It’s Easy Being Green Curry
Serves 2 to 3
A non-scientific poll conducted by yours truly revealed Thai green curry to be slightly in the lead for most popular curry in the Thai curry kingdom. Buttery coconut milk and lively herbs and chiles make this light green curry swoon-worthy; if you stumble upon Thai apple eggplants in your travels include them here, but if not tender young zucchini supply a nice green tender contrast to the soothing rich broth.
The curry paste can be made days ahead, even frozen, making this a relatively fast week night meal. For a reduced fat curry, use lite canned coconut milk, or use less coconut milk and more vegetable broth.
Ingredient side bar: Galangal
If you can find it, fresh Thai galangal root makes an interesting addition to these curry pastes. Looking a little bit like pale yellow ginger with maybe a flush of pink, galangal root has different flavor entirely: it’s pungent, earthy and complex with notes of mustard seeds, white pepper, and citrus. A little goes a long way, and the root is woodier than fresh ginger and can be a somewhat tougher to slice. Peel small piece about the size of the tip of your thumb for the first time you make the curry paste, adding more if you find you love the mysterious tropical flavor of galangal in your curries. Store fresh galangal tightly wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks of purchase.
Tip: Roughly chopping the vegetables will make for easier grinding in the food processor.
Green Curry Paste:
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup lightly packed cilantro sprigs with stems
4 to 6 Thai green hot chiles or serrano chiles, chopped
2 large shallots, peeled and chopped in half
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and chopped or 2 tablespoons prepared lemongrass
1 inch thick piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2 recipe Pressed Baked Tofu, or 8 ounces purchased baked or fried tofu sliced into 1/4 inch thin strips
One 14 ounce can coconut milk, regular or reduced fat
1 1/2 cups mild vegetable broth or water
4 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or frozen or the peel from 1 organic lime (see Tom Som Soup for lime peeling tips)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon of Thai thin soy sauce or more to taste
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into 1/2 inch wide strips
2 small, slender zucchini or 6 Thai apple eggplants, stems removed and sliced into quarters
1/2 cup lightly packed Thai basil leaves, thinly sliced
Boiled jasmine rice, for serving
1. Prepare the curry paste first: In a small skillet over medium heat toast the coriander and cumin seeds for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Grind the toasted seeds in a clean coffee mill into a fine powder, then transfer to a food processor along with the remaining paste ingredients to a food processor and pulse into a smooth, thick paste. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl frequently.
2. In a 2 quart pot melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the curry paste, stir with a wooden spoon or heat resistant rubber spatula and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the tofu and fry for 2 minutes, stirring to coat with the fried curry paste. Stir in the coconut milk, vegetable broth, lime leaves, lime juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Increase heat to medium high, simmer for 5 minutes then reduce heat to medium low.
3. Add the red bell pepper, zucchini or Thai eggplant, and basil leaves and simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are slightly tender but still have a little bit of firmness to them. Remove from heat, taste and season with more Thai thin soy sauce and lime juice if desired and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with hot rice.