Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vegetable Green Curry

Probably since moving to Atlanta for my internship, Vietnamese and Thai food have really become some of my favorite things to eat on this ENTIRE planet. I haven't been to Vietnam OR Taiwan to taste their food at the source, so perhaps that is a bold statement. Nonetheless, I am obsessed with the flavor combination of basil/cilantro/mint and I love everything about coconut milk. PLUS - these types of dishes can be prepared super heavy on the vegetables (which is exactly how I like to cook at home!).

It should come as no surprise, then, that one of my favorite restaurants here in Ames happens to be a little Thai restaurant on Main Street (The Spice - where I've only made the mistake of ordering my food "thai spicy" ONCE). I almost always order the same thing (pad thai with tofu and extra veggies / medium spicy), but my second favorite dish on their menu is the green curry. My pal Nina and I first visited The Spice just a few weeks into our residency and we have been fans of the restaurant ever since. The green curry actually reminds me of her because we both ordered the same thing on our first 'friend date' - and the rest is history. Also notable from that evening - The Spice provides the BEST reusable to-go containers for their curry.

And so... there you have the inspiration for today's post.

This vegetable green curry can  be made vegetarian/vegan with the substitution of soy or tamari sauce for the fish sauce listed below. Fish sauce is pretty inexpensive and doesn't actually make anything taste like fish. This is key because its offensive scent can be misleading*.

* Fish sauce, for those of you who aren't privy, smells like lost piranha souls rotting in a seaweed bucket of decayed shrimp heads and I just happen to have a very large bottle in my cupboard. Lots of Thai dishes call for this and you can find it in the Asian section of most food stores (even the Ames Wal-Mart). My advice to you - DO NOT spill it or sniff it straight unless you want to question God's intention for providing us with the sense of smell.

You can certainly find recipes to make your own green curry sauce, but I just bought the Thai Kitchen brand that comes in a little jar. You can also substitute any veggies you have on hand - the more the merrier, I say! Of course, J was nice enough to go ahead and make a second run to the store to pick up the broccoli I'd forgotten during our trip the day before. Womp womp.

All in all, though, this dish takes very little prep time - a bit of chopping, but you can pull it together in the amount of time it takes to steam some rice. Unless you burn the rice. Then you'll have plenty of extra time while you make another batch..... * ahem.*

I meant to add mushrooms, too, but forgot. The recipe below does not reflect that sad, sad fact.

Vegetable Green Curry

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Servings: 6

1 Tbs vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1 cup shallots, chopped (about 5 large)
5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs green curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen)
4 tsp fish sauce
2 - 14oz cans unsweetened coconut milk (full fat or light will work)
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into 2” strips
1 medium zucchini, cut into fourths and sliced lengthwise into ¼” strips
1 medium yellow squash, cut into fourths and sliced lengthwise into ¼” strips
1 cup green beans, snapped to 3” length
1 large carrot, sliced
1 cup broccoli, broken into small florets
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 large handful of basil, chopped
1 lime, zested and sliced into wedges
Chili oil or chili garlic paste, to taste
2 green onions, chopped
Cilantro, for garnish
3 cups steamed rice

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep frying pan. Sauté the shallots and garlic with the curry paste for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce. Bring to a boil.
3. Add vegetables and simmer until veggies are crisp tender.
4. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and lime zest. Swirl with chili oil or chili garlic paste, to taste.
5. Serve over rice. Top with green onions and a generous squeeze of fresh lime. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

Calories 305; Total Fat 8.6 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Protein 5.4 g, Fiber 3.0 g, Sodium 443.1 mg
*as prepared with full fat coconut milk, served over ½ cup jasmine rice.

My recipe very closely resembles the flavors I love in a Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup (originally printed in Cooking Light). I encourage you to try that recipe, too, if you like the sound of it!

Hope ya'll are having a good week!

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“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Anaïs Nin