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5/29/09 Recipe: Jamal's Thai Curry

One of my newbie PCV brothers, Jamal, is a whiz in the kitchen. I don't know if he's had any formal training (maybe he's just addicted to The Food Network), but wow, that boy can cook.

Yesterday, he made me a peanut Thai curry that I'm still drooling at the thought of. So of course, I'm going to share it with you. If we can make it here, with our limited ingredient availability, y'all should have no problems. :)

Jamal's Peanut Curry Delight (serves 6)

2 pinkie-sized section fresh ginger (regular or Thai, if available)
4-5 big cloves of garlic
fist-sized clumpof cilantro
1 lemon
1/4 C fish sauce
2 hot peppers
1/2 jar peanut butter
sugar to taste

4 eggs

1 package rice noodles

2 onions
2 bell peppers
2 tomatoes

Sauce: (Start this well before starting the vegetables. Time is your friend.)
Dice or grate the ginger and garlic. Saute with peanut oil (corn oil can substitute) and cilantro. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Add fish sauce. Add diced chili peppers. Combine well. Simmer over high heat for two minutes. Add cold water, slowly, until it's no longer simmering. Add large spoonfuls of peanut butter, until it's almost to desired thickness. (The amount of peanut butter can vary; we used about half a jar of creamy.) Add sugar to taste - you want to counter the tartness of the lemon juice. Lower heat and try to keep it from boiling by regular stirring. It will reduce slightly.

Beat four eggs in a small bowl. Pour into frying pan on medium heat. Cook omelet-style. Once the bottom is done, flip it completely (ie not in half) and cook through. Once cooked, roll it burrito-style and slice, ultimately making 1/2-inch thick strips. Set aside.

Start water boiling. We'll get back to this in a sec.

Dice onions and peppers into 1/4-inch squares. Cut tomatoes into narrow wedges (like for a salad). Saute onions and peppers. (Don't add the tomatoes!) When they're about half-done (when the onions are still cloudy), it's time to throw the rice noodles into the boiling water. They'll cook for 3 minutes tops.

Combining stuff:
Turn off all the burners on your stove. No more cooking - time to combine!
Add the egg strips to the onion-pepper mixture. Add the still-raw tomatoes on top. Pour the sauce on top of everything. (The heat from the sauce should blanche the tomatoes.) Drain the noodles; don't worry about getting out every last drop. Toss them on top of everything else, then combine everything gently.

Serve! Enjoy! Feast! :D

To shift the flavor slightly, add sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom) to the sauteing vegetables.
For maximum burn, add chili powder and/or pepper flakes to the sauteing vegetables.
For non-vegetarians:
Pork or chicken: Cut into thin strips (1" long, 1/2" wide, as thin as you can get them.) Marinate the raw meat in garlic, ginger, white wine (optional but helpful - if you choose not to use it, substitute with lemon or lime juice), orange juice, and sesame oil. Drain off the marinade and flash-fry the meat (pan fry for 5 minutes, then add raw onions and peppers and saute together). Alternatively, cook the meat in the marinade, without the vegetables, slowly over low heat, and serve it in its own bowl, so the meat will be laid across the dish at the table. (It's also vegetarian-friendly this way!)
Beef: Create a rub of ginger, cayanne pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Rub the meat and then grill or broil the beef, then cut into thin strips. Serve at the table, as above. Warning: Beef's heaviness doesn't really mesh well with the characteristic lightness of Thai food, so this dish is better with pork or chicken.
Seafood: Prepare kabobs of fish or shellfish. Grill them and serve at the table, as above.

Note: DO NOT EVER saute diced chili peppers by themselves. This is how you make TEAR GAS. Always add to liquid mixtures. Liquid + chilis = yummy. Hot oil + chilis = toxic smoke.

Thanks, Jamal! :)

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