Okay so – I love the Super H. and they just opened one much closer to home than the one in Duluth we’d been going to (it’s a mere 12-minute jaunt from the house instead of 25 minutes). So I schlepped over there yesterday, happy that for once my shopping experience wasn’t a pushy-shovey contest. I attribute this to the fact that the store is new and not too many people know about it yet. Anyway, I’m there and I’m happy standing in the middle of the produce area, which is literally a good half of the store. I spotted little red chillies, and start filling a small bag with them. One of the Super H stockists chuckled a bit and I looked over at him.
“That’s all you’re getting?” he said, and it dawned on me that he’s just called me a wuss.
“Well - it’s enough for the week, don’t you think? I’ll be back next weekend”.
He shrugged his shoulders and gave me that knowing look. I have a pretty high heat tolerance, but apparently it’s not high enough for this guy’s standard.
“Hey”, I ask, “Where are the kaffir lime leaves?”
“Lime leaves? Oh, we don’t have any”.
Okay so now I’m pissed because I’ve been jonesin’ for more Thai curry since I had some last week. But Thai curry without lime leaves? That’s like a quiche without cheese. Or quiche without bacon. It’s just not done.
So I grudgingly put away the lemongrass stalks and green peppers I picked up, because, what’s the point of even making curry?
Of course, when I got home, I regretted this decision. Because I could always make a faux thai curry, just not using the lime leaves, which is what I ended up doing today. The boy and I schlepped back over to the new Super H, a mere 12-minute drive. And I picked up some lemongrass and some green peppers.
So here’s a very fake version of Thai green curry, but it’s actually quite flavorful; and if you have never used kaffir lime leaves, then you don’t know what you’re missing anyway, right? But I do urge you, if you can, to try and hunt some down. I’ve only seen them sold in large quantities, and I’ve heard some people have great success freezing them.
An onion, cut into large pieces
A green pepper or two, cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon or so of minced ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, split open and whacked with the flat side of the knife, kind of like if you were smooshing garlic cloves. This will release the flavors like nobody’s business.
1 4-oz can of green curry. You can pick this up in Asian stores, or even some regular ol’ American groceries carry it now. The brand I use is Mae Ploy.
Zest of two limes, or a couple of kaffir lime leaves if you can find the damn things
1 ½ cans of coconut milk (I used Trader Joe’s brand light coconut milk). Do not use Coco Lopez. Absolutely not the same thing, and it’s sweetened and for mixed drinks only. You want unsweet.
¼ to ½ cups chicken stock. You know, eyeball it.
juice of 1 lime
1 pound or so of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces
Firm tofu, cut into cubes. I had some of this in the fridge that needed to be used up, so in it went, about a third of one of those big cubes you get at the store.
Heat your wok or large frying pan over medium high heat and add a couple of tablespoons of oil to the bottom (please don’t use olive oil for this, it’s kind of pointless really). Add the onion and green pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes until soft.
Add the ginger, lemongrass, about half to a whole can of the curry paste (depending on how spicy you like it), and lime zest (or leaves) to the pan, and sauté that for a bit.
Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, lime juice, and chicken pieces. Stir to combine and simmer for 12-ish minutes. Add the cubed tofu (if you’re using), the basil and cilantro, and simmer for a few more minutes. You’re pretty much done if the chicken is cooked through. Add some salt, carefully stir everything together so as not to mush up the tofu, and it’s done. Serve over rice.
This made so much that I’m set for lunch for the week. Although I have a wee bit of a problem – it’s very pungent smelling, but in a good way. When I moved back to Atlanta and started going into the office every day, I was on a floor surrounded by a lot of people who appreciated food (mostly guys and Patty). They always had positive comments about the smell of my lunches, especially if it was something leftover that the boy made, like beef short ribs or French onion soup. A few months ago, I was moved to a different floor, and the people around me are not big food people. They eat takeout from My Friend’s Place downstairs every day. Their taste buds suck. I know this because every time I heat something tasty up in the microwave and bring it back to my desk, someone inevitably makes remarks about the “strange food smells” coming from “somewhere”. They’re going to flip the hell out when I start microwaving up some green curry. It should be a fun week!