Archives for posts with tag: Curry

Curried quinoa basmati pilaf with lentils

This is loosely based on a recipe from Vegetarian Times, but pilafs are always open to interpretation.  We improvised and used what we had on hand.  The lentil-quinoa-rice mixture with curry is a great base: then add dried fruit and chopped nuts but it doesn’t matter what kinds you choose. It makes a great dinner or leftover lunch.

Spicy Shrimp with Tofu and Eggplant in Coconut and Ginger Yellow Curry

Spicy food, you say?  Sign me up.

It’s hard to beat the cuisines of southeast Asia when it comes to good spicy food.  Ever curious about learning new techniques and recipes, I picked up The Little Saigon Cookbook from the library.

The Little Saigon Cookbook is a rich resource of both Vietnamese recipes and culture in its Orange County enclave.  The author, Ann Le, has gone through great lengths to explain the origins of the community, why it is “Little Saigon” and not “Little Ho Chi Minh City”, and to preserve the Vietnamese culture that has been transplanted to California from Vietnam.  There is both a variety of food and anecdotes.

I chose to make the Spicy Shrimp dish above but ran into certain issues when cooking, perhaps because I did not have a clay pot in which to cook.  With no clay pot, it is possible that my chef’s pan just got too hot because I scorched my eggplant and the shrimp cooked too quickly.  If I make this recipe again with the same equipment, I will cook on low heat instead of medium and I will add the shrimp to the simmering curry last so they will not overcook.

Despite the mistakes, the curry is fantastic!  The recipe warns that this dish is “not for the faint of heart” but it turns out fine, not fire-alarm worthy.  There are a few factors that influence the piquant heat of this dish: two tablespoons of fresh chopped ginger, a teaspoon of red chili paste, ground turmeric, cumin, yellow curry powder, and whole peppercorns.  One could always adjust the chili paste or ginger levels if they can’t handle the heat, but I recommend making the curry as it is written.

As mentioned when discussing the Refresh cookbook, accessibility can limit the experience.  For me it was easy to find fish sauce, chili paste, and some of the other Vietnamese ingredients because southern California grocery stores are relatively well stocked with Asian ingredients.  But it may not be as easy in other areas to chase down these ingredients, especially when you need Thai bird chilis, tamarind pulp, anchovy paste, star anise, bitter melon, black tree mushrooms, Maggi seasoning sauce, mangosteen, rice paddy flower, or some other item that is more specialized to the Vietnamese community.  Many times when using regional cookbooks, whether from elsewhere in your country or international cuisine, you will either need to go to a specialty market or choose your substitutions wisely.

The Little Saigon Cookbook by Ann Le.

Verdict: Check it out.

There is a lot to learn from this book, it’s a wealth of recipes and cultural information.

Pan-Glazed Tofu with Thai Red Curry Sauce

I borrowed A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop a long time ago.  I was still in library school and just starting to explore the cookbooks that the library owned.  I would request titles and have them sent over to my branch.  I’d make copies of recipes that I wanted to try and store them in plastic sleeves inside a binder.  This binder of random recipes is my go-to book for picking out menus and getting ideas for meals.

So, Mr. Bishop’s recipe was resurrected last week when making menus so we could head off to the market.  Things have been busy, and reading over the recipe made me think that it would be a quick and easy dinner for a busy day when I wanted to cook but would have less time.  It was definitely a good choice for that.  The tofu and sauce only took about  15 minutes to bring it all together.  We threw it all together with some rice from the cooker and some spinach flavored with ginger, just as suggested by Mr. Bishop on the page of the recipe. Next time I may make more sauce though, to have a bit to flavor the rice.

Another super-quick but quite tasty recipe from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen that I used last week was for Penne with Pan-Roasted Garlic, Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil.

Penne with Pan-Roasted Garlic, Sautéed Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil

Once again, the recipe came together in just a few minutes, but you did have to spend 30 minutes pan-roasting the garlic.  No worries there as that was the best part of this recipe! My whole house smelled deliciously of garlic and the mashed garlic smoothed out nicely to coat the pasta noodles.

Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop.

Verdict: Check it out.

It’s versatile, it’s easy, it’s yummy.