The chayote in the fridge should have been used a couple weeks ago, but there’s no time like the present. A Thai curry using curry paste is easy and quick to throw together, so I like to keep the ingredients around–at a minimum: coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and limes. Luckily I still had some cilantro and mint garnish from the nam Kao I picked up at Chai Thai Noodles after my home inspection.
Just cook the curry paste in a bit of oil (I use coconut), add a couple tablespoons of the coconut cream floating on top of the coconut milk, and cook until the oils separate. I’ve found it is too difficult to get the coconut milk to crack with most commercial coconut milks (and all coconut creams I’ve picked up in the US contain stabilizers) so the oil plus coconut solids plus curry paste is a decent substitute. After the mixture appears oily, add any long-cooking vegetables or meats, in this case the chayote. Cook for a couple minutes, then add remainder of coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice (I was lucky enough to have some makruts in the bottom of the drawer, so I added zest and juice.) and a pinch of sugar. Cook until vegetables are nearly done, taste and adjust salt (fish sauce), acidity, and sweet (I’m a sweet hater, and my end result never approaches sweet, but I do find it is always better and more rounded with a bit of sugar (or palm sugar or agave syrup). Add quick cooking vegetables, like carrot slices and cook until done. I ended up not adding the tofu, though it was open and would work, as I’m rationing it for a time I’m even hungrier, after all, this has appetite-suppressing coconut milk.
Served over jasmine rich, of which I have a couple servings under 10 pounds and will certainly prevent me from going hungry during this experiment.
I can’t remember how it was I happened upon She Simmers‘s website, likely a robotic recommendation from twitter based on my other interests, but I can barely remember how I cooked Thai food before finding it, and I’ve only known about it for a few months.
Thai has always been one of my favorite cuisines to explore–I rarely tire of the bold, yet balanced flavors. It’s now been about twelve years since I began my quest to learn about the cuisine, plowing through Kasma’s recipes and lessons for taste balancing and purchasing ingredients, seeking out the best Thai restaurants and groceries New York had to offer, and working through many of David Thompson’s Thai Food recipes and descriptions. I’ve learned how to balance flavors, roast shrimp paste, and pound some pretty decent curries, but it always felt like an excerise to me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the food and recipes, it just seemed like I was doing all the work–seeking out the dish I want to make, gathering the ingredients and equipment, and executing with nothing more than a picture, or some other non-Thai friends and family opinions on the result. But somehow each post on She Simmers makes me want to make that dish immediately (like Kaeng Som, the Thai Sour Curry posted today) and provides a thorough guide as to how, with interesting asides about the Thai language and restaurant/vendor scene.
The recipe for the mu ping is here. I followed it pretty much exactly. I had long been puzzled what cut “pork neck” so common on Thai restaurant menus was, but Leela did the research to determine it is pork butt/shoulder. It is the best cut to use for these skewers. Country-style ribs also work if they are well marbled. They aren’t a well defined cut, as they are kind of between the baby backs and the shoulder. The other secret, besides the marinade ingredients, was to baste with coconut milk while grilling. This kept the meat moist, and added a great flavor to the grilled meat. The first skewer was so delicious I ate it without any of the accompaniments, and allowed it to distract me from the second skewer, which I picture here, slightly overdone, but still delicious.
Mu ping on the grill, brushed with a bit of coconut milk.