Here I am again. Confessing to my addiction to anything savory that has coconut milk in it. It just adds a distinct creaminess to any dish without feeling too heavy, to my personal taste at least. The only bad thing I can relate to having coconut in my dinner is the truth that I really can't resist going for an extra serving of rice. Well, to take some guilt off of tonight's binge, I tried to prepare an all-vegetable dish, inspired by Thailand's iconic red curry.
Forgive me for getting too lazy to even make my own curry paste. I just tried one of these store-bought curries and to be honest, they're really good. Not better than tediously grinding your spices at home but quite close. Okay, for you die-hard, prepare-everything-from-scratch cooks, here's what a traditional Thai red curry is made off :
- a bunch of Cilantro
- 3-5 pieces of Dried Red Chilis
- a thumb-sized piece of Galangal
- a bulb of Garlic
- 2 stalks of Lemongrass
- 1 Shallot
- about a teaspoon of Shrimp Paste
- some Kaffir Lime zest
Go ahead and pound everything into a fine paste using a mortar and pestle, while I tirelessly snip off my store-bought packet.
Get everything ready. Wash and chop all your vegetables. It would be advisable to give them a quick soak in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt to extract any impurities that may be left with washing alone.
I've used eggplants, okra, chickpeas, and cauliflower to go into my curry. This assortment is planned considering that they'd cook in approximately the same amount of time. You may choose otherwise and go for a larger variety. Just time when to put in the vegetables so you don't overcook the delicate ones. For me, I just love the idea of dumping them all in and forgetting about the pot.
Honestly, I've been tempted to do exactly so. I really wanted to just get everything in my slow cooker, vegetable and sauce. I'm sure that'll work out fine too. I just can't help but be swayed by my cooking conscience that this curry paste would turn out more aromatic and flavorful if I start it off roasting in a pan. Well, for those of you who have those slow cookers with a sautee function, you're in luck. No need to get any additional piece of cookware greased up.
After about a minute or two of roasting, you'll notice the paste turn a bit darker, and some red-tinted oil shall begin to break free. This would be the time to get your coconut cream in. No need to actually do this and you can definitely get the cream straight into the crockpot. Doing so in the pan however will help you get every last bit of curry paste which may have stuck to your pan.
From here, everything just has to go into the slow cooker for an hour on high or about 4 hours on low. Don't worry too much about the vegetables getting slightly overcooked. They do blend in better with the coconut gravy when they're slightly soft.
As a final touch, add in some fish sauce to season your curry. Salt just doesn't work in my opinion.