October 22nd, 2007

Massamam Curry

Tonight I made really excellent Massamam curry based on a recipe from "True Thai" by Victor Sodsook. I didn't have time/patience to do everything as he said, nor did I have all ingredients, but what I did make came out better than any I've had in a restaurant. Here goes...

Massaman Curry (Vegan)

For the curry paste (make ahead of time and let the flavors develop – yields about 1.5 cups)
3oz dried red chilies (require 30 minutes prep time)
1 tbsp tumeric
1.25 tsp cumin
1.5 tbsp coriander
1.5 tsp cardamom
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter (this easily replaces shrimp paste in most recipes)
0.25 tsp black pepper
0.25 tsp clove
0.25 tsp cinnamon
1 lg stalk lemon grass, tough outer leaves discarded, lower stalk trimmed to 3 inches and finely sliced
1 tbsp ginger
0.25 cup chopped garlic
0.33 cup chopped shallots

Cut the ends off the chilies and shake most of the seeds out. Cut in half lengthwise, pulling out any tough ribs. Cut into pieces less than an inch long. Put in a bowl full of water and soak for 30 minutes.

You can buy all the spices whole, grind them up fresh, and dry roast them for about 5 minutes in a pan if you are feeling truly industrious.

Otherwise, once the chilies are done soaking, drain them, reserving about 0.5 cups of the chili water. Put all the ingredients in the food processor, including the 0.5 cup chili water. Process all the ingredients until a rich, moist paste forms, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.

You can store this paste in an airtight container in the fridge for a month, or in the freezer for up to three months.

For the curry itself (can be prepared the day before serving to let the flavors mature)…

2 sweet potatoes, chopped into half-inch cubes
1 head broccoli cut into small pieces
1 package fresh tofu, drained of water (put on a plate, under another plate with something heavy on it, for half an hour to drain the water from the tofu)
1 can coconut milk
1 cup Massaman Curry Paste
1 cup vegetable stock or broth
0.5-1 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
3 tbsp coconut-palm or brown sugar
3 tbsp Thai thin soy sauce or any good light soy sauce (or just go light on the soy sauce)

Steam the potato and broccoli over boiling water until tender (approx. 5 minutes). Set aside.

Skim the thick cream from the top of the coconut milk into a soup pot, saving the milk. Put the pot on medium-high heat. Stir in curry paste until blended and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes. Add the sweet potato, broccoli, tofu, reserved coconut milk, and vegetable stock. Cook for two minutes, stirring often. Add peanuts and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved and blended. Add soy sauce and cook for another thirty seconds.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with jasmine rice.