Recipe Update: Coconut Curry

~ This is Day 95 ~

After making Fish Cheeks’ coconut crab curry at home several times using the mortar & pestle way, I got tired. It’s hard work!! So here is the modern way using appliances.

This is a double recipe of the mortar & pestle, yields 2 quarts of curry. I pint them up and freeze them.

For the Curry Paste:

  • 1½ oz. dried Thai bird’s eye red chili
  • 1 oz. fresh Thai bird’s eye chili
  • ½ oz. garlic
  • 1 oz. fresh galangal, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. lemongrass, smashed and chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. wild ginger, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 oz. fresh turmeric, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 oz. dried shrimp
  • ½ oz. sea salt

In a food processor with a feeding tube, start with the ingredients listed above in that order. Blend into a paste.

For the Curry:

  • Four 14 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 4 shallots, sliced
  • 2 oz. fish sauce
  • 2 oz. palm sugar
  • 2 oz. lemongrass, smashed and chopped
  • 2 oz. tamarind concentrate
  • 1 oz. fresh galangal, sliced into rounds
  • 8 fresh makrut lime leaves
  • 8 Chinese broccoli leaves, coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan over low-medium heat, bring the coconut milk, shallot, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal, makrut lime leaves, Chinese broccoli leaves, and the curry paste to a simmer. Be sure to break the tamarind concentrate thoroughly with a whisk. Stirring constantly to prevent scorching, cook for 15 minutes, then take off heat and remove the Chinese broccoli leaves.

Wait till cool enough to blend without steam building in the VitaMix. It’s better to blend while the curry is still warm but I don’t like to get burned by spicy curry at home so I blend the next morning, after the curry pot has cooled down completely in my fridge. Blend in batches until smooth. Pass through a chinois and discard solids.

Store and freeze! Just take them out the night before and let it thaw overnight in the fridge.

Recipe: Coconut Crab Curry

My favorite restaurant in NYC is still Fish Cheeks, an authentic Thai restaurant that focuses on seafood in NoHo. For the first year in the restaurant, they had a sign that read “A No Pad Thai Zone”. I’m there basically every week. If I’m eating alone, I always start with the grilled pork cheeks (those taste better than bacon by a million times!) and then finish with their coconut crab curry! Other favorites on their menu: zabb wings, tiger prawn/lobster karee, and po tak! They also have happy hour everyday, twice a day, which is #awesomesauce because people who also work in the industry usually work during “normal” happy hour times.

Anyway, six months ago, I stumbled onto Fish Cheeks‘ coconut crab curry recipe on Vice. I immediately bookmarked it and have been trying to get the energy to do it at home. Fall season has hit NYC and my work life has been overwhelmingly exhaustive. I’ve been working 6-7 days a week since Labor Day. Last Saturday, I finally had the time to make curry paste from scratch. I have a new appreciation for what goes into the work of making the curry paste. I wonder how big their mortal & pestle is…? Or maybe Fish Cheeks has an assembly line of cooks making curry paste at the same time?

There were three ingredients that I couldn’t find though; betel leaves, prik ban chang, and shrimp paste. I was told by the Thai grocer that a close substitute to betel leaves were the leaves of Chinese broccoli (gai lan, 芥蓝). Prik, which is chili in Thai, is a red chili pepper that is not spicy but is used to make curries red/orange in color. The Thai market was out of shrimp paste so I bought dried Japanese shrimp from Chinatown.

So here is my adaptation from Vice’s published Fish Cheeks‘ recipe.

For the Curry Paste:

  • ¼ oz. sea salt
  • ¾ oz. dried Thai bird’s eye red chili
  • ½ oz. fresh Thai bird’s eye chili
  • ¼ oz. garlic
  • ½ oz. fresh galangal
  • 1 oz. lemongrass
  • 1 oz. wild ginger
  • ½ oz. fresh turmeric
  • 1 oz. dried shrimp

Make the curry paste by mashing everything together with a mortar and pestle. I have a 6-inch one and the volume was perfect. Start with the top listed ingredient and then work your way down. Do not move onto the next ingredient until the previous one has become a paste.

For the Curry:

  • Two 14 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 oz. fish sauce
  • 1 oz. palm sugar
  • 1 oz. lemongrass
  • 1 oz. tamarind concentrate
  • ½ oz. fresh galangal
  • 4 fresh makrut lime leaves, plus 2 finely chopped as garnish
  • 4 Chinese broccoli leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz. crab meat

In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, bring the coconut milk, shallot, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal, 4 makrut lime leaves, Chinese broccoli leaves, and the curry paste to a simmer. Be sure to break the tamarind concentrate thoroughly with a whisk. Stirring constantly to prevent scorching, cook for 15 minutes, then take off heat and let it cool for another 15 minutes. Strain and discard solids.

Add in the crab and the rest of the finely chopped makrut lime leaves on low heat, until the crab is heated through. Pour into a serving bowl and serve with lots of steamed white rice!

Poached Egg with Asparagus & Speck

To the average person, this seems like a breakfast/brunch/lunch item, and it is. In many tasting menus, egg is a popular course to put on towards the start of the tasting.

So here is a Sous Vide Poached Egg, Asparagus, Smoked Speck, Crispy Shallots, Grain Mustard Dressing, and Micro Parsley.

Recipe: Jalapeño Mignonette 

Here are some Little Shemogue Oysters from New Brunswick, Canada, with a Jalapeño Mignonette, and mezza cilantro.

  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded & finely diced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Recipe: Pink Peppercorn & Thyme Mignonette

Here are some Calm Cove Oysters from South Pouget Sound, WA, with a Pink Peppercorn & Thyme Mignonette.

  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • 4 large shallots, minced
  • ¼ cup pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Handful thyme sprigs, picked & chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together and allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Recipe: Corn Purée

In the culinary world, we make a lot of purées and it’s basically baby food. So why does restaurant baby food taste so good?

  • 5 ears of corn, kernels removed, cobs scraped of all “milk”
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup whole milk, more if needed
  • Butter, as needed
  • Salt

Sweat leeks and shallots in butter with thyme until aromatic. Add corn and cook out some of the starch. Then add the cream and milk, and cook until creamy. Season and taste. Remove thyme sprigs and blend in a VitaMix (blender).

Sample dishes:

Recipe: Hibiscus Mignonette

Who doesn’t love raw oysters? (Well, I know some people who dislike them but most people love eating them, right?)

Honestly, I prefer them with just a touch of lemon but I can’t serve it with a lemon wedge at the restaurant. I have to come up with interesting mignonettes and other accoutrements.

Here are a couple of Cooke’s Cocktail oysters from Malpeque Bay, P.E.I., Canada, with a Hibiscus Mignonette.

  • 1 cup champagne vinegar
  • ¼ cup dried hibiscus leaves
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 large shallots, minced
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Place dried hibiscus leaves into the champagne vinegar to reconstitute. Add the ¼ cup of water. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Give many generous turns of ground black pepper into the mixture. Allow to infuse for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Scallop Crudo & Tuna Tartare

This was the tasting menu on February 28 and March 1. I usually stick to doing one kind of raw seafood but this time was a stack of raw scallop and tuna! The Tuna Tartare is on the bottom, with slices of Scallop Crudo layered over, and topped with a Microgreen Salad, Pink Peppercorns, and Crispy Shallots.