05 August 2007
Time for Thai
I'm in the middle of a move at the moment, so I'm pretty much eating frozen pizza and bagels every day. I figure that it's a good a time as any, then, to post some recipes I tried over the last couple of weeks that I haven't yet blogged about.
I've been in the mood for Thai a lot lately. I eat the Thai Kitchen peanut noodle packs a lot for lunch when I'm in class, because they're microwavable and easy and—added bonus—they come with a spoon. They're also not quite as high in fat and calories as some of the Thai food companies' products. Still, they are pretty obviously convenience food, and I've been wanting something a little more authentic and flavourful.
The other day I happened across a recipe for Thai coconut curry with green jasmine rice, and I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand, so I tried it out. The result was an amazing dish—the major cons are expense of ingredients and cleanup, so it's more of a special occasion meal, but I love the way the spiciness of the curry contrasts with the sweet, mild flavour of the rice. The recipe below is exactly what I made, which is altered in a few key places from the original recipe. I didn't have cilantro so I used basil instead, and I used sweetened coconut instead of unsweetened, for example. It was also a bit hot for me, so next time I will leave out the red pepper and maybe do a teaspoon less curry powder. That said, I am a complete wimp when it comes to spices, so most people will be happy with the recipe as is.
Oh, and while I'm on the Thai theme, one brief plug for a local restaurant—Thai Flavours. It's on Burlington Street in Iowa City, and it's very small and at least on a Saturday, rather empty, but their panang curry is amazing. Oh coconut milk how I love thee. I also got a Thai iced tea, which I am a huge fan of. The "Hawkeye Rolls" left something to be desired, however. Almost too healthy. I need to go back sometime during the week so I can try the vegetarian lunch buffet.
Coconut Curried Tofu with Green Jasmine Rice
Get your food processor set up with the normal chopping blade, and have a small bowl ready. This will save time and avoid speed chopping in the middle of the recipe. Now, start by chopping a cup or so of fresh basil (I just used a package, which was a bit less than a cup). Throw that in the food processor. Peel a small piece of fresh ginger and mince. Put a teaspoon in the food processor and three tablespoons in the bowl. Mince a couple of large garlic cloves and put one in each. Slice half a cup (a small bunch) of green onions and put in the bowl. Then drain a package of extra firm tofu and slice into half inch cubes. Leave the tofu on the cutting board and set aside. At this point, you can go ahead and fill a medium saucepan with 1-3/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Then add half a cup of light coconut milk and a tablespoon of fresh lime juice (about half a lime's worth) to the food processor. Set aside the rest of the can and the other half of the lime. Add 2 t curry powder, 1 t cumin, and 1/8 t crushed red pepper to the bowl.
Now put everything away (except what you were setting aside) and puree the mixture in the food processor. When the water starts boiling, add a cup of jasmine rice and return to the boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and set your timer for 18 minutes. The recipe says to stir ¼ cup unsweetened coconut over medium heat in a small skillet for about 5 minutes or until golden, but I consider this time consuming and a waste of a pan. You can either toast the coconut while you're doing other things, or use the large skillet you're about to use for the curry and then set the coconut aside.
Anyway, you'll want to heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in your large skillet over high heat. When it starts sizzling merrily, add your tofu and stir-fry for six minutes or until golden. Add the contents of your bowl and stir-fry another minute, then remove from the heat and add a cup of whole cherry tomatoes (I used grape) and another ¼ cup coconut milk. Stir it around a bit to incorporate everything. By now your rice should be ready. Check it a little before the timer goes off—you want most the water to have evaporated. When that happens, give it a stir and then stir in the contents of your food processor bowl, as well as the coconut. Put a big scoop of that on the plate, then top with the curry, then sprinkle with more coconut and some chopped peanuts (I used dry roasted and didn't actually chop). Garnish with lime wedges.