Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thai Cooking in the Vietnamese/White Household

Sure, we believe that we can make anything in our teeny kitchen, but there are some things that are just not worth the time and effort of putting together, let alone finding the right ingredients.  Thai food and Indian foods are common evils that we buy semi-pre-made.  The curries are made with so many ingredients that are so difficult to find that we buy the pre-packaged pastes.  Lots of people think that making any kind of Asian food just sounds too difficult to make just because they have never tried, but making Thai curry is sooooo easy when you buy curry paste.

One of the great things about buying curry paste is that you can make a meal in no time with whatever "bites" you want (our in our case, whatever was in the fridge and freezer).  You can eat it with just veggies, or you can put in any kind of meat, potatoes, etc.  Just think of making almost like a vegetable soup, except you are using curry instead of chicken stock or vegetable stock.

We are really trying to "clean" out our freezer, because sometimes we get this idea in our heads that we have infinite freezer space and "oh, chicken breast on sale for under $2/lb? lets buy TEN pounds! ....flank steak for $5.99/lb? can we buy it all?"  We also only have one cupboard with no shelves inside to put our canned goods and other processed foods, so we're trying to clean that out too so we can discover hidden delicacies in the back.  So today we made red curry!  It's simple, easy, uses many things we already had, can make a lot, and doesn't take too long on the stove (since it's 90+ degrees outside and turning on the stove is basically like turning on a fireplace in our small apartment).

Thai Red Curry

6 tbsp. red curry paste
2 cans coconut milk
(if you find that you need more "sauce", add 1 can of coconut milk per 3 tbsp. curry paste)
1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas, cut in half
1 cup green peas
1 red pepper
2 heads broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces, stalks sliced so that more of the inside shows instead of the tough outer layer

1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 thai chili
salt, to taste

Heat up a 6-quart dutch oven over high heat (or other deep pan or wok).  Once hot, add curry paste and stir will wooden spoon until fragrant.  

Add coconut milk and stir until completely combined, then bring to a boil.  

Add fish sauce and vinegar (if you want).  Add beef, onion, snap peas, green peas, brocoli, and thai chili.  Stir and bring to a boil, then take down to a simmer and cover.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes (or until the beef is cooked and the veggies are to your desired texture).  Add salt to taste, and serve over rice. (I chose to eat without rice this time... saving a few calories :P  it's basically like a soup anyways)

We used beef, green peas, and onions, because we had them in the fridge and freezer already, however literally any kind of meat is good with curry, and we wanted more greens, so we went to the bodega down the street and picked up the snap peas and broccoli to be more healthy :P  

The "sauce" can be made just with curry paste and coconut milk, but we wanted to add the "optional" ingredients just because we had them and knew they would add a little depth to the dish.  You should be able to find coconut milk in most grocery stores for around $1.00-1.50.  I think the Thai food brand called "Thai Kitchen" sells both coconut milk and curry paste, though we found both for pretty cheap at the local Asian grocery store.

If you haven't tried making Thai food, I encourage you to try this recipe!  You will be surprised how fast and easy it is to just throw it all together.  Maybe you won't be tempted to spend double or triple your money on Thai take-out the net time you get that craving!


p.s.  if you dare to put in the Thai chili, make sure you KNOW where it's at the the pot!  In the midst of typing this post I accidentally bit into it!!  it was hotter than anything I've ever eaten... my face was dripping sweat, my eyes were pouring tears, and my nose was so runny!!  ahhhh!!! Mucho thanks to Mr. P for saving the day with some water and rice to sooth my burning mouth (he had to improvise since we ran out of milk).

Lesson learned, I suppose.

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