmer the sauce before adding the vegetables.

There is no new recipe for this dish, just some creative imagination on how to combine two existing ones! So if you are like me and have zucchini coming out your ears and are sick of raw zucchini pasta with pesto (delicious!), try this recipe out – not only do you decrease your zucchini count, but you end up with a delicious, slightly spicy, and very piquant curry! Definitely one to keep for a rainy day!

The curry paste/sauce recipe can be found here: Winter Vegetable Pumpkin Thai Curry

The rest of the vegetable medley can be found here: Green Thai Curry

 

*Note that the vegetables are suggestions only. Use your imagination! In this edition, I also added some home-sporuted mung beans for some extra crunch, which were amazing.


Khao Soi Thai Curry

Khao Soi Thai Curry

Khao Soi Thai Curry is a dish that hails from Chiang Mai, Thailand. It is completely different from all other Thai curries I have tried in the past, and completely delicious. Traditionally it is a noodle dish, with a spicy coconut-based curry sauce drenching the noodles. With some crunchy noodles to top off the dish. What intrigued me about this dish was the use of picked sour mustard greens, which I picked up at my local grocery store because I had never heard of them. The other curiosity was the method of the curry paste. Instead of the traditional ginger/lemongrass/herbs/fresh chilies, this one uses roasted dried red chillies ground into a paste with some ginger, shallot, garlic, coriander, and turmeric. I had only seen that technique before with Indian curries, so I knew I had to try this out!

I took inspiration from this recipe found here: Herbivoracious – Khao Soi Thai Curry Noodles. However, I was more in the mood for a vegetable based curry, so I made some significant additions to the recipe. A brief moment of panic near the end of my creation – I had forgotten about the noodles! The dish as I made it however was superb. The curry paste has so much flavour – it definitely packs a wallop even for this spice lover! The vegetables were a lovely counter balance to the tofu, giving the dish different textures. For serving, I chiffonade the picked sour mustard greens and added them to the curry pot. Their tang added that extra dimension to the curry sauce, making it a well-rounded bowl of bliss. Unique and different, this curry is definitely a go-to recipe in the future. Maybe next time I’ll even remember the noodles!

Khao Soi Thai Curry

Curry Paste:

5 large, whole dried red chilis (pasilla, ancho, New Mexico), stemmed

½ cup shallot, diced

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

½ tsp. garlic, minced

½ tsp. coriander seeds

1 tsp. turmeric

2 tsp. garam masala

Directions:

1) In large pot (save on dishes!) dry roast chilis on medium for 2min.

2) Add shallot, ginger, and garlic. Stir continuously and cook until chilis very fragrant

3) Add coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. Stir to combine.

4) Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

5) Puree mixture in blender with ¼ cup water until thick paste forms. *NOTE* This mixture stained my blender. To let it rest, I highly suggest pouring it into a bowl. Unless you don’t mind turmeric-stained blenders 🙂

Curry:

3 (13.8oz.) cans coconut milk (5¼ cups) OR almond milk

¼ cup light soy sauce

2 tsp. Sucanet

1 (454g.) package firm tofu, cut into ½” cubes

Salt, to taste

1 cup (+) water

Juice of 4 limes

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup Chinese pickled mustard greens OR 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage tossed in ¼ cup white vinegar

Optional additional vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, green beans, asparagus, bok choy (or other Asian greens), cherry tomatoes

Version depicted above: 2 chinese eggplants, cut into ½” moons

2 small zucchini, cut into ½” moons

1 cup cherry tomatoes

4 cups fresh spinach

Directions:

1) In large pot pour 1 can coconut milk (1¾ cup). Simmer on medium until milk begins to separate

2) Stir in half of the curry paste, soy sauce, and Sucanet. Simmer until thick enough to coat back of spoon, approx. 10min.

3) Add tofu and optional vegetables. Simmer 10min.

4) Add remaining chili paste, coconut milk, and water. Simmer approx. 5min.

5) Add lime juice, cilantro, and Chinese picked mustard greens. Stir and remove from heat.

6) Serve with noodles.


Green Thai Curry

Green Thai Curry

This green Thai curry is a staple. Once you make it, you will crave it. It has also successfully proven to self-professed tofu-haters that tofu shouldn’t be pronounced with a wrinkled nose. (Try not to gloat when they go for seconds!) The green Thai curry paste is made fresh and is very easy: just throw everything into a food processor. The heady combination of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and heat from the hot chilis (to taste) win me over every time. The fresh cilantro is a must – it brings spring to the dish. I prefer ginger in this recipe to galangal as I think it matches better with the acid from the lemongrass and lime juice, but that is completely my preference. The best part about this recipe is that even though the list of ingredients looks very long, you probably have most of it already in your pantry, and since most of it goes into the food processor, clean-up is easy and cooking time is much shorter than you’d expect. This curry goes well with rice or vermicelli, but I won’t stop you from eating it straight up like soup!
After many trials and numerous iterations of this dish, I have compiled these rules of thumb for guaranteed success:

1) Sautéing the fresh curry paste makes all the difference. Like dry roasting spices for Indian curries, this is when the lemongrass and heat really start to come out. Once fragrant, you will have to have serious restraint from not eating the sauce as is!

2) When you add the tofu to soak up all the curry paste flavour, add the eggplant as well. Double the flavour with two different textures!

3) Usually I add all the coconut milk to the food processor to help the paste come together. If you have a better food processor than I, you could probably proceed with the recipe as-written. I find though that if I don’t add the extra liquid, I could do a better job making a paste by chopping things finely than my food processor.

4) If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, I’ve recently discovered that almond milk makes an amazing substitute! I am sure curry purists around the world have just gotten very angry with me, but when you need some Green Thai Curry a little matter of no coconut milk won’t stop me! This successful trial makes me believe that rice milk or hemp milk would also make for excellent substitutions.

5) The best suited vegetables for this dish are:
– Eggplant: A must!
– Zucchini: So lovely and tender
– One or more crunchy green vegetable such as green beans, snap peas, bell pepper, or asparagus
– A leafy green such as bok choy (spinach will also work)
– Cherry tomatoes: Or as I like to call them, Tomato Bombs of Flavour.

6) Add the cherry tomatoes at the very very end – with your greens. The “cherry bomb” in your mouth is so worth the restraint!

7) If you can find them, the kaffir lime leaves are a must. I store them in the freezer, and use as needed. They will transform your South Asian dishes from “really good” to “how can it get any better?!?!?”. They are the curry leaves of Asian cuisine. Add them with the green curry paste, and the lime flavour is heightened further!

This dish will turn your kitchen into a little taste of Thailand with its aromas and taste. Quick to make and quicker to devour, this is a classic!

The recipe can be found here: Vegetarian Green Thai Curry


Thai Red Curry with Savoury Mango Salad

R: Thai Mango Salad. L: Thai Red Curry

This Thai feast was inspired by the 9lb. case of mangos that were on sale. After peeling, dicing, and freezing most of the case, I saved a couple to eat fresh. Mangos are lovely, but one person can only eat so many! Trying something different, I decided to make a light and refreshing mango salad to go along with a Thai curry. Exploring my Thai skills, I opted for a spicy Thai Red Curry – a departure from my favourite Thai Green Curry. The mango salad was as advertized – light, refreshing, and with a nice little kick at the end from the red chili pepper flakes that I sprinkled on. The bean sprouts and shredded mango gave the salad a nice soft/crunchy texture ratio, and the leftovers were delicious the next day! Most importantly, when served with this spicy curry it cooled the palate down with complementary flavours so that each dish was brought to new levels of greatness!

The Mango salad recipe can be found here: Thai Mango Salad. I made this salad twice, once with a ‘green’ mango and once with a mango that was extremely ripe. The green mango salad version was crispier and less sweet, but the ripe mango salad was just as delicious! As it was slightly sweeter, you could also use it as a different dessert offering that would please many guests at the end of your Thai feast.

The Thai Red Curry was also delicious. My only complaint is that my homemade red curry paste wasn’t very red. Next time I may omit the coconut milk, or add some more red chilis to get the promised colour. This would also up the spice level – something I never complain about! The curry itself comes together quite quickly, even with making your own curry paste. I served it with vermicelli, but it would also be great with some rice to soak up the sauce. Fresh curry pastes beat the store-bought every time, if only because they smell so delicious when you are making them! For this version of curry I added tofu, bell pepper, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and green beans. I love when you cook cherry tomatoes just enough so they are warm but the skins don’t split. Then when you eat them they explode in your mouth like tomato flavour bombs! Other vegetable add-ins that would be delicious is bok choy, kale, spinach, snap peas, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, or even some jackfruit. To make it more of a fall curry, you could use potatoes, squash (butternut or pumpkin – something firm and not too sweet), spinach, eggplant, and for a special surprise turnips for an interesting twist on the fall menu.

I used this recipe as an inspiration: Vegetarian Thai Red Curry. I combined other recipes I found for red curry paste as well as cooking techniques for Thai curry’s and came up with my own version below.

Thai Red Curry

Red Curry Paste:
3 shallots or 1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp. lemongrass, minced
3 Thai red chillies or 3t. Thai red chili sauce
3 cloves garlic
1” piece galangal, sliced
¼ tsp. white pepper
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. coriander seeds, ground
3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 kaffir lime leaf
½ tsp. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. turmeric
½ can light coconut milk

Directions:
1) In food processor, puree all paste ingredients until forms into a paste.

Curry:
1 tsp. peanut oil
1 (350g) package firm tofu, cubed
1 small Japanese eggplant, cubed
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
½ can light coconut milk
10-15 cherry tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
½ cup Thai basil, sliced into ribbons

Additional vegetable ideas:
Mushrooms, green beans, bok choy, kale, spinach, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, jackfruit

Directions:
1) Preheat large fry pan on medium-high. Add peanut oil and pour in curry paste. Stir-fry until fragrant, ~1-2 min.
2) Add tofu and eggplant. Stir-fry until saturated with sauce.
3) Add lime leaves and coconut milk. Simmer ~5 min.
4) Add remaining vegetables. Simmer 5-7 min., until tomatoes soft but not burst.
5) Garnish with basil; serve over rice.


Thai Jackfruit Curry

 

After my success with Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et, the bar was set high for my second experience with jackfruit. Copious amounts of Internet research revealed precious little that seemed able to rise to the occasion. I had almost thrown in the towel and conceded defeat to console myself in another w’et (a fantastic consolation, I think!) when inspiration struck. The savoury jackfruit recipes I could find could be neatly summed as follows: mock pulled pork, a dish that I have never liked; a coconut-based Sri Lankan curry, a coconut-based Malay dish, and a Thai curry. Aside from the pulled pork, all three had strikingly similar spice profiles with variable vegetable additions. So why not combine them all and add my own twist? And that’s exactly what I did!

I created a Thai Red/Green Curry (the Steve Smith Curry?) with a homemade curry paste, taking from the Sri Lankan, Malay, and Thai spice profiles. I simmered the curry paste in a bit of coconut milk to let the flavours develop and then dumped in all my vegetable additions. The result was sheer brilliance. This curry was nice and spicy with a kick – it’s one that you don’t think is that bad and are just reaching for the Sriracha when your eyes start to water. (Reduce number of chilis or seed them if this doesn’t appeal to you!) The jackfruit, bell peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and eggplant make the dish colourful. The variance in textures of the vegetables is also a delight to eat: every spoonful is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get! I especially love cherry tomatoes in coconut-based curries. I add them right near the end so they are cooked enough to be warm but not enough for the skins to split. Then when you eat them you get a burst of cheery tomato in your mouth. The jackfruit in the dish assumes the curry flavour much like eggplant but is firmer in texture. I would highly recommend using jackfruit instead of tofu in this curry if you are serving the dish to a crowd who are not fans of tofu, no matter how delicious the dish is. I served it over a bed of lightly steamed kale, but the more traditional way would be over vermicelli or rice. This dish exceeded the high bar set by the w’et with a completely different approach, style, and texture. Yet again jackfruit shone through, making me wonder what took me so long to pick up the can at the Asian grocery in the first place!

Thai Jackfruit Curry

Curry Paste:
3 spring onions, sliced
1-3 Thai red chili
1 tbsp. lemongrass, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
4-5 Kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. vegetarian fish sauce (optional; can substitute with soy sauce if you prefer)
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. light soy sauce (for gluten free use Tamari soy sauce)
1 tsp. dark soy sauce (optional)
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. brown sugar OR ½ tsp. Sucanat
¼ can coconut milk

Directions:
1) Place all ingredients in food processor. Puree until paste forms.

Jackfruit Curry:
1 can jackfruit in brine, drained, or 1 package frozen unripe, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp. peanut or canola oil
¼ cup white wine or vegetable broth
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
generous handful cherry tomatoes
½-¾ can coconut milk, depending on personal sauce preference

Optional garnish:
¾ cup unsalted cashews, dry roasted
fresh basil, cut into ribbons

Additional vegetable suggestions: bok choy, mushrooms, snap peas, green beans, eggplant

Directions:
1) Preheat large pan with oil. Pour in curry paste and stir-fry until fragrant, ~1min.
2) Add jackfruit. Stir-fry until well saturated with sauce.
3) Add the vegetable stock. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes.
4) Add ½ can coconut milk, plus all green vegetables (except basil). Simmer 3-4 minutes.
5) Add the cherry tomatoes. Simmer 2-3min; avoid overcooking vegetables!
6) Turn off heat and stir in cashews.
7) Garnish with fresh basil; serve over rice.


Thai Pumpkin Soup

Comfort in a bowl – Thai style!

I was making room in my freezer for the anticipated CSA harvest, and found a lone freezer bag of diced pumpkin shoved forgotten in the corner. Right beside it was my prepared lemongrass, and I knew exactly what I needed to cook. Thai Pumpkin Soup. No matter that it was 26 degrees outside, soup was what was calling my name!

This soup is another recipe that turned my tofu-hating family into tofu-tolerating. I brought it to a family gathering in a Crock Pot once, counting on the fact that my family of picky eaters wouldn’t touch an orange soup with green things floating and to*FAU* (insert wrinkly nose here) with a 10-foot pole, but it got slurped up well before the other offerings! No leftovers for me … This soup is warm, hearty, and will cure whatever ails you. The lemongrass and ginger are excellent for fighting the winter blahs (if it is winter outside), and the spice level can be adjusted to taste with the addition of fresh chili peppers. The pumpkin is easily substituted for acorn squash or butternut squash, or that lone bag of squash hanging out in your freezer! Like most soups, it tastes even better the next day warmed up, and freezes wonderfully. You can serve it with vermicelli or rice, but I like to eat it as is.

The recipe can be found here: Thai Pumpkin Soup. So clean out your freezer, embrace that lone bag of pumpkin, and delight your taste-buds in this super easy, super tasty, soul-satisfying soup!


Ginger Garlic Thai Stir-Fry

While on my most recent 3h trip to the Asian market, after getting distracted by the variety of produce, the whole aisle of noodles and cooking spices and sauces, I made it to the frozen section. Already laden down with supplies of ingredients that I sort-of-remembered reading about and therefore had to experiment with and supplementing my stash of curry leaves, rampe, Thai basil, and kaffir lime leaves I found the “veggie meat”. As always when in an Asian market, I am suspicious of the English on the package, especially when the package looks exactly like shrimp. And is beside the real shrimp. A quick scan of the ingredients promised “glutinous” something, which I took to mean that this mysterious shrimp-looking like thing was indeed “veggie shrimp” and into the basket it went. How could I resist? I’d have to save the jackfruit for another day – but in the meanwhile my busy brain was trying to figure out how to honour this theme ingredient.

 

I don’t cook with mock meat usually – I prefer to call a spade a spade and use tofu, tempeh, or if I’m really ambitious some homemade seitan. But “veggie shrimp”? It was begging to be tried. I decided that I wanted something Thai, and something ‘clean’, so I could taste the shrimp. No use experimenting with an ingredient if you are just going to disguise the taste with a spicy red curry sauce! I was thinking the heady combination of ginger and garlic, and wanted some zip to come from the lime leaves and lemongrass … and with the necessary addition of Thai chillies, this dish was born.

 

For the first time (ever) I made a concentrated effort at writing down what I was throwing into the saucepan. Turns out my efforts are not wasted – this dish was crisp, clean, and simple. Refreshing and easy to make, it had some nice heat from the Thai chillies I used but wasn’t too spicy. The veggie shrimp was interesting for a novelty item, but I cannot say it replaces tofu in my heart. I dry-sautéed the chillies, lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic, ginger, and peanuts. This made the kitchen smell amazing, and really highlighted the lemongrass. I served it with vermicelli, but rice would soak up the sauce and be lovely as well.

 

Ginger Garlic Thai Stir-Fry

Serves 2-4

Time: 20min (ish)

Ingredients

1T. lemongrass, minced
1T. fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 kaffir lime leaves
3 red Thai chillies, chopped
0.25c. peanuts, unsalted
1 package (180g) “veggie shrimp” (or extra-firm tofu, cut into whatever fun shape you want!)

 
1.5T. soy sauce, divided
1.5T. rice wine vinegar, divided
3c. bok choy, chopped (or 2 heads baby bok choy)
1 medium carrot, sliced on the bias
~0.3c. asparagus, cut into 5cm pieces (Tip: separate the stalks from the tops. You will be adding them at different times!)
3 green onions, roughly chopped

 
lime juice
fresh cilantro

 
1 bundle vermicelli

 
Other stir fry additions that would be excellent:
– mung bean sprouts, (chinese) broccoli, napa cabbage (instead of bok choy), bell peppers …

 

Directions:

1) Prepare the vermicelli as per package directions
2) Preheat a large pan (or wok, if you have it) on medium heat
3) Add the lemongrass and chillies to pan. Stir frequently so as not to burn. Sauté until fragrant
4) Add the ginger, garlic, and peanuts. Stir frequently. Sauté until peanuts lightly roasted
5) Add veggie shrimp, and sear each side of the shrimp.
6) Add 1T. soy sauce and 1T. rice wine vinegar to mixture. Stir and cover. Stir fry until veggie shrimp warmed through
7) Time to add the stir fry veg! If throughout the stir fry the pan is looking dry, add splashes of water. This also helps deglaze the pan.
8) Add the carrots and asparagus stalks. Stir and cook until stalks bright green and carrots almost to the crunchiness of your liking
9) Add the green onions, asparagus tops, and bok choy. Sauté until bok choy is bright green and wilted
10) Splash remaining 0.5T. of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar into mixture. Stir.
11) Turn off heat, add lime juice (to taste). Taste for seasonings. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve over vermicelli.


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