Last weekend, the boys and I went to the West Seattle farmer’s market. It is one of the three markets that stay open all year. Although it is a bit of a hike from our house, I like this market because it is food only, some of the very best vendors are there, it doesn’t feel crowded, they often have music and little seats set up for children, and it’s in the middle of a thriving business district. The weather last week was glorious and it almost felt like spring was just around the corner. A trip to the market made me realize that winter is definitely still here.
I find the farmers’ market inspiring, even in February. After making that amazing Sweet Winter Slaw five times in two weeks, I had seen a lot of Savoy cabbage – but not like this one. How could I not buy this beauty? And with delicata squash in the basket right next to it, a dish began to form in my mind. Green curry, lots of shallots, rice noodles, sweet squash, cabbage cooked down to wilted. Sounds good, no?
It was good. Lovely really. Warming, hearty, healthy. I think those three words are magic in the wintertime. If you can find or create a dish that warms your toes, fills your belly, and doesn’t weigh you down, life is pretty good.
Allow me to try to convince you to make your own curry paste. Yes, I know that you can buy a nice little jar of it that lasts almost indefinitely in your refrigerator. I have two of those jars myself, one green and one red. The problem is that the consistency is similar to cement, so it can be a little difficult to incorporate into a dish. It also has essentially two flavors. Hot and salty. There is no nuance there. Just spicy and savory. Nothing wrong with that if you are having a curry crisis. But homemade is quick to make, has much more subtle flavor, a much looser consistency, and will also keep for a while in your fridge. (I would say a month. You can freeze it for up to six.) The ingredients are all natural – lemongrass, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, shallot, garlic. If you love these ingredients, please give the curry a try.
One Year Ago: Spicy Sweet and Savory Cauliflower
Two Years Ago: Pesto Parmesan Cornbread
Three Years Ago: Red Curry with Winter Vegetables and Cashews (recipe for red curry in this one! coincidence!)
Green Curry Noodles with Cabbage and Squash
Dana Treat Original
While you should never rinse your Italian style noodles, rice noodles do need a good rinse. This step will keep them from sticking together. Both Savory and Napa cabbage would work here. I wouldn’t use green as it will take to long to soften and purple will turn your whole dish a crazy color. Finally, if you do decide to use a commercial curry paste, I would start with one tablespoon and add more later to your taste.
10 ounces extra firm tofu, blotted dry and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tbsp. soy sauce, divided (I like tamari)
8 ounces rice noodles, linguine width
Canola, peanut, or coconut oil
6 ounces shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher or sea salt
½ medium delicata squash, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin rounds
2-3 tbsp. homemade Green Curry Paste (recipe follows)
½ head Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 14-ounce can coconut milk (can be “lite”)
1 cup vegetable broth
½ cup chopped cilantro, plus a few whole leaves for garnish
Place the tofu in a large ziploc bag. Sprinkle in two tablespoons of the soy sauce and give the bag a vigorous shake. Allow the tofu to marinate while you prepare the noodles.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the rice noodles to the pot. Allow to sit for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, then taste. The noodles should be al dente. Allow them to sit for another few minutes if they are too firm, then drain. Immediately rinse very well with cold water. Run your hands through the noodles to make sure the water reaches the ones on the bottom. Allow to drain well. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Carefully add the tofu to the pan, making sure that all the pieces are touching the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes on one side then, using tongs, turn all the pieces over. They may stick a little and that is ok. If you have the patience, you can brown all sides of the tofu, but I usually stop at two. Scrape the tofu to a plate and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat. Drizzle in a bit more oil and then add the shallots and sauté, tossing occasionally, until the shallots are soft and starting to brown in places, about 6 minutes. Add the squash and the carrot, then spoon in the curry paste. If you are nervous about the heat, just use two tablespoons to start. Give everything a good stir. Add the cabbage and toss until the cabbage starts to wilt, about another 5 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and the broth and the other 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Toss to coat well, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and taste the broth. You might want to add more curry paste or more soy sauce. Once it is to your liking, add the tofu and chopped cilantro and cook for another 5 minutes. Check the squash and carrot to make sure they are tender and also adjust the liquid amount to your taste. If you prefer a saucier dish, add more stock. If you want it drier, allow the mixture to cook without the lid to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
To serve, place a bundle of noodles in the bottom of a shallow bowl and ladle on the vegetables and tofu in their sauce. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Green Curry Paste
Adapted from Real Vegetarian Thai
Makes about 1½ cups
1 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
½ tsp. freshly ground black or white pepper
3 stalks lemongrass
4 fresh green jalapeño chilies, seeded for a milder heat, roughly chopped
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
2 medium shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped or grated fresh ginger
Zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
In a small skillet over medium heat, dry-fry the coriander and cumin seeds until they turn a shade or two darker, shaking the pan and stirring often, about 3 minutes. Turn out onto a plate to cool. Grind the spices in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
To prepare the lemongrass, trim away and discard any root section below the bulb base, and cut away the top portion, leaving a stalk about 6 inches long, including the base. Pull off the out layer and then thinly slice the rest.
Combine the lemongrass, chopped chilies, cilantro, shallots, garlic, ginger, lime zest, salt, and spices in a mini food processor or a blender. Pulse to combine to a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. You might need to add just a couple tablespoons of water to keep the blades moving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.