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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


Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry
This particular version highlights eggplant, asparagus, bell pepper, and spinach

Rarely a week goes by without a simmering pot of curry. This is my stand-by no-fail recipe, with infinite possibilities of vegetables, protein, and spicy level. The basic components are: tomato based curry sauce, meaty eggplant simmered in the sauce, greens for the eggplant to rest between, and a wide assortment of vegetables – whatever you have on hand that day and/or need to use before they go bad. The veggie selection is easily changed to reflect the season/mood. Sick and tired of cauliflower and squash in March? Then throw in some greenery, peppers, and cute cherry tomatoes. Super stoked that it’s squash season in September? Butternut squash, spinach, peppers, and eggplant is a combination that cannot be beat! If you like, you can throw in your choice of protein – lentils, chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh have all been winners in the past. Spice level can be adjusted to taste preference, and the recipe is easily scaled back or quadrupled depending on how many mouths you are feeding that day. This is my Indian “chili”. Always delicious, always a winner.

The recipe is more of a guideline, developed over the years by throwing things in the pot and trying to remember what tasted the best. Take these guidelines and make them your own – tweak as you like, and enjoy your efforts!

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece fresh ginger, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (if you like the spice, don’t seed the peppers!)
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt, to taste
4 cups of your ‘meaty’ veggies: eggplant, squash, potato, etc.
4 cups diced tomatoes, or 1 (28oz.) canned tomatoes (Note: Whole canned tomatoes are also nice – rip them apart with your hands when you add them to the curry)
4 cups water
2 cup of your ‘crunch’ veggies: asparagus, bell pepper, snap peas, green beans, …
~10 cups fresh greens: spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, or kale
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot, heat olive oil and add mustard seeds. Sauté until seeds start to pop – cover pot with a lid to prevent seeds from escaping!
2) Add onion. Sauté until translucent and beginning to brown, ~7min. If pan looks dry, add a splash of water.
3) Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sauté ~1min.
4) Add the spices. Stir to coat and lightly toast.
5) Add the ‘meaty’ veggies. Stir to coat with spices and lightly sear.
6) Add the tomatoes, water, and ‘crunch’ veggies. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and partially cover, simmering ~5min.
7) Add the greens in handfuls, stirring as you go. Cook until greens are bright green and wilted. (If you are adding cherry tomatoes, add them at this point).
8) Turn off heat, and add cayenne pepper. Adjust all other seasonings to taste.
9) Serve hot with rice, and/or your favourite Indian flat bread.


Roasted Madras Spring Vegetables with Saffron Rice Pilaf

This delectable bowl of goodness was my first attempt at a 5-star recipe. I received Eric Tucker’s Millennium Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine as a gift, and couldn’t wait to test my cooking skills. After two cover-to-cover in-depth study sessions, I settled on the Roasted Madras Spring Vegetables with Saffron Rice Pilaf and Peach-Lime Chutney. Easily the longest recipe title that I have ever attempted, with the bonus of making me feel like Julia Child when I said it! My expectations were quite low that I could actually pull it off, I was so intimidated. But I shouldn’t have worried, as the book is so well written anybody could be the Frugal Gourmet! The book also includes the suggested serving size and associated nutritional information, which I find helpful sometimes when eyeing the pot on the stove. Millennium Restaurant is now on my ‘must visit’ list so I can eat Eric’s five star vegan delicacies. What more of an excuse does one need to travel to San Francisco?

 

I don’t like re-publishing recipes on my blog without the author permission, so I apologize for making you work for it. The recipe can be found on page 118-120 of Millennium Cookbook, which I can see on the Google Book Preview if I scroll ~2/3 down. Or of course you can get it from your local library – you won’t be disappointed!

 

Of course, I made some modifications to the recipe. I had excess vegetables and no tempeh, so I marinated the vegetables in all of the Madras marinade then baked them at 400 dF for ~40min. They turned out beautifully! As always, the eggplant gave a nice meaty texture to the dish while soaking up the wonderful marinade. The asparagus came out slightly crispy and not stringy at all – a definite win. And the zucchini added some moisture to the marinade as it cooked, which serves the dish well when reheating! This was my first time making any sort of pilaf or risotto, and I was successful. Maybe not quite ready for Top Chef yet, but mastering a five star recipe and risotto must make me one step closer … The saffron made the rice very pretty, and added a little extra ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the dish. The peach chutney that went on top was a qualified success; by itself the favour combination seemed to me to be a bit off, but then again I’ve never been a big fan of fruit in savory dishes (hello, pineapple on pizza). But when paired with the dish it worked wonderfully. Next time I think I will either omit the chutney or mix it straight into the dish when serving. But overall, the roasted vegetables were wonderful with the saffron rice, and the dish looked as fancy as its name! Make this dish and you will be amazed at your culinary skills hidden within you. Guaranteed.

 


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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