Thai Green Curry
After my trip to Sydney, I decided I needed to learn some of the basics of making Thai food, if I’m going to get anything as spicy as I enjoyed (and as much as I like) around here. Like all cuisines, it starts with gathering the proper ingredients. Here in Paris, we have Tang Frères, a large Asian supermarket which is pretty well-stocked. (Although being Paris, it seems like it’s required that they’re out of the one essential item that I’m looking for.)
I hunted down most of the ingredients on my list, but paused at the curry pastes on the shelf. Was that cheating? Did Thai cooks use curry paste, or were they shunned and it was considered infinitely better to make your own from scratch? I was in a dilemma since I wanted to hit the flavors I was looking for, but could not find lime leaves, which seems like an essential ingredient from my reading. So I put the message out on Twitter from the supermarket aisle, and right away, all the responses said the curry pastes are fine – and sometimes preferable, if you can’t find the right ingredients.
I was happy to found all those wonderful little Thai eggplants, red peppers, and even fresh green peppercorns, but decided to try the curry paste they had. (The cashier warned me it was “Très piquante!” so I told her I was from California and to bring it on, which made her chuckle.) And I just want to go on the record that I am officially addicted to Thai pea eggplants, which have a snappy little crunch when you bite into them. I think they should be sold everywhere.
One of the interesting things about being a foreigner, living in another country, is that if you want a certain cuisine, it’s up to you to figure out how to make it and track down the ingredients. But instead of complaining, it’s actually fun and a good exercise in researching and learning about new ingredients, cultures, and various global cuisines. And even a chance to explore a new neighborhood. Of course, it’s hard to match a cuisine with a country if you’re not actually in that country. But you can get good French food in America, delicious North African fare in France, and I’ve had the best Lebanese food of my life in Mexico. And I’m happy to report you (and I) can make authentic-tasting Thai fare no matter where we are.
I don’t know what kind of red chile peppers I got – you can see them in the picture – but they were somewhat mild. But the great thing about being an adult is that you can do pretty much whatever you please. So please feel free to use another kind of chile, which you can use to adjust the heat. And I did feel like I scored when I found these ears of baby corn, which were too cute to pass up on a subsequent visit. (But still no lime leaves!)
When I was reading up on Thai food, I looked at several articles and sites such as She Simmers, Fine Cooking, Chez Pim, Thai Food & Travel, as well as David Thompson’s excellent book, Thai Food. Like me, feel free to adapt the curry ingredients to what’s available where you live. Next up: I am going to make my own curry powder.
A good curry should be like a spot-on Caesar salad: one flavor or ingredient shouldn’t dominate the others. I do think the tiny pea-sized eggplants are vital since they add that an unusual crunch to the curry, but other vegetables such as baby corn, asparagus, carrots, or any relatively firm vegetable that will take a little bit of stewing and not break down completely, would be great. My French guests gobbled it all up, spices and all, and even though pineapple in a savory dish surprised them, they liked the way it cooled things down. And so did I.
Related Posts and Links
Green Curry with Chicken or Catfish (Chez Pim)
Green Curry with Pork (Kosma Loha-unchit)
Chicken in Brown Gravy Over Rice (She Simmers)
Thai Green Curry Paste (Closet Cooking)
Create Your Own Thai Curry (Fine Cooking)
Thai Green Curry (Eat Love Drink)
Thai Red Curry Coconut Soup (Soup Chick)
Thai Green Curry (Rasa Malaysia)