Tablet Life & Arts

Everyday Food: Curry pastes add hues, heat

The flavor base of Thai curries — spicy, aromatic stews served over rice — starts with curry paste, a smooth, moist blend that may include shallots, garlic, lemon grass, green or red chiles, cilantro roots, Kaffir lime leaves and peppery, gingerlike galangal.

The distinctive colors of the pastes — red, green and yellow — reflect the specific makeup of each. No one type is the spiciest; the heat depends in part on the number and kind of chiles used. Mellow yellow curry paste, bright with turmeric and other dried spices, is often combined with lamb, beef or potatoes in a heavy sauce. The red paste, rich with dried red chiles, is great with beef, chicken, fish or shrimp. The green paste, with the clean flavors of fresh chiles and herbs, is wonderful with pork and vegetables.

Look for curry pastes in your supermarket’s Asian foods section. If making a vegetarian curry, read labels closely: Some contain shrimp paste or fish sauce, while others are vegan. Store opened paste in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Red-curry shrimp dumplings

Makes 24



















1. In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium-high. Add 2 tablespoons ginger and scallions and cook, stirring, until scallions are slightly softened and mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. In a food processor, pulse shrimp until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and add ginger mixture, curry paste and fish sauce; stir to combine.

2. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time, place 1 heaping teaspoon shrimp mixture in center. With a wet finger, moisten edges of wrapper, then bring all 4 corners together, pinching at top to seal. (Cover filled dumplings with a kitchen towel as you work.)

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium-high. Add dumplings, seam side up, and cook until golden brown on bottom, about 1 minute. Carefully add 1/2 cup water to skillet, cover and cook until water is almost evaporated and dumplings are tender, about 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until water evaporates, about 1 minute (reduce heat to medium if dumplings begin to over-brown). Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve dumplings with dipping sauce.

Nutritional information per 4 dumplings: 241 calories, 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat), 35 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 15 percent of calories from fat.

Green vegetable curry

Serves 4



















In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, green beans, bok choy and bell pepper and cook until beans are bright green, about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until beans are crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve over rice, topped with basil.

Nutritional information per serving (without rice): 275 calories, 23 grams fat (18 grams saturated fat), 19 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 5 grams fiber, 75 percent of calories from fat.

Green-curry pork and eggplant

Serves 4





















In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add pork and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add eggplant and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer, stirring frequently, until eggplant is tender, about 4 minutes. Serve over rice, topped with scallion, cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving (without rice): 676 calories, 48 grams fat (22 grams saturated fat), 14 grams carbohydrates, 48 grams protein, 5 grams fiber, 64 percent of calories from fat.

Beef and pineapple red curry

Serves 4



















In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add steak and cook, stirring, until browned, about 2 minutes. Add green beans and pineapple and cook, stirring, until pineapple starts to release juices, about 1 minute. Add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until green beans are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Serve over rice, topped with basil.

Nutritional information per serving (without rice): 379 calories, 23 grams fat (14 grams saturated fat), 20 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 5 grams fiber, 55 percent of calories from fat.

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