When I'm feeling tired or listless, I like to build a fire in my belly to rekindle the one in my soul. Nothing works like a nice hot curry for gustatory self-immolation. The more my throat and tongue scream, the more I smile.
"Curry" can be used to describe any number of dishes, often of Indian or Southeast Asian origin. The word comes from a corruption of the Tamil word "kari", which is used to denote side dishes meant to be eaten with rice. Nowadays, "curry" can mean any highly spiced dish with a sauce. While Westerners typically think of Vindaloo, Chicken Tikka Masala, Korma, or the Japanese Katsu Kare, curries can actually be put together from a variety of ingredients, and do not necessarily contain any spices.
My Green Curry Sauce is a simple, herb-based preparation designed to pair with mild proteins like fish and chicken. It also works well with a number of vegetarian and vegan protein substitutes. I like my curries spicy. If that doesn't work for you, feel free to cut back on the number of Thai bird chilies, but don't leave them out entirely. They're an essential flavor component.
Recipe for Fish in Green Curry Sauce
Gear (Fish in Green Curry Sauce):
1 large wok or saucepan
1 mortar and pestle
1 cutting board
Ingredients (Fish in Green Curry Sauce):
2 lbs of firm-fleshed white fish (Cod or mahi mahi recommended. Substitute Quorn or firm tofu if vegetarian, firm tofu if vegan. Skinless chicken breast will also work.)
2 tsp of Kosher salt
3 tsp of course-ground black pepper
1 lemongrass stalk, cleaned
7 cloves of garlic, cleaned and peeled
7 Thai bird chilies
1/2 cup of almonds (sliced and toasted preferred)
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tbsp of vegetable oil (rice bran or canola preferred)
2 cups of coconut milk
2 large bunches of coriander (a.k.a. cilantro)
1 lime, juiced
Kosher salt to taste
Prep work (Fish in Green Curry Sauce):
Cut the fish up into large chunks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides and set aside to marinate.
Thinly slice the Thai bird chilies, discarding their stems. Thinly slice the lemongrass, discarding the green upper portion and the wooden stem at the base. Trim the tips and ends off of the garlic.
Combine salt, garlic, lemongrass, and chilies and pound into a smooth paste using the mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Combine almonds and sesame seeds and pound in the mortar and pestle until the mixture reaches a rough, cornmeal-like consistency.
Add the paste of salt, garlic, lemongrass, and chilies back and continue to pound until fully incorporated. This seasoning paste can be made using a food processor. However, bruising the aromatics using the mortar and pestle helps release more of their essential oils, and I like the rough texture produced.
Finely chop the coriander. Set aside.
Instructions (Fish in Green Curry Sauce):
Fry the seasoning paste in the vegetable oil over medium heat for several minutes.
Once the paste reaches a light brown color and loosens, add the coconut milk, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let come to a boil.
Stir in the chopped coriander.
Gently add the fish and cover with the sauce. Wait for the sauce to come back up to a boil, the drop the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until the fish is cooked and the sauce thickens.
Remove the wok from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Let rest for five minutes before plating.
Recipe for Spiced Rice
Gear (Spiced Rice):
1 2-qt. pot or larger with lid
Ingredients (Spiced Rice):
2 cups of long-grained rice
3 tbsp of unsalted butter (coconut cream if vegan)
1 tsp of turmeric
5 cardamom pods
1 tsp of kosher salt
Prep work (Spiced Rice):
Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water. Set aside to soak for 15-20 minutes.
Add the turmeric to the butter and melt over medium heat. Leave on heat until butter stops frothing. Set aside.
Instructions (Spiced Rice):
Drain the rice, then add 3 cups of water, the cloves, and the cardamom.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to medium low and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the turmeric butter mixture and salt. Cover and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Fluff the rice with chopsticks or a fork. Cover and let sit for an additional 10 minutes before plating.
My favorite way to enjoy this meal is with a simple salad and a frosty bottle of Asahi Super Dry. The only thing that can help quench a good curry fire is the cooling kiss of a tasty lager.