Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How many times can I use the word "fragrant" in one post? - Jamie-inspired Fragrant Green Curry

Jamie Oliver includes a wonderful "Fragrant Green Curry Chicken" recipe in The Naked Chef. It's more Thai than Indian, v. fresh and unequivocally fragrant, has a bit of a kick, and tastes like pure summer. I made it a long time ago, loved it, and never made it again.

Here's why: the recipe calls for a substantially long list of ingredients, some of which are kind of obscure in these here Midwestern parts (albeit super fragrant!), most notably lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves. These (fragrant!) items are hard to find in Minneapolis and I recall them being quite costly once I did get my hands on them (unlike the obscure dried ingredients I've hunted recently, which have been alarmingly cheap). Admittedly, the curry was so delicious, it was totally worth it. But maybe just the one time. Jamie's fragrant green curry, as amazingly fragrant and green as it was, not to mention refreshingly easy to prepare, just couldn't be an everyday meal in our home.

Then it was July 2011. Yesterday in fact. And I had a nice filet of cod thawing in the refrigerator. And I had oodles of patio-grown cilantro and spearmint and basil begging to be rescued from the crazy heat wave we're barely surviving and thrown together into something tasty and summery and ... fragrant. I thought about Jamie's green curry wistfully. And then I thought: these are some good herbs; I bet these herbs - along with some funky freestyling and practical substitutions - could yield a comparably decent, threateningly fragrant curry. With cod! And snow peas from my CSA. And some beautiful yellow summer squash from my grandmother-in-law.

And I was totally right.

it's true i'm fragrant

This curry is absolutely divine.

green curry collage 1green curry collage 2bowl-o-curry

Jamie-inspired Fragrant Green Curry (with Cod and CSA Vegetables)
Inspired by none other than The Naked Chef
Yield: 4 servings

For curry paste:
1-3 medium-spicy green chillies, seeded (I used one jalapeƱo and my toddler could handle it, so use more if you want some noticeable heat)
2 cloves garlic, or 3-4 garlic scapes
3 large handfuls of cilantro
2 large handfuls basil
1-2 large handfuls of spearmint
[Optional: another handful or two of other fresh herbs you might have, e.g. chives, oregano, lemon balm, stevia, peppermint, citrus leaves, parsley]
About 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a couple scallions + half a small yellow onion)
Heaping tablespoon of fresh(ish, i.e. jarred) ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
Zest of 3 limes + juice of 2 limes*
Zest and juice of 1 small orange*
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

For curry:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow squash or zucchini, chopped into 1" chunks
1 pound green snow peas, trimmed
1 pound cod, boned and skinned, cut into 4 pieces
1 14-oz can full-fat coconut milk
Handful of unsweetened flaked coconut for garnish (optional)

*You don't want more than about 1/2 cup juice - it will end up too soupy.

Put all the green curry paste ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times to chop, then whizz until you get a relatively smooth green paste. Using about half a tablespoon of curry paste per piece of cod, coat the cod in the paste and allow to marinate at room temp for about 30 minutes.

In a large wok or cast-iron skillet or whatever you have, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over high heat and add the vegetables. Saute, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Put cooked vegetables into a bowl and cook your fish now - about 2 minutes per side over high heat. Add the remaining green curry paste to the pan (stand back, it will sizzle and spit), and then stir in the coconut milk. Return the vegetables to the pan. Bring everything to a boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Season with some more salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice or noodles or some mashed sweet potatoes, garnish with some fresh cilantro and the flaked coconut. Have a cold beer.