i am absolutely brimming with pleasure to share with you a guest-blog post straight from oslo, norway, and the creative culinary mind of my darling brother. this fantastic thai-curry recipe is on my menu for this week, and i hope it will be on yours, too.
from his own blog:
I have been meaning to document the minutiae of my life in oslo but have been hard pressed for time and/or energy to do it justice… until now. Or something.
My saturdays almost always follow this basic template: wake up around 11am or noon, putz around a bit in the apartment, either playing guitar or watching tv on my laptop, then getting cleaned up (usually) and heading out for errands, coffee and new yorker at tim wendelboe, grocery shopping at a good ethnic shop a few blocks away, and back home, highly caffeinated, to start cooking dinner.
This is a sacred ritual.
I am fond of this routine, and it is necessary: most grocery stores are not open on sundays; I have usually run out of food by saturday; I have time to make a leisurely and time consuming dinner; and after 20-24 hours without food but filled with caffeine, I am HUNGRY. So, for my one meal of the day, I usually go as all-out as my minimal cooking skills allow me to.
I have been meaning to do a guest post on my sister’s food blog, piquant plates, for quite some time, so while i was making dinner today I documented every step in excruciating, jittery cell phone camera detail. This is what I produced, and how I produced it.
First, my grocery list:
For main dish:
Thai red curry simmer sauce
Various bell peppers and one hot pepper
Rice (long grain, i used Basmati)
1. Arugula, tomato, and grilled halloumi cheese salad
This is as simple as can possibly be: apportion some arugula (more is better, don’t skimp) and place in a bowl with quartered cherry tomatoes. Slice the halloumi cheese into slices with regular thickness (easier said than done, not that important).
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and place the slices into the pan. Spread the oil around to give each piece a light coat, and grill for a minute a side AT MOST. It cooks very fast, and all you really want is a nice golden brown color.
Take the cheese out of the pan, place on top of the arugula, pour a small amount of olive oil over top, and sprinkle black pepper on top. Done. No salt, the cheese is already quite salty, and I don’t recommend using any dressing other than a little oil.
Unbelievably delicious. A meal on its own, if you are foolish enough to eat more than one meal a day.
Now is a good time to mention multitasking. If you don’t do it, you’re a crap cook and probably a crap roommate. Plan out your meal, make sure you have the right utensils, knives, plates, bowls, and pans beforehand. Clean as you go. God help you if you leave a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink afterward. Seriously. The sixth level of hell should be reserved for dirty dish leavers.
For this, i am using one small pot and lid for rice, one large skillet for the vegetables and simmering, and one small skillet for cooking the halloumi and, afterward, the tofu.
I have let my rice soak while making the salad, and after 15 minutes, I’ve turned on the burner to get the water boiling. Make as much or as little rice as you like, whatever variety you like, follow whatever recipe you like. I am surprisingly bad at making rice, considering how easy it is, so I have almost no advice for you there.
While the rice is soaking or coming to a boil, it’s tofu time.
Yeah, yeah. Everyone hates tofu. Haters be hatin’. This is an absolutely key ingredient to keep it veg but also delicious… tofu soaks up all the delicious curry flavor and, when done well, can have a nice texture. First open the tofu, drain it in the sink, and if you wish, press it for 10 minutes to make it firmer and more absorbent. While you do so, add some more oil to the skillet you used for halloumi (a decent amount this time) but keep it on medium heat, maybe a bit lower (I was on roughly 5-6 of 12 on my electric range). Slice the tofu into half-inch squares and add to the pan.
Tofu takes a surprisingly long time to cook, and you don’t want to cook it too hot or it will get black on the outside and still be kind of soft on the inside. You want to make sure the oil is hot when you put it in, and let it go at least 6-7 minutes a side, and don’t hesitate to keep flipping it until it looks like each side is golden brown and sealed up. when it has that nice seal, it will have a good texture on the outside but still be soft enough inside to soak up the other flavors. Close to done:
While the tofu is going, it’s time to chop vegetables. Get a small bowl out for storage. First: shallots.
Next: red onion. I half-julienned this and half chopped, but I have no idea what I am doing so frequently make a mess of it. It makes almost no difference.
Next: CLEAN UP, YA PIG.
Next: mushrooms and peppers.
Put them all in the big skillet, with a dash of oil, and bring it up to medium to get the vegetables cooking. You don’t want them to sautee, really, because you still want some of the fresh crunch of the vegetables. By the time you’ve done all this, the rice should be well on its way, and the tofu should be about ready. Take the tofu out and cube it, like so:
If you’ve sealed it properly it should hold up pretty well. Add it to the skillet with the vegetables:
Then add the sauce. I suppose you could make the curry sauce yourself at home from scratch, if you are an old Thai grandmother, but much to my chagrin I am not one. If one finds oneself an American of Uruguayan descent in Norway making Thai curry, well, one has to make due.
Let this simmer on the high side of medium for a few minutes while you clean and make sure the rice is finished. Not too long, you still want the veggies crunchy, but long enough to let the tofu soak up all the flavors. Mine looked roughly like this:
Now cover the rice in this deliciousness and serve authentically: with that Cypriot salad you never got around to eating while you were making the curry; a glass of water; and a weak whisky and coke in a skull-and-crossbones coffee mug (incidentally, that may be the only truly authentic thing about this dinner).
And there you have it. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, plus there are enough leftovers for 2-3 more dinners.