Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dear Thailand: Thanks for Curry

Dear Entire Nation of Thailand,

I am only one person and you are all Thai people considered in context of your history, culture, language, geography, and cuisine. So the weight of my awe and gratitude will be as nothing to you, less than the weight of a fly upon the back of an elephant.

Even so, I would like to express my deep happiness to have been put on the same planet as you, Entire Nation of Thailand. On a winter evening, in the gathering darkness and the unrelenting cold, a person comes to crave something lush and tropical. The muted colors and sounds of the icebound landscape leave little to see and hear, and other senses can make known their demands. Smell, touch, and taste clamor for something sensual and wildly delicious—something that will make the body feel life and warmth again.

And that, Entire Nation of Thailand, is why I am so indebted to you. From your collective imagination springs curry: a dish that bursts with flavor and color. As I eat a bowlful, the fragrant steam curls around my frozen heart. The melting ice loosens, slips, and falls in a shattering splash.

Simmered Curry
This makes a big old pot of curry, 6-8 servings. If I were up to usual caliber for this blog, I would make my own curry paste. But I am too tired, sad, and sick of winter today. Look, just make this and eat it, and I don’t think you can stay mad at me.

2 cans regular or light coconut milk
A 4oz jar of curry paste. I like Thai Kitchen.
½ c or more of chicken stock
2-4 T fish sauce
A kaffir lime leaf (you can find these at an Asian grocery or at Lunds - ask the produce manager to order you some)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 white potato, peeled and cubed
3-4 carrots, peeled and cubed
1 zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cubed
A handful of frozen green peas
A package of seitan
Jasmine rice (or white rice if you can’t find it)

Stir the coconut milk and curry paste together until they bubble, then simmer for a few minutes. Put in the stock, fish sauce, lime leaf, potatoes, and carrots. Simmer for 20 minutes. It’s OK if the potato starts to get crumbly.

Add the zucchini and pepper. Simmer a few minutes until the vegetables are tender. Drop in the peas and seitan; heat through. Serve over cooked rice.

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