(Hotter Than It Looks) Thai Curry Base
On the night this recipe was created, we had shrimp, shrooms, and snow peas with which to make dinner, and The Man said he wanted something spicy, to which I mused aloud how I've noticed that people who tend to say, "Oh, that's spicy!" in response to eating something hot usually don't have a high tolerance for capsaicin heat.
To which The Man responded, "OK. Make something HOT."
So I did. :P
*Caveat: For most people, this recipe will be unbearably HOT. You can easily turn down the heat by reducing the chilies. If you've a mild palate, start out with one fresh chili - maybe even a milder one like jalapeno - seeded and deveined and 1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
I was originally going to write this up as a complete recipe including the proteins and veg (which I do outline for you further down this post), but I realized this morning that this makes a good and adaptable base to which you can add whatever proteins and veg you fancy.
Add 4 or 5 cups of unsalted chicken, seafood or veg stock, increase the salt and lime to taste, and you'll have a delicious soup!
Hotter Than It Looks Thai-Inspired Curry Base
Serves 4 with about 1 pound of protein and 1 pound of veg added, served with steamed rice
- 1/4 yellow onion, finely minced
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped cilantro and/or basil (This is a great use for all those stems!)
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced ginger
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 3 serrano chilies, finely minced (seeds, veins and all) Thai bird chilies would be great, of course, but I had serranos. Chiles de arbol would also work well here.
- 1 Tablespoon crushed red chili flakes (Crushed red chili flakes are a way to add a fairly clean and unadulterated heat to your dishes without adding too much competing or distinct chili flavor.)
- the zest of 1 lime (or 3 kaffir lime leaves - I just used the lime zest because I didn't have the leaves handy. Lemon balm is also a great sub for kaffir lime leaves. Lemongrass would also add a similarly floral citrus element.)
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder, depending on how strong a curry flavor you prefer
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 can of coconut milk (they're usually somewhere between 13 and 15 ounces)
1) In a preheated medium high pan, saute the aromatics - onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, chili flakes, and lime zest - in the 2 Tablespoons of oil until the onions are translucent. Add the curry powder, stir to incorporate, and let the curry bloom for a minute or so.
2) Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir to incorporate thoroughly, turn the heat up to high, and bring the curry to an active boil for a minute.
3) Add in your protein and veg and bring the curry back up to a boil for a minute or so, turn the heat down to medium high, and let it simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until your protein is cooked through. Bite sized pieces of seafood will take no time at all (3 to 5 minutes), white meat chicken a little bit longer (5 to 7 minutes), and dark meat yet longer (7 to 10 minutes).
4) Give it a stir, adjust the seasoning if needed - a little more salt or fish sauce if you want it saltier, a little more lime juice if you like extra tang, maybe a pinch more of sugar to round out all the flavors - simmer another minute or two, and that's it! Serve with steamed rice.
For last night's curry, I added:
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 31/40 size), lightly sauteed
- 1/2 pound button or crimini mushrooms, quartered and sauteed
- 1/2 pound snow peas, stems removed and lightly blanched and shocked if you have the time. If you don't, it's not a huge deal, but blanching and shocking does help them retain color and crunch
- 1/2 red bell pepper cut into 1/4-inch strips, sauteed
- an 8 oz can (the short one) of bamboo shoots, drained
But you can of course use whatever veg you like and have handy, following the general measurement guidelines of 1 pound of protein and 1 pound of veg for 4 servings.
You don't have to saute/blanch the protein and veg as outlined above, but I like how it helps them retain their color and texture when they simmer in the curry.
Complete album HERE.