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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Waste-Not-Want-Not Curry

A few weeks ago Jeanetta Miller shared a quick-curry recipe she and her husband use when they're too tired to make anything else. Last night we came up with another one.

 We were both out of energy and had little patience for planning a meal, let alone cooking one. At the same time, we had some leftovers that needed to be used up.

On a recent trip to the Asian store, we picked up three different curry pastes: a very hot green one, a spicy red, and a fairly easy-going yellow. We use all three of them in different dishes, but we like the fact that you can use a heavier hand with the yellow. (Even a half-teaspoon too much of the green will make your throat scream.)

Our leftovers included a bag of broccoli, a couple of tomatoes, and some cubed cooked potato. Combined with a container of aging tofu, this made for a fine dinner.

The best thing about this dish—“recipe” is too precise a word for it—is that as long as you have some coconut milk, some curry paste, a protein, and some vegetables, you have a fast dinner. All you need to do is cook some rice while the curry is simmering.

Here’s what we used:

2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. yellow curry paste*

1 can coconut milk**
2 T. fish sauce
1 t. brown sugar
1 c. water 

1 container firm tofu (or 1 ½ cup other protein), cubed
2 c. broccoli florets
2 c. cubed cooked potatoes
2 medium tomatoes

Basil or cilantro (optional—nice to have but by no means necessary)

1.     Heat oil in wok or large saucepan. Fry curry paste until it bubbles, just a few seconds.

2.     Add coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar and water, followed by protein and vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer until everything’s cooked through, about 20 minutes.

3.     Taste for salt. Garnish with herbs if you have them.

4.      Serve over rice.

* Feel free to substitute red or green curry paste, but you’ll probably need to dial the amount way back.

** Both coconut milk and curry paste can be found in the Asian sections of many supermarkets. 




  1. I recently bought a can of coconut milk to make a yummy mango chicken curry. I only needed half a cup, so I froze the rest in half-cup portions rather than let it molder in the fridge. Any idea if this stuff will keep well in the freezer...or separate when I thaw it?

  2. The Thai Products company that makes the Thai stuff you find in the supermarket says: "We suggest that you consume coconut milk within 4-6 days of opening when keeping it in the refrigerator. If you will not being using the remaining coconut milk that soon, you can freeze coconut milk, but don't freeze it in the original can. Also, freezing changes the composition of the coconut milk, as does freezing any liquid with a fat composition."
    We're not sure exactly what "changing the composition" means, but coconut milk is pretty sturdy and forgiving, so give it a try. It should regain the desired state in a new recipe.