June 8, 2010

Thai green curry

Let me start by professing my absolute love for green curry. This was a staple for me when I was in Thailand a few years ago and just the smell makes me feel good. The store bought curry pastes just don't do it for me. This curry paste tasted more like what I had in Thailand than green curry I've had in local Thai restaurants here. The added bonus is that I found Thai basil at a nursery and planted it. It's doing great. I have never been able to find Thai basil, despite all the Asian markets we have around here. You can substitute regular basil, or just use all cilantro if you cannot find Thai basil. I researched a lot of recipes on-line and combined some of my favorites to come up with the recipe below. The recipe will make about one cup of curry paste. Depending on how much you use, you can refrigerate or freeze the leftovers for another time. I love the way curry combines hot, sweet, salty, and sour - it's wonderful.

Thai green curry paste
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass (lighter colored parts only, sliced)
1-3 Thai chilis (or other green chilis, sliced - remove seeds for a milder curry)
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
about two inches of fresh ginger, sliced
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems
1/2 cup tightly packed Thai basil leaves and stems
about 3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
zest of one lime and juice of half the lime (reserve the rest for serving)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 can light coconut milk

In a dry skillet, lightly toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant. Add the white pepper and stir. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and grind them until powdered (alternatively, you can use pre-ground, but I would still lightly toast it).

In a food processor, add all the ingredients except the can of coconut milk. Combine on high until a paste is formed. Add a couple of spoonfuls of coconut milk to help combine, if needed.

After you have your lovely, fresh, and delicious paste, use it to make a curry dish. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet and add the desired amount of curry paste to the pan (I used about 4 tablespoons and thought it was a good amount). Heat until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add whatever meat and/or vegetables you desire (I used chicken, oyster mushrooms, carrots, peas, and scallions). Add some low-sodium chicken stock (about 1-2 cups, enough to almost cover your meat/veg). Cook over low heat stirring occasionally. When the meat is cooked, add the rest of your coconut milk. Heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Taste the sauce and adjust as needed (you can always add more of the sweet, salty, sour, or hot). If it's too hot for you, add more stock or coconut milk.

Serve with jasmine rice, lime wedges, and cilantro/Thai basil as a garnish.

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