Terrific Broth

Beijinger in Denver | 北京人在丹佛

Tag: Holidays

The World’s Simplest Red Curry

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Happy Memorial Day weekend! I would like to greet you with the simplest red curry recipe in the world. I’d admit that I had not had Thai food or any type of curry before I moved to the US. But I immediately fell in love with Thai curries and started to cook them at home. Over the years, my recipe gets simpler and simpler – it is reduced to the most basic 5 spices that gives you the “Thai” taste. But in my opinion, simpler spice combination really makes the ingredients shine. When you use different proteins and veggies, the curry is supposed to taste different. And this recipe is just that.

This is a really simple dish that takes only 20 minutes to cook. It can be paired with rice or pasta, and can be cooked with whatever you can find in the fridge. It is a perfect Thursday night dinner when all left in the fridge is half an onion, a few leaves of lettuce, and half block of Tofu. That is when this recipe comes to rescue! Do not worry about proportions at all – it taste good regardless if it is protein heavy, veggie heavy, or no protein at all!

Step one: Cook your rice/pasta

This recipe pairs great with rice. It is flavorful, comes with lots of juice, and can be reheated many times. If you like your curry on rice too, remember to cook the rice first, before you start cropping and preparing for this dish.

Step two: Prepare your protein source

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I had half bag of frozen shrimp today, so it is what I used. I have used slices of beef, chicken, duck, pork, fish and tofu. Shrimp and fish are easy to cook through. So if you are cooking curry with shrimp and fish, there is no need to pre-cook them. But if you are interested in trying this recipe with sliced beef, pork, duck or chicken, or Tofu, I recommend pre-sear the protein very fast in a very hot wok with a tablespoon of oil. You can leave the oil in the wok for the next step.

Step three: Gather your veggies

I like to use pepper, snow pea, bamboo roots, and mushrooom in my curry. Today I used celery because it is the only veggie I had in the fridge.  It paired with shrimp surprisingly well!

Rinse and crop your veggies to the size that is slightly smaller that your sliced meat/a single shrimp. I recommend cropping them thin to save cooking time.

Step four: Gather your spices

Crash a few gloves of garlic, grate some ginger (optional), and crop some onion. If you want to eat onion directly, crop them into big slices. Crop the onion fine if you want them to disappear.

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To make something Thai you really only needs a few things: coconut milk, red curry sauce, fish sauce, and some kind of sugar. Palm sugar is the classic choice of sugar for Thai food, and using other form of sugar does impact the taste a little bit. But using brown sugar or raw sugar will still be pretty close. We only have raw sugar in the house (Costco)  – that is what we use in backing, coffee, and cooking. So that is what I used.

As for the coconut milk, you can use any brand in your local grocery store. I got mine from Amazon and it is my add-on items, so I stick to the Thai kitchen brand. But really any coconut milk will do. If the milk has separated in the can, just stir it during the cooking and it will be fine. No fuzz.

What influence the taste of a Thai curry the most to me, is the fish sauce. The best one I’ve had, recommended by a Vietnamese friend who cooks very well, is the three crabs fish sauce – that is why it is so expensive! Squid is a decent alternative and much cheaper.

Step five: Throw everything in the wok…

Just kidding. But I’d say that now it comes the easy part: cooking.

00:00 mins – Add one tablespoon of oil into your wok, or use the left over oil from searing the meat. Brown the onion for a couple minutes

03:00 mins – Add garlic and 1.5 table spoon of of red curry paste, give it a quick mix.

04:00 mins – Add 1 can of coconut milk, half a cup of water (or stock if you want it to be richer), 1.5 tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 tbsp of sugar, bring to boil.

08:00 mins – Add veggie. Cover the pot and simmer for 6 mins

14:00 mins – Add pre-seared meat or tofu, or raw shrimp/fish, simmer for another 5 mins until the meat cooks through

19:00 mins – Dissolve 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in 2 tablespoon of cold water, add into the soup. Turn the heat off but leave the wok on the stove, give it a quick stir. The soup will continue to thicken.

20:00 mins – Add the juice from a lime. Taste the soup. The “Thai” taste should be well balanced among fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice, If it is too sweet, add a bit fish sauce. If it is too salty, add more sugar. If it is too sweet and salty, add lime juice.

Enjoy over rice/pasta.

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My First Tree

Since I landed on the U.S. soil 10 years ago, I have been slowly getting used to Christmas. To someone who did not grow up with Christianity,  Christmas looks scary – bright lights everywhere, the nativity scene, the pressure of giving good gifts, the shopping crowd, the travelling, being careful not to accidentally tell any kids Santa is fake, etc. Lights on all the houses keeps me up at night. The only part of the Christmas tradition I actually enjoy, is the Christmas tree.

My first Christmas here, I went to an outlet where I saw a big, well decorated tree standing in the middle of a market square. People were smiling and hugging and taking pictures under the tree, there was Christmas music playing, and some restaurant even put a few tables under the tree for couples to dine. I was so moved by the holiday atmosphere a lit tree provides and decided that I wanted one my own. And I want a big one! Not something tucked into the corner of a dark low-ceiling room, I want a big one free standing in the middle of the two story hall or tall living space, next to a big window so I can see it from outside, so I can bathe in the light when I watch snow fall in cold winter nights!

This year, with most of the immediate family living overseas, Slav and I have the luxury to stay home for a Christmas-for-two. We both need to write for work, but we can do that from home. So the whole week of Christmas and New Years will be lots of snugging and sipping hot tea in our pjs. We do not plan to entertain guests, so likely we will be cooking a couple Polish traditional Christmas dish, And the good part, We will have a tree!

Planning ahead, I got a tree at 70% discount last January. Yes, you heard it right, I bought a brand new, pre-lit tree for December 2015 on January, 7th, 2015 (we are very cheap). It is 8 feet tall and very well-rounded. The tip of each branches are white, so it looks like it has snow on it – something we miss so so so much.

 

You might notice that there is no gifts under the tree – we decided to not do gifts for each other, to which Slav gave a huge sigh of relief.

We indeed ordered a few things for the whole family, which we have being eyeing on for months, including a new king mattress and a pasta maker. I had the mattress in my Costco shopping cart for months now and the Christmas discounts pulled the triggers. 🙂 I have to tell you more about the mattress – because it is a pretty big deal to both of us. We always get cheap, second-hand mattress off Craigslist, which were pretty beaten up (again, we are very very cheap). So this is the first new mattress any of us has ever gotten in the States. We have been sleeping on the new mattress for two nights and these are the best sleep I could remember! It turns out we love firm mattresses, and all the second hand ones are pretty saggy. I do not remember how many times I wake up with a broken back. And now I cannot wait to get to bed!

We also put out a modern “tree” in our bedroom for some Christmas feels. We had a tabletop tree for years when we lived in an apartment and did not have room for a real tree. Now it is living on our side-table. I guess this will be all of Christmas spread this year. I am very much looking forward to sipping some hot cocoa under my tree in Christmas morning!


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