I am a huge fan of simple, delicious meals that are easy to make a ton of and make great left overs, aiding in that endless quest for more time during the business of life. Of the various meals I make with the intent of eating a few times throughout the week and freezing a portion of for later, Thai curry is one that stands out from the crowd due to the fact that it gets even better with time. It’s great the day you make it and even better a few days later, when the spices have had time to seep into the coconut milk and become more rich and complex.
Thai curry is also a favorite because of its versatility – almost any vegetable that’s in season and available at the farmer’s market will fit in nicely, and you can even rely on it in winter when we’ve got little more that potatoes and carrots lining the tables of the winter markets. You barely need a plan when going into it, and the only thing you really need to worry about is buying the right amount of cans of coconut milk for how much you want to make. And, of course, that you have some Thai Red Curry Powder on hand. This is a great seasoning with medium heat, and it’s the only thing I use in my curry recipe other than a generous helping of salt at the end (for things like this I like some good old standard Kosher salt).
Use this recipe as a starting point – if you see some seasonal vegetables for sale and want to add them, do it! Just be sure to know how long you should cook them for, if at all, before adding them to the mix – carrots will need to be baked (my preferred method) or boiled to make them soft, while things like asparagus and bell peppers can simply be left raw and tossed in at the end, or sautéed lightly in oil if you prefer them to be a bit softer. As a vegetarian who consumes little dairy, this is a vegan recipe that uses tofu, but you can easily cube and cook meat for it instead (Here’s a great chicken curry recipe and while I’m at it, here’s another, shorter and somewhat different vegetable curry recipe from The Spice House that was prepared by Chef Kevin Bozis for the “Stir It Up in Chicago” event back in August 2005).
This is a big recipe with the goal of having lots of left overs. Store in an airtight glass or plastic container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze in an airtight container for a few weeks.
Red Thai Curry
Serves 8 – 10 (or makes a good amount of left overs)
2 large potatoes
8 medium carrots
1 large onion (any kind)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 lb mushrooms (I like oyster or shiitake)
2 bell peppers
1/2 lb green beans
5 – 10 sticks of asparagus
1 package extra firm tofu
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup Thai Red Curry Powder
salt to taste
1 small package cilantro
1 package of your favorite rice
Set the oven to 400 degrees. Cube the potatoes into small cubes and cut the carrots down the middle and then cut into small pieces, roughly the same size as the potatoes. Use about 4 tablespoons of oil to coat evenly, then put on a pan and cook until tender, about 20 minutes (check with a fork after 15).
Cube the garlic and onions. Heat the oil on medium heat in a large saucepan and add the garlic and onions, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Cut the tofu into small cubes and set on a pile of folded paper towels, and then take a few more folded paper towels and push firmly down on the top of the tofu to dry it completely. Add the tofu cubes to the pan and sauté lightly.
Add 1 can of coconut milk to the pan with the garlic, onion and tofu. Add the Thai Red Curry Powder and stir into the milk. Add the other can of milk and 1 cup water.
Cut the mushrooms, bell peppers, green beans, asparagus and add to the pan. Add the cooked potatoes and carrots. Stir together thoroughly. Add salt to taste (I typically add about a tablespoon).
Cook your favorite rice according to the package’s directions to serve with the curry.
To serve: put 1/2 – 1 cup of cooked rice in a bowl, then pour the curry on top. Put a few pieces of cilantro on top and the juice of a lime.