Red Curry- HUZZAH!

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!)

Red Curry:

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.

Red Curry- BLURG!

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.


Basil Fried Rice

As with most dishes that I "make up" myself, I'm generally trying to replicate something amazing that I've had at a restaurant. In this case, it's the Basil Fried Rice from Tamarind in Chicago. Tamarind is in the south loop on Wabash, convienently located across the street from my former office. I came no where near close to the deliciousness that was their dish, so this is in a constant state of tweaking. Still, since I"m 2,000 miles away from Tamarind, it'll have to do.

Peas ½ c
shredded carrot ¼- ½ c
basil 1 cup
rice 2 cup cold
onion 2 T
garlic 1-2 t
chilis 1-3 t
white pepper (1t or 1/2 t black)
peanut oil 2-4T for frying
2 t soy sauce
pinch sugar

Heat a wok till the surface is almost smoking. Then add the oil and spread it around till it coats the surface evenly.
Temporarily move the wok off the heat and the add the garlic and chillies, then stir for about 10 seconds. This is to prevent the garlic and chilli from burning. Then add the onion. Move the wok back to the high heat, add two pinches each of salt and pepper and toss around for another 30 seconds. Add carrots and peas.
Now add the rice to the pan, crumbling any big sticky blocks with your hands to ensure they're all separate.
Toss the rice and the veggies well and keep stirring for another minute or two so that the rice grains are properly coated with the oil. Then add the sugar, white pepper, and soy sauce. Stir the mixture around again for another minute. Then taste the rice to check saltiness.
Add the Basil. Stir the rice and basil mixture in the wok for another minute, then take it off the heat and serve. That's all there is to it.

You need a large wok or pan for this.
Be sure to use cold rice.
If you add other veggies to the dish, make sure they get enough time to cook before adding the rice.

Spring Rolls!

These are the spring rolls from RFD's cookbook. First thing's first- make these when you're having company over, not when you're solo for dinner like I was tonight. It's way too much prep and chopping and according to the book, they won't keep if you pre-make them (longer than 8 hours).

This was my first foray into spring rolls and I now wonder why I've ever paid for such a thing. They are ridiculously easy (aside from all of the time spent chopping). I used to get some in Chicago that had bits of tofu in them, I'd like to replicate that (these are veg-only), but these were pretty good. I wonder if bean sprouts wouldn't hurt either, I seem to remember those being in my favorite spring rolls.

But whatevs, I'll totally make these the next time that we entertain. I could see them being impressive despite the lack of hard work involved :)

Ying (sic) Yang Salad with Peanut Sesame Dressing

This is the Ying (sic) Yang Salad and Peanut-Sesame dressing from Real Food Daily's cookbook (see Enchiladas). This is where I found out how vast the difference between a food processor and a blender really is. I have a blender. I needed a food processor. A peanut butter based dressing in a relatively cheap blender is not a good combo at all. Still, it was fine. Probably not at all what it should've been, but fine.

This is typical of the recipes in the book where when you set out to make one thing, you need to actually make 3 things (for this one it was; the dressing, marinated ginger tofu, and the salad itself. The salad has amazing fresh ingredients that are primarily things that we don't eat regularly (daikon radish, red cabbage, etc). The tofu was way too salty for my taste. The peanut dressing balanced it a tad, but not enough to make a day long tofu-making process worth it (there's a 2 hour long draining of the tofu, plus a 4 hour marinade).

I would try it again, but would skip the uber tofu and just add some tj's stuff or something marinaded for less time (?). Also, I'm going to be needing a food processor before attempting the dressing again since a moratorium has been effected which prevents me from putting peanut butter in the blender ever again (Davey got stuck with the dishes and said that was a huge pain). Sorry, honey!

Peanut Noodles

This is great for summer, as you really don't have to cook anything except the noodles, and it's really delicious. Also, it's a cold dish. For left overs, you just pop it out of the fridge and eat.

It's the "Noodle Salad with Spicy Nut Dressing" from La Dolce Vegan p81. The author doesn't specify which nuts to use, I chose peanuts because I'm on a super peanut kick lately. My only change to the recipe is to use 1/2 c of nuts instead of 1/4 c because the chopped nut bits in the salad are my favorite part.

It makes quite a bit, enough for 4 meals. Particularly if you pair it with some Trader Joe's pot stickers or a soup or something.

Brooklyn Pad Thai

Aaaawwww man! This is the messiest, splatteriest, biggest production of a dish that will ruin both your kitchen and the shirt that you're wearing while cooking it, but damn, it's worth it. This is the "Brooklyn Pad Thai" from Vegan with a Vengeance, p. 180, and it is AMAZING! The sauce is so flavorful, it has a real kick to it, but isn't too hot to eat and doesn't seem to get hotter the next day like a lot of spicy foods. Slicing the tofu into triangles as she recommends seems to make it taste better (?). It is just such a great amalgam of flavors, the spice, some sweet, the savory tofu, a peanut here and there... it's amazing and a greatest hit and you MUST try it.

I have a few specifics that I do with it, mostly out of availability of ingredients and taste preference.

- I use srichacha for the "asian hot chile or hot sauce" ingredient
- the vinegar that I had was rice vinegar (as opposed to rice wine vinegar- unless they're the same (?)
- I use fresh lime juice in lieu of tamarind concentrate
- I use 1 fresh red chili pepper (since I misread the ingredients list the first time)
- I use 3/4 c peanuts because I love them so (versus 1/2)
- I skip the cilantro and lime garnish
- I use this tofu from T.J's that isn't waterpacked, it's really dry and firm and comes shrink wrapped with a green and red label. I like it in a lot of stir frys and things b/c it needs less cooking time to be cooked thoroughly.

Pretty please try this one- you will be soooooo happy that you did. It makes a ton too, so it's good for a large dinner party (provided you schedule in clean up time before seeing others) or a good dinner and leftover dish.