Spring Green Thai Curry Paste
Makes 5 (4-ounce) jars (2 1/2 cups).
Note: Stir this fresh-tasting curry paste into coconut milk, and you’ve got a delicious sauce for chicken, fish, shellfish and as many vegetables as will fit in the pot. Remember to wear gloves when handling chiles. For a less spicy paste, omit the Thai chiles and use only serrano peppers. For a spicier version, use both types of chiles and include the seeds. Traditionalists use a mortar and pestle to pound this blend of chiles, herbs and spices into a paste, but a food processor or high-powered blender (such as a NutriBullet or Vitamix) makes quick work of the entire process. The paste can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days (the color may darken a bit); it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Shrimp paste is available at Asian markets and some Latino markets. From Cathy Barrow, the author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving.”
• 12 green Thai chile peppers, stemmed and seeded, coarsely chopped
• 12 serrano chile peppers, stemmed and seeded, coarsely chopped as needed
• 3 medium stalks lemon grass (tough outer layers removed), cut into 1-in. lengths
• 3 limes, juiced, zest cut into strips with a vegetable peeler (white pith removed)
• 2 oz. (a chunky 3-in. piece) fresh galangal or ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 1 c. packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
• 1 c. packed fresh mint leaves
• 1 c. packed fresh basil leaves
• 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped (white and green parts)
• 2 bunches green garlic, chopped (may substitute 2 bunches ramps or 2 heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled)
• 1 tbsp. fish sauce
• 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
• 1/2 c. water
• 2 tsp. shrimp paste, optional (see Note)
Combine the green Thai and serrano peppers, lemon grass, lime juice and zest, galangal or ginger, cilantro, mint, basil, onions and garlic in a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse a few times, then add the fish sauce, salt, cumin, white pepper and water. Purée until smooth.
If using, enclose the shrimp paste in a small piece of aluminum foil and heat it in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through; you will smell it when it’s ready. Unwrap and add the warmed shrimp paste to the curry paste. Purée until well combined and smooth.
Pack the curry paste into clean 4-ounce jars or containers.
Spring Green Thai Curry With Mussels and Asparagus
Serves 3 to 4.
Note: Add fiddleheads instead of (or in addition to) the peas. Substitute morels for cremini mushrooms. You can use clams, shrimp, pieces of cod or halibut instead of the mussels. This curry is adaptable; try it with chicken, too. Mussels should be rinsed well before cooking, with any beards pulled off. Before cooking, discard any mussels that are open and won’t close tightly when tapped. Palm sugar is available at Whole Foods Markets, and at Latino and international markets. Serve with rice, if you like. From Cathy Barrow.
• 3 tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
• 8 cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
• 8 oz. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-in. lengths
• 1 c. freshly shelled or frozen/defrosted green peas
• 1/2 c. (4 oz.) Spring Green Thai Curry Paste (see recipe)
• 2 tsp. palm sugar (see Note; may substitute light brown sugar)
• 1 (13.5-to-14-oz.) can coconut milk (not shaken or blended)
• 2 1/2 lb. fresh mussels in the shell, scrubbed, beards removed
• 3 green onions (white and green parts), cut into 1-in. pieces
• 1/4 c. packed fresh cilantro leaves, minced, for garnish
Heat the oil in a lidded straight-sided skillet or pot large enough to hold the mussels over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook without stirring for 3 minutes, then stir in the asparagus and peas so that all the vegetables are coated.
Stir in the curry paste and palm sugar, coating the vegetables.
Scoop out the thick, creamy part of the coconut milk in the can and blend that into the curry paste and vegetables. Once it has warmed through, add the remaining coconut milk, the mussels and the green onions. Cover and cook until the mussels have opened, about 4 minutes. (Discard any mussels that have not opened.)
Garnish with the cilantro, if using. Serve piping hot in deep soup bowls.
Nutrition information per each of 4 servings:
Calories 390 Fat 30 g Sodium 400 mg
Carbohydrates 20 g Saturated fat 18 g Total sugars 6 g
Protein 14 g Cholesterol 20 mg Dietary fiber 4 g