I suffer from food envy. When I am at a restaurant and someone I am eating with gets something that looks better than my meal, I get kind of sad, regretting my own choice no matter how good it is. Luckily, I am a vegetarian, my company usually isn’t and I don’t have meat envy. On top of the actual food envy, my need to avoid food envy at all costs means that ordering food at a restaurant is usually quite the process for me. I am always worried that I will regret what I ordered, order the wrong thing, want what someone at my table or a table next to me is having. It really shouldn’t be all that stressful right? Eating out is supposed to be fun! Anyway, last week I was out to dinner with some people from work and one of my co-workers decided to order Thai yellow curry. With potential food envy looming over my head, I immediately changed my order and got it too.
I always love Thai yellow curry. It’s mild and sweet and there’s something addictive about the taste (for me at least). However, I have never tried to re-create it at home. Generally I find curries too overwhelming. I feel like I don’t know much about the basics of Asian cuisine, so it is intimidating for me to experiment in the kitchen. The one thing I do know about Thai cuisine is that it is all about the balance between four flavors: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy. I figured I could work with that.
My basic approach was to try and balance all of those flavours with ingredients that I know are normally used in Thai or Southeast Asian cuisine (and that I can get my hands on, why couldn’t I find lime leaves? Thai basil? Grrrr). I used, fish sauce, lime, brown sugar (instead of palm sugar), and bird’s eye chillis. That, along with various other flavors here and there, made a curry that is bowl-licking good.
I do have to admit, although the sauce was definitely a success, I did drop the ball with the meal as a whole. For some reason I thought that I had tons of vegetables hanging out at home, but I didn’t. Because of that, this dish was rice, shrimp and sauce and while we had a big salad on the side, it just isn’t the same as having a bunch of vegetables in your curry bowl. Next time, I would definitely add regular or sweet potatoes, spinach or green beans (or all of the above) to the dish. There isn’t enough curry sauce to cook tons of vegetables in it evenly, so I would par-boil the potatoes first and finish them off in the sauce. And if you can find it, top with Thai basil. Overall, this is a comforting, warm bowl perfect for a cool autumn night.
Adding some vegetables and Thai basil to this would make it even better! Make sure to finish cooking your vegetables in the curry sauce. For example, parboil the potatoes and with about 5 minutes of cooking to go, add them to the sauce. Something like spinach or green beans can just be thrown straight into the sauce.
In a food processor, puree garlic, ginger, onion, chilli, lime zest, cumin and coriander seeds.
In a medium pan over medium-high heat, heat up canola oil.
Fry pureed mixture for 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric and saute for an additional 1 minute.
Add water, sugar, lime juice, lemongrass, fish sauce, and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.
If you are cooking vegetables in the curry, add with enough time to cook through (for example, if you are cooking parboiled diced potatoes, add with about 5 minutes of cooking time left, spinach with only a few minutes to go)
Add coconut milk and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Add raw shrimp to curry sauce and cook over medium heat until just cooked through.
Serve over rice.