Quest Food (n.) ‘kwest-ˈfüd : a dish so spectacularly satisfying to your tastebuds you spend a lifetime searching for the perfect version of this meal wherever you travel; an endless pursuit for perfection of your desired dish. Example: “Green curry is my boyfriend’s ultimate quest food.”
That’s right, green curry is an ultimate quest food around this house. So much so, we decided to have a green curry cook-off for the past two weeks! With fingertips numb from deseeding thai chilies and knuckles grated sore from all those spicy roots, I’m happy to report that I think we finally nailed the recipe!
The key was to toast the whole coriander/cumin seeds first, then blend a combination of raw and roasted chilies for a balanced spice profile. (Note: This is may be a more mellow green curry for you spicy food lovers, so if you want to crank up the heat leave the seeds in the thai chilies before blending.) Now if you’ve never worked with fresh curry paste before, get ready for a sensory explosion. Cheesy as that line may sound, the smells and the flavors will blow your mind! Fresh lemon grass, lime, garlic, ginger, galangal, cumin, coriander, basil…oh the list goes on for potent healing herbs and spices in this recipe!
Nutritional Profile: Galangal
Galangal, the thicker root pictured above next to the ginger, belongs to the rhizome family. Also known as “Siamese ginger” this tuber contains powerful medicinal properties similar to its family members, ginger and turmeric. Its heating qualities promote circulation and digestion. Other benefits of this potent root:
- Anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce achy joints and pain associated with arthritis.
- Contains a host of antioxidants that help minimize the damage caused by free radicals and other toxins in the body.
- Rich source of iron, sodium, vitamin A and C
If you’re looking at the lengthy list of ingredients of the curry paste, don’t be intimidated! Once you roast the chilies and toast the spices, all you do is blend it to a puree and store in a jar until you’re ready to use. And after you’ve tasted a fresh curry paste you’ll never go back to the store-bought!
Once you have your paste made, the next step is to construct your vegetable curry. I’ve worked with both fresh homemade coconut milk and the canned variation when making this recipe, and even a mixture of both. To make the fresh young thai coconut milk, remove the top from the coconut and pour out the water in a glass. Chop the coconut in half and scrape out the meat. Transfer the meat to the blender and add in 1/4-1/2 cup of the fresh coconut water, blend until creamy. The less water, the thicker and creamier the milk. If you’re using all fresh coconut milk, you’ll need to use 4-5 coconuts to make this full recipe. Hence, the desire to use half and half! When purchasing canned coconut milk, look for the full fat organic version with the fewest amount of preservative ingredients as possible, some companies use a BPA-free can which is even better!
For the vegetables, I chose to make some zucchini noodles using my spiralizer for added texture. I then used a vegetable peeler to make long flat noodles with the carrots. Chopped broccoli, Japanese eggplant, snow peas, onions and fresh cilantro filled the rest of my bowls. I poured this over sprouted brown rice and topped with a pinch of Himalayan pink salt for a warming winter dish to fulfill that quest food craving.
THAI GREEN VEGETABLE CURRY
2 jalapenos, oven roasted whole
3 small thai chili, deseeded
4 tbsp fresh lemon grass stalk, sliced thin
1 bunch cilantro leaves & stems
½ cup Chinese or Thai basil leaves
2-inch ginger, peeled & grated
1-inch galangal, peeled & grated
2 limes, zested & juiced (kaffir limes if available)
2 shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds, toasted & crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted & crushed
1 tsp black peppercorns, toasted & crushed
4 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp raw honey or coconut nectar
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the stems from the jalapeno. Place whole jalapenos directly on oven racks, roast for 20-30 minutes to soften the flavor. While roasting, heat a small pan on the stovetop. Place cumin seeds, coriander seeds and black peppercorns in the pan to toast. Remove and and place in blender. When ready, remove jalapeno from oven, place in blender. Add remaining ingredients to the blender pitcher and blend until smooth. Transfer to a glass jar and store in your fridge until ready to use. Stays fresh for up to 10 days.
Thai Green Vegetable Curry
2 cans organic full fat coconut milk (or 4 fresh young thai coconuts, instructions above)
6-8 tbsp green curry paste (or to desired taste)
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk, curry paste and salt. Reduce for 5 minutes on a low heat to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside while preparing the veggies.
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced thin & quartered
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 carrot, peeled with vegetable peeler for flat noodles
2 zucchini, spiralized (or peeled with vegetable peeler)
2 cups snow peas, trimmed
½ cup cilantro, chopped
Chinese or Thai basil, to garnish
In a large wok or soup pot, heat the coconut oil and sauté the onions on medium heat until translucent. Add the eggplant and broccoli. Cook until slightly soft. Next add the peas, zucchini and carrot noodles. Pour the curry sauce over top and stir. Simmer for 5 minutes to heat. Add in the chopped cilantro and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt or more curry paste if desired. To serve, pour vegetables and sauce over a big serving of brown rice. Garnish with extra cilantro and basil.
Note: This curry paste gets better with age. It thickens and the flavors mature nicely in the 2nd and 3rd day for an even richer curry experience!