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Curry in a Hurry

New Year. New Jodi. Since chocolate and Mountain Dew have derailed my weight loss efforts so far, I’ve decided to try and make inroads in another direction. I have definitely been in a dinner rut for quite some time. I make a few dishes well — and those I can do in my sleep — but when it comes to creative cooking, I’m afraid I’ve missed the boat. So I’m casting my net for new EASY dinner ideas.

Jason has become really enamored of Just Cook This with Sam the Cooking Guy on the Discovery Health Channel. He does lots of pretty easy stuff that looks fairly family friendly (i.e., there’s at least a slight chance my kids will eat it). So last night I decided to try cooking Thai for the first time ever. Here’s my ingredients, minus the raw chicken of course. If you want to look at raw meat, surf on down to another site. Cause it grosses me out, and there’s no way I’m posting pictures of things that make me ill.

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O.k. so I just told a lie, because right there in living color is a bottle of Fish Sauce. Never used fish sauce before? Hmm…how to describe it…? Try and imagine a very large fish. Then imagine it dead, buried, dug up and rained on and that’s pretty much how fish sauce smells. I’m not kidding. To use it, I had to hold my breath while I added a quick splash. And then, while waiting for it to meld with the coconut milk and curry paste, I suffered serious anguish — certain I’d ruined the whole thing. Strangely enough, it does eventually “sink in” to the dish and gives it that unexplainable depth of flavor that we get in the Thai takeout the boys love. The fact that Thai takeout for six costs an arm and a leg was another motivation behind this dish.

Once I finally got it all put together and the chicken had a chance to simmer itself tender, I was surprised at how close it came to tasting like real Thai food. Doesn’t the color look great?

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Before I do this again, I have to get Jasmine rice. I used basmati this time, and it completely overpowered the taste of the sauce. But I’m still patting myself on the back for the attempt. Next time…Green Curry!!

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14 Responses

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  1. Bells says

    My husband always says the smell of fish sauce is bad (I can’t smell) and I thought he was carrying on like a pork chop, but maybe I should believe him!

    Thai is good. You’re right – it can be made at home pretty easily. Curries are meant to be easy family food! Do you put palm sugar in? I usually add a little bit of that to it and it adds something extra too!

    Thanks for not posting raw meat!

  2. jodi says

    Bells, you tell that poor man he has my sympathy. I made my husband smell fish sauce when I first bought it and he almost gagged. Who would have thought something so noxious could be essential to a lovely meal? I’ve never heard of palm sugar until yesterday when I was googling curry recipes, so I’m going to have to cruise on over to Whole Foods and see if I can find some. Thanks for the tip. Lacking that, I just went with brown sugar last night. And I’m so glad you appreciated my leaving out the chicken picture. The web being what it is, there’s probably a slew of sites devoted to raw meat without me joining the fray. ;)

  3. amy says

    I am so sick of cooking meat I bought a bag of TVP. And I swear, I’m going to use it!! I’m allergic to coconut, and I don’t care WHAT fish sauce adds to the meal, I’m not using it, so I guess this recipe is out. ;) But I did make a chicken & cashew dish once that I really liked. I didn’t make it again because I don’t like to stir fry chicken. I like to stick it in the oven and not have to deal with it again until it’s un-raw!!

  4. jodi says

    Amy, so glad to find someone else as averse to anything raw as I am. Although I do love sushi…what’s up with that??? Maybe because I don’t have to prepare it myself. Anyway, I’m dying to know what TVP is? Totally Vintage Poultry? Tasty Vegetable Puree? Tiny Various Parts? I must know. It’s killing me!!

  5. bells says

    TVP is textured vegetable product and that’s about the extent of my knowledge. Amy that’s gross!

    I love fish sauce. I adore it in fact! But then I can’t smell it.

  6. amy says

    Texturized vegetable protein. It’s basically dehydrated soy protein, and when you add boiling water it’s supposedly very very similar to ground meat. (I used to be a vegetarian, and I swear, I will be again!!) I know I ate it as a vegetarian and I didn’t mind it. It’s best in something like chili or tacos, though–something with seasoning.

    Bells, it can’t be as gross as fish sauce. You did read Jodi’s description, right? :-)

  7. jodi says

    Thanks for clearing up the mystery, Amy. Although I’ve never heard of it in my life. Obviously, I need to do more snooping at Whole Foods for this one. And Bells, there is absolutely NO WAY TVP could be as bad as fish sauce. I promise you this. Next time a recipe calls for it, I’m cutting the recommended amount by at least 3/4. I’m going to experiment with TVP ASAP and report my findings PDQ. ;)

  8. Bells says

    look! i found vegetarian fish sauce! http://thaifood.about.com/od/introtothaicooking/p/aboutfishsauce.htm

    We use vegetarian oyster sauce since Sean is allergic to shell fish and it’s a good substitute!

  9. jodi says

    Maybe it’s less foul than the real deal. Amy — you’re in charge of taste testing the vegetarian version!

  10. angie says

    You’re so Julia Child… or Julie, rather! And you even managed to snap photos! Lately I’ve become very acquainted with coconut milk.. I think Blake has a milk/soy allergy and he is still nursing, so I’ve cut all dairy and soy out of my diet. I thought I would die until I discovered coconut milk yogurt and coffee creamer.

    I digress… a big thumbs up for Jasmine rice. I have a rice cooker and I love how the rice smells kind of salty like popcorn just before it’s done!

  11. amy says

    Huh. Vegetarian fish sauce. I make no promises on trying it.

    angie, I gave up dairy for a year while nursing my first, and he’s still sensitive to it, but it’s not the lactose, it’s the actual cow milk protein. He can handle goat milk, and I was able to drink goat milk while nursing him with no ill effects. (I’m allergic to coconut, so that wasn’t even an option, and rice milk was awful in coffee and tea, and I was trying to go easy on the soy, too.) Anyway, I didn’t mind almond milk for certain things, either. But I thought I’d mention it–if it’s the size of the cow protein (which often gives babies issues) you might try goat milk. It’s expensive as all heck, but not bad. There’s even goat milk ice cream now! My son was delighted. As he said of Rice Dream: “It’s better than no ice cream at all, but it’s not very good.” But the goat’s milk ice cream is VERY good. Also, we were able to have yogurt, because the proteins are already broken down by all those helpful bacteria.

  12. Kate says

    We love Thai, but I’m worried that the kids are starting to catch on, which will end up being dinner for five, and as you say, buying it costs a variety of limbs! Thankfully storebought curry pastes are pretty goof! I like to put in fresh coriander (cilantro leaves) or vietnamese mint to give it a little fresh lift. (Why yes I do think about food and cooking all the time, does it show??) :>

  13. jodi says

    Kate, do you omit the fish sauce? Because, in the leftovers, that was all I could taste. Hubby said he didn’t notice it, but I’m thinking I could have enjoyed the whole thing a lot more without that one addition.

  14. Tamara says

    And y’all wonder why I never want to eat Thai food…re-read the fish sauce description! I mean, if that doesn’t spell “yummy” with a capital “Y”, then I don’t know what does!!! But, I’m impressed with your Thai cooking attempt and glad it worked out for you. I’ll send Phil to eat with y’all next time he wants some!



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