Friday, June 27, 2008

Five Authentic Curries

These are authentic Thai curries with things like galangal root (related to ginger), a pinch of shrimp paste and about a dozen other things. They are not the sad pastes you find in stores, the ones that are just hot peppers. You'll find lots of uses for these terrific pastes, made in Thailand. They are vacuum packed which means unopened they'll last a couple of years. Opened they last several months in the refrigerator.

Green. Sweet and a little hot, green curry gets its name from its color, with green Thai peppers infusing the curry with a dark green hue. Our has fresh ground spices, chilies, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal root, shrimp paste, salt, Kaffir lime peel. Seven dollars.

Yellow. Gang Ga-ree in Thailand, where coconut cream is often used to create a silkier flavor. If you have coconut cream, use half and half with coconut milk, or enjoy with just coconut milk. Fresh ground spices, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, galangal root, Thai chilies, salt, Kaffir lime peel. Seven dollars.

Red. Duck is often used with red curry in Thailand. Our spiciest, but still not overpowering, curry (use less for a milder dish) the red Thai peppers give the curry its color. Fresh ground spices, lemongrass, Thai chilies, garlic, shallots, galangal root, shrimp paste, salt, Kaffir lime peel. Seven dollars.

Panang. Another spicy curry (use less for a milder flavor). Beef is the common meat for Panang curry in Thailand, but it goes well with poultry, pork and seafood too. Fresh ground spices, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, galangal root, Thai chilies, salt, Kaffir lime peel, shrimp paste. Seven dollars.

Curries So Simple To Use

The curries are so easy to use for weeknight cooking, or for guests. They work well as a soup base; stir fry a little with some vegies and/or meat and stir in cooked rice noodles. Or make Thai curry in a bowl by adding coconut milk - so simple and ready in minutes.

You control the heat: Our curries are mild for some tastes, add more curry for more heat. The panang curry and red curry are hotter than the green and the yellow (mildest). By the way, the curries are wonderful in soups like pumpkin (at right).

Basic Thai Curry: With any Thai curry, the basic recipe is to simply heat a little oil, stir-fry two teaspoons or so paste for a minute (perhaps with half a minced onion), add one 12 oz. can coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups water or broth (vegetable or chicken) and anything you want: You can cut into pieces and add a chicken breast (skinless) or pork then simmer 10 minutes or until cooked through. With meat or without you can add diced potato (or baby red potatoes) for about 15 minutes, and/or zucchini (5 min.), minced onion (10 min.), diced or pea egg-plant (5 min.), green beans (10 min.), broccoli (10 min.) or other vegetables. Serve with rice. Add a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce with the broth for additional flavor.

Curry Stir Fry: The pastes make a wonderful stir fry too, especially with rice noodles. Add a teaspoon or two of paste, or more, to some hot oil in a wok or skillet along with some onion and any meat, shredded or diced. Stir fry any vegetables. Cook the rice noddles in boiling water and drain, then add to the skillet and stir fry for a minute to coat. Serve. Or serve your curry stir fry over rice.

Thai Soup: These pastes also make a great soup base. Mix 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons paste with 2 cans coconut milk, 2 cups water or stock (chicken or beef are best), 2 tablespoons fish sauce if you have it (brand name is by far the best and great for fresh spring rolls and other Thai cooking), and 2 tablespoons sugar. Shred some cooked chicken or duck, saute a chopped onion, perhaps a tablespoon of minced ginger and one of minced garlic, and then add the base and vegetables you want:sweet peppers, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, mushrooms, peas, broccoli. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add a handful of shredded fresh basil just before done, and/or cilantro.

Each package is 14 ounces -- about 35 servings.