Friday, July 2, 2010

Thai Green Curry

This recipe is from scratch - so you get all that comforting satisfaction from making it. The ingredients are potentially difficult to find at a normal grocery store - but if you drop by an Asian market, all these ingredients (plus the general everyday ingredients) are super easy to find. Every single ingredient listed below I found at an Asian market with no problems, except for nutritional yeast, which I had on hand and did not look for.

This recipe is from a traditional recipe of chicken green curry, which I have veganized. It has all the foreign ingredients you'd find in an authentic recipe, plus a few uniquely vegan additions. Actually, one thing that I have always noticed (or thought to myself) is how similar fish sauce and nutritional yeast smell. I actually found more of a similarity between these two ingredients than nutritional yeast and cheese (although it's still a great cheezy addition). That's my humble observation. I have used nutritional yeast as the replacement for shrimp paste, which turned out great.

Thai Green Curry
Time: 1 Hour      |      Servings: 4      |      Difficulty: Low
1 block extra firm tofu, cubed
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cans coconut milk
10 cloves of garlic (yes, 10)
3 stalks lemongrass
1/2 of a purple onion, very coarsely chopped
4 Thai chilies, stems removed
2 pieces galangal, about a thumb's size each, peeled
2 cups fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup vegetarian fish sauce
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
10 lime leaves, preferably still on branches
1/4 cup Thai basil, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups white rice, cooked with 4 cups of water
Begin with placing rice and water in a pot, and bringing to a boil.  Turn down heat bring down to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes (a timer is very useful here so you can forget about it and come back to it after 20 minutes).  Turn off heat and set aside, still covered.
Meanwhile, remove outer leaves of lemon grass, cut off the bulb and roughly slice the light yellow body, you'll have about 1/4 - 1/3 cup.   In a food processor, pulse together lemongrass, chilies, onion, garlic, galangal, cilantro, nutritional yeast, fish sauce and 1/4 of a can of coconut milk until a thick paste is formed - you've now made a true Thai curry paste!  As lemongrass and galangal are very hard, it can take some time, up to 10 minutes, to get a real paste consistency.  Use a spatula to scrape down the sides to help it along.
Heat oil in a deep pan, add paste.  Cook, stirring constantly, until beautifully fragrant, about 1-3 minutes.  Add the remaining coconut milk, spices, vinegar, along with whole lime leaves (you'll take them out at the end), tofu, bell pepper and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and maintain for about 10 minutes, and bring down to a simmer.  Stir in lime juice and Thai basil, and cook for another 20 minutes, or until desired thickness is reached.
Remove lime leaves.  Serve with rice, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

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