Green Curry with Rice Noodles and Mussels

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This coconut curry is the kind of dish that tastes too good to be healthy. Brimming with greens and herbs, this meal in a bowl comes together in about half an hour. I love everything about this dish: the vibrant green, the creamy coconut, the salty mussels. Oh, and rice noodles. Gimme all the noodles.

Green coconut curry with mussels

Ingredients:

1 serrano chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, bottom third only, tough outer layers removed, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 cups cilantro leaves with tender stems
3 cups basil leaves, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed
8 ounces rice stick noodles
1/2 lime
Salt

1. Puree chile, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, and 3 cups water in a blender until smooth. Transfer curry to a bowl. Reserve blender (no need to clean).

2. Puree coconut milk, cilantro, 3 cups basil, and 1/4 cup cold water in blender until smooth; set herb puree aside.

3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add mussels, cover, and cook until mussels open, about 7 minutes. Uncover and transfer opened mussels to a bowl, reserving cooking liquid in saucepan. If any mussels are still closed, cover and cook a few minutes longer, then add to bowl with others; discard any mussels that don’t open.

4. Add curry base to saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

5. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water.

6. Pour any accumulated mussel-cooking liquid into curry mixture and stir in herb puree; bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and add reserved mussels and squeeze in juice from lime. Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve warm in bowls and garnish with reserved basil leaves.

Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup): Version Two

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So, you’ve toiled laboriously and made a too-good-for-words chili sauce for version one of the tom kha gai I take it, right? Now try this version of tom kha gai, adapted from Night + Market, where I go off recipe to employ an easier (albeit less authentic) way to produce a just-as-delicious-but-tastes-a-little-different soup.

Don’t be deterred; this version takes less than half the time as the original to produce results.

Tom kha gai - version two

Ingredients:

1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and root trimmed
3 cups chicken broth
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 14-ounce cans coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup oyster mushrooms, torn into pieces
3/4 pound chicken thighs
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons jarred Thai-style chili sauce
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh bird’s eye chilis
4 tablespoons lime juice
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt
Pepper

1. Mince 1 tablespoon of the lemongrass and set the rest of the lemongrass aside. Place the chicken in a bowl, add the garlic, minced lemongrass, a pinch of salt and pepper, and enough cold water to just cover the chicken. Mix and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove from brine and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. In the meantime, carefully bruise the remaining lemongrass with a heavy object, then slice the stalk crosswise at an angle into 2-inch lengths.

3. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups water and the chicken broth to a boil. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, and bouillon cube, stirring until dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, mushrooms, and chicken and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the chicken is cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chili sauce, chili oil, and lime juice and remove from the heat.

5. Serve hot in individual bowls and garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup): Version One

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Ever try two different recipes for the same dish and they’re both really, really good? But really, really different?

I love tom kha gai, or Thai lemongrass and coconut chicken soup, and I’ve tried my hand at two different versions. Inspired by my travels to Thailand, I typically hand-make my own nam prik-esque chili sauce for this soup, which I’m including here. But I have another version of this soup that uses an uh, not so traditional route. I’ll include that in the next update.

Try both out and decide for yourself: which version is tastier? I know I can’t decide.

tom kha gai

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Thai dried red chiles
1/3 cup cup shallots, unpeeled
1/3 cup garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup fish sauce
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoons brown sugar
2 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, inner white part only, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced 1
/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 Thai chiles, seeded and very thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. To make the nam prik: Place a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add the chiles, and dry-roast them, moving them around as necessary to prevent them from burning. After about 3 or 4 minutes, they’ll darken and become brittle. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool.

2. In the meantime, slice the unpeeled shallots lengthwise in half. In the same skillet over medium heat, all the shallots and garlic and dry-roast until browned on one side; turn over and dry-roast on the other side. When they’re softened and roasted. about 8 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Break off the chili stems and discard them, then break up the chiles and place in a food processor. Peel the shallots and garlic and add to the food processor. Process to a smooth paste.

4. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and then add the paste. Stir the paste as it heats in the oil and absorbs it. After about 5 minutes, it will have darkened slightly and give off a warm, roasted chili aroma. Remove from the heat, stir in one teaspoon of the fish sauce, and let cool to room temperature.

5. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the remaining 1/4 cup fish sauce.

6. In a large saucepan, combine the stock with the 3 tablespoons of the nam prik chili paste, sugar, lime leaves and lemongrass and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add the chicken and fish sauce to the saucepan along with the shiitakes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaves. Stir in the lime juice and chiles. Ladle the soup into bowls, with the cilantro and serve.

Green Corn Soup

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Move over gazpacho. I have a new favorite cold soup celebrating summertime in all its glory.

Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe, this chilled dish is full of spinach, jalapenos, limes, and of course, corn. It’s all of summer’s bounty in vibrant, showstopping form. Make this a couple hours ahead of time to let the flavors develop. It’s perfect on a sweltering day.

Green corn soup

Ingredients:

8 ears of corn, shucked

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, sliced

salt
pepper
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves 

3 jalapenos; 2 stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped; 1 stemmed
 and thinly sliced

juice of 1 lime

1. Cut the kernels from the cobs; you should have 6 cups. Working over a bowl, scrape the cobs with the back of a knife to release the corn milk; discard the cobs. 


2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over moderately high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, 
stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add 4 1/2 cups of the corn kernels and the corn milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is crisp-tender, about 
6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a blender and let cool slightly. Wipe out the skillet.


3. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the blender with the corn and puree at high speed until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Strain the puree through a fine sieve set over a large bowl, pressing on the solids. Discard the solids. Return the corn puree to the blender and add the spinach, chopped jalapeños and half of the lime juice and puree until the spinach is finely chopped and the soup is green. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and refrigerate the soup until cold, at least 2 hours.

4. Meanwhile, in the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of corn kernels and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1 minute. Transfer the corn to a small bowl and refrigerate until cold.


Step 5
Add the sliced jalapeños 
and the remaining half of the lime juice to the chilled corn kernels and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the soup to bowls and top with the corn to serve.

Egg Flower Soup with Lemongrass and Mushrooms

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This isn’t a traditional egg flower soup recipe by any means. But I love egg flower soup in any permutation and have been making this easy version for years — decades, even! Lemongrass, tomato and nori seaweed are unexpected ingredients here, but trust me, it works. Sometimes, the sum is greater than the parts.

Egg flower soup with lemongrass and mushrooms

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken stock
2 stalks lemongrass, bottom 8 inches, lightly crushed
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps thinly sliced
1 ounce enoki mushrooms, trimmed and separated
1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots
1 sheet nori, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 package soft tofu, cut into 2-inch-long x 1-inch long strips
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Bring the chicken stock and lemongrass to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the mushrooms, peas, bamboo shoots, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add the tofu, tomatoes, and nori, stirring gently so the tofu does not break apart. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring gently, until the soup returns to a boil and is slightly thickened.

3. Slowly pour in the beaten egg, stirring slowly but constantly to create “egg flowers.” Drizzle in the sesame oil and serve.