I attended my 20th high school reunion this past Friday night. In typical fashion for my class, we skipped all the official stuff and met on our own for dinner and drinks instead. It was the first reunion I’ve attended and it was great fun. So I’ve had high school on the brain, high school, growing up, and all the ways in which we have changed or not changed.
My essential personality has not changed, which many people have confirmed for me, so I usually think of myself as having not changed. But I had this realization the next day, chatting with my mom. I was talking about one of the women in my class who is pregnant now. She told us a story pertaining to the racial make-up of her children (for lack of a better way to put it), and while I was telling the story I realized that I had no idea what her back ground was, despite having been in the same class with her for 6 years. I am guessing Filipino but in reality her ancestry could be from any combination of Asian backgrounds. And it is certainly possible that I have forgotten, but my present day self would not only have known about her ancestry, I would also have asked if her mother and/or family had any wonderful traditional recipes to share. Likewise I was talking to another classmate that I never realized had family in South Africa-I wonder now if her family has any fantastic bobotie recipes to share?
Food is pretty central to my life-as evidenced by this blog–so it only stands to reason that as my palate has become more global so too has my outlook on life. A history major, I used to explore the world through its past. Now I explore it through its seasoning. I bet no one who knew me back then would ever have guessed that the following recipe is a Laura Original. Lord knows I wouldn’t have ever believed it.
One note about the curry paste instructions. I have previously discussed in greater depth the best ways to approach making a paste, so the instruction below are a little bare boned. Here are my original instructions for making a curry paste with a mortar and pestle and processor or blender, and here are my instructions for using a wet dry grinder.
- 2 15 oz cans good quality coconut milk
- 1 15 oz can light coconut milk
- 2-6 cups chicken broth (to desired consistency)
- 1 lb thin rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced, divided
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 hothouse cucumber, sliced for garnish (I did not have)
- ¼ cup+ fish sauce, to taste
- 2 T+ palm sugar, to taste
- 5 medium tomatoes, quartered (I used frozen from last summer)
- 2 T good quality virgin coconut oil (should smell like coconut)
- 1 recipe curry paste (see other recipe)
- 4 lbs mahi mahi, cut into chunks
- 4 kaffir lime leaves with their middle vein torn out
- Scoop the thick coconut cream out of the 2 cans of full fat coconut milk. Heat it in a large Dutch oven; when it starts to separate, add the curry paste. Fry the paste, stirring, on medium heat, until it separates.
- Add ⅓ of the onions and the palm sugar. Stir. Add the rest of the coconut milk, including the can of light milk. Add 2 cups of chicken stock, the tomatoes, the kaffir lime leaves and ¼ cup of fish sauce. Bring to a simmer.
- In the meantime, heat the coconut oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the rest of the onions and caramelize on medium-high heat. Add a pinch of salt at the beginning. Cook until well-browned--reduce the heat if they start to stick and scorch.
- Check on your broth. If you want more of a sauce, it may be just right, but if you want it brothier, add more chicken stock until it is where you want it. Taste for more palm sugar or fish sauce.
- About 10 minutes before serving, add the fish chunks and let them slowly simmer (do not boil) until they are cooked through.
- To serve place a handful of noodles in a bowl, ladle broth over it, and then garnish with toasted coconut flakes, bean sprouts, cucumber slices and caramelized onions. Serve with Sirracha sauce and fish sauce for adjusting at the table to preference.
- 1 t white peppercorns, toasted and ground
- 2 t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
- 4 cloves, toasted and ground
- 4 t coriander seeds, toasted and ground
- 2 t curry powder
- 9 fresh or frozen curry leaves
- 8-10 dried California Chile Peppers, covered with boiling water t soak for at least 15 minutes
- 2 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to lower third and thinly sliced
- 1 inch piece galangal, peeled and minced
- 1 head garlic, minced
- ½ large onion, chopped (could also use shallots but onion is what I had)
- 1 T dried shrimp powder
- To make curry paste you either need a mortar and pestle with a good blender or processor or you need a wet dry grinder. Either way, combine all ingredients, reserving some of the chile pepper soaking water, and either pound in a mortar and then transfer to a processor or blender or just grind to a smooth paste in a wet dry grinder. Use some of the chile pepper soaking liquid if more moisture is needed.