This is so easy, it’s shocking. You just have to buy a couple of things you might not have in your pantry right now, but then you’ll have them in your pantry, and you’ll be psyched because it means that you can make this kind of thing any time. And somehow curry (thai or otherwise) always feels special and delicious to me, even if I’m making it to use up some CSA vegetables…

things you need that you might not have:

  • thai red curry paste (or green if you want!)
  • fish sauce (nam pla)
  • coconut milk (canned, unsweetened, 14 oz)*

Other things you need:

  • brown sugar
  • oil (canola or similar)
  • some kind of protein, cut into small pieces if necessary (chicken or tofu, I used shrimp, Jenean has done sea scallops)
  • some vegetables (I had eggplant, red bell pepper, and green beans I cut up small and par boiled; you could use tomatoes, carrots, peas, onions, potatoes, bean sprouts, whatever you have and want to use up; you should probably pre-cook harder vegetables)
  • garlic, minced
  • ginger, peeled and grated
  • white or brown rice (ideally jasmine or basmati, all cooked up the way you like it)
  • basil and cilantro, if you’ve got it

In a bowl, mix 2 tbsp thai red curry paste, 2 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar and 2 tbsp water.

In a large frying pan, heat some neutral oil like canola, a couple of tablespoons. Toss in your meat or tofu or seafood. When it has got a little color, remove it to a plate (err on the side of undercooking the seafood, because it goes back in the simmering sauce later; in fact, with shrimp you could probably just wait till the end and skip the first frying step).

Add a little more oil to the pan if it looks dry, and stir fry your vegetables. Add the garlic and ginger and let them fry with the vegetables till you can smell them. Add the curry paste mixture and the coconut milk. Stir to combine and bring the sauce to a simmer. Toss in the meat, scallops or tofu; if you’re using shrimp, add it now. Let it all simmer together for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink, or your meat is cooked and heated through.

Serve over rice, with chopped fresh basil and/or cilantro. A squeeze of lime might be nice, if you like that kind of thing.

*Mark Bittman has a recipe for homemade coconut milk! It’s also absurdly easy! You put a cup of unsweetened shredded coconut in a blender with 2 cups of hot water and let it sit for 20 minutes. Blend on high (working up gradually from low so the force doesn’t bust the lid of the blender off) for 30 seconds or so. Strain into a bowl through cheesecloth (I use a flour-sack dishtowel) set in a strainer, squeezing on the solids – that’s your coconut milk. You can return the solids to the blender and do it again with the same coconut and another 2 cups of hot water, letting it sit a little longer this time, and squeezing a little harder. Combine both batches to get a relatively thin coconut milk ideal for making curry, or skip the second pressing to have 2 cups of thicker coconut milk, more like canned. Keeps in the fridge for a couple of days. It separates as it cools, so you have to shake it up before using.