It was an unassuming restaurant. Neither littered with elaborate decor nor teeming with fancily-clad waiters wearing bow ties.
Okay, okay fine, it was a bar. And we stopped in for a quick bite to eat and a brew. Now, this place was an all American joint…burgers, fries, the whole shebang. The only thing on the menu sans meat was a random red curry and rice dish. Seeing as how my options were limited and my stomach was beginning to growl something fierce, I began to order the probably Americanized, bland, and doubtfully tasty dish. My waitress stopped me mid sentence and began to gush about how delicious it was, about how it was her favorite thing on the menu. I raised an eyebrow but seeing as how it was the only thing I could eat, I went ahead and ordered it!
I have this strange aversion to ordering dishes that are from one culture at a place that boasts a menu of a different culture. I don’t know why…I just feel that it can’t be done as well. Take for instance, when you see a burger on the menu of a chinese restaurant. Stick to what you know. With this mentality, I went to take my first bite of the curry dish and was overwhelmed with surprise. It had hints of coconut, and lemongrass, and paired so well with the rice nestled underneath it. Who’da thunk? I took half home and devoured the rest for lunch the next day.
I usually order mushroom mutter (matar..mattar…? someone help a sistah out here) or chana masala at an Indian restaurant. The chana masala includes chickpeas simmered in tomatoes and the mutter is green peas and mushrooms in a creamy sauce. When eating Thai, I love the spicy red curries over rice. Being the culinary dare devil that I am, I set out to marry the two. Thai food…welcome, welcome! And in the words of Alanis Morissette, thank you India.
If you’re not a fan of spice, I would probably recommend that you seek a recipe elsewhere or retreat to the playground swings where you belong. Just kidding. But in all seriousness, I love spicy food. I even sprinkled on red pepper flakes after the fact because apparently I was a dragon in a previous life and would like to again try to breathe fire. The coconut milk adds an element of creamy sweetness to this dish and it is (of course) jam packed with tons of fresh veggies. The chickpeas are optional but I added them in for extra protein!
I would start on the rice before anything else. Thai Kitchen makes a great red curry paste and this paste can be found in just about any grocery store (Note: Trader Joe’s is slackin’ and does not carry it). I would also recommend using full-fat coconut milk. Don’t worry, this isn’t the same fat dripping off of your Krispy Kreme. All Trader Joe’s had was low fat so I used that and wished I would have taken the extra 10 steps across the street to purchase the other version. What can I say, it was raining and my hair was already looking like Mufasa’s mane.
Spicy Coconut Red Curry
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1/2 onion
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 cup mushrooms (I used cremini)
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- 2 T red curry paste
- 2 T brown sugar
- 2 T soy sauce or tamari if gluten free
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional)
- 1 cup brown rice (or white)
- Start by cooking the rice. Combine in a large pot (or just use a rice cooker) 1 cup rice with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Set aside, still covered, for about 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
- While the rice is bubblin’ start another pot full of boiling water. Cut the cauliflower head into slightly larger than bite sized florets, about 3 cups worth. Blanch the cauliflower. Blanching? What the S#$*?! Fear not! It’s just one way to partially cook something and simply means boiling the florets in the water with a little salt for about 3-4 minutes. Then run the florets under cold water until completely cooled. Pat dry and set aside.
- Chop the onion into bite sized pieces and thinly slice the shrooms.
- Add the olive oil to a skillet and saute the onion and mushrooms for 5-7 minutes, until brown and tender.
- In a wide saucepan over medium heat, mix together the coconut milk, curry paste, sugar, and soy sauce/tamari along with the water.
- Add in the cauliflower, mushrooms, onion, frozen peas, and if feeling turned on by the thought of oligosaccharides, the chickpeas.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes, throw some red pepper flakes on top if you’re seeking a dinner/nasal decongestant all rolled into one, and serve over hot brown rice. Enjoy this tasty multi cultural union.
Musically speaking, I’m going to have to do a little self promotion. I just love this song and think it’s really beautiful. It’s been rainy and overcast and I have been so incredibly busy with work, school, and traveling all over, sometimes it’s nice to hear yourself and again be reminded why you fell in love with music in the first place. This song was written and recorded this summer in Los Angeles right before an epic night where we ran through the city like renegades and watched the sun rise over the Santa Monica boardwalk. I am dreaming of summer. Can you tell? It’s called Lullabye and it’s by myself and the talented and wonderful Kyle Graber. Spin this while you simmer up a hot creamy pot of rice and spices.