By which I mean that we started cooking at 9 p.m. and had dinner at the astoundingly early hour of 10:30. This is not at all uncommon, and is why my food schedule is actually about nine hours offset from most people's despite my sleep schedule only being about six hours offset.
Yesterday our farmshare included hot peppers and basil. "Thai green curry!" I exclaimed, and today after work I headed to Chinatown to get kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and Thai fish sauce. (We already had a jar of pickled galangal in the fridge, of course. Doesn't everyone?) The lovely thing about curry is that you can put anything in it, so we threw in bok choy and turnips and potatoes from last week's farmshare, a purple pepper and green beans from this week's, and more store-bought potatoes and red bell pepper and broccoli and zucchini and chicken from the market.
There are two parts to making Thai green curry.
Step one: curry paste. We followed this recipe almost exactly, cutting the garlic to one clove, using bottled organic lime juice instead of buying a lime, and using sesame oil instead of olive oil.
4-6 medium green chillies, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
5cm/2in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
small bunch of fresh coriander [cilantro], stalks and roots attached if possible
2 lemongrass stalks, chopped (if unavailable, use 2 tbsp dried)
1 lime, grated zest and juice
8 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces (if unavailable, use the grated zest of
1 extra lime)
2.5cm/1in piece galangal, peeled and chopped (if unavailable, use ginger)
1 tbsp coriander [cilantro] seeds, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
2 tsp Thai fish sauce or light soy sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a paste. Use straight away or store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (or freeze). Makes about 1 cup.
For the curry recipe we turned, as we often do, to Cook's Illustrated. Their recipe calls for fish sauce and chicken; if you're a vegetarian or vegan, you can use light soy sauce or vegan "fish" sauce and add the veg protein source of your choice. It only wants half a cup of homemade green curry paste, but you can easily double it to use the full cup made in the above recipe.
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk (unsweetened), not shaken
1/2 cup green curry paste (related recipe), or 2 tablespoons store-bought green curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of excess fat and sliced thin
1 large chile (hot), stemmed, seeded, and quartered lengthwise (optional)
1 tablespoon lime juice from 1 lime
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
Note: While cutting up the vegetables, divide them into two bowls: "takes a little while to cook" (e.g. turnips, broccoli stems, green beans) and "cooks quickly" (e.g. bell pepper, broccoli florets, zucchini). If using hot peppers, put them in the "cooks quickly" bowl. If using potatoes, boil them separately and add them in at the end.
Broth: Carefully spoon off about 1 cup of the top layer of cream from one can of coconut milk -- this layer will be thick and possibly solid. Place the coconut cream and curry paste in a large stock pot or Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over high heat, whisking to blend, about 2 minutes. Maintain this brisk simmer and whisk frequently until almost all of the liquid evaporates, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and whisk constantly until the cream separates into a puddle of colored oil and coconut solids, 3 to 8 minutes. (You should hear the curry paste starting to fry in the oil.) Continue cooking until the curry paste is very aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining coconut milk, the fish sauce, and the brown sugar. Bring back to a brisk simmer and cook until the flavors meld and the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
Meat/veg/whatever: Season the chicken with salt and add it to the pot, stirring until the pieces are separated and evenly coated with the sauce, about 1 minute. Stir in the "takes a little while" vegetables and bring back to a brisk simmer over medium heat. Cook until the vegetables are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the "cooks quickly" vegetables and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice, basil, and mint. Serve immediately over white rice. Makes about eight servings.
The only mistake we made was using both a red bell pepper and the red hot peppers from the farmshare. Before we tucked in, we carefully went through our bowls and pulled out the pieces of hot pepper so we wouldn't eat them by mistake!
You can vary the spice levels to taste, of course. We ended up using six serrano chiles for the paste and four of the red peppers in the double batch of curry, and there was a bit of heat but not a lot.
I think we'll be getting a lot of mileage out of this recipe as the fall harvest comes in.