For the past three years, I've been somewhat obsessed with Thai food. Prior to 2008, I'd never tried it. I don't think I could have even told you a single thing about what would make food...Thai. Now, I don't consider myself a Thai food expert by any means, but I have developed a bit of an opinion--let's just say that in the past three years I've probably eaten enough Thai curry to make up for the lack of Thai food in my first 26 years. My Nashville friends know that all it takes is one word, "Thai?" and I will gladly join them for dinner. More specifically they know that if they're going to Thai Phooket, that beautiful double-wide trailer of Thai deliciousness, I will have a hard time saying no. I haven't been to every single Thai restaurant in Nashville, but I think I'm getting close. So far I've been to these (listed in order of preference):
- Thai Phooket
- Ginger Thai
- The Smiling Elephant
- Siam Cuisine
- Siam Cafe
- Pad Thai Kitchen
- International Market
I like going out to eat at places that make food that is hard for me to re-create. Thai food has been a challenge for me to perfect in my kitchen, but I've given it a couple shots recently and had success, although I can't say I've come anywhere near Thai Phooket.
There are a few key ingredients that are necessary to make a good Thai curry: coconut milk, lemongrass, thai basil and...fish sauce. That last one has been the missing flavor in my curries. The idea of it sounds gross--a sauce made from fermented fish--but I'm pretty sure that it's the reason my curries have lacked umami. As of late, I have become intrigued with the fermentation process, so I may come around and buy a bottle of fish sauce one of these days.
The first curry pictured here is a green curry. I had a bunch of veggies that I needed to use as well as Thai basil. I am in love with Thai basil. Green curry is sweeter than red curry, but since I'm not eating sugar, I needed a good alternative. There was a random bottle of carrot juice in my fridge at the time that I made this, so I decided to use it as my sweetener. It worked beautifully.
Vegetable Thai Green Curry
Veggies (I used beet greens, spinach, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower)
1-3 garlic cloves, minced (I love garlic, so I used 3)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup carrot juice (if you want it sweeter, add more)
1-2 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos
2 Tbsp Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste
First, I sauteed the carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and garlic in coconut oil until the veggies were soft. Then I added the greens, spinach and basil. Next, in a separate pan, on medium heat, I combined the coconut milk, carrot juice, Bragg's and curry paste--I made sure to stir it often. Once the sauce was completely mixed, I poured it into the pan of veggies and let them simmer for a few minutes.
I was super pleased with the result. Easy, healthy and tasty.
My second attempt was a team effort with my roommate and we went for Thai red curry. Again, we had lots of veggies that needed to be eaten, so when she asked me about ideas, my mind immediately went to Thai. This time, we made it in the slow cooker and again, it turned out great. A little different flavor from the red curries I've had in restaurants, but nonetheless delicious. The picture really doesn't do it justice.
Vegetable Thai Red Curry
We chopped the veggies (sweet potato, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli and spinach) and layered them on top of each other in the crock pot. The veggies that would take the longest to cook (carrots and sweet potatoes) were on the bottom along with the onion, garlic ginger and basil. Next, we poured in the coconut milk and added the red chili paste and Bragg's. For a little sweetness, we added a tiny amount of stevia (add more or less to taste). Then, we covered and cooked it for 5-6 hours on low. The house smelled amazing and it made a huge amount.
I ate Thai red curry over quinoa for several days in a row...and I was totally fine with that. Let me know about your successful Thai recipes, or even better, just let me know the next time you want to go to Thai Phooket. I can be there in five minutes.