Sunday, October 04, 2009

red curry

i picked this recipe because i've made it the most. i began making red curry years ago, but i've made major adjustments over the years. i first learned from a woman in porterville, california, but i lost that original recipe- so when i got this Lao cookbook, this was the first recipe i tried - and now i pretty much have it memorized.

but i make adjustments from the cookbook as well: penn makes her red curry with green beans, bamboo, and purple eggplant. i chose thai eggplant, green, red and yellow peppers, and broccoli - i like how broccoli soaks up the curry. but really you can put anything; i've seen pumpkin and pineapple, potatoes and carrots, peas and squash. in the picture to the right you can see the lemon grass stalks and the basil (looking kinda lazy and tired).

but for sure you need:
curry paste
fish sauce
lime leaves, (bai khiihout)
galanga (kha) - see picture to the right
lemon grass (houa sing khai)
green onions
basil (boua lapha)

here's the basics of what i do:
i cook about 2/3 of the curry paste (i buy maesri, the small can) in the pan with 4-5 tablespoons of oil until it starts getting brown and gives off that strong mace-like smell that stings your eyes and throat; this gets rid of that weird taste of the curry. penn asks for olive oil in all her recipes, but that's just weird. i go for something a little less healthy (and a better taste - like vegetable or canola oil. i would use lard if i had easy access.) and if your paste starts getting dry, just add more oil. more is more.

then add the chicken - cut in strips, however much you want. cook for a bit and then add two cans of coconut milk. i don't like it too thick, so i always add a can or two of water. penn says nothing about this, but whatever, it's a free country. mae sou (the woman that taught me how to make curry so many years ago) told me to cook the coconut milk for a while until the oil starts to come out... but i've never known what she was talking about, so i gave up this step in november of 2002, but she said it was really important so i mention it here.

then i add in the lime leaves (penn says 3, i say more, cause the owner of the local Lao store told me more is more,) lemon grass (couple of stalks chopped in long stems so nobody accidentally tries to eat them - if you're cooking for whiteys that don't know better) and galanga - 3-4 slices (same thing about cutting 'em big; although my former roommate liked to chew on a sliver every so often.) but if you don't have all this, don't worry about it... its for flavoring and its all included in the curry paste anyway, so its not a necessity; i think the lime leaves (see insert) is the most significant addition, and its usually found in the freezer of the asian store. just ask the friendly cashier at your local market.

then put in the fish sauce, salt and sugar. this is the key. gotta get this right... i say about 4 tablespoons of fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon of salt, 3 tbs of sugar, and a teaspoon or so of msg. but really you just need to taste it. you want it saltier than what you may normally prefer because you're gonna serve it on rice and it'll dilute the flavor. and if you don't like fish sauce, you can substitute salt... but if you don't like fish sauce, go to some other blog, you're wasting your time here.

then cook in all your additions - and turn off the heat and stir in the green onion (several stalks cut in 1 inch pieces) and basil (the leaves removed from the stem - about half cup? whatever you want.)

then serve over jasmine rice.

i made this with a group of friends at fhe, so this ain't my kitchen. my kitchen ain't this nice... so i had some help gettin things cut up and put in the pan. also, sorry for the ugly washed-out photos; i used my cell phone camera. and i usually like a "redder" curry - but i didn't put that much paste in cause some people couldn't eat spicy. the other problem is that i made more than normal, so i struggled to get the flavor right. you'd think that after all these years i could make a perfect curry, but there is something genetic about this... and in the end, i am still white.
i would rate this recipe for yall... but because i made so many changes, i can't. maybe when i start getting into new territory.


Cindy said...

Dang it! I would have liked for this to by MY fhe.

Janet said...

you don't need the msg joseph!!! I will have to try some other veggies in mine, I am too boring with just green peppers.

jrm said...

wellllll.... i will say more on msg later. but yeah, try other veggies - try the pineapple and pumpkin (or pumpkin squash); but you'll need to adjust the amount of salt/fish sauce you put in there, cause the pineapple makes it really sweet.

John and Drew said...

Yum... but the msg is sounding a bit... not body friendly. Keep on cooking. I love to read blogs about crafts and food!

stacy said...

When you mentioned it was for FHE, suddenly I recognized the kitchen. Thanks for the recipe. I always have a hard time making curry from home because of some of the small details you've mentioned here. Now I'll feel a little more comfortable with it.

I have a Thai neighbor who I've been talking with about making sweet sticky rice, and she adds water to the coconut milk, too, so there you go.

ewesa said...

I want to eat this.