Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sweet Green Curry

Every year when the weather starts to turn to springtime temperatures and the sun shines brighter and longer, I crave asian food. I think that's because most of the asian food I like is absolutely crammed with tons of vegetables and they're cooked very briefly so they stay nice and crunchy.

Of all the asian cuisines, Thai is my favorite. This began when I moved to Minneapolis 10 years ago and my friends and I started going to Chiang Mai Thai in Uptown on a regular basis for happy hours. An embarrassing percentage of my first post-college paychecks went to Chiang Mai Thai (and Herkimer and Bryant Lake Bowl) that year. Those were the days, my friends.

Here is what I love about Thai restaurants - every dish is customizable to whichever type of protein you want to add (beef, pork, chicken, tofu, mock duck, or just vegetables). As a vegetarian, the entire menu is available to you (truly, that is exciting to non-meat-eaters)! Also, the spice level is customizable as well. So if you love spicy food like I do, you can order anything on the menu and order it extra hot or super mild.

Back to Chiang Mai Thai, it was there that I first ordered and loved sweet green curry. It's a classic Thai combination of spicy and sweet. You certainly could make your own green curry paste, but it comes in the grocery store with all recognizable ingredients on the label so I deem it acceptable to purchase pre-made.

Also, a wok is not necessary to make a great curry or stir fry, you could simply use a large skillet. But I love my wok. It gets very hot and it holds so many vegetables! This was a monster batch of curry (I could've fed an army) and it fit very comfortably in my big wok.

If you can chop vegetables, you can make this dish. The trick is to do all your prep in advance because once you start cooking, you need to cook it quickly to avoid mushy vegetables. You want all your veggies to be crisp-tender to get that springtime crunch in your dinner.

The green curry paste is spicy. Start with 1 spoonful, taste, and add more if you can stand it. As already mentioned, I love spice so I used nearly the entire jar to season all my veggies and I recommend providing extra Rooster sauce for those at your table who like it hot!

Sweet Green Curry
Protein of your choice, cut into bite-sized chunks (chicken would be great here)
Vegetables of your choice, cut into bite-sized chunks - choose a bright variety of colors
I used: broccoli, carrots, green beans, mushrooms, onion, red pepper, yellow pepper, and water chestnuts
1 can coconut milk
1 jar green curry paste
canola oil
salt and pepper
extra hot sauce
brown rice, cooked (or another whole grain like wheatberries, farro, quinoa, oat groats, etc)

In a wok or large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp light oil (NOT olive oil) over high heat until it shimmers. Add your protein (if using) and stir constantly until cooked through. Remove from pan.

Ad a bit more light oil and add your vegetables, one at a time. I started with the onions and mushrooms to get some color on them. Then the peppers and carrots. Finally the broccoli, green beans, and water chestnuts.

Stir your veggies constantly. When they are hot and cooked but still crunchy and crisp, add back your protein, then add the whole can of coconut milk and a big spoonful of curry paste. Add salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more curry paste if you want more spice.

Serve over brown rice or quinoa with extra hot sauce.

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