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Monday, January 9, 2012

Thai Green Curry

I can hardly believe Ben and I have already been married for six months!... cause it feels like 50 YEARS!!!!

Totally kidding. 

Anyway, we're spending our six-month anniversary...working.  It's almost like our one-month anniversary when we were lying on a beach reading books and drinking beer all day.  Oh wait...that's not the same at all.

So honeymoon.  I never finished doing recaps, because as it turns out, life just keeps happening when you return from vacation and I kept coming up with other things I wanted to write about.  But I DO want to finish writing about the trip...but I also don't want to waste your time.


Instead of just boring photos and "on this day we blah blah blah," I will wrap up my last two honeymoon recap posts with two recipes!  This first one is an earnest attempt to replicate one of the most amazing meals I've ever had, and the second will be one of the three dishes Ben and I learned to cook at our Thai cooking class.

We begin pur adventure five months ago today....

Ben and I decided that as tempting as it was to spend every single day lying around reading, we should spend at least one day exploring Koh Pha Ngan.  One of our favorite spots to eat on the island also offered a taxi service, so on August 9 we asked our buddy Pu to take us to some of his favorite spots.

The first place we visited was a buddhist meditation center, with an amazing view of the island.

Buddhist Meditation Center on Koh Pha Ngan

Pu, our tour guide, really liked taking sneaky photos...

Our next stop was Thongsala, the main village on the island.  It's definitely more touristy than where we stayed - a lot of backpackers and travelers, tons of stores all selling the same kitsch memorabilia, and way more traffic.  One of my favorite parts about international travel is exploring the markets - the variety and freshness is just amazing.

Market at Thongsala - check out the baby sharks!
Are those baby sharks??!

Thongsala Market

We also hiked around the Phong Noi waterfall...which was highly disappointing in that there was no actual water.  I'm assuming this is not normal.

I thought waterfalls were supposed to have...water...


When we returned to the hotel, we washed up and got ready for our one fancy/splurge dinner at the hotel in celebration of our anniversary.  Santhiya really went all-out in making us feel special and welcome - they had a table set up in a private corner of the outdoor seating area, decorated with candles and flowers.

Anniversary dinner setup

Happy one-month anniversary!

The food was great, and the drinks were AMAZING.  I may have had one too many, and was suddenly in the mood to partay so we walked down the beach in hopes of hitting up one of the many bars we'd seen along the road, some of which seemed like they had fun dancing at night.

ON the stairs down to the pool
I don't look sunburned or sweaty at alll.....

Yeah little island village...get ready...

...'cause we are here to PARTAY

Sadly there was no party to be found.  Apparently we were the only people who wanted to get our dance on that night, so instead we walked to Rasta Baby, a bar with a chill reggae vibe and hilarious drink names.

...except, the rest of the village was not apparently so ready to partay

Intrigued by my drink

But the best food of the day by FAR was lunch!

We'd had some great meals already on Koh Pha Ngan.  The sandwiches at Handsome Sandwich really were as amazing as they claimed to be:

These sandwiches had better live up to their advertising...

Handsome Sandwich!

I am skeptical of this claim

...and the ambiance and drinks at Luna could not be beat...

Luna Restaurant

Luna Restaurant

Passionfruit Margarita at Luna

...but the meal that just blew my mind was an unassuming green curry eaten in a little restaurant at the top of a hill during our tour.

The best green curry EVER

It. Was. AMAZING.  The most fragrant, flavorful and perfectly spiced curry I have ever had.  I don't think any thai curry I ever have will top this one in awesomeness.  I've tried in vain several times to re-create the flavors by making my own fresh curry paste at home, playing around with various ratios of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves... but honestly the closest I've come was using a pre-made paste from our local Thai grocer.  Still not quite the same, because you could just tell the ingredients in the original were fresh as could be, but I think it's the closest I'll get outside of Thailand.

I made this recipe last week, and it took me right back to that hilltop, the peaceful feeling of having nothing to do but lie around in the sun all day, and the freedom of being without my laptop and work e-mail for two weeks.  I hope it can give you the same feeling...but if not, I at least hope it's delicious:

- 1-2 tablespoons canola or coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons green curry paste (I used Aroy-D brand)**
- 1 can light coconut milk*
- 1/3 -1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- a similar volume of cherry eggplants OR other vegetable of your choice, chopped fairly small**
- 6 - 8 thai eggplants, quartered**
- 1/2 block extra-firm tofu***
- 1/3 cup shredded thai basil**
- 5-6 kaffir lime leaves**
- cilantro for garnish (optional)

In a medium soup pot or cast iron pot, heat the oil.  Add the curry paste and sautee for about 2 minutes until quite fragrant.  Add the coconut milk and water and fish sauce, and stir to combine.  Add tofu, eggplants and cherry eggplants, basil and kaffir lime leaves and cook for approximately 12-15 minutes or until thai eggplants are cooked.

Serve over rice, garnish with cilantro

* I used light coconut milk for texture - the green curries I had in Thailand always had a more thin, brothy texture.  It's DEFINITELY not a fat/calories thing...for making Massaman or red curry I'd definitely use regular.

** You'll probably need to go to a thai or asian market for these ingredients.  There's a great one near me on Nicollet...but even they sometimes don't have cherry eggplant so you might have to sub another vegetable.  I used oyster mushrooms chopped into 1/2 inch pieces.  You can get Thai Kitchen brand green curry paste from a regular grocery store but it's WAY more expensive for a much smaller amount.  I picked up a fairly good-sized tub for $1.99.

*** The version I fell in love with had tofu, but if you want meat you could easily sub a similar volume of chicken or a light fish.  The flavors in this curry definitely call for a white meat rather than beef, I think.  You definitely could use beef but...meh, just my opinion :)

For more honeymoon fun:
Part I - Travel and Day 1 in Bangkok
Part II - "Wat's Up" aka more Bangkok
Part III - More Bangkok, more Travel
Part IV - Island Adventures (and illness...)
Part V - More Island Fun

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