Kaeng phak (vegetable curry) pt 1/2

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient
15 \N Fresh phrik ki nu (green birdseye chilies) (up to 30)
10 \N Cloves kratiem (garlic), chopped
1 tablespoon Takhrai (lemon grass), very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Roasted coriander seeds, ground
1 tablespoon Coconut milk (up to 2)
1 teaspoon Kha (galangal), chopped
1 teaspoon Roasted cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon Chopped coriander (cilantro) root (if you can't find the roots, use the white lower stem)
½ teaspoon Zest of \"kaffir\" lime (ordinary lime will do)
5 \N White pepper corns, toasted and ground
1 dash Light soy sauce
2 cups Unpolished (brown) rice
2 cups Stock
2 cups Water
2 tablespoons Peanut oil
8 teaspoons Hom daeng (shallots/purple onions), thinly sliced
4 teaspoons Prik chi fa daeng (red Thai jalapenos), finely sliced
4 teaspoons Khing (ginger), freshly grated
\N \N Curry paste (from above)
1 cup Coconut milk
2 tablespoons Maggi sauce
1 tablespoon Palm sugar
1 tablespoon Kratiem (garlic), minced
1 tablespoon Prik ki nu (green Thai 'birdseye' chills), finely sliced
1 tablespoon Kha (galangal), grated
1 tablespoon Bai chi (coriander / cilantro), finely chopped
1 tablespoon Nam manao (lime juice)
1 tablespoon Bai manglaek (sweet basil), finely chopped
1 tablespoon Prikthai ong (green peppercorns)
1 tablespoon Nam prik pao (roasted chills in soy bean oil)
2 \N Bai makrut (kaffir lime leaves), shredded, or half a teaspoon lime zest
\N \N Freshly ground prikthai (black pepper) to taste.







I have remarked before that truly vegetarian or vegan Thai recipes are rare (at least in Thailand). There are a number of reasons for this, not least the fact that most people find it convenient to buy food from roadside vendors and hawkers rather than cook it themselves, and very little of such food is vegetarian. There are added problems: not only are fish sauce and shrimp paste signature ingredients of much Thai food, they are also present in such key ingredients as curry pastes. Thus a dedicated vegetarian must not only cook for themselves, but nearly always cook from scratch, which is at the very least a time consuming process.

Nor is it always a simple matter of taking an existing recipe containing meat, and making simple substitutions. A curry for example is generally cooked by preparing a sauce and then 'stir-stewing' the main ingredient in the sauce. Whilst meats and fish absorb the flavor readily by this technique, vegetables do not, and so the result is often an unsatisfactory dish, lacking the complexity and maturity of the regular meat based dishes.

Also, whilst in North America or Europe I can visit a supermarket to find a display of vegetables that varies little 365 days of the year, in Thailand I will buy fresh ingredients, and often find that what was on sale last week is no longer available today.

Despite all of these problems it is possible to produce a vegetarian dish, but, as can be expected, the preparation is more complex than for a simple meat based curry.

The vegetables suggested here are those that we purchased from the market on Tuesday last to make this dish to check out the method. You could of course substitute any other vegetables, fungus, or even soy or TVP to your taste. The technique does not however work well with broad leafed vegetables, which tend to 'fall' during cooking.

continued in part 2

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