Thursday, April 29, 2010

Let's Talk Curry

I was craving curry, so there you go. I usually buy the Thai Kitchen brand curry in a jar, but was taken aback when I couldn't find it at Uwajimaya. I dragged a teenager away from his stocking (and talking to a girl) and over to the aisle where I used to find the curry in question. Pointing accusingly at the new wall of prepared Thai Kitchen foods that a diner need only add water to, I shouted, What gives? He turned me around and pointed to the new stuff - in tins! Unfortunately, almost all of it has MSG. Now, I am aware of the fact that this stuff is like salt, and commonly added to all Asian cuisine. And, if I am to believe what I see on TV, a small percentage of the populace is actually affected by it, while a great big, fat, uninformed majority only thinks they are affected by it. I know I don't react to it, but still want to steer clear of anything that is a derivative of anything else and requires an acronym in order to speak of it. Sam sat patiently while I read umpteen labels before finding an MSG-free one. Good. I wonder if some other store will carry the brand I know and like. I can't see TK totally getting rid of it, right? Everyone I know who cooks Asian food has a jar of either the red or green curry in the fridge. Anyway, the new stuff worked out fine. But the tin v. glass meant that I needed to transfer the leftovers to a new container. I opted to freeze it, like I did my chipotle and tomato paste, in 1T measurements. Genius, I know. It was Josh's idea. He's an ideas-man, I tell you.
Speaking of jars. So I get a new one of fish sauce. Look at this darn top - how in the H am I supposed to open that? I have a vivid imagination and pictured all sorts of puncture wounds when I visualized how I might use a knife to make a hole. Josh (ideas-man) told me to use scissors. I have kitchen scissors, i.e., sharp ones, but they still made of mess of things. In fact, when I clipped the first little piece of plastic, it went flying ... right into my bowl of clean cabbage. What?! I dumped the whole thing out on the cutting board, looked at every piece of cabbage and never found it. Whatever. With all the Teflon already in our systems, what's a little plastic?

The Japanese potato: satoimo. (I think. I always want to call it a satsuma, but that's an orange.) It is the best in this curry. I was using sweet potato, which is also good and packed with vitamins, but this one tastes like it belongs. Cabbage also tastes like it belongs more than the spinach called for. But, really, it's all about making a recipe yours, isn't it? Now it's MINE. My intellectual property. Just kidding.

Fish Curry:
1 lb. sweet potato (or potato of your choice) cut in 1/2 in. dice
2- 14oz. cans coconut milk
2T Thai red curry paste
2 tsp. lime zest (from one lime)
2T each fish sauce and brown sugar
1 1/2lbs. firm fish, in 1-inch cubes (halibut, tilapia, or, hey shrimp is great too)
6 oz. green of choice (spinach, cabbage, etc.)
1c. each basil and mint, chiffonade
Prep: Steam the potato by bringing a couple of inches of water to boil in a large saucepan. Place potato pieces in a steamer basket, cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes, mixing to redistribute after 5 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup off the top of the coco milks (the thick milk) and into a large saute pan with the curry paste. Over medium heat, cook, stirring, until the mixture is almost dry, 3-5 minutes. Then add the rest of the milk, lime zest, fish sauce and brown sugar. Mix and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Depending on what type of fish and greens you have, you can either add them together, or one a minute or two early, so that they steam together in the sauce and are done at the same time. (That means you have to know the cooking times. For shrimp, it's 3ish minutes, and the nappa cabbage is about 5 minutes.) Add the potato to heat through. Turn off heat and mix in herbs. Serve with rice and limes.

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