Thursday, April 22, 2010

0 Recipe #100: Panang Curry (Quinoa, Tofu, & Tomatoes in a Lemongrass-Ginger-Garlic-Basil Sauce)

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Recipe #100 is here at last!!!!!

Panang curry (แกงแพนง) has the most wonderful, aroma. Today, I as I was making it for lunch, it filled up the entire kitchen with its heady scent. My stomach growled in response, & suddenly, I began to cook a little bit faster. ;)

This particular recipe is fairly true to its traditional Thai roots, with the exception of the quinoa, which gives the dish a little twist. Of course, this blog wouldn't be this blog without its little twists & turns. ;)

Panang Curry (Quinoa, Tofu, & Tomatoes in a Lemongrass-Ginger-Garlic-Basil Sauce)

Curry Paste Ingredients:
1/2 Tbsp. ginger, peeled & finely minced (about 1/2" piece ginger)
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled & finely minced (about 2 large garlic cloves)
1 shallot, peeled & finely minced
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, sliced crosswise into small rounds (dried will also work)
1-2 large kaffir lime leaves, center rib removed & finely minced (optional)
1/2 tsp. galangal root, cut into matchstick-sized pieces (optional)
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame seed oil
1/4 tsp. honey
2 tsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. lime zest
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or, to taste)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin (or you can also use toasted cumin seeds)
1/8 tsp. red chili pepper flakes

1/2 c. (uncooked) quinoa
3/4 c. water (for cooking)
1/2 c. fresh coconut juice (reserved from a fresh coconut)
2 medium-sized, vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1/2 c. silken tofu, diced into 1/2" cubes
1 whole scallion, sliced crosswise into small rounds
6 large basil (or mint) leaves (I was out of basil & so, used mint instead; it tasted delicious!)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, finely minced
2 Tbsp. (1/8 c.) unsalted, roasted peanuts, ground (for garnish) (optional)

Directions: Prepare curry paste by mashing paste ingredients into oblivion with a mortar & pestle. If this is too Paleolithic for you, then toss everything into a food processor instead, & pulse until smooth. Set aside.

Wash quinoa grains to remove starchy coating. To do this, place the quinoa grains in a small bowl, fill the bowl with just enough water to cover the grains, let them soak for a few minutes, & then stir them a bit with a spoon (or clean hands). Drain the water, & repeat a few more times until the water is no longer cloudy.

Next cook quinoa in water & coconut juice in a small sauce pot on low heat. About 5 minutes into cooking, add tomatoes, tofu, scallion, basil (or mint), & fresh cilantro, & gently stir to combine ingredients. Cook another 5-7 minutes. (If necessary, add more water to the pan during the cooking process.) Remove from heat, let quinoa mixture stand for 5 minutes, & then fluff. While mixture is resting, sprinkle chopped scallions on top & then prepare peanuts: Either crush them (with a mortar & pestle) or grind them (in a food processor or spice/coffee grinder) & then toast.  Transfer ingredients to plate, sprinkle crushed/ground peanuts on top, then garnish with a sprig of cilantro, & serve. Enjoy!

Chef's Notes: Of course, if you'd like, you can always substitute beef or chicken for the tofu.

Yield: 1-2 servings. (Recipe can easily be double or quadrupled, etc., to accommodate more diners.)

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