Guys! I'm about to step on a plane home to New Zealand! But before I go I thought I share this post, which was originally written for Common Threads, a beautiful collaboration I've been part of since the start of the year which was started by my dear friend Sash from Inked In Colour. Also, the lucky five winners who each receive a copy of my book (as drawn by random.org) are: Steph Lowe, Amy Zhong, Katie, Leah Blakes and Verity Osborn Holland. For those of you who haven't been in touch yet (a couple only had Google+ accounts linked to their comments!!), please email me your postal address to emma(at)mydarlinglemonthyme(dot)com. It was so cool reading through all of your comments and seeing which recipes you really love. Huge congrats to the winners!
Lastly, just in case you've missed the news elsewhere: Auckland friends, I'm having a book launch on Thursday evening (24th), 6pm onwards at Cook the Books in Grey Lynn. Info on where to grab tickets here. Raglan (or the greater Waikato!) friends, come hang out at The Herbal Dispensary on the 26th between 3-5pm. I'll be speaking briefly at 3.30pm or simply come along to say hi and grab a signed copy of my book or to get your copy signed. Info on how to RSVP here. You can also catch me chatting with my pal Kara on George FM sometime around 3.30pm on Wednesday 23rd. Hopefully I'll still make sense after only a few hours sleep on the plane! Haha.
Cooking from scratch doesn't need to be a big scary thing, all it really takes is a little time and some forward planning and preparation on your part. Keep your pantry, fridge and freezer stocked with basics and suddenly you'll realise it's often easier to make your favourite take-out and you'll save yourself more than just the trip in the process. Yes I know, I know, it's super easy to just buy ready-made curry pastes (and they definitely have their place on occasion), but if you have a few key ingredients at hand, a fresh fragrant curry will be on the table in the time it takes to cook some rice (or drive to the shops for those takeaways!).
Being prepared is the name of the game. To make life easier I always have numerous rice's and noodles (and spices and candlenuts) in my pantry, chillies, kaffir lime leaves and ginger in my freezer, there's a little jar of fermented tofu that hangs out in the corner of my fridge- second shelf down, while lemongrass and herbs grow out back in large pots, always ready for picking.
This curry base can be jazzed up with whatever vegetables you have kicking around in your garden or fridge, but I've chosen to keep things ultra simple and have only used tofu. Serve it up with some jasmine rice or rice noodles (as I've done here), a scattering of mung bean shoots, fresh herbs and a good squeeze of lime for that full South East Asian experience. You could even thin the sauce down a tad with more coconut milk and water and serve it over rice noodles as you would a laksa. See, easy eh?
A quick trip to your local Asian grocery store may be in order to find some of these ingredients if you don't usually have them at hand. There you will find candlenuts (macadamias can be used instead if need-be or simply omit), fermented tofu (it sells in little jars for a couple of bucks, once opened store indefinitely in the fridge). We grow our own lemongrass, but if you don't, buy it in bulk, finely chop the white ends and freeze excess in a zip-lock bag. The same goes for ginger (this can be frozen whole and grated from frozen) and kaffir lime leaves (freeze in zip-lock bags). Chillies can also be frozen and used straight from the freezer. As always, when buying coconut milk, look for ones which only contain coconut and water. Avoid ones which have added thickeners, stabilisers etc...
Serve 3-4 with rice or noodles
1 small red onion or shallot, peeled and chopped roughly
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped
5 candlenuts *see headnotes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons fermented tofu *see headnotes
1 tablespoon virgin coconut or olive oil
1 lemongrass stalk, white end only, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
1/4 cup (60ml) water, or extra as needed
250g packet non GMO firm tofu, cut into 1cm dice
the juice of 1-2 limes + extra to serve if desired
Cooked jasmine rice or rice noodles, to serve
Mung bean shoots, fresh herbs and slices chilli, to serve
Place all the spice paste ingredients, except the fermented tofu, into a small food processor or blender. Pulse until a relatively smooth paste forms, add the tofu and continue to blend until paste-like. You can continue on with the recipe, or store the paste in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the spice paste and cook, while stirring for 2-3 minutes until lovely, fragrant and thick. Add a touch of water if it's catching on the bottom of your pan. Add lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves and cook for a further 1-2 minutes (again, add a touch of water if you need to). Pour in coconut milk, water and tofu, give it all a good stir, bring up to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Add lime juice and check seasoning. Serve curry with cooked rice or rice noodles, scatter over some mung bean shoots, fresh herbs such as coriander (cilantro), Thai basil or mint and a few rounds of chilli if you like things hot. Have some extra wedges of lime to squeeze over if desired.