Ahhh, the farmers market. Home of hippie musicians, delightful artisan goods, and all things organic, it is also a prime source for new culinary adventures.
Last week at the People’s Food Co-op Market (open Wednesdays year-round!), I scored the ingredients for some hearty and nourishing Thai curry, a dish easily adapted to the flavors of any season.
May’s version is a panang curry, because that’s the type of curry paste in my refrigerator; with Asian broccoli, baby bok choy, morel mushrooms, and Thai basil, because that is what the local farmers and foragers are harvesting… and boy, is it tasty.
I am especially fond of panang curry because it’s more creamy and rich than its soupy cousin, red curry. I love most things Thai but am strangely particular about curry. If I am eating green curry, it needs to be made with beef. If I’m eating red curry, it needs to have winter squash to create some creaminess. If I’m eating yellow curry, I’ve lost a bet; and if I’m eating panang curry, I’m in heaven.
May’s seasonal panang curry
1 T coconut oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
1 bunch Asian broccoli or sprouting broccoli
1 C morel mushrooms, soaked, rinsed, and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 C chicken or vegetable broth
2 C coconut milk or cream (full fat or homemade coconut oil)
1 T fish sauce
2 T panang curry paste, or more, if you like
A heavy handful of Thai basil, rinsed and shredded
Cooked calrose rice (boiled in broth for extra nutritional punch)
Cooked, diced chicken (optional)
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and saute them just until that tear-inducing quality loses its edge. Add the mushrooms and cook until they have released their liquid, and the onions are soft. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook them fully, but not mushily. Add the chicken here, if you’re using it.
Pour in the broth and coconut cream, and heat the mixture through. Incorporate the fish sauce and the curry paste, then check to see if the creaminess/flavor balance tastes right to you. Add more paste for a stronger flavor, and more cream… well, you get the idea.
Stir in the basil, simmer for a couple of minutes to let the flavors meld nicely, then serve it over rice, or next to rice, as is my way.