I honestly could not remember when was the last time I made a special midweek dinner for us. It seemed like ages, so I browsed the blog and there it was:  May 3rd.  Four  months ago.  Four hectic months.  Slowly we begin to adjust to a new routine, but there’s no doubt that my cooking suffered quite a bit.  Lack of energy, the feeling of being always short on time and exhausted, it all took a toll on me.  But, it’s about time to shake things up a little. This was simple enough to prepare after work, and delivered all that I expected to make that evening – a prisoner in the middle of a busy week – feel very special!

(adapted from Bon Appetit Everyday Meals)

3 large limes
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut in small dice
1 + 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
1 can (about 14 oz) light unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
10 ounces cod fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
12 peeled large shrimp
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Finely grate enough peel from 2 limes to measure 1 + 1/2 teaspoons. Squeeze enough juice from 2 limes to measure 2 tablespoons. Cut third lime into wedges, and reserve for serving.

Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the  shallots, bell pepper, and minced ginger; sauté until shallots and peppers soften up slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Stir in curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce,  lime peel, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Simmer gently, for a few minutes. Sprinkle fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Add fish and shrimp to curry sauce. Return to very gentle simmer and cook just until fish and shrimp are opaque in center, 5 to 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cilantro and basil; serve with lime wedges, over steamed white rice.  Prepare to receive high praise.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  The original recipe used halibut, but I substituted cod because our grocery store had gorgeous looking cod that day, whereas the halibut seemed a bit sad (or, to quote a favorite French expression of mine: pas fameux ;-)).  My other modification was to use green curry paste instead of red, because that’s what I had in my pantry.  As to coconut milk, I almost always use light because it works well for this type of recipe. It is slightly less dense, but feels rich and flavorful enough, with the added bonus of lower fat content.

ONE YEAR AGOPost-workout Breakfast

TWO YEARS AGO: Semolina Barbecue Buns

THREE YEARS AGO: Lavash Crackers


One of the features  I like the most in Fine Cooking magazine is their section called “Cooking without recipes.”   They pick a particular dish, say,  risotto or meatloaf or lasagna, and  dissect it into its basic techniques, helping you devise your own take on it.  A recent issue (number 110) offered an overview of Thai curries,  including poultry, seafood and vegetarian, from spicy to mild, with all sorts of aromatics to round out their flavors.  If you love curries – and who doesn’t? 😉 –  get this issue and start experimenting.   Here I share with you my first interpretation of a chicken version, that ranked high on the yummy-ness scale.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Fine Cooking)

1 can of coconut milk  (13.5 oz)
1/8 to 1/4 cup red curry paste
1 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 Tbs lemon zest
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs  cut into 1/4-thick bite-size strips
3/4 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed well
2 cups asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
salt to taste
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves

Shake the can of coconut milk, open it and stir well if not completely smooth.  Transfer 1/2 cup of it to a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken it up.  Don’t worry if it starts to separate.  Add the red curry paste, whisk for a minute, then add the broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, and the rest of the coconut milk left in the can. Bring to a simmer over high heat, and add the chicken pieces.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, ginger, asparagus, and garbanzo beans.  Simmer for 5 minutes, adjust seasoning with salt if necessary (fish sauce is salty, you may not need to add additional salt), sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and serve right away over white rice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Cooking the chicken in the sauce (instead of sauteing it first) saves a messy step that’s particularly hard to deal with in a tiny kitchen, where I’m working with a two burner hot plate.  Plus, the meat turns out very tender and juicy this way.   Of course, if you prefer chicken breast instead of thighs  then substitute, but something about the velvety texture of chicken thighs makes them more appropriate for this type of recipe.   Once the meat is cooked   add the vegetables that you like (some of which might profit from a previous parboiling: potatoes, butternut squash, carrots);  as long as you pay attention to their cooking times, they’ll be fine.

Keep in mind that different brands of curry paste vary considerably in their spiciness.  If you’re new to this ingredient, then start with a small amount, taste, and add more according to your level of tolerance.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Zen and the Art of Risotto

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