Monday, July 03, 2006

Curry Homework

Instead of going to the regular supermarket to replenish our supplies, we hit the Asian market for Chinese black beans, green tea, sesame oil, tofu, baby bok choy, long beans, fresh chilies, ginger candies that we love and most other people hate -- and coconut milk, lemongrass, and shrimp paste.

After all, it was time to solidify some of the things we learned in our Thai cooking class, and we needed some vital items. I was hoping I might be able to track down the elusive galangal and kaffir lime leaves, but alas I was correct that the market doesn't stock them. Bummer.

The place does have great fish and meat counters, so, while Margy the gardener bought some plants over at Home Depot, I grabbed a whole yellowtail for tonight and a couple of racks of pork ribs for tomorrow, the Fourth of Ju-ly. Back home, I made a dumbed-down curry paste that was still vibrant, fragrant, and tasty. In the class we learned that Thais grind up the entire cilantro plant in their pastes -- stems, roots, and all. In fact, the instructor said Thais might use everything but the leaves, which are too good looking to just bash into oblivion and are better used later as a garnish.

The exciting part is that our garden is blossoming, and this week the cilantro was at its peak. So I just ripped some out of the ground, rinsed off the dirt, and threw the roots and stems in the processor with garlic, chilies, lime zest, shrimp paste, salt, pepper, and spices. I rubbed some paste onto the fish, which I broiled, and I cooked the rest with coconut milk and fish sauce to make a little pool of flavor to let the yellowtail swim around in. For a garnish I used Thai basil leaves from the plant we got in Vermont, along with more cilantro. May the parade of homegrown bounty continue!

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