Sunday, October 30, 2011

Great Eats: Rice Noodle Massaman Curry

What absolutely kills me when it comes to any kind of Ethnic market is seeing things on their shelves which are obviously a staple in the diets of millions of people, of entire ethnicities, countries and continents but that are nonetheless completely alien to me.

Like fresh rice noodles. A simple thing, for sure, but not anything I've ever bought or cooked; I don't think I've ever eaten them and in fact, it wasn't even apparent to me they could be had, "fresh."

How silly of me. After a few trips to the Thai market, I picked up a package, intending to make them that very day, but then - well, life happened, and a month later they were the last thing at the bottom of my refrigerator. In that month, however, curries have taken over as a thing I do all the time and when I found myself again craving that familiar warmth and aroma, and pressed for time and indridients, I threw caution to the wind and decided to experiment.

The results were delicious.

Also, did you know sweet potatoes came in other colors? Here's a baked purple sweet potato with sourcream, mayo with olive oil, pepper and pink salt. A simple, but unique treat.

A Rice Noodle Massaman Curry with Red Pepper and Mushrooms

1 red bell pepper - de-seeded and diced
1 small can of mushrooms - fresh'd be good too
1 stalk fresh lemongrass - outer husk and top 1/3 removed and remainder cut in two and bruised
1 14 oz can coconut milk - do not shake the can
3 tbs Massaman curry paste
2 tbs of any oil
1 tbs fish sauce (optional)
1-2 tbs palm sugar - I like my curries a tad sweet
1 lime
1/2 of green chili pepper, diced and seeds removed - adjust this quantity to taste - this amount gives a hearty warmth without a significant kick.
Dash of turmeric, coriander, cardamom - to taste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat and add the curry paste. Add a few tablespoons of the coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk, stir and continue heating without letting it burn. Add some water if necessary, for about a minute or so. Add the rest of the coconut milk, the chili, lemongrass, the fish sauce, palm sugar and stir. Continue heating and before boiling, add the pepper and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, until the pepper softens. Add the juice of 1/2 of lime. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Add the noodles and stir to coat and break up package. If using fresh, do not cook for more than a few minutes. Add more lime juice to taste and you're done!

It's very easy. Total cook time is less than 15 minutes and the result is delicious, filling and very inexpensive!

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