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The Secret Ingredient (Coconut): Veggie Red Coconut Curry

In the last few weeks, we've seen coconut as a sweet flavoring for rice pudding and as a crispy coating for shrimp, but it's also a perfect vehicle for sauce.

I love the sweet, cool spiciness of a Thai curry. Almost angry in its heat, complicated and torrid in its flavors, Thai curry may be ubiquitous, but it's not obvious. I was never particularly talented at cooking Asian food; the flavors are so far removed from the French food I learned growing up and later in school. It was my boyfriend who taught me to make Thai curry about three years ago. In fact, it was the first meal he ever made me.

To make it is so simple. I pre-boil yams, broccoli, green beans, peppers, and carrots, and then stew them in a sauce made from coconut milk and curry paste. You can make your own curry paste, but for this recipe I prefer to use really good Thai red curry paste that you can find in the store. (Where I live, it is not easy to find the Kaffir lime leaves and galangal that I would need to make the paste, and that might be the same case for you.) The result is luscious and creamy, but also spicy, tart, and nose-soakingly pungent from the garlic and galangal. The curry is fire and the coconut is ice, and together they hit that equilibrium at the heart of any good relationship.

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