Christmas has come and gone with a whimper around here. Michael fought off what seemed to be a heavy cold right before the holiday. Christmas Eve afternoon I had the "ohno" moment and proceeded to usher in Christmas Day with 102 degree fever and respiratory infection that would last nearly three days.
Michael did get to enjoy a sumptuous feast at Bob and Carol's of a beautiful standing rib roast from their own well-raised steer. Carol is an awesome cook and loves to declare "I'm not Italian but I cook like one!" That's the PC version anyway. Her version is more colorful. Thank you Carol for the plate sent home with Michael.
I was grateful for the soups I put up this past growing season. They certainly helped nurse me through but when the fever broke and hunger pangs returned I wanted something with spices and heat that would break up my congestion. I wanted a curry!
Cafe Mekong in Blacksburg does Viet and Thai food that we love. I watched a red curry walk by that was redolent of ginger and coconut and kaboucha squash so I had to order it. Unfortunately, I am a heat wuss and even though I ordered the curry moderately spicy (their lowest setting, they don't do mild) I was only able to consume a few bites before my mouth was painfully aflame. However, those few bites were enough for me to know those flavors were something I really wanted more of!
**OK, here's my personal rant. I don't get how a food that's so spicy hot you can no longer taste any flavors at all is good. There is no rich coconutty silkiness, no gingery garlic enhancement, no sweet kaboucha flavor, no smoky spike of a curry blend. Just way too much burning pain and tears. Same with chili and other spicy foods. Once you can no longer taste the food, it's not good, it's just a pissing contest to see who's got the biggest...well anyway. OK, rant over.**
So for all of you out there who really want to taste their curry here's my version. I used our own white sweets but you can use any winter squash or sweet potato.
Sweet Potatoes with Red Curry Sauce
1 T vegetable oil
1 medium onion, medium diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium bell peppers, any color, diced
4 large garlic cloves finely minced, or more (lots more if you're like us. I did 8.)
a 1-1/2 square piece of ginger peeled and minced (about 2 generous tablespoons)
4 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (This was my major change. The recipe I used as a guide called for 3 tablespoons of this stuff! Start on the safe side. If you want it hotter you can always stir in more paste or add sriracha to your personal bowl when serving.)
1 14 oz can of coconut milk (not cream)
1/2 cup water
1 T soy sauce
2 to 2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (or squash), peeled and cut into 1" cubes
2 cups of peas, fresh or frozen
2 t fresh lime juice
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
rice, naan, pita or other flatbread for serving
Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Toss in the onion and the salt and saute, stirring occasionally until the onion softens. Add the peppers, garlic and ginger and stir to combine. Cook about 1 minute more until fragrant.
Add the curry paste, stirring until the onion-pepper mixture is thoroughly coated. Add the coconut milk, water, and soy sauce, stir well and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the sweet potatoes and bring back to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low, continue to simmer uncovered, and stir from time to time. Cook until the potatoes are just tender but still firm, about 20 minutes. Stir in the peas, bring back to a simmer and cook for 2 more minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Taste for salt. Sprinkle with the cilantro.
Serve with your choice of starch. Offer more cilantro and lime wedges for garnish, and sriracha for those who want to ratchet up the heat.
Along with the curry we had a spinach and orange salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette.
I'm beginning to think curries are as good for what ails you as a bowl of chicken soup!