Thursday, April 28, 2016

cop-out files: dinner edition

Easy but low-shame dinners #1:

This is not crazy authentic Thai food, but also it's not NOT if that makes sense. It's crockpot-mom-ified, but I'd like to think it's not SUPER shameful. It's very flavorful, extremely simple, and it's embarrassingly easy and takes zero cooking skills.  It's best made with cheaper cuts of meat that do well with long braising.

I don't remember eating a lot of just regular red curry in Bangkok, honestly. We did have plenty of Massaman curry and Panaeng curry - both very worth a google if you're interested. This has plenty of flavor on it's own, but those are some ways you can take it up a notch.

A note on fish sauce: I promise, you like fish sauce. if you don't, you aren't interested this curry recipe, because you don't like Thai food. Yeah, it smells bad, bu it tastes good and it's in almost literally every Thai dish.  Your Thai food will not taste right without it. A few tbsp, at least, goes in everything. It's the source of salt in Thai cooking. It's very cheap and they have it at Cub.

If you're looking for guidelines for a red curry to cook on the stove, this recipe from SheSimmers would do you nicely.

Crockpot Red Curry 

1 little can red curry paste  (Maesri is a good brand that is widely available, like, our Cub has it. If possible, get the cheap kind in the tin with lots of Thai writing, not the Thai Kitchen kind in a glass jar. That is fine, though, if you can't find the other kind.)
1 or 2 cans coconut milk, Aroy-D if possible but others are fine. NOT LITE. It is weird, sweet, and full of stabilizers that can make your recipe wonky. Only use the full fat, regular kind.
Slow cooker meat: Chicken thighs, pork shoulder, stew beef, etc. Boneless & skinless is easier, but  bones and skin add flavor, so whatever works for you. Scale this for however many you're serving... you can do a pound of meat and some veggies and this is a saucy curry over rice, or you can put a whole giant pork shoulder in it and it's red curry braised pork.
Sugar, 2 tbsp
Fish sauce, a few squirts (I guess this is technically optional, but fish sauce is so cheap and lasts forever...)
Steamed rice

Frozen peas*
Any veggies that sound good: pea pods, cauliflower, onions,  spinach, sweet potatoes, anything.
Fresh basil, sweet purple kind, or honestly even the Italian kind*
Kaffir lime leaves*
OR Green onions & cilantro chopped and mixed*

Turn crock pot on high. Add coconut milk and some or all of the curry paste, depending on your tastes - a few tablespoons makes a mild, creamy, but still tasty dish, the whole thing is a bit spicy but only by Minnesota standards. Whisk to combine. Add sugar and meat, and cook until meat is falling apart and tender - varies a lot by cut, but it'll be at least a few hours and have a lot of forgiveness.

- If the meat has bones/skin, fish out, remove, add meat back to the pot. No need to shred - just stir.

-If adding veggies, add depending on how long they take to cook - hard veggies take awhile, frozen peas just need to thaw, greens just need to wilt.

Steam rice, and serve.

-My favorite variations are cubed sweet potatoes  with beef in the fall/winter (although, to be honest, I haven't done that in the crock pot) and frozen peas and leeks with pork or chicken in the summer.
-Add a few crushed cloves of garlic at the very beginning. No jarred chopped acrid nonsense sorry.
-Kaffir lime leaves - few can go in early on too
-Sweet or spicy  basil - tear off leaves and stir in before serving.
-Chopped scallions & cilantro - sprinkle on top or pass at the table. Tastes good and the green is a lovely contrast on the orange curry and white rice.

That's it! That's literally it. You can do this - it's dump and stir and wait. Even with all the additional things, this is an incredibly easy meal.

-Good Deal Oriental on Lowry & Logan (I think?) in North Minneapolis is my favorite source for ingredients
-...but the Cub Foods near my house has everything here.
-Favorite person I know to learn to cook Thai: MY MOM. for real.
-Favorite non-shameful Thai food blogger: Leela @ SheSimmers
-Pictures of the brands I use to follow: