Sunday, February 04, 2007

Massaman curry paste

I just can't help ad libbing.

A few of those chiles remained in the bowl and I was determined to use them up, but the criterion was to use only ingredients that I had at hand. I’m trying to live a little more simply. There are fresh organic vegetables in the fridge every week, a little supplementing of fresh fish and supermarket essentials – enough to get us through, not just to the next shopping day but a month til the larder is truly exhausted.

I wanted to make a curry paste but almost all called for fresh coriander. With a little searching a Thai Massaman stood out as an exception. I’ve had a vegetable version at the local Thai, milder than it’s red companion but with a broad palate.

When I settled on a recipe I figured there would be only the odd substitution. Once completed, it was more like half of it.

It is fun making a curry paste from scratch. Sure you can throw it in a food processor, but a mortar and pestle gives it a more authentic texture. What’s more it’s a good toner for the arm muscles as well. The version I made was quite wet, so avert your eyes if you wish to avoid the odd bit of chili juice that may fly about.

Massaman Curry Paste

(Refer to the original for a more accurate idea about quantities. I made enough paste to be cooked with 1 can of coconut milk, 2-4 people depending on your appetite.

4 fresh red chillies (these were particularly fiery so I removed the seeds to temper the bite)
1 small brown onion
2-3 large cloves of garlic
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger
1 kaffir lime leaf and a little lime peel
2 cloves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
3 white peppercorns
1 tsp shrimp paste* (roasted in foil in a hot dry pan for 5 minutes)
a dash of fish sauce*

*these 2 ingredients can be omitted without compromising the flavour too much for a true vegetarian version.
Toast the cumin, coriander, cloves and peppercorns in a hot dry pan. Pound in your mortar and pestle then put aside

Roughly chop the chili, onion, garlic, lime leaf and skin. Pound together in mortar and pestle. When smooth-ish, add the ground dry ingredients. Mix together. Add the shrimp paste and then a dash of fish sauce to taste.

This resulted in about 4 tablespoons of chunky paste.

Cook in the more solid cream that sits on the top when you open the tin of coconut milk. After cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, add the rest of the milk. Now throw in your diced vegetables. In this case it was: potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, corn and zucchini.

A Massaman usually has potato and roasted peanuts. The packet of redish brown little nuggets at the back of the pantry I had assumed were peanuts turned out of be dried beans – not a suitable substitute in this circumstance. Instead to add a nutty flavour I fried some thin slices of tempeh. I served the curry with basmati rice and the crispy tempeh.

It was a delicious curry, with warmth rather than eye watering heat and many layers of flavour.

So can you meet the simplicity cooking challenge?

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Blogger Cindy said...

Mmmm, I haven't had a good tempeh dish in a long time!

I am a long way from meeting your simplicity challenge (we shop for veges almost daily), but I do a weekly scan of the fridge and pantry for leftover ingredients. This often inspires me to try something new with one or more of those stragglers!

12:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you mean gigner when you write garlic the second time in the recipe. Sounds good, though!

5:29 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Thanks - will correct it.

6:01 pm  

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