I told you when I started this challenge what I was most nervous and excited about â€“figuring out how to make the few processed things that I indulge in. And so far, it’s gone pretty well. I tried my hand at puff pastry,Â I started making my own almond milk, andÂ I’ve even managed to give up tea bags in exchange for loose leaf tea. Plus, to wrap up the month, I have high hopes of making some of the processed Halloween candy I love, like Almond Joys, or some homemadeÂ ButterfingersÂ andÂ TwixÂ bars!
I love the idea of October Unprocessed, but I already eat a primarily unprocessed foods diet and I didn’t want to just go through the motions of this blog challenge without learning something from it in the process. So, I’m thinking, for me, this month would be more aptly named October Deconstructed, a month dedicated to exploring what it takes to make the processed foods I love. In some cases, I have found those things to be relatively easy to continue making from scratch, like the almond milk. On the other hand, some foods like puff pastry, while not impossible to create on my own, take a lot of effort. This experience has given me a level of appreciation for those foods that I didn’t have before. And such was my experience with the homemade green curry I was lucky enough to enjoy this weekend.
I made a new friend recently who may be as big a food nerd as I am. Hard to believe, I know. He sent me pictures from a recent trip to Thailand where he learned to cook some classic Thai dishes, including one of my favorites, green curry. This is the dish that I order without question at every Thai restaurant I frequent. I have to be in a seriously adventurous mood to stray from this favorite, so it was with that in mind that I invited myself to a dinner of Thai food upon his return.
And honestly, as often as I have enjoyed Thai green curry, never before did I ever consider what it takes to make it. Well, I know now and it is not a dish to be taken lightly. Numerous shopping trips must be made to speciality shops around the city so that exotic vegetables and spices can be acquired.
Then, once said foreign ingredients are in hand, you must figure out how to prepare them. While Jeremy worked on making an amazing green papaya salad, I worked on tackling the ingredients we needed for the curry. Like the lemon grass that I realized I didn’t know what to do with.Â Or the galangal, a root I had never handled or seen in my life, which I ended up chopping as I would ginger. It should be noted that unknown, exotic vegetables and spices should be sampled with care. While galangal root smells like ginger, I learned the hard way that it’s a lot spicier.
Of course, when enjoying food from another country, your commitment to all things seasonal and local might need to be put on hold. Besides the freshly harvested and dried coriander seeds from my garden that I was able to contribute, the bulk of the ingredients for this dish came from afar. Sometimes an exception has to be made. And really, this happens whenever you enjoy something as simple as a banana, a mango or even an avocado. But as it turns out, not eating those foods all the time makes the indulgence that much better. That being said, I could probably eat the coconut sticky rice with mango he made every night and still appreciate its deliciousness. I have a thing for coconut that I just can’t shake.
So, the verdict? Homemade green curry is beyond delicious and if you’re like me, you won’t be able to get over how much the leftovers taste like you brought them home from a restaurant. Like my puff pastry experience, while I don’t imagine I’ll be making this dish on a regular basis, I have sure gained a newfound appreciation for what it takes to create it. You can be sure that the next time I enjoy some green curry, it will be with a heightened since of awareness. And really, that was the point of this month’s challenge all along.
*Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ochoa, although he’d likely give his camera the credit