Yeah, I’ve been away awhile. A great way to start a blog. But periodically, I just get un-inspired and go through the motions for a couple of weeks, cooking meals that don’t take a lot of imagination but that can be got on the table quickly. That all changed last night when I made a Thai-style red curry. It’s Thai “style” because 1. I’m not immersed enough in Thai cuisine that preparing it is second nature; and 2. Sometimes I need to change one or more ingredients due to the dietary needs of my family; and 3. once in awhile, even with the huge variety of grocery stores in suburban NJ, I just can’t find a particular ingredient. In this case, I almost didn’t find kaffir lime leaves, and had to settle for frozen instead of dried. I’ve learned the hard way that lime zest just doesn’t work as a substitute.
The recipe is adapted from Didi Emmons’s Vegetarian Planet.
- 10 kaffir lime leaves, cut into pieces (if using frozen, remove from refrigerator immediately prior to using)
- 2/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup toasted pecans
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 2 tablespoons chili paste with garlic
- 16 oz firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 lb green beans, cleaned and snapped in half
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup fresh chives, chopped
- 10 oz coconut milk
- 2 3/4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups brown rice
Combine the coconut milk and 2 1/4 cups water in an appropriate pot. Bring to a boil; add rice, cover, and cook over very low heat. When the rice is cooked, stir in the chives.
Put the kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, pecans and garlic into a food processor. Pulse so everything is chopped coarsely. Then add fish sauce, chili paste and enough oil to make a nice paste. If you have kids who don’t like hot food, you might wish to reduce the amount of chili paste.
Heat a wok with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the tofu and cook over high heat, turning until it’s golden on all sides. Remove from wok, and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Add green beans and peas, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup water to the wok, cover and reduce heat, and steam the vegetables for 2 minutes. Add the tofu and lime leaf/chili mixture back into the wok; stir just enough to combine.
We ate a bit late on a leisurely Saturday evening, but the result was worth the wait.