The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

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Simple. Healthy. Authentic.

The World’s Simplest Red Curry


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


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.


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.


Chinese Tea

I recently read this post about different kind of tea that are popular in Chinese culture. It was definite the best representation of what people drink every day in China. Tea is still, even in modern days, the most popular drinks in China. Instead of soft drinks, tea products like green ice tea or green ice tea remains the best-selling causal drinks. At home, people drink quite a bit of hot tea even in summer.

The most popular kinds of tea include: green tea, yellow tea, white tea, black tea and Jasmine flower tea. Each of these kind tea can be produced in different location around China, but usually a specific location is more famous producing one of them because of the soil type and climate. There are also more specialized tea such as Oolong or brick tea from the southwest. People usually drink tea with porcelain cups with lids. My grandfather had one red cup that he used to drink Jasmine tea for decades. This is the only thing I asked to have after he passed away and it still smells like Jasmine.

It is quite important to Chinese to drink full-length, loose tea leaves produced from the most recent year. Most of the people do not drink tea bags and it is considered not in such good quality. Moreover, it is a pretty big deal to have tea from the most recent Spring. My parents buy new tea leaves every May because most of the tea are produced in March and April. And their last year’s tea is usually used for cooking instead of drinking. Since I moved to U.S. my parents have been getting new tea for me every spring and mailing it to the States. The postage is usually more expensive than the tea but it is just not possible to get this year’s new tea in loose leaves in U.S.

Drinking tea benefits my life in so many ways – it helps me to drink more water during the day, it prevents me from drinking soft drinks and therefore keeps me on a low sugar-diet, it also forces me into a habit of mini-breaks – I had to leave me desk and walk to a kitchen area where the hot water kettle is and it takes my eyes off monitor at least every an hour. It also helps me to stop drinking coffee. I drunk a lot of coffee during graduate school, but I never felt good after coffee. I felt short-breathed and more anxious. It was silly that I thought that I had to drink coffee to “fit in”, because all the graduate students from U.S. drunk so much coffee. (Just like I “had to” drink beer at parties.) Then I matured a bit and discovered no one cared how I lived my life, at least not as much as I thought. So I started drinking tea as my main beverage again. Now I drink coffee very sparsely – only when I am truly sleepy but cannot walk it off and coffee became more effective for me too.

Give tea a try if you are not drinking it regularly. I think it will change anyone’s life for better. I am here to answer all the questions from the type of tea and containers for drinking/carrying hot tea. Also, if you can find a store selling loose leave tea, definitely give it a try and ask for tea leaves from the most recent year. It will make all the difference in your experience!

Celebrating July 4th with Fireworks and …Noodles!

Happy July 4th everyone! We had great fun with friends shooting fireworks at our house! Hubby dressed in a red T-shirt and blue shorts and worn a full-size American flag as his cape. He even put a small flag on our American Bull Terrier. 🙂

We love food-theme parties. Back to California we hosted potato parties to which everyone bought a potato dish and we had competitions who made the best potatoes. And last year we hosted a noodle party where guest contributed a noodle or pasta dish. Our friends were all so creative and brought noodle dish from different part of the world and all of them were insanely delicious. So we decided to do it again this weekend.

Hubby spent a day deep-cleaning our place – it sound weird to clean BEFORE the party but our guests are all pretty mature so we did not expect any destruction. With two dogs the sofa can be a bit smelly, plus there were storms everyday and the dogs just kept bringing mud into the house. We wanted to make out guest feel comfortable. My job was cooking – I cooked cold sesame noodle last year and this year I could not wait but cooking my new favorite – Dandan noodles. And it was such a hit that it was gone in 10 minutes!


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