Today’s episode of Literary Food comes from the, unfortunately cancelled, TV Series Forever, about an immortal human’s search for permanent death. It’s not nearly as depressing as it sounds, it’s also a police procedural since the immortal in question is also the medical examiner.
Abe’s Thai Jungle Curry
During the span of the series it was fairly rare for Henry (the immortal main character) to be merely injured, and his octogenarian son, Abe, had an opportunity to really look after his father. Really good food plays an important role in both men’s lives, though not so much in the show itself; except this one occasion.
I tried to find a recipe for Thai Jungle Curry, and failed. The dish that Abe served Henry in Episode 7 – New York Kids, however does sufficiently resemble Thai Green Curry that after fruitless searching for Thai Jungle Curry, I made a slight substitution.
Again, mildly fruitless search, but only mildly. I couldn’t find a single recipe, but many and each was different to the last. So I ran with all the ingredients that were common to them all, and cooked using my senses since I didn’t have measurements.
For four people (or fewer, but with left overs)
- 1 cup rice,
- 1/4 cup green curry paste (presumably I bought anglicised paste, and depending on what you can get you may need more or less)
- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 500 grams chopped animal protein, or 300 grams tofu (pre-cooked) [Read beyond the instructions for how to use the tofu in this unless you’re already a pro]
- 1 tin bamboo shoots (as a substitute for Thai eggplant)
- 1 400 gram tin of coconut milk
- 1 180 gram tin of coconut cream (because I have a 10yo who doesn’t love hot spicy food) – optional can substitute with water if needed
- 1 stalk of lemongrass shredded, or a teaspoon of paste
- 1 red chilli pepper chopped and deseeded as you like, or a teaspoon of paste
- 1 kafir lime leaf
- 3 cups small and/or chopped vegetables of your choice
- Coriander to garnish
- Cashew nuts to garnish
First things first, get that rice cooking however you choose. I bung mine in the rice cooker so I don’t have to fuss with it. But if I were to do brown rice I would do that in an enamel pot on the stove next to the curry.
You are supposed to lightly fry the curry paste before adding the meat, but because I used chicken, I wanted to get that browned before I added anything else to the pan. When I used tofu, I started off frying the curry paste. This is where I use the oil, to fry the protein.
I follow that with the assorted vegetables, the most common in my house are corn, chopped carrot, and edamame beans; though I have used mushrooms and they are delicious I just don’t always have any. Don’t forget the lime leaf and bamboo shoots.
The lemongrass and chilli go next, followed by the coconut milk. Bring all of that up to a simmer, and give it a quick taste, if it’s too spicy bung in the coconut cream, if it’s just right but needs more curry sauce, add water. You can even add a little bit of curry paste and/or chilli if it’s not hitting your happy place on the spicy metre.
When your protein is cooked all the way through and you’re happy with the consistency of the curry sauce, you’re all done. Serve over rice in a bowl, topped with a few coriander leaves, and a sprinkle of cashew nuts – best served with company.
When I first tried this recipe, I invited my parents over and didn’t tell them it was an experiment. Fortunately, they both really enjoyed it. I made this with chicken for my parents, pork for my sister-in-law (my brother will eat anything I put in front of him), and just the other night I used tofu…
Let me tell you how I messed up the tofu:
I so rarely use tofu, but Thai Green Curry has become a staple meal in my house, and since it’s full of vegetables (that I can alternate for variety) I don’t really mind. However, animal proteins are becoming increasingly expensive, so I figured we’d give the tofu a shot. I tried to fry the tofu in the bottom of my curry pot, like I would with the chicken or pork… it started to scramble, so I called it quits and started throwing the other ingredients in.
[Tofu is safe to eat as it comes out of the package!]
But while I was taste testing, because despite the measurements above I still check and see, and I caught a piece of tofu. The texture was silky, soft, squishy… not what I was hoping for, but considering I had stopped frying early, it was about what I should have expected.
So, for next time, since I already know I suck at frying tofu, I’ll grill it in a greased pan in my oven before I begin.
I learn the hard way, so you don’t have to!
Let me know if you make it using my recipe, and how it goes for you, what protein you used… I’d love to hear.