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#1
Old 01-15-2012, 09:58 AM
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Cooking with curry paste

Today a TV chef made a chicken dish with curry paste, a substance she spooned from a tub into the pan with onions. Other ingredients followed.

I've never seen curry paste and I'm not sure I've even heard of it. I love new foodie things and I want to go out right now and get some and cook something.

Guidance please? What is its relationship, if any, to American-style curry powder? What brands should I look for? I'm doing a lot of stir-frying these days- can I work curry paste into that?

Thx.
#2
Old 01-15-2012, 10:29 AM
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Curry paste is easy to use. Some just need water, some need coconut milk (or yogurt; I prefer to use yogurt). The jar or package will have instructions on it.

Stir-fry like normal, then add the paste and yogurt, then eat happily.

Mmmmmmmmm curry.

ETA: Ooops. You asked about brands. Taste of Thai, Kitchen of India and Patak's are all good brands and fairly easy to find in grocery stores. You may have to go to a place like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods or Sunflower Market or Fresh & Easy, but you shouldn't have any trouble finding them.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 01-15-2012 at 10:32 AM.
#3
Old 01-15-2012, 10:32 AM
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I use Thai curry pastes regularly.

The curry powder you are talking about is generally an Indian curry flavor rather than a Thai curry.

I don't know if they have curry pastes for other cuisines, since all I have used is Thai.

It comes in little cans, jars or tubs. I haven't see it in tubes, but that would be convenient so I wil start looking for it.
#4
Old 01-15-2012, 10:38 AM
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Why would paste be better than powder?
#5
Old 01-15-2012, 10:40 AM
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For a traditional "saucy" type curry stew (as opposed to a stir-fry with curry flavouring) my recommendation would be to fry the paste first for a few minutes in a little oil, then add the meat an vegetables and coconut milk/yoghurt. If you use yoghurt then remember to use really good thick stuff and add it at the end (less chance of it splitting)
#6
Old 01-15-2012, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Why would paste be better than powder?
The ones I've tried don't taste better, but different. More hot and a lot less curry-y.
#7
Old 01-15-2012, 10:54 AM
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Curry powder at least in the USA, is a single flavor. Curry pastes I've found in many different flavors, at least Thai curries.

We've always pre-fried the curry paste a bit in oil to open up the flavors, then added meats or other items. Thai red curry has a traditional dish where you don't add coconut milk; most other Thai curries add coconut milk. I suppose any curry you could do a bit more dry by not adding coconut milk or much other liquid, depending on how much "sauce" you want, even if that's not the "traditional" preparation.

I don't know much about Indian or other curries.
#8
Old 01-15-2012, 11:22 AM
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This is helpful. I didn't realize that curry paste was Thai, although I knew that curry powder was Indian.
#9
Old 01-15-2012, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
This is helpful. I didn't realize that curry paste was Thai, although I knew that curry powder was Indian.
You can get Indian curry pastes -- most of the Patak's brand pastes will be Indian-style pastes.
#10
Old 01-15-2012, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
This is helpful. I didn't realize that curry paste was Thai, although I knew that curry powder was Indian.
Curry paste is not necessarily Thai. In fact most of them are Indian.

And the way I'd prepare something is to pan fry some diced onion until it's carmelized, add the curry paste (along with some dry spices) and stir, add some tomatoes, stir some more, and then add some (a couple of tablespoons) of yogurt. When the yogurt is fully integrated into the mixture and the oil starts to separate, you can add some skinned chicken, along with a couple of bay leaves and some peppercorns. Also add about half a cup of water. Simmer for about twenty minutes or until the chicken is tender. You'll then have fresh chicken curry.
#11
Old 01-15-2012, 12:38 PM
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I was shopping in a Japanese grocery store the other day and there were lots of boxes and packets of curry-something. I guess they were packets of paste? The Japanese clerk said these were very popular among Americans in Japan. Anyone know anything about these?

What's the basic flavor difference between Thai and Indian curry pastes?
#12
Old 01-15-2012, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Why would paste be better than powder?
Some people like the powder better; I like the pastes. (I'm talking Indian curry paste here, more on this in a second). A lot of curry spices dissolve best in oil, so the paste seems to have better flavor to me, and also the spices in the paste are not as finely pulverized, so you have a bit more texture to them, and I reckon that being preserved in oil maintains their pungency and flavor better than being grounded to a fine powder and exposed to air. But that's just a guess. Also, some of the pastes taste like the spices have been perhaps roasted a bit.

Now, be aware that there is a huge difference in flavor between Indian and Thai curry pastes. They are not interchangeable without changing the basic flavor of the dish. A Thai curry paste is based on ingredients like lemongrass, galangal root, fresh chiles, shrimp paste, Kaffir lime leaves, etc. An Indian curry paste is generally based off cumin and coriander, dried chiles, and fragrant spices like cassia, fennel, cloves, etc. Turmeric, fenugreek, mustard seeds, etc., also figure commonly. A Thai curry paste may have coriander seed and cumin in it as well, but the primary flavors are generally fresh, green, and citrussy.
#13
Old 01-15-2012, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShibbOleth View Post
Curry powder at least in the USA, is a single flavor.


I have at least 5 different types of curry powder in my spice cabinet. Some are hot, some mild, some are sweeter, some are more savory. Curry powder definitely comes in different flavors in the US. Maybe not in every grocery store, but I'm guessing any grocery store that carries curry paste has more than one flavor of curry powder (in other words, neither are perfectly standard grocery store items that you'd find everywhere. But they're not super hard to find, either - any even slightly upscale grocer, natural food store, or ethnic food store will probably have both.)
#14
Old 01-15-2012, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Athena View Post


I have at least 5 different types of curry powder in my spice cabinet. Some are hot, some mild, some are sweeter, some are more savory. Curry powder definitely comes in different flavors in the US. Maybe not in every grocery store, but I'm guessing any grocery store that carries curry paste has more than one flavor of curry powder (in other words, neither are perfectly standard grocery store items that you'd find everywhere. But they're not super hard to find, either - any even slightly upscale grocer, natural food store, or ethnic food store will probably have both.)
You are quite right, but a US recipe that calls for curry powder almost always means the yellow, Madras-style curry powder that you will see in the typical spice section of your supermarket just labeled as "curry powder" . Go over to the ethnic foods aisle and you'll see the sorts of things you are talking about.
#15
Old 01-15-2012, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by sh1bu1 View Post
You are quite right, but a US recipe that calls for curry powder almost always means the yellow, Madras-style curry powder that you will see in the typical spice section of your supermarket just labeled as "curry powder" . Go over to the ethnic foods aisle and you'll see the sorts of things you are talking about.
Yes, but it's not a single flavor. Those that are generically labeled "curry powder" are wildly different from one another. Read the ingredient list. If there is a commonality to all the generic curry powders, it's probably the presence of cumin, coriander seed, and turmeric.
#16
Old 01-15-2012, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I was shopping in a Japanese grocery store the other day and there were lots of boxes and packets of curry-something. I guess they were packets of paste? The Japanese clerk said these were very popular among Americans in Japan. Anyone know anything about these?
They are semi-solid bricks of seasonings and thickeners that are added to water to make a sauce. In Japan they will typically add carrots, onions, and chicken or beef; it's almost like a curry stew. It is served over rice and is a very popular dish.
#17
Old 01-15-2012, 01:08 PM
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For example, here's McCormick's curry powder:
Coriander, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Cumin, Black Pepper, Bay Leaves, Celery Seed, Nutmeg, Cloves, Onion, Red Pepper, Ginger.

Here's Spice Islands curry powder:
Cumin, Coriander, Fenugreek, Ginger, Turmeric, Dill Seed, Black Pepper, Red Pepper, Mace, Cardamom, Cloves

Here's Spice Supreme:
Mustard, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cloves
#18
Old 01-15-2012, 01:09 PM
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I remember getting yelled at by a (Oregon hippy) friend:

"It's not curry. It's Hippy Powder!"

That didn't budge me.

Last edited by brittekland; 01-15-2012 at 01:09 PM. Reason: 80-90%
#19
Old 01-15-2012, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I was shopping in a Japanese grocery store the other day and there were lots of boxes and packets of curry-something. I guess they were packets of paste? The Japanese clerk said these were very popular among Americans in Japan. Anyone know anything about these?

What's the basic flavor difference between Thai and Indian curry pastes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by sh1bu1 View Post
They are semi-solid bricks of seasonings and thickeners that are added to water to make a sauce. In Japan they will typically add carrots, onions, and chicken or beef; it's almost like a curry stew. It is served over rice and is a very popular dish.
Have you tried this product yourself? If so, do you like it? What flavors do you recommend?
#20
Old 01-15-2012, 02:50 PM
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ThelmaLou, the other thing those curry packets might be is pre-made sauces like these, basically you just heat and eat (usually with rice.) They're OK, similar to the curry dishes you might find in a typical Japanese restaurant here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sh1bu1
You are quite right, but a US recipe that calls for curry powder almost always means the yellow, Madras-style curry powder that you will see in the typical spice section of your supermarket just labeled as "curry powder" . Go over to the ethnic foods aisle and you'll see the sorts of things you are talking about.
this is why I like living near a Penzey's
#21
Old 01-15-2012, 02:58 PM
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I've used the S&B bricks for years and find them to be pretty darn good. I like that I can find them in pretty much every grocery store I've ever been in, too. I've also found that they're mild enough (well, the mild and medium ones, anyway) to use as an introduction to curry dishes for friends with less-adventurous taste buds than my own.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 01-15-2012 at 02:59 PM. Reason: added link
#22
Old 01-15-2012, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
I've used the S&B bricks for years and find them to be pretty darn good. I like that I can find them in pretty much every grocery store I've ever been in, too. I've also found that they're mild enough (well, the mild and medium ones, anyway) to use as an introduction to curry dishes for friends with less-adventurous taste buds than my own.
Ah, yes, those are the Japenese-style curry bricks. Kinda sorta like Indian curry, but not quite. Those are, indeed, quite tasty from time to time and, like you say, a good introduction to the basic flavor ideas of curry without being too shocking to the palate. They also remind me a bit of the curry you sometimes find at Chinese take outs.
#23
Old 01-15-2012, 07:30 PM
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Every time I see a new post in this thread, I come back to check it out in case there's something about curry I don't know (there has been, if you were wondering). Curry dishes are by far my favorite type of food.

Anyway, all this reading about it has me hankering after some, so tonight I'm gonna make me some Vindaloo. I mean, I make curry at least twice a week, but not always Vindaloo; I usually make a madras or korma.

Mmmmmmmmmm curry.
#24
Old 01-15-2012, 07:35 PM
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Ok, so we got 3 different kinds of curry now.


Indian curry (usually in powder or paste form. I personally find the powder fine, but some say the pastes taste better. May incorporate milk or yoghurt. Hot & Spicy)

Thai curry (usually in powder or paste form, and usually incorporating coconut milk. About as hot & spicy as Indian, IMO).

Japanese curry (I've only ever seen curry "blocks". No dairy added, you just add the blocks into stew to get a "curry stew". Much sweeter than Indian or Thai curry. Very mild generally, although you can get spicy variations.)



So, 3 different kinds of curry, all not quite the same. There's also Malaysian and Indonesian curry, but we'll leave those for another time.
#25
Old 01-15-2012, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Tabby_Cat View Post
So, 3 different kinds of curry, all not quite the same. There's also Malaysian and Indonesian curry, but we'll leave those for another time.
Nooooo... pleeeease....pleasepleaseplease tell me now.

I didn't know ANYTHING about this stuff when I started this thread. I mean I knew the WORD "curry" and that it had something to do with Indian cooking (which I love).

I lead a very sheltered life... <sigh>
#26
Old 01-15-2012, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Tabby_Cat View Post
Ok, so we got 3 different kinds of curry now.


Indian curry (usually in powder or paste form. I personally find the powder fine, but some say the pastes taste better. May incorporate milk or yoghurt. Hot & Spicy)
Coconut milk is also popular in Indian curries, but you'll see that mostly in South Indian cuisine. The biggest difference between Indian and Thai curries is the flavor. They are not mistakable for each other. Japanese curry tastes like a watered-down version of Indian-style curry to me. Other than Malaysian and Indonesian curries, Jamaica even also has its own variety of curry, and you can find Jamaican curry powders at some ethnic stores, too. It, too, is a variation on Indian-style curries.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-15-2012 at 07:58 PM.
#27
Old 01-15-2012, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Nooooo... pleeeease....pleasepleaseplease tell me now.
In very general terms, while the tastes of Thai and Indian curries are pretty mutually exclusive (with the exception of south Indian which uses coconut), Malaysian curry successfully integrates many of the flavors. Historically, Malaysia and Thailand are right next to each other, but Malaysia was settled first by Hindus, then by Muslims, and then by the British who imported Indians to run the civil service, as well as a Chinese merchant class. This had a strong influence on the food, which includes several 'Indian' dishes such as paratha. I fucking love Malaysian curry.

Indonesian curry is a bit more like Thai but with a very distinct identity, involving a lot more peanuts, its own preparation of chilli (sambal), shrimp pastes and different levels of similar herbs.

Now how about Sri Lankan curry? Lots of coconut and turmeric and vegetables and 'rice hoppers'. Mmmm.
#28
Old 01-15-2012, 10:51 PM
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So many curries... so little time...
#29
Old 01-15-2012, 11:39 PM
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I'm partial to the Japanese curry blocks. Glico (shown in this blog) is widely available here.

I like to make a stew resembling a curry jambalaya.

Sausage, chicken, shrimp, onion, garlic, celery, peppers, curry, coconut milk and chicken stock simmered and served over rice.

Last edited by Critical Mass; 01-15-2012 at 11:42 PM. Reason: Forgot garlic. Must add garlic.
#30
Old 01-16-2012, 04:31 AM
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I recently got hold of a jar of something called "Lee Chun Coconut Juice Curry Paste Bumbu Kari Santen Indonesia", whatever that is. Anyway, two heaping tablespoons, some chopped chicken thigh, finely sliced shallots, green beans and baby corn, stir-fry them all together until the chicken's cooked, then simmer in a can of coconut milk for ten minutes - so cheap, simple and a little puddle of heaven with rice.
#31
Old 01-16-2012, 05:06 AM
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Oh yes. Indonesian curries are generally thicker (almost to the point of being a gravy or chunky sauce), rather than Indian or Thai curries, which are more soupy. Malaysian curries are somewhere in between.

One of the most famous Indonesian curries is "rendang", which looks like this.

Another unique Thai curry is the Thai green curry, which has a lot of basil in it.

Generally, the Thai and Malay curries are somewhat sweeter than the Indian curries. Indian curries sometimes also use tamarind, which makes for a somewhat sourish curry.


Soo.. lots of different curries!
#32
Old 01-16-2012, 05:19 AM
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Curry is serious noms. My favorite is made with red curry paste, chicken, bell peppers, pineapple and yes, the evil coconut milk. So freaking good!
#33
Old 01-16-2012, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Tabby_Cat View Post
Indian curries sometimes also use tamarind, which makes for a somewhat sourish curry.
Interestingly Tamarind is the defining flavour in Pad Thai.

I attended a Thai cooking school. I'll reproduce their red curry paste recipe here. Store-bought pastes use a lot more salt and chilli than home-made, as this has cheap taste impact, but lacks the depth of the fresh paste.

Note that this is a DIY paste involving cutting everything into 1/4-inch pieces, dry-frying the dry spices until they just begin to toast, then putting in a pestle and mortar and doing a lot of pounding. Probably too much trouble to make, but someone might like it:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 stems lemongrass
1 inch peeled galangal
2 tsps kaffir lime fruit rind
6 (fresh) kaffir lime leaves
5 Thai shallots
10 cloves garlic
4 coriander roots
10 large dried red chillis (deseed and soak in water for 30 mins then squeeze)
24 dried birds-eye (aka mouse-shit) chillis

If you use a blender, which is not preferred as it chops rather than crushes, add 2 tbsps vegetable oil.

To turn the above into a panang paste, also add:

2 star anis
10 cloves
1 1/4 inch cinnamon stick
10 cardamom seeds (not the husk)
5 tbsps crushed unsalted peanuts (added after the paste is made)

This makes a lot of paste but can be frozen in an ice-cube tray and kept for 6 months or more.
#34
Old 01-16-2012, 06:59 AM
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I'm in no way a curry expert, but I thought I could help other curry newbies. For Indian-style curries I use powder but will now look into Indian curry pastes. As far as powder, Penzeys spice store/mail order has multiple options and I use most of them at different times. The "sweet curry powder" is my basic go to because I have a kid who hates spicy food, but there are hot options and different flavors. Garam Masala is listed with their curry powders, too. I don't know if that really falls under "curry" but it's quite good.

As for Thai, I use Thai Kitchen curry paste, which should be in any grocery with any sort of ethnic foods or Asian section. There's green and red, I prefer red. Basically, I fry the paste in some oil for a minute, add coconut milk, then meat and vegetables, like their recipe
http://thaikitchen.com/Recipes/C...Red-Curry.aspx

I was unaware of Japanese curry.
#35
Old 01-16-2012, 07:33 AM
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Curry powders are just a combo of different ground spices whereas curry paste includes additional ingredients to give a more well rounded, fresh flavour, such as garlic, onion, fresh ginger, lime juice etc.

Thai tastes quite different from Indian in its use of lime, lemon grass, shrimp paste and fish sauce. It's more fragrant, for want of a better word.

Although store bought curry pastes can be very handy for a quick mid week meal, there's no substitute for making your own, it isn't complicated, it just requires a lot of ingredients. I have a very well stocked spice cupboard which includes pretty much everything you need to make any kind of curry paste, plus I always keep fresh ginger, chillis, fish sauce etc in the fridge.

Jamie Oliver recommends Pataks as the most reliable brand for Indian style curry pastes. Here's a link to some Jamie Oliver homemade curry pastes (Indian style) which are pretty good.
#36
Old 01-16-2012, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tabby_Cat View Post
Another unique Thai curry is the Thai green curry, which has a lot of basil in it.
It depends. When I've had it at various places, it usually isn't particularly heavy on basil, if having it at all. The recipe I use (from David Thompson, author of perhaps the definitive most exhaustive Thai cookbook in English) does not contain basil at all.
There's a link here, which contains a recipe to a typical green curry. Also no basil. But this is not to say green curry doesn't have basil--I've had versions of it spiked with basil, but it's the most common formulation in my experience.

In addition to the red and green curries, Thailand features the following curries: Massaman curry ("Muslim" curry), which is a fragrant curry with peanuts [or another nut], Indian-type spices like cassia, cloves, turmeric, tamarind, etc. It tastes somewhat like a cross between a Thai and South Indian curry, or fairly close to an Indonesian curry. If you've never had this, you owe yourself to try it.

Panang curry - A (usually) milder, "dry" curry (very thick, almost pasty, not swimming in coconut milk) that is a pretty good introduction for newcomers to Thai cuisine. It is somewhat similar to red curry, but prepared much more dryly, and some versions of it contain peanuts as well as those fragrant sweet spices like nutmeg and cardamom.

Sour curry - these curries get their sourness usually from tamarind. They are soupy, contain no coconut milk, and are usually flavored with fish sauce, chilies, galangal, shallots, and shrimp paste.

Yellow curry - This can be a couple of different things, but in the US is usually a coconut-based curry similar to red curry with a significant amount of turmeric to color it yellow. It's also usually milder than red curry, and often has potatoes in it. There is also a yellow curry that is very spicy, often made with fish, and similar to a sour curry, with no coconut component, but very, very spicy.

Jungle curry - another coconut-less Thai curry, but usually served fairly soupy (the liquid coming from stock), these tend to contain an assortment of vegetables in addition to the protein, tend to be prepared fairly spicy, and have the usual assortment of fresh Thai curry ingredients: lemongrass, chiles, lime leaves, galangal, etc. Dried spices are almost never found in jungle curries.

And I'm sure there's others I'm forgetting, but these are the ones you're likely to come across at Thai restaurants.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-16-2012 at 12:04 PM.
#37
Old 01-16-2012, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by DeweyDecibel View Post
As for Thai, I use Thai Kitchen curry paste, which should be in any grocery with any sort of ethnic foods or Asian section. There's green and red, I prefer red. Basically, I fry the paste in some oil for a minute, add coconut milk, then meat and vegetables, like their recipe
http://thaikitchen.com/Recipes/C...Red-Curry.aspx
I would be inclined to stirfry the meat first to get nice brown sear on the outside, and the veggies, too, for the same reason. Then take everything out of the wok, make the sauce as you describe and put the meat and veg back in for a few minutes. How does that sound? Or is it important for the raw meat to cook IN the sauce?

I'm stuck at home as someone is coming to install a water softener, but as soon as he leaves (if he ever gets here!) I'm off to Whole Foods.
#38
Old 01-16-2012, 02:15 PM
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For instant curry gratification, Trader Joe's sells these curry sauce in bottles. I put some on hot steamed rice to get my instant curry fix.
#39
Old 01-16-2012, 02:23 PM
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We don't have Trader Joe's where I live. There's a rumor one may be coming soon.
#40
Old 01-16-2012, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I would be inclined to stirfry the meat first to get nice brown sear on the outside, and the veggies, too, for the same reason. Then take everything out of the wok, make the sauce as you describe and put the meat and veg back in for a few minutes. How does that sound? Or is it important for the raw meat to cook IN the sauce?

I'm stuck at home as someone is coming to install a water softener, but as soon as he leaves (if he ever gets here!) I'm off to Whole Foods.
It's generally better to cook the meat in the curry for a while, otherwise you end up with rather bland meat, IMO.
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#41
Old 01-16-2012, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Probably too much trouble to make, but someone might like it:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 stems lemongrass
1 inch peeled galangal
2 tsps kaffir lime fruit rind
6 (fresh) kaffir lime leaves
5 Thai shallots
10 cloves garlic
4 coriander roots
10 large dried red chillis (deseed and soak in water for 30 mins then squeeze)
24 dried birds-eye (aka mouse-shit) chillis
..
I do this about two or three times a year, with a big stone mortar and pestle. It's a hell of a lot of work and time, but the curry paste will have amazing fragrance and subtlety of flavors.

BTW: Thai curry paste isn't just for making stew-type dishes with coconut milk. It's used for things like pad prik, gwatio, etc. Basically, anything with a curry flavor. You just put it in the stir fry at the time that you would put any other flavoring, and when the curry "breaks," you fry the meat, etc.
#42
Old 01-16-2012, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I would be inclined to stirfry the meat first to get nice brown sear on the outside, and the veggies, too, for the same reason. Then take everything out of the wok, make the sauce as you describe and put the meat and veg back in for a few minutes. How does that sound? Or is it important for the raw meat to cook IN the sauce?

I'm stuck at home as someone is coming to install a water softener, but as soon as he leaves (if he ever gets here!) I'm off to Whole Foods.
I brown everything in my wok first, then make the curry sauce with the (fake) meat and (real) veggies. This lets some of the flavor get into the food without losing all of the original taste.
#43
Old 01-16-2012, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I would be inclined to stirfry the meat first to get nice brown sear on the outside, and the veggies, too, for the same reason. Then take everything out of the wok, make the sauce as you describe and put the meat and veg back in for a few minutes. How does that sound? Or is it important for the raw meat to cook IN the sauce?
You can do it either way. Usually, you fry up your coconut milk and add the curry paste. Fry until the oil starts to surface. Then add your meat. Cook through (5-7 minutes, usually). When the meat is almost done, add vegetables. You don't need to simmer for a long time in the curry sauce.
#44
Old 01-16-2012, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Why would paste be better than powder?
It's not that paste is better. Curry powders consist entirely of ground spices. Pastes, on the other hand, contain wet ingredients such as shallots, lime peel and lemongrass.
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#45
Old 01-16-2012, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
I would be inclined to stirfry the meat first to get nice brown sear on the outside, and the veggies, too, for the same reason. Then take everything out of the wok, make the sauce as you describe and put the meat and veg back in for a few minutes. How does that sound? Or is it important for the raw meat to cook IN the sauce?
Certainly in Thailand, the raw meat is usually 'boiled' in the curry until it's cooked. It is definitely never browned; it's pale in color and light in texture. Personally I prefer to do it halfway myself, for reasons of squeamishness - I don't sear it (you absolutely want the sauce to penetrate the meat so don't want any barriers to that via tightened protein molecules caused by high heat), but I do make sure it pretty much all looks cooked on the outside via stir-fry before I add the bulk of the liquid.

Similarly, authentic recipes don't really concern themselves with how cooked the veg are - they're often verging on raw, but they're cut small, and this gives a nice crunchy textural contrast - but personally I prefer them at least a bit softened.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Lichtman
It's not that paste is better.
I'd argue strongly that they are better, due to the very presence of the wet ingredients.

Last edited by jjimm; 01-16-2012 at 09:46 PM.
#46
Old 01-16-2012, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Lichtman View Post
It's not that paste is better. Curry powders consist entirely of ground spices. Pastes, on the other hand, contain wet ingredients such as shallots, lime peel and lemongrass.
That's Thai curry pastes. Indian curry pastes don't have those ingredients.
#47
Old 01-16-2012, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
That's Thai curry pastes. Indian curry pastes don't have those ingredients.
That's right. They have other wet ingredients that make them pasty. How does this invalidate what I said?
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#48
Old 01-17-2012, 02:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
Interestingly Tamarind is the defining flavour in Pad Thai.

I attended a Thai cooking school. I'll reproduce their red curry paste recipe here. Store-bought pastes use a lot more salt and chilli than home-made, as this has cheap taste impact, but lacks the depth of the fresh paste.

Note that this is a DIY paste involving cutting everything into 1/4-inch pieces, dry-frying the dry spices until they just begin to toast, then putting in a pestle and mortar and doing a lot of pounding. Probably too much trouble to make, but someone might like it:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
3 stems lemongrass
1 inch peeled galangal
2 tsps kaffir lime fruit rind
6 (fresh) kaffir lime leaves
5 Thai shallots
10 cloves garlic
4 coriander roots
10 large dried red chillis (deseed and soak in water for 30 mins then squeeze)
24 dried birds-eye (aka mouse-shit) chillis

If you use a blender, which is not preferred as it chops rather than crushes, add 2 tbsps vegetable oil.

To turn the above into a panang paste, also add:

2 star anis
10 cloves
1 1/4 inch cinnamon stick
10 cardamom seeds (not the husk)
5 tbsps crushed unsalted peanuts (added after the paste is made)

This makes a lot of paste but can be frozen in an ice-cube tray and kept for 6 months or more.
Holy crap that looks good. By 10 cardamon seeds do you mean the seeds from 10 cardamom pods? And is the lime rind fresh or dried?
#49
Old 01-17-2012, 04:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sh1bu1 View Post
Holy crap that looks good. By 10 cardamon seeds do you mean the seeds from 10 cardamom pods? And is the lime rind fresh or dried?
No, ten seeds period. Open a cardamom pod or two and take out 10 seeds - them's powerful strong when dehusked and crushed. ETA: normally cardamoms in dishes are whole and intended to be discarded, so the full mouth-numbing power of the seeds isn't experienced. Here the seeds are actually to be eaten so should be used sparingly.

The kaffir lime fruit zest I used (note: it is NOT a lime, and the fruit is pretty much inedible on its own) was indeed fresh as I was in Thailand, but I suspect you could substitute the zest of a regular lime.

If you can't get fresh kaffir lime leaves, you can often buy frozen ones in Asian supermarkets. Dried ones would probably need to be reconstituted so as not to go powdery and would already have lost a lot of flavor by being dried.

BTW per earlier discussion, the recipe for green curry paste that I have doesn't include basil: the green is from green chillis and optional cilantro.

Last edited by jjimm; 01-17-2012 at 04:29 AM.
#50
Old 01-17-2012, 05:50 AM
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Posts: 365
Historically, in Europe curry used to mean a coriander-based spice mixture, a powder that was used typically with chicken and rice. The food with this "curry" was not at all Indian, it was very European. We never called the food curry, only the spice. And we never called it curry powder, just curry. But there was a food called "curry sauce", which was just a regular European sauce with chicken and curry powder.

This "curry" was probably a misunderstanding, because curry is originally an Indian food which often, but not always, includes coriander. The new curry pastes are much more the real thing, they resemble the food in an Indian restaurant. You can always use the traditional powder for Indian food, but why restrict yourself to one particular mix of Indian spices when you can mix them yourself?

I can only speak for Finland, but judging from some of the confusion, the history looks similar in America.
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