It's that time of year when my meals are dictated not only by a particular craving, but also by what remarkable fresh produce I can pick up at the farmers' market. That used to mean a whole lot of Italian-inspired creations, which still happens, but I've come to also realize that cooking methods from other cuisines can be used just as dynamic, even if they aren't 100% authentic to the original. While I definitely can't procure all the specific elements of traditional Thai green curry, that doesn't mean I can't show off my local vegetables using Thai techniques.
What this green curry loses in strict authenticity, it gains in freshness, which I think is a fair trade. The only real shortcut is the use of store-bought green curry paste. You could make it yourself, but with a container from a local Asian market and a can of coconut milk, I was able to quickly put this together for an easy weeknight meal.
Plus, then all you have to worry about is what fresh produce to use. Bright and slender green beans seemed like a natural choice. And though I couldn't find any Thai eggplants, I was able to score some tiny baby eggplants, which had almost no bitterness. I also wanted a protein of some sort, and drawing inspiration from some recipes that called for salmon, I substituted Lake Trout—a gorgeous orange-hued fish with a firm texture from Northern Lake Michigan (which, I should point out, is of no relation to Baltimore's own "Lake Trout").
The result had the same dynamic flavor I crave from Thai green curry, with the added bonus of fresh, in season produce.
- 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons green curry paste
- 1 cup green beans, trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch segments
- 1 cup baby eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 8 ounces lake trout or salmon fillet, skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 8 basil leaves (preferably Thai), roughly chopped
- 1 lime
Without shaking the coconut milk can, remove the lid and spoon off a 1/4 cup of the thick cream on top. Transfer this to a 12-inch non-stick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the fat separates and liquid starts to sizzle, stir in the green curry paste and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste is very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the green beans and eggplant and stir well with the curry paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until coated in the curry paste and starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
Pour in the remaining coconut milk, stir to combine, and then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook for seven minutes. Add the frozen peas and fish pieces, and continue cooking until they are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Add fish sauce, chicken stock, and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 1 minute longer. Remove from off the heat, add most of the Thai basil. Add lime juice to taste. Serve the curry in bowls with white rice on the side. Garnish with remaining Thai basil.