9 Quick Ways with Curry Pastes
Thai curry pastes can be used for much more than making Thai curries, though there’s nothing wrong with that. All you need is a little imagination and a sense of adventure. You can make your own curry pastes, but why should you (other than the fresh factor) when several brands of the good stuff are readily available at specialty and Asian markets, for example: Mae Ploy, Cock Brand, Thai Kitchen, Asian Home Gourmet and Namjai. All are made in Thailand. Red, green and yellow are the most popular curry pastes, but there are also Penang and Massaman curry that carry hints of Malaysia and India, respectively. Massaman may include typical Indian spices such as cinnamon, clove, coriander, cardamom and cumin. The measurement, a “knob” is Brit-speak for “some.” We will consider it roughly a tablespoon. Some curry pastes are hotter than others, such as green and red trump yellow, so start with a smaller knob and add more if you want more zest.
1. Chicken Noodle Soup Kicks Ass
Next time you make chicken noodle soup
, whisk a knob of yellow curry paste
into the broth along with minced or grated ginger
. Or, whisk a knob of red curry paste
into your next tomato soup
. Tart up good commercially prepared soups with a curry paste. Those packages of asian noodle soups
almost demand a dollop of curry paste to liven them up.
2. Shrimp in Love
Sautéed shrimp love spice. In a sauté pan, melt butter
and whisk in a half-knob of curry paste
to make a thick-ish paste. Add your shrimp
and sauté until just done. If you cook big ones with the tails still on, you can pass them around as appetizers. If you cook smaller ones without tails, toss them on a pile of rice noodles, or rice, or soft polenta, or even a salad
. You could even toss them on a pile of grilled vegetables
3. Summer Sass
Thin curry paste
with some olive oil
and brush onto steaks, pork chops, lamb or chicken before grilling. Add a knob of curry paste to your favourite barbecue sauce to give it Asian sensibilities.
4. Tofu with Tickle
We like tofu but it needs all the flavour help it can get. Wrap a half-chunk of firm tofu
in a tea towel or paper towels until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Whisk the tofu with one large egg
. In a nonstick pan, heat some oil
and whisk in a half-knob, or more, of curry paste. When smooth, toss in your egg and tofu and scramble, adding a bit of salt and pepper
. Eat with crisp bacon, if you dare.
5. Stir-fry Saveur
Heat some oil
in a wok, add a knob or two of curry paste
and blend it well. Cook some protein
first and then set aside. Stir-fry some vegetables
and combine everything for a last, flavourful stir.
6. Thai Saag & Paneer
Melt some butter
in a sauté pan and whisk in a half-knob of Massaman curry paste
. When hot, sauté fresh spinach
and cubes of paneer
(firm, fresh cheese found in East Indian grocery stores) until the excess liquid evaporates.
Whisk a teaspoon of curry paste
into your favourite vinaigrette, warm it in the microwave, and toss it with grilled vegetables
or warm sliced beets and carrots
, then sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese
8. Paradise Poach
Give a can of coconut milk
a good shake, then dump it into a pan and heat it up. Add a generous knob of curry paste
, whisk until well combined and then poach chicken thighs
until they are cooked through. Add frozen peas
for colour and serve on rice doused thoroughly with the sauce.
9. Risotto Ramped Up
Next time you make risotto, whisk a knob of curry paste
into the oil
you heat to stir the carnaroli or arborio rice
into. Toss in minced ginger
at the same time. Then, finish making the risotto as you normally would, but instead of parmesan – this is ramped up after all – finish it off with a couple of spoonfuls of a good chutney
. Toss in some shrimp
for good measure and good protein. But don’t serve this to your Italian friends.