Vegan's Chronicles + [Vegan]

The Alien learns to cook Thai Red Curry

As part of my 101 List, one of my goals is to learn to cook 5 different international cuisines. One of my fave regional dishes is Thai red curry. I used to eat this all the time when I was living in OC, but since I came to Korea, I think I've only had it about 3 times... . in 4 years. Yikes! Anyway, I've always wondered how they get such amazing flavors in one bowl, so it was about time I learned how to make this on my own.

First things first: a trip to the Foreign Food Mart to get all the key ingredients. I wasn't sure what recipe to use, but I just browsed through a bunch of different ones online to get a general idea of what I would need. Here's what I grabbed:

Thai Curry

Red Thai Panang Curry Paste, a bunch of cilantro, some lemongrass, galangal & kaffir lime leaves (all in one package), and a can of coconut milk. You can get coconut milk at most grocery stores/supermarkets, not exclusively at the FFM.

Thai Curry

So... the above was my first attempt at Thai red curry. There are so many recipes out there and they're all a little different, so in the end I just winged it without following any specific recipe (but following all of them at the same time), and by going with whatever veggies I had in my fridge. While this first batch still turned out pretty tasty, I knew it could be a heck of a lot better. I didn't have that many veggies on-hand, and I forgot to buy ginger, as well as to garnish it with the cilantro I bought (I'm so scatterbrained). As a result, the soup was definitely missing a certain depth of flavor. So that was yesterday.

Thai Curry

Fast forward to today, where I made Batch #2! Doesn't this one look miles better? :) Not only did this one look more delicious, it also tasted way more similar to the Thai red curry I've had at restaurants. It was just packed with all kinds of colorful veggies that were stewing in some delicious, deep, complex flavors.

Thai Curry

I also took a cue from Isa Chandra's recent blog post about thai curry, by putting some brown rice right into the pot while everything was cooking. She used uncooked rice, but I just threw a cup of pre-cooked rice that I had on-hand. I really liked how the rice got saturated with the coconut flavors and also thickened up the sauce a bit.

I'm sure my "Thai" curry is far from authentic, but I'm happy to share what I did to get this bowl of deliciousness:

Thai Curry

Vegan Thai Red Curry
Serves 2

2 Tbs Thai Red Curry Paste
1/2 stalk of lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 inch knob of galangal
1/2 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1/2 onion sliced thin
1/2 tbs oil (I used olive oil)
2 oyster mushrooms, sliced thin
5 cups water (rough guesstimate)
1 veggie bouillon cube
2 cups kabocha squash, cubed
1/2 carrot, sliced thin
1/2 block of firm tofu
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 red chili pepper, sliced thin
1/2 broccoli head, cut into florets
1-2 cups cooked brown rice (optional)
cilantro (for garnish, optional)

1. Sautee onions and mushrooms in some oil, until onions become soft and the mushrooms begin to brown. Add grated ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Sautee for a few more minutes.
2. Add water, kabocha squash, carrots, and red curry paste. Bring to a boil.
3. Meanwhile, cut the tofu into cubes and pat dry with a paper towel. Using a separate non-stick fry pan, heat the tofu cubes until the edges are brown. Turn off heat and set aside.
4. Once the kabocha cubes are soft, add the red pepper slices, broccoli florets, and tofu cubes to the curry. At this point, I also added 1 cup of pre-cooked brown rice, but this is totally optional.
5. Add coconut milk & stir. Adjust water to your liking.
6. Once the broccoli is cooked through (but not mushy!), it's done. You can pick out the lemongrass stalks, galangal chunks, and kaffir lime leaves if you like, or you can just leave them in and eat around them.
7. Spoon into a serving bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves (optional).

Thai Curry

The only thing missing was some bamboo shoots. That would've made this sooo perfect.

If you can't find fresh lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves in your neck of Korea, don't worry too much. I don't think they're totally necessary since the curry paste will already have them in there, but I do think they add a greater flavor punch. If you don't have these ingredients, just add more curry paste.

Thai Curry

The perfect spoonful.

So which international dish will I attempt next?