Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Green Curry

While it's easier to use a store-bought curry paste, making your own is definitely worth the effort, especially if you have a food processor or a mortar and pestle. I use a recipe I've adapted from Thai Home Cooking, which also has recipes for other curry pastes. I like my curry to be flavorful but not so spicy, and it's easy to adjust this recipe to your tastes.
Here's the ingredients you'll need for the paste:

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass, inner white part only, chopped
2 teaspoons lime zest
1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems
1/4 cup chopped shallots
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons turmeric
small Thai chilies to taste (I use 2 and it's plenty spicy; the original recipe calls for 40)
2 cups Thai basil leaves

Toast the spices in a small frying pan over medium heat until you can smell them. This doesn't take long, so watch out for them burning. Grind them to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle.

Put all the other stuff in a food processor and process. I like to give it a few whirls with the tougher ingredients (lemongrass, garlic, shallots, ginger) before adding the basil. Add the spices at the end. If your mixture is too dry to process, add a few squirts of lime juice from that lime you zested.

The paste will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator, but it can be frozen as well.

You can use this paste for any dish calling for green curry paste, but I usually make green curry with chicken. Here's what you'll need in addition to the paste:

2 cups coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
about a pound of boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
various vegetables--I use a couple zucchini and onions, sometimes eggplant or potatoes
lime juice and salt to taste

carefully open the can of coconut milk and spoon off the thick coconut milk on top. You should get 1/4 cup or so, depending on the brand. Heat the coconut milk over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it separates. If it doesn't separate, add a little oil. Add green curry paste and fry for two minutes. Add chicken and cook until meat is opaque. Add remaining coconut milk and whatever vegetables you're using. Cook for about four minutes, or until your vegetables are soft enough for you. Add lime juice and salt, and throw in the Thai basil leaves at the last minute. I like to serve this over jasmine rice. It'll serve at least four people.