Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A quick taste of Thai

Me again,

Alright, ever since the mid-90s or so, people have been going crazy for Thai food. That mix of sweet, spicy and salty is unique amonst all cuisines and I know VERY few people who aren't fans. What really does it for me are the curries. Red curry: fiery, zingy, delicious! Green curry: earthy, smoky, nearly painfully hot! Yellow curry: mild, tangy, with all that turmeric goodness! MANOUM c'est bon!

Well, back a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to give it a try myself. Now, I used various store-bought curry pastes, but when I made my own, it was about 10 million times better. Now, while it isn't really that hard to make your own curry paste, it's quite hard to find all the ingredients for it! So, for simplicity's sake I'll assume you're buying the paste at a local supermarket.
This recipe is a very basic red curry dish that I got from a cheapie cookbook. I've adapted many different versions, but the one I'm giving you now is pretty easy. You will have to look in the Oriental section of the supermarket.
Fish sauce is used in Thai cooking the same way soya sauce is used in Chinese cooking. Be careful with it, it's REALLY salty, it stinks, and it's pretty gross tasting on its own. But most curries are bland without it, as I discovered whilst camping last summer.

Red Curry with Shrimp and Tomato (4 servings)


- 1 lb. shrimp
- 1 package grape or cherry tomatoes, rinsed and dried, sliced in half (try to keep juice)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 tbsps red curry paste
- 1 and a half cans coconut milk (same size as a small can of Campbell's soup, use the lower quality stuff, and NOT coconut cream or water)
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp chopped lime leaf (if you can find it)
- chopped Thai basil, regular basil or cilantro for garnish)

1. In a medium pot on medium-high, heat 2 tbsp curry paste until it starts to get fragrant and loosen (maybe 2-3 minutes)

2. Add 1 can of coconut milk. Stir and get the coconut milk bubbling. Keep stirring and let it thicken from the heat

3. Add onions, shrimp and tomato. Continue to simmer on medium heat for about 15 mins.

4. Add half can of coconut milk (use remaining coconut milk in a smoothie or mix it with some chilled mango juice for a very tasty beverage), sugar, fish sauce and lime leaf.

5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for another 15 minutes, letting sauce thicken.

6. Serve over cooked jasmine rice or rice noodles.

Variations: You can use any veggies you wish in this. I'm a big fan of bamboo shoots and zucchini.

If enough of you ask, I'll tell you how to make your own Red Curry paste.


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