Sunday, December 15, 2019

Like Thai curry? You should go to your Asian market right now.

The title of this site tells you it's about complicated cooking, but to make the time for kitchen complications I like to save time where I can.

Here's a tasty, cheap, and easy way to make Thai-style curry that is likely gonna be as good as what you are getting at your take-out joint. Hit your Asian market and look for Mae Ploy brand curry paste. A 400 g tub should cost about three bucks, and it will make several giant batches of very tasty curry. It's a ridiculously good deal.

This post is not a Mae Ploy commercial, though it probably looks like it!
Mae Ploy curry paste comes in several varieties, but in my opinion the best tasting ones by far are the panang and massaman curry. They're all good, but I keep coming back to these two.

Take a look at the ingredients. It's all spices herbs and spices and shrimp paste. I couldn't put this together from scratch for three bucks.

Mae Ploy curry paste isn't always vegan-friendly, but read the labels on other brands in the same area. AROY-D has some vegan-friendly curry pastes.

The directions for all Mae Ploy curry varieties are very similar. Stir-fry the seasoning paste, add meat, water, and coconut milk, simmer and then add some final seasonings like sugar or fish sauce. Tweak those last additions to taste, but do not skip them. They are critical! 

If I am making chicken curry, I start by chopping chicken thighs into chunks about 1" across. Then I sear the pieces, because browned meat is always better, and then I start paying attention to the instructions again. But if I am in a real hurry and I don't want to brown the chicken? You can get away with that too. 

In the case of the Mae Ploy massaman curry, it calls for tamarind paste as the final ingredient. You can probably find some where you're buying your curry paste. Check the ingredients. You want to find something that has tamarind and water and maybe some preservative, but nothing else. Don't get a solid block of tamarind, do get a pre-made paste.

There's one last thing you need to enter cheap curry paradise, and that is good coconut milk. There are a lot of cans on the shelf, but I really recommend Mae Ploy coconut cream. It should only be a couple of bucks a can. If you have a restaurant supply store near you, you can even get a case of this stuff!

When I make curry from a store-bought seasoning paste, I usually scale up the seasoning and meats to match the volume of the coconut cream I'm using. Sometimes, I am trying to use up a Costco-sized chicken pack. Do some math to scale the recipe on the curry jar to your own situation.

Oh, you're going to need rice, too. How about making perfect rice in your Instant Pot? This writer figured out all the cooking times for all kinds of rice.

It's a good site that you should visit, but let me give you a quick preview: for white rice, add equal parts by volume rice and water to your Instant Pot, cook on Manual mode, High pressure for 3 minutes, and then wait for the pressure to release naturally. It will take about 25 minutes total.

If there is no Asian market near you, here are some Amazon links, but ... go find an Asian market. It's going to be a lot cheaper, and you'll find some other great stuff there, too.