Thursday, September 16, 2010

Currying favor

Hmm, guess what's cookin' tonight? Yup, something I didn't even know I liked until my friend Tina introduced me to Thai food. I love Tina - she is all about food and has no bias against any kind except fish...she says she will not eat anything that swims in the ocean. Or any other kind of water. I tease her because she eats stuff with fish sauce in it, but that's because I'm mean...she so doesn't deserve that. Because she took me to my first Pho restaurant, and taught me how to say it so other Asian people don't hear me and rank me out in their native language saying things like "That stupid girl, she probably doesn't know the difference between Pad Thai and Pad ke mao" But I do - it's "Fu", just like the bad word without the ck. And pad ke mao has wider noodles and no yucky bean sprouts, so there.

One of our family favorites came to me in a 1/2 hour infomercial about PDX - they do a couple recipes from local restaurants, and that day it was Typhoon. I was intrigued...I had had Massaman Curry before, and it looked pretty simple to make - I went online and printed the recipe out. I've gotten tips and hints from lots of places, and will share my product picks with you...but don't worry too much about brands at first tho, just try it with what you can find - I started with lots of substitutions because I didn't have it all, and it was still delicious! And I will give you a heat indicator on a scale of 1-10....I am a wuss and can usually only take a 2 or 3, but this is one I will eat fire for - sooooo good!

Massaman Curry with Pork

1-2 lbs. pork, cut in 1" cubes (you can use chicken, just go with thighs)
1 T. oil
2-4 T. red curry paste (orange tub, Mae Ploy)
1 can coconut milk (Mae Ploy - it is the best)

5 T. tamarind/Nuoc me chua sauce (green label, blue lid - thick like ketchup)
1/3-1/2 C. fish sauce- SALTY! (Tina says use the kind with 3 crabs on the label)
1-2 cakes palm sugar (each one maybe 1/4 C. - they are cute little disks)
2 C. hot water (add more if it's too thick or too concentrated)

1 onion, cut in 1-2" chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
6 small or 3 medium red potatoes, washed & cut in chunks

Cooked jasmine rice
Roasted salted peanuts

Heat very large skillet or dutch oven, add oil and as much curry paste as you dare: on a scale of 1 being ketchup and 10 being hellfire:
1.5 Tbs=2
2 Tbs=4
3 Tbs.=8
4 Tbs=permanently scarred tastebuds and fireflies in your peripheral vision

Heat while mashing with wooden paddle or spoon until you start to cough violently, then turn on the fan and add the pork. Cook, stirring until it starts to brown, then add just the thick part of the coconut milk (if it is separate, otherwise dump half of it in) and scrape the bottom and let boil away for a few minutes. Add remaining coconut milk and rest of sauce ingredients, stir and keep cooking until the sugar has melted, then add the vegetables.

Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for about an hour uncovered, or until liquid has reduced by about half and the pork is tender. Serve this beautifully fragrant and spicy stew over a large scoop of jasmine rice, topping with a handful of peanuts, and don't forget to have a big pitcher of ice water on doesn't really help with the fire, but it'll at least replenish the fluid your body will be expelling in the form of sweat and tears....hopefully nothing else.

Oh, and I never measure rice anymore, Tina showed me how she does it and it always works: Put rice in your pot, fill with cold water and stir with your hand, tilt pan and pour out most of the water, then rinse again. Put pot on flat surface, add enough water to level the rice, then put your ring finger just on the top of the rice and fill with cold water until it reaches the first joint of that finger. It always cooks perfectly, no matter how big or small your hands are, or how much rice you're cooking...I SWEAR! Thanks Tina, now I never have to search for that stupid little rice cup that came with my steamer!

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