Tuesday, December 4, 2007

CSA week two - Thai red curry with yellow squash and mustard greens

As I mentioned in my first CSA week 2 post, I wasn't thrilled with the range of recipes for yellow squash that my searching turned up. However, there was one, a curry, that stood out. I think it was just misfiled. There are plenty of Thai curries using squash, but they all call for winter squashes--pumpkin and butternut primarily. Both of those are new world plants so they're no doubt substituting for something similar native to southeast Asia. Bitter melon? More probably something I've never heard of (although bitter melon would have added a nice element to the dish I made).

Well, since we're already substituting, why not take another step and use summer squash instead? And for the bok choy commonly found in Thai curries, use mustard greens? Or if you got the full share, you've got some bok choy so there you go. To those I added two other standard Thai curry vegetables: bamboo shoots and peas. And for some protein I wanted seafood. A rummage in the freezer turned up a haddock fillet which is a suitably firm whitefish and some bay scallops.

For the sauce, I needed coconut milk and red curry paste (the best version for seafood). Normally, I'd also need fish sauce, stock of some sort, lemongrass, sugar and maybe some garlic or cilantro, but I had a shortcut handy. A while back, I made a drunken shrimp recipe that included just about all of those flavors. After picking out all the lemongrass, as one does, I found that I had a lot more sauce than really required for the shrimp so I packed the extra away in the freezer. I pulled it out for this and, just for the heck of it, I marinated the seafood in it for a while.

Making Thai curry is a pretty simple proposition. Simmer the coconut milk and curry paste for five minutes or so to get the raw taste out of the coconut milk and thicken up the sauce, add the rest of the seasonings and the tougher vegetables, simmer five more minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, simmer five minutes more and you're done. Mustard greens are tough customers so I gave them a bit of a stir fry in the pan first to give them a good wilt. It wouldn't have hurt to do the same for the squash, but ten minutes of simmering pretty much did the trick.

You might have noticed that I used a flat bottom wok. I don't actually recommend that. If the large burner on my stove was working, I would have used a dutch oven and my squash would be cooked evenly. Despite that, it turned out pretty nicely. It's a bit mild, but I blame that on the wimpy mass-market curry paste I used. (The price one pays for last minute dinner ideas.) And it used up a good chunk of the CSA vegetables. Tomorrow I pickle.

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