During the colder months in the Northeast, when the sun sets early, we crave rich, flavorful foods to warm our spirits. The combination of creamy, tropical coconut milk, the heat of Thai peppers, and the aromatic bouquet of fresh cilantro comes to the aid of our desires for sunshine in the form of curry. This eggplant in green curry, together with your grain of choice, will satisfy your hunger and transport you to a warmer place in the world tonight.
2 medium long, thin Asian eggplant, sliced in half moons and unpeeled. (Asian eggplant is sweeter and and more tender and does not require peeling.)
1 small red onion
1 cup of sliced North Fork shiitake mushrooms, or enoki if you can find them.
1 green pepper, seeded, deveined and diced or julienned.
2 tablespoons of *green curry paste (recipe below)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup seasonedfork garden stock
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar
1 can full fat coconut milk
Add the coconut oil to a sauté pan, then add the onions, eggplant, and green pepper, and cook until the onions and eggplant are glistening and tender. Add the chili paste, and follow with the garden stock. Simmer for two minutes before adding the can of coconut milk.
Once the sauce begins to thicken, add the coconut sugar and taste for salt. Lastly, add your mushrooms and stir as they will cook with the residual heat. Serve with steamed rice or quinoa, and garnish with fresh cilantro and more mushrooms.
This may be best accompanied by a local Riesling from Paumanok Vineyards. They make both a semi-sweet and a drier Riesling, but the sweeter one will stand up to the spice and the creaminess of the coconut curry with more vigor.
Make the green curry paste the night before. If you do not have all ingredients on hand, you can buy green curry paste at your local health food store.
1/4 cups of fresh, chopped cilantro with leaves and stems
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons galangal
1/4 cup garlic
1 Kaffir Lime (or key lime, or just lime)
3-4 tablespoons sliced lemongrass
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1 teaspoon shrimp paste or 2 tablespoons Tamari (for those who are Vegan or Kosher)
10 small Green Thai Chili Peppers (use 4 to 5 medium Jalapeno peppers if Thai are not available)
Toast coriander, peppercorns, and cumin in a pan until light brown. You will hear a crackling sound when they’re ready. Let the spices cool so they will grind easily.
Slice shallots, lemongrass, galangal, and cilantro roots into small pieces. Grate or thinly slice the lime zest, making about 1 tablespoon. These ingredients will grind into a fine paste with smaller fibers.
Grind the spices into powder (I like to use a coffee mill), then grind the curry paste in a food processor on pulse until it forms a paste. Ingredients with least amount of water content and/or hard ingredients should go in first, so add the spices, lemongrass, and galangal to the food processor first. Pulse them into rough fibers. Add the salt, garlic, kaffir lime zest, cilantro roots and shrimp paste next. Add fresh green chili peppers and shallots last. Pulse until the mixture turns into a fine paste and you can’t recognize individual ingredients.
The role of salt in curry pastes is to help with grinding and to act as a preservative. You may add more salt than what’s called for; just remember when you cook with it to taste your curry prior to seasoning.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight jar for up to two months.