From the Shameless Self Promotion Department: Come get a signed copy of The Adaptable Feast this Sunday, November 15th at 2pm at Powell’s City of Books and meet me and the famed Mr. Tofu. We’d love to see you there!
A few years back, I was fortunate enough to spend 3 weeks in various kitchens in Thailand. There, I was indoctrinated into the cult of homemade Thai curry pastes. For weeks my palate was swimming with the exotic flavors of galangal root, keffir lime zest, and shrimp paste. Sure, it was fun to learn how to take all those sexy ingredients and bash out all my frustrations with a mortar and pestle. BUT, like everyone else I am busy busy busy. There are nights when all I want a curry and I want it with minimal effort, so I reach for a good ol’ can of Maesri curry paste. However, I can’t help but doctor it bit to make it taste more authentic.
For this recipe, I mash some fresh garlic and the fragrant roots of cilantro together with the canned green curry paste. Cilantro roots, pictured on Blazing Hot Wok’s blog here, are thin, filamenty roots sometimes found still attached to bunches of cilantro. They add a subtle,earthy flavor that is something like cilantro crossed with parsnip. (You can sub finely chopped cilantro stems in a pinch, but they don’t give you quite as lovely of a flavor.) When you do find cilantro roots, snap up a few bunches with the thinnest roots (they are more tender and flavorful) and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Fortunately, Mr. Tofu is not a very strict vegetarian, so he’ll concede to having a touch of fish sauce in his Thai food now and then. Just in case that’s not true in your home, I’ve written the recipe so that the veggie portion is seasoned with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of the fish sauce. The liquid aminos are a bit saltier than fish sauce, with a sort of amber yumminess that’s hard to describe. Add it to taste and counter it with just a bit of lime juice to balance the flavors.
Thai Yellow-Green Curry with Shrimp or Tofu
4 small cloves garlic
Four 3-inch long cilantro stems (or 2 tablespoons finely chopped stems), finely minced
2 tablespoons green curry paste
1 1/2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon canola oil
Two 13.5 ounce cans coconut milk (I like Chaokoh brand)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced with leaves
3 mild red chilies (such as red jalapeno, seeded), julienned
1 cup bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons sweet and condensed milk
4 teaspoons palm sugar
4 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, to taste
Juice of 1 lime (use to taste)
4 teaspoons fish sauce
3/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish
1/2 cup Thai basil, chopped, for garnish
4 keffir lime leaves, rolled up tightly and very thinly sliced into ribbons (chiffonade)
In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and cilantro stems until they are a paste. Add the curry paste, curry powder, and turmeric and pound until smooth and well combined.
Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the curry paste mixture, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium; add the coconut milk. Add the onions, celery, peppers, and bamboo shoots, and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, 15 minutes.
Stir in the sweet and condensed milk and palm sugar, stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. Vegetarian: transfer 1/4 of the curry to a small saucepan, add the tofu, and season with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and lime juice to taste. Keep warm over medium-low heat.
Add the shrimp and fish sauce to the remaining curry in the wok, simmer until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, 4 minutes.
Garnish with the curries with the cilantro, basil, and lime leaves. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.