Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Easy Peanut Red Curry (with fractals!)

Another "I don't even know if I can call this a recipe and I feel like a cheat for posting it because all I really do is just mix a few things together" kind of recipe.
 My favorite easy awesome dinner.  I can cook this after a 13+ hour work day.  My favorite meal to make when I think I'm on the verge of succumbing to a cold or flu.  My favorite meal to have when I have a cold or flu.  One of my favorite meals to eat when it's been cold, dark and rainy for 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months.  Yay, Oregon.  My favorite thing to do with bell peppers (besides stuff them).  ("Stuff them" is going to be a hyperlink to a recipe someday!)

The sauce in this recipe is an increasingly good imitation of my favorite curry dish from my favorite Thai restaurant, the "House Special Curry" from Sweet Basil"If you love peanut sauce," (which I very much do), the menu says, "you must try this red curry peanut sauce with bell pepper, carrots and broccoli".  Well okay!

My 2nd favorite curry story*: One summer I had a terrible terrible cold.  It was so bad I watched Killer Clowns from Outer Space and every single episode of the State in one day.  A friend called to see if I wanted him to bring me curry.


When he arrived, I was miserably ensconced in a mountain of blankets.  2 pairs of wool socks, 2 pairs of sweatpants, nearly twice the amount of my normal shirt layering, a hoodie, gloves, a scarf, a stocking cap!

All this for a girl who sleeps with the windows open until it's in the 40's, wears flip flops even if it's in the 30's, and finally wears a stocking cap on the two days in Eugene it gets into the 20's.

I started to eat the delicious delicious amazing warm, wonderful delicious curry and I began to feel warm and radiant all over.  The scarf and gloves came off.  Then the hat.  Then the extra pair of pants and socks.

Curry cured my illness!  Or, at least put me on the mend - I felt better every hour that followed.

I am now convinced that the curry is the color of health.

(*My #1 favorite curry story involves drunkenly puking up a large indian dinner in a hotel room in Washington DC at 4am.  Tasted great and the colors were mesmerizing).  

Easy Peanut Red Curry (aka It's So Easy to Make Something Awesome)

Ingredients for the Sauce:
1 15 oz can coconut milk
1 4 oz jar Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (I'll keep you posted on other curry pastes - I'm excited to try Thai and True).
4 generous "table" spoons full of your favorite natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes **you might want to start with less**
at least 1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce **you might want to start with less**

Add curry paste to coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Add peanut butter to taste 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well and waiting a while each time.  Turn to low heat and allow to mature while the rice is cooking, stirring ocassionally, and adding spicy stuff and more peanut butter in small increments. 

But hold on, what's that freaky fractal green vegetable in the middle there?

It is my new obsession: Roman Cauliflower/Romanesco Broccoli.  A member of the beloved-in-the-pacific-northwest brassica family, it is very much like cauliflower - you can cut it into florets and steam it just like cauliflower.  It has the same-ish texture, and a similar but different flavor.  It is very very good.

My research so far leads me to believe that you can use Romanesco as a substitute for broccoli or cauliflower in any recipe.  I am going to test this hypothesis with some Cheesy Romanesco and Roasted Romanesco.

And it's so beautiful!  If you know where to look, fractals are everywhere.  To see them so clearly pronounced in a vegetable makes romanesco quietly profound.  If looking at this vegetable does not excite you, even a little, you must not have a soul.  You don't even need to be stoned to enjoy staring at Romanesco.

Wait, we're supposed to be making curry...
Once you 'get over it' you're ready to cut the veggie into small florets, and chop whatever other veggies you want.
I used 5 small colored carrots, the whole thing of Romanesco, 1/2 yellow pepper and 1/2 orange pepper.
I diced 1/6 of an onion to steam with 1 cup of basmati rice.

If you don't have a combo rice/veggie steamer I'm not sure how you'd cook the rice and steam the veggies.  You're on your own to figure out how to make rice and steam veggies.  This device revolutionized my cooking.  My shortcomings as a cook are beginning to show!

Post-Bliss Ruminations:
This is the 3rd best curry I've ever had.  The first was my "curry cures all illness" curry and the second was a crock-pot curry one of my best friends made for us when we were roommates.

The only good thing (for me) that came out of one of my other best friends moving to Buenos Aires then Sudan then San Fransisco was that she gave me her combo rice/veggie steamer.  Cookware changed my life.

I am so glad I gave making curry a second try.  The first time I made it, it was so bad I almost never made it again.  I stupidly followed the instructions on the bottle of curry paste to add ONE TEASPOON of curry paste.  Puh-leeze!  Are you trying to kill us with blandness?!

If a curry isn't so hot that it clears your sinuses, it's not worth eating.

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