Monday, January 27, 2014

Green Curry. Kaeng Khiao Wan.

Because I love Thailand . . . 
                         ~my young student, new to America

By many accounts, the most famous story in Thailand is The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, an epic love story about star-crossed lovers. 

Khun Krai was a soldier whose wife was Thongprasri. They had a son named Khun Phaen. Khun Sriwichai was a millionaire and served the king as chief of the Elephant Division. His wife Tepthong gave birth to his son, Khun Chang, whose head was bald since birth. Phansorn Yotha was a rich merchant whose wife was Sriprachan. They had a daughter, Wan Thong, who was the beauty of Suphan Buri at that time . . . 

You can guess what follows. Poor, handsome, charismatic bad boy competes—for decades—with rich, awkward, kindhearted yet cowardly boy for the tender heart of a beautiful girl. In her eyes, both suitors have qualities that recommend them. 

How can she possibly choose?

Children in Thailand have recited favorite verses of this tale for centuries. It’s a story brimming with love and pathos, with trickery and fate and beautiful forests and broken hearts and sacred swords and good horses and elephants. 

The best stories always have elephants.

I thought of the story while I cooked this Thai green curry. I imagined bright forests and jeweled coastlines and mossy Buddhas. Elephants surprising lovers who bathe beneath cool waterfalls.

The curry is tender and colorful
salty, sour, sweet, and spicy 
just like an enduring love story. 

Thai Green Vegetable Curry
Kaeng Khiao Wan

1 14-oz. can coconut milk (I used lite)
2 Tbsp. green curry paste (or to taste)
1-2 tsp. brown sugar (to taste)

2 5-oz. cans bamboo shoots, drained *
1 5-oz. can water chestnuts, drained, chopped coarse
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 15-oz. can baby corn, drained
6 fresh mushrooms, chunked
1 crown of broccoli, stems removed
3-4 leaves of bok choy, chopped
crushed red pepper (optional)
fish sauce to taste (careful! it's very salty)

2-3 green onions, chopped
Thai basil leaves
1 Tbsp. grated lime zest
the juice of 1 lime

1 cup of jasmine rice
2 cups water
salt to taste

Cook the rice according to package directions until just tender. While it's cooking, heat the coconut milk in a large shallow saucepan and whisk in the curry paste and brown sugar. Cook on low while the flavors combine. Add the vegetables, red pepper, and fish sauce and simmer until the broccoli is barely tender. Just before serving, add the green onions, basil leaves, and lime zest. Pass lime juice or lime wedges at the table.

Serve with rice. 

Swoon. Valentines Day is around the corner. And then the green of spring.

*note: ingredients here can vary . . . try chunked chicken, zucchini, red pepper strips, jalapeno pepper rings . . .

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