Rice Bowl

“Baby’s First Curry” Has a Better Ring to It than “Baby’s First Steps”

The first time I had curry and remembered it was at a Japanese restaurant I frequented growing up in Sacramento. A new collaborative chef-partner revised the menu after I left for college. While home for a visit and out to dinner with friends, I randomly selected one of the new dishes to try. My initial reaction was to look around in shock, my eyes widened and most likely dilated. “Guys, this is f**king perfect. I’m serious,” I said.

After that, I didn’t speak very much. I was too busy shoveling as much curry as possible into my mouth like a truck driver. The restaurant in question passed to new ownership last year. This broke my heart, but I’ll always have my spicy and creamy memories.

Do not fret. I won’t get on a plane and leave you without giving you this curry recipe. I’d regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of my life.

My preference for curry exploded during my senior undergraduate year. A conservative estimate is that I ordered or ate curry out once every other week. I’ve calmed down about various combinations of garam masala, coconut milk, tamarind, ginger, chilis, papadum, sambal, etc. from various parts of South Asia, but this doesn’t mean I’ve stopped imbibing occasionally. On the rare irksome day where I come home and the thought of cooking fills me with anxiety, I will inevitably roll lazily to my computer, where curry is only a few clicks away.

The title of this post is deceptive, because I’ve actually attempted making my own curry several times; usually when I look at charges made to my card, and realize that I could probably figure out how to satisfy my own craving.

Curry is a difficult thing to execute correctly. The spicy, sweet, creamy, and crisp stars all need to align into a gorgeous constellation of flavor. This isn’t an easy task to accomplish. Unless perfection is staring you straight in the face, you’ve failed miserably and should run along and play with other toys for awhile.

I still want to refine this recipe, but it’s the closest to a restaurant love-affair with a curry recipe I’ve ever gotten. The original proportions for the curry paste came from the Foot Network website, but the vegetables and methodology have been revised considerably to suit my kitchen.

Almost-A-Love-Affair Green Curry

Ingredients:

  • Green Beans
  • Small Purple Potatoes
  • Broccoli Florets
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 bunch Cilantro, roughly chopped (No that’s not an error. Use the ENTIRE bunch.)
  • Fresh Ginger, roughly chopped – I used a piece that was the size of my two thumbs held together
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 Lime’s-worth of Juice
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Condensed Coconut Milk – Yes, the kind from a can, guys.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil over High heat. When the water boils, add a large pinch of salt. Throw in the potatoes and let summer for 5-ish minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, toast the cumin and coriander in a tiny (as tiny as they make them) skillet over medium heat. When you can actively smell the spices without trying too hard, they’re ready.

Blend the toasted spices, cilantro, ginger, jalapeno, garlic, onion, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of water until a thick paste forms. This is your curry paste (duh.)

Throw the broccoli into the boiling water and cook for 1-ish minutes. Stir in the green beans and let them cook for another minute. Drain the vegetables (careful of the boiling water and steam, I accept no responsibility for you inadvertently scalding yourself) and put them back into the pot.

Pour in the vegetable stock, coconut milk, and 3 tablespoons of the prepared curry paste from the blender. Bring everything to a simmer, then serve over steamed rice or coconut rice.

Green Curry

Try not to shove your face into the bowl. I know it’s tempting.

Back to Basics with Ingredients No One Can Pronounce: Grilled Age with Ginger and Green Onions

I’d like to pause for a moment, in acknowledgment of anyone who is currently having one of “those” days.

And so on and so forth. When these days occur, there are several plans capable of being put into action to assuage the damage. For me, the breakdown usually works itself into something like the following….

Plan A: Cry. Curl into a ball and plan on letting gravity carry you through the floor to somewhere near Earth’s core.

Yeah, right. Did you really think I’d leave you hanging there? There’s no crying in baseball, y’all. Or anywhere else for that matter, unless you’re under extreme provocation.

Plan B: Have some sort of alcoholic beverage.

Yes, I realize this screengrab is overused. This just means it speaks to all of us. #PreachSJP

I’m not saying this doesn’t work, for the most part. But I have a feeling those who care deeply about you, numerous people in the medical industry, and your liver will thank me for providing you with what’s next.

Plan C: Eat something.

Padma Lakshmi, you demonstrate this point far better than I ever could. All my “sexual eating photos” will never come close. You are a goddess divine and I worship at your alter.

See? Crickets. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Padma, how on earth do you do it?

Those close to me can always tell when I’ve had a bad day based on the way I conduct myself in the kitchen. This doesn’t mean I throw pans around, curse, or anything of the sort. It’s the opposite – I get very quiet, put my head down, and get to work.

I’ve been reading a book about Japanese Farm Cooking in attempt to restrengthen my family roots. I’ve been scribbling recipes on a mini brown paper notepad since New Year’s Day, and I finally made one of them. Of course, the majority of you aren’t going to know what some of these ingredients are. Hopefully that doesn’t add to your bad day.

Look at it this way – nothing to lose, everything to gain. Etc. and so forth. Just cook the thing, already. Less time in the kitchen means more time with your feet up and wallowing in your misery.

Grilled Age with Ginger and Green Onions

Ingredients:

  • As much steamed white rice you think will cure your sadness. (Yes, that’s a measurement.)
  • 2 packages usuage – It’s fried bean curd. It gets used in miso soup quite a bit. Most Japanese markets will call this inari.
  • 1 tablespoo-ish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion
  • Bonito shavings to taste – Yes, they’re dried fish flakes.You can find them at any Japanese market. If this grosses you out, don’t use them. Simple enough, right?
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce to taste (I used none, but that’s because I’m strange. Use as much or as little as you like.)

If you haven’t already cooked your rice, do so, then follow the rest of these instructions.

Cut the usuage in half horizontally, then into triangles.

Heat the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a pan over High heat. Cook the usuage until lightly charred. These are extremely thin, so flip and toss them around in the pan a lot, so they don’t burn.

Take the pan off the heat and toss in the ginger and green onions. The leftover heat from the pan will be plenty for finishing the cooking process.

Scoop the steamed rice into a vat (sorry, I mean bowl), and top with the cooked usuage. Top with bonito and soy sauce, if you like.

Inhale without tableside manner, and feel better.

A zen garden after a non-ideal day.