I re-did it, and... It. Is. Perfect. (if I do say so myself). I should start by saying that I'm actually not a huge Thai curry fan. For one, I know that every spoonful has about 400 calories. Also, they're generally too coconut-milk-soupy-creamy for my taste. So, this recipe has 2 cans of coconut milk, but it ends up being the amount of a nice sauce versus a soupy curry, which is what it usually looks like when Davey orders it at restaurants.
In L.A., there is a massive proliferation of Vegan Thai restaurants. Literally it seems that every strip mall has one. Our favorites are Bulan in Silverlake (they have a second location in Hollywood), and now the brand new EA Station on Ventura in the stinking valley where we live now (and have a fantastic apartment- I'm not complaining). All of these places have the same faux meat. Though I've become accustomed to making my own marinated tempeh, tofu, seitan, etc- it is nice to buy an easy pre-made faux meat once in awhile. This Taiwanese brand, though, is not at any normal grocery or health food store. It always made me a bit nervous at restaurants to not know where the fake chicken drumsticks on wood dowels came from, but you do have to relinquish control a bit to act like a normal person and eat out. Enter a weirdo vitamin/ health food store by my house called, "Healthy Vitamin" (?!)- this place actually sells the crazy Thai fake meat that is served at restaurants here. Ergo, I can buy the veggie peppersteak that they probably use at Bulan in the Panang Curry (yay!). I do have to warn strict vegans, that this stuff lists "whey" in the ingredients, so it is not vegan. I am a bit of a crap vegan, though, and for the right product will look the other way at whey or a bit of honey buried in an ingredient list of a food that I love (I know, hypocrisy). I just look at it like this- I do my best to live in line with my beliefs 99% of the time, I think that's doing alright. Anyway, the curry would be great with tofu as well, so if you're a better vegan than me, feel free to go that route.
I do think that I utterly nailed the Panang Curry from Bulan- this is creamy, a hint spicy, the veg comes through... it was fantastic, and I'm totally making it again (and again, and again!)
½ onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell, chopped
1 red bell, chopped
5-7 good sized basil leaves, chiffonier sliced
1 c peas
3 carrots, coined
2 bags thai pepper steak (or one extra firm tofu to be vegan)
1-2” ginger, grated
2 cans coconut milk
½ jar red curry paste
½ t harrissa
½ c water
1 lime (juiced)
1t lemongrass (tube- fresh would be a bit more minced)
1 c rice for serving
Sautee onion and carrots until onions are near translucent. Add the bell peppers, garlic, ginger and lemongrass, and cook until they’re getting tender. Mix the paste into some of the coconut milk to dissolve and add all coconut milk and the paste/ milk mixture.
Sautee peppersteak or tofu until it’s seared a bit on the outside.
Add peppersteak or tofu, lime juice and peas to curry and veg. Taste and adjust (more paste, more lime, etc). Cook until just about done and then add the basil. Cook until basil is wilted, serve over rice.
This is why I do this blog- as a record of the hits and misses of all of these cooking trials. And yet, I f'ed up. This pic is a delicious, amazing red curry that I made from scratch months ago. It was a bit of an ordeal because I had used a chili powder that I bought at India Sweets and Spice that turned out not to be a mild chili powder blend (like the recipe needed), but full on Cayenne style powdered hot chili. So, it was almost too spicy to consume since there was like 2T of this fire pepper powder in it. We even drained it of the sauce to make it edible. So, I guess in that sense it was a bit of a fail, but it had great flavor and I was sold on the recipe (only with using the correct chili powder). Yet I did not blog about it, so I have no idea where I got the recipe! I've dug around the computer and can't find it, google searched to no avail, etc.
I wanted to make it this week, but I guess I'm starting over from square one.
This dish is the end of my awful streak of trying new Indian recipes and being disappointed, this one is really very good! It's the Spinach and Chickpea Curry from p170-171 of Vegan With a Vengeance. I still think that the French book and Beckham are best, but this is really delicious. It was relatively quick and easy except for the part when you have to wilt 10 cups of spinach handful by handful. It ended up being very flavorful and the spinach had a creamy texture (keep in mind that I haven't eaten dairy in a year and a half- it's creamy to a vegan!). We both liked it a lot and will add it to our recipe roster.