Saturday, January 30, 2010

Curry in a Hurry

Actually, it is probably slower to cook this in the microwave than on the stove, but I like the Seussian rhyme scheme of 'curry' and 'hurry'.

Lots of things made this meal come together. I didn't have a real appreciation of southeast asian food until recently. I knew about pho, and pretty much that was it. There was a chi-chi little thai place I got lunch at a couple times in NYC, which sort of started me in the right direction, but until I moved here, thai food was kinda intimidating, and I didn't want to try making any myself.

Anyway, last year, I got some curry off a hotcart on 10th and it had squash in it. I thought it was a novel idea, but it wasn't until I made that squash and mushroom pie a while back and had half a squash leftover that it occurred to me that my tofu quickie dish was not the only thing that could be made in the microwave. Then I had dinner at Jade Teahouse in Sellwood, and was pretty well impressed by their green papaya salad. It had the best shrimp on it that I've eaten in a long while. So after that I had to make some thai-style curry.

Squash and Veggies in Red Curry, with Jicama Slaw & Sticky Rice

3/4 lb butternut squash
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
2 green onions, sliced, both green and white parts
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup coconut milk
1 to 4 T red curry paste (I used Maesri brand) depending on desired hotness level.
a splash of fish sauce
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/3 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1/2 lb jicama, peeled and julienned.
1/2 large lime
some cilantro to taste
1/2 tsp honey, optional
pinch of salt

Sushi rice or thai jasmine rice
more coconut milk

I used sushi rice. I think next time I will rinse the rice a bit first, it turned out almost too gooey. If you are using a less gelatinous type of rice, maybe you will want to skip the rinsing. Otherwise, just prepare the rice as usual, but substitute coconut milk for about 1/2 the water.

Scrape the zest off the lime into the jicama, and then squeeze the lime juice over it. Mince the cilantro and add that, and a tiny pinch of salt. If the jicama is not as sweet as it sometimes is, add a tiny dab of honey.

Cut the squash into slices no more than 1/3" thick, and about 1-2 inches across. Put them with a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water in a 6 cup microwavable container with a lid and cook on high for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms & onions, repeat. Add spinach, coconut milk and curry paste, stir, repeat. The squash is the determining factor here. When it's tender enough, add the peppers and ginger, taste to see if it needs salt and add fish sauce if it does. If you like it only mildly spiced, you will definitely need the fish sauce, or it will be very bland. Microwave for 1 or 2 minutes longer, and serve over the rice.

I strongly encourage you not to use light coconut milk. There is no protein or fat in this dish otherwise, you need something to make it satisfying. The lime juice on the jicama will cut the richness of the rice and curry in a very refreshing way.

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