Monday, November 5, 2012

Thai Green Curry with Salmon

I absolutely love Thai curries: green, red, massaman, they're all so flavorful and aromatic and delicious, I couldn't pick a favorite. If you've never had Thai curry before, I definitely recommend you try it at least once and the best one to start with, I'd say, is green curry. I don't want to say it's the mildest, because it definitely still has a ton of flavor, but it's a little bit sweeter - the Thai name for it, kaeng khiao wan means sweet green curry - and I think it has flavors that are more familiar to an unfamiliar palate, if that makes any sense.

Green curry paste is made by mashing up green chilies, lots of ginger, shallots and/or onion, garlic, kaffir lime zest, lemongrass, cumin, coriander, shrimp paste, peppercorns, and salt. You could definitely make this paste yourself but my local grocery store sells green curry paste in a jar (Thai Kitchen brand) and it tastes great and I like to take shortcuts when they're available (but still delicious).

The awesome thing about making curries at home is that you can add your favorite ingredients. Sometimes I'll go to a Thai restaurant and read the menu descriptions and I'll be torn between two different curries just because of the specific vegetables used in each. However, that dilemma is shredded when I cook at home because I can add ALL of the vegetables I want. This particular recipe uses salmon but you could use chicken, beef, tofu or omit the protein altogether. Same goes for the vegetables I used; you can use the vegetables you prefer. Oh, and this dish can be made vegan - green curry paste is vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

Ingredients [serves 4]
1 lb salmon (or protein of your choice)
13.5 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 heaping tablespoon green curry paste
1/4 onion, sliced
1 small eggplant, cubed
1 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup green beans
1/4 cup bamboo shoots (canned)
1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon lime zest
+ jasmine rice
So here's what green curry paste looks like:

Before you start heating up any pans, it's a good idea to wash and prep all of the vegetables first. That way, it's waiting and ready for you once things really get going.
As far as prepping the salmon (or whatever protein you choose), I like to cut it into slightly bigger chunks, especially with fish. I don't want it to flake and break up all into the sauce. Plus, it's nice to serve your dinner guests pieces of recognizable fish (or chicken or tofu, etc.). It just looks more presentable and appetizing, at least to me. But hey, by all means, ignore me and do whatever you want.
Once the ingredients are prepared, start by heating a wide and shallow pan over medium high heat. Add oil, eggplant, and onion and stir. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft and almost cooked through. Then pour in the coconut milk and stir in the green curry paste. It won't look v. green at first but once it starts to reduce, you'll see the color start to come through.
Once the mixture comes to a boil (do you see how much greener it looks compared to that photo in the last frame above?) add the salmon, making sure to tuck it into the sauce. I like to put the thicker pieces in the center, where the heat is most concentrated, and the thinner pieces around the perimeter. Then add in mushrooms, green beans, and bamboo shoots, spooning the sauce over all of the ingredients to infuse the flavor. At this point, you can give the sauce a taste test and add salt if necessary. Just before serving, grate in some lime zest and cilantro.
Since this is a Thai food, I recommend serving it with some jasmine rice. Add 1 cup of jasmine rice, 1-1/2 cups of water, and 1 tablespoon of butter to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let cook for 10 to 12 minutes until water has completely absorbed into the rice. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving. As you can see, the photo on the left is un-fluffed rice and the photo on the right is fluffed. Doesn't the fluffy rice look so much more inviting, enticing, and delicious? Maybe it's just me.
Leave the big pot of curry on the table, along with the rice, and let your guests (or family or whoever) serve themselves.


Here's the recipe page:

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