Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Vegetarian Thai Curry

I have a strong aversion to wasting food, but at the same time, (and this creates QUITE the conflict) I have a compulsive food buying habit. That dear bunch of radishes and that pint of berries yearn to come home with me no matter how full the crisper is.

In order to make sure everything gets used well before it goes to mush (or worse. Shudder.) I have a few recipes that fall in the “throw everything in but the kitchen sink,” and yet are simple and delicious that make it possible to clean out and get a good meal.

For instance, last night, it was rainy and chilly and there was a head of cauliflower lurking in the depths of my fridge in desperate need of some attention. I decided to whip together my current favorite, Thai style vegetarian curry. Because the idea was to empty the crisper, this was the perfect solution (and leaves me free to go crazy at the Santa Monica farmers market tomorrow. Yipeee!) as it can accomidate pretty much any veg you have on hand. Try it and enjoy!

1 inch piece ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 inch piece lemongrass, outer layers removed, rough chop
2 Thai bird chiles, stems removed (or more, or less, depending on your taste)
zest of one small lime
1 green onion, rough chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups best quality vegetable stock (or chicken)
three cups assorted washed and chopped vegetables (I used cauliflower, celery, red bell pepper, small potatoes cut in half, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots, spinach and onion)
½ cup cubed tofu
2 kaffir lime leaves (if you have them), slightly crushed

1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
Fresh cilantro for garnish, if you like

Either use your food processor or a sharp knife and mince the first six ingredients to make a rough paste.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the paste and cook until lightly browned about 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and stir to coat. (Leave out any vegetables that take a really short time to cook, and add those at the end. Like spinach or mushrooms.)

Add the stock, tumeric, cayenne, fish sauce and salt and adjust the seasonings to taste. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the vegetables are cooked through, about 15 – 20 minutes.

Turn the heat down, and add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Heat through, remove the lime leaves, garnish with cilantro and serve with jasmine rice.

Makes four servings.


Originating in India and Sri Lanka, lemongrass is also known as oil grass, fever grass, and sereh. It is a favored herb in Southest Asia and remains the source of the lemony overtones of Asian cooking, from "citral," its oily lemon essence.

In Thailand they do not use chop sticks, they use their spoon and sometimes fork. Knives are not typically offered, since most of the food is cut up prior to serving.

Hello. We are on a Thai cooking frenzy. It is so different. Especially the curries. I've made Indian curry for years and Thai is not at all the same.
I find your statement that the Thai don't use chopsticks interesting. I have read the same thing. However, recently on a "No Reservations" tv show, the host was in Bangkok and many many people were eating with chopsticks ?????
This is more a Thai flavor inspired dish than authentic (obviously)...but as for chopsticks...they exist, in the same way they exist here...but they are not classic to the culture...
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