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15 March 2015 @ 07:57 pm
Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries: C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER TWO: Panang Curry  
If you're wondering why I didn't make a big deal, or even really any note at all, of the fact that last week was the putative halfway point in our journey through fifty curries, well, now you know. It's because I had this post planned at the time, making it the real halfway point and thus the real milestone. I'm a little surprised I stuck with it the whole way without faltering, but the lure of curry kept me going. Every week I get to try something new and then share it with all of you, and even if it's something I don't like, at least I can lessen the pain by spreading it around.  photo emot-3.gif

But this week we don't have to worry about that. This week, we're going back to the beginning. Or maybe I should say the foundation, because the real beginning, the first curry that softlykarou and I ever made together, was a Kashmiri curry that was at least very close to this recipe even if it wasn't exact. No, this week, I bring you Thai curry.


Look at all those vegetables!  photo emot-parrot.gif

This is probably the closest thing there is to comfort food for me next to the Japanese-style breakfast I eat every morning. I had it two or three times a week for close to two years, so I have a lot of memories of days at work, coming home to an empty house because softlykarou was at class or other committments, and heating up a big bowl of Panang curry with a side of basmati rice. I'm one of those people who doesn't need to have something different every day, and it didn't matter how much I'd had curry that week, I always looked forward to the next bowl of it.

Hmm. Thinking about it, all of my comfort foods are of relatively recent impression. From a certain perspective--namely, that of generically American upper-middle class Midwesterners--I was an extremely picky eater as a child. It turns out that I'm just really picky about American food, and now I eat chicken hearts and liver and raw fish and raw horse and octopus and a lot of other stuff that there's no way my parents would ever have cooked it, but my sister had similar tastes, so when we were young it was basically a battle for my mother to rotate a list of foods such that no one in the house had to eat a meal they didn't like repeatedly, because it was a given that no matter what she cooked, someone wouldn't like it. My favorite meal was chop suey, made using La Choy canned vegetables that were probably full of any number of ingredients I would balk at eating now, but I loved it as a kid. My father didn't, and thus it remained a rare treat. But I probably wouldn't eat it at all now, much less count it as comfort food.


It's not a curry picture without frying onions.

Words from the Chef
There's something soothing about making something that you've made 100 times before. A comfortable rhythm in the kitchen. It was nice to make something that is relatively simple, compared to the more involved curries I've been making. Thai curry, at least as simple as I make it, is so unfussy and yet is always a winner. Admittedly, purchasing the curry paste helps. I love the taste and the amount of vegetables in it. It's about as close to a one-pot meal as we get in our household. I realized that since we have more curry paste, I could throw this together on non-curry nights. It's nice to go back and visit after a long time away.



Look at that golden color! Look at the swirls from the spices! Jackpot!  photo latest.gif

I think one of the main things I like about Panang curry is that it's a complete meal of itself. It's the reason that I'm so often complaining about the amount of vegetables in the other curries we eat, because when we made Thai curry we'd take a good half of the veggies we got each week in our CSA box and throw them all in. We serve it with rice on the side, but it doesn't need it, and I'm not adding cheese and yogurt and roti and a plate of broccoli and all the various things you've seen in the finished meal photos each week in order to complete the curry for me. All I really need is the bowl of curry and a glass of water.

We actually had to overhaul our menu plans when we started doing Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries, because suddenly the biggest recipient of our CSA vegetables was gone and we needed something else to do with them. On the other hand, previously we'd sometimes come up short when we were making other meals because so many vegetables went into the curry. Especially when I made it. I made it more like a stew, honestly. I'd keep throwing stuff in until the entire wok was basically full. Yum.


Perfection.

I just had a huge bowl of curry an hour and a half ago and I'm already looking forward to Tuesday and Thursday, which are the other two days I'll get to have it. I haven't had it for almost six months at this point, except for a couple times when we went out to lunch at Indie Cafe and I'd get the currry lunch set, but A) that's red curry and B) it's not the same as when softlykarou makes it. Or even when I make it, though food always tastes better when it's made with love.  photo Emot-loveheart.gif

I'm skipping the usual end of post review this week, because all the other ones are comparing themselves to Thai curry and comparing it to itself is silly. It's not like I can answer whether Thai curry is better or worse than Thai curry, anyway. You might as well divide by zero. OH SHI-









 
 
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Joelkraada on March 16th, 2015 12:00 pm (UTC)
So what is the recipe for this one? Since it's not in the book and all :)
dorchadasdorchadas on March 16th, 2015 11:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes!

Meat of some kind. We often use short ribs, but ground beef and chicken work too.
Two cans of coconut milk.
Pre-made curry paste. We use Maesri brand.
Tons of vegetables.


√-1: Fry the onions. This step is optional, but does add flavor.
1: Simmer the meat for a bit in a wok.
2: When the meat is half-cooked, add the coconut milk and the curry paste.
3: Let simmer for a few minutes.
4: Add all the veggies.
5: Let simmer for 20 minutes or so. Spoon into bowl and eat.

That's it!
softlykaorusoftlykarou on March 17th, 2015 12:47 am (UTC)
I do it a bit differently
1. simmer curry paste for a bit in oil, then add onions and cook
2. add one can of coconut milk and let boil then add meat
3. let meat cook for a bit then add other coconut milk can
4. add veggies in order of how long they may take to cook
5. let simmer until thickened and the veggies are cooked
Joelkraada on March 17th, 2015 03:49 pm (UTC)
I see Maesri has at least 4 flavors - red, green, masaman and panang. I don't suppose you can elaborate on the differences in flavor between them somewhat? :)
dorchadasdorchadas on March 18th, 2015 12:00 am (UTC)
Hmm...I'd have a difficult time describing the tates, but the main difference I can point out immediately is heat, which runs green > red > panang > masaman. Masaman can actually be so mild that even people who are as spice-averse as my mother like it, if that's an item of concern.  photo emot-c00l.gif
Joelkraada on March 18th, 2015 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks that helps. I quite like spice, but my gut can't handle too much of it. I'll start with Panang and Masaman (both available with Prime shipping!) and go from there.