What is your idea of comfort food? Mine is Thai or Indian coconut curry. It’s creamy, filling, and with a lot of warming spices. It’s like a hug. And even though I am not Thai or Indian, the taste of it feels like home.
This recipe has relatively few ingredients but each is important. Of course, you can make your own curry paste but then you would be stuck with lots of leftover “exotic” spices (which, if you don’t use for a long time will expire). I buy green curry paste in a little jar. It’s quite mild in terms of heat and is inexpensive. It contains all the spices you will need for this recipe without any waste. All brands are different so do a taste check once you’ve added it to the recipe. You may want to add additional ginger, garlic or salt.
It’s the spices and the coconut milk that make this dish comforting. I use full fat coconut milk, which is rich and creamy and feels and tastes luxurious. Additionally, instead of using powdered starches to thicken the sauce, I cube up some potatoes that slowly release their starch into the sauce.
My year-round recipe features red bell peppers, onions, potatoes, and button or cremini mushrooms. However, this recipe is very adaptable. Feel free to go with seasonal vegetables that you prefer. For example, when butternut squash is available, it works well with the coconut milk. In the spring you may want to add a little crunch with snow peas and carrots. It’s up to you. Setting out a plate of garnishes also allows everyone at the table to customize their dish. For example: lime wedges, diced up jalapeños or Serrano chilies, torn basil leaves, or cilantro.
I prefer to add pre-cooked proteins (chicken, shrimp or fish, pork, or even tofu) to the individual serving bowls instead of directly into the sauce pan. This is the way the restaurants do it — you can keep the sauce “pure” and change it up for each individual or with leftovers the next day.
Go on. Give yourself a nice big hug!
Pure Comfort: Coconut Curry
- 1 extra-large, or two medium red bell peppers
- 2 medium yellow potatoes
- 2 small, or one large yellow onion
- 12 button or cremini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons green curry paste (available at most supermarkets in the “ethnic” aisle. Red and yellow curry pastes work well, too, although the spices and heat levels are different)
- 3-5 Thai red chili peppers, left whole (if you cannot find these, I’d suggest a 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or other hot chili powder)
- 1 large or two small garlic cloves
- 1 14-ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
- As desired: Protein of your choice such as chicken, pork, shrimp or fish, or tofu (pre-cooked as you prefer)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (not iodized table salt)
- Optional garnishes such as a wedge of lime to squeeze over each dish, torn basil leaves, rough chopped jalapeño or Serrano chilies, chopped scallions, or cilantro leaves
- Wash and peel potatoes
- Clean and dice all vegetables between 3/4 inch and 1-inch
- Clean mushrooms and either quarter or slice thickly them. Set aside
- Heat a large sauté pan to medium. Add olive oil
- Add all vegetables (not mushrooms) and the salt to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- While vegetables are sautéing, mince garlic
- After vegetables have sautéed for 5 minutes (they should still be firm), add minced garlic and the green curry paste to the pan and mix well. Sauté for 1-minute
- Add the broth and coconut milk to the pan and stir thoroughly. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the red chili peppers
- As desired, place warm, pre-cooked protein (see the ingredient list for suggestions) in each of your serving bowls. Ladle coconut curry and the vegetables into each bowl and garnish. Serve with jasmine or rice of your choice