Saturday, September 29, 2012

Verdant Victuals - Thai Green Curry (Gaeng Kiaw Wan)

No foray into Southeastern Asian cuisine would be complete without Thai Green Curry or, as it's known in Thailand, Gaeng Kiaw Wan. (Sweet Green Curry)  True, I tend to be a bit of a hot head when it comes to the spiciness of my food, and as a result I am usually more drawn to Thai Red Curry (Gaeng Phet), but I find Green Curry to be quite refreshing on occasion.

Green curry, unlike it's tawny and vermillion siblings (being both Yellow and Red curry pastes) is made with fresh green bird's eye chiles, instead of dried red ones.  This gives it a "fresh" flavor more befitting it's verdant countenance.  Green curry is considered to be a "sweet" curry, so I suggested that you remove the seeds and membranes from the chiles before giving them a serious pounding with your pestle.  If you REALLY want it to be hot, go ahead and leave them, just realize that you will loose some of the subtle nuances of the paste due to the increased heat.  (everything in balance)

Speaking of Pestles....  I highly recommend forgoing the use of a food processor in lieu of the more traditional mortar & pestle.  Food processors simply chop things up while a mortar and pestle grinds, smashes and crushes, releasing more flavor and yielding a far superior result.  Sadly, sometimes technology is a hindrance.

One a final note, I do not fry my Green Curry Paste (as I do with the Red) so I toast the Coriander Seed and Cumin Seed ahead of time.

Go forth and make awesome curry!

Thai Green Curry

(Gaeng Kiaw Wan)

15 fresh Green Bird's Eye Chiles
1 TB Coriander Seed, toasted
1 tsp Cumin Seed, toasted
5 White Peppercorns
1 tsp Kosher Salt (or Sea Salt)
1 bunch of Green Onions, chopped
1 bulb of Thai Garlic
2 TB freshly grated Galangal
1 stalk Lemongrass, sliced thin
1 tsp Kaffir Lime Zest
3 TB chopped Coriander (Cilantro) Stems

1 tsp Shrimp Paste

Cut the tops off the chiles and roll the chiles between your fingers and the membranes and seeds should fall out.

Place the Coriander Seed and Cumin Seed in a small skillet and toast them over low heat, until fragrant.

Toss them into your Mortar with the White Peppercorns and Kosher Salt; allow to cool.

Meanwhile, chop the Green Onion, peel the Garlic, grate the Galangal, slice the Lemongrass, zest the Kaffir Lime and chop the Coriander (Cilantro) Stems.

OK, you are now ready to proceed... but don't forget to place a towel under your Granite Mortar and Pestle to protect your counter tops.

Crush and grind the Coriander/Cumin/Salt into a fine powder, then remove from the mortar to a small bowl and set aside.

Place Lemongrass and Galangal in the mortar and pulverize it.

Once it is crushed well, add the Garlic cloves and grind and crush everything together.

Add the Chiles and pulverize them.

Add Green Onion, Lime Zest and Coriander Stems; continue beating, crushing and grinding to a fine paste.

Once you have achieved a nice paste (a little rustic looking is OK) mix in the ground Coriander/Cumin/Peppercorn/Salt mixture

Now work in the Shrimp Paste.

Spoon into a small bowl and wrap with Plastic wrap....

or store in a jar with a well sealing lid,

and store in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Next up.....  Curried Chicken and Thai Eggplant.  YUM!


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