Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Curry. Not Tim.

I am a cook.  Not a chef, not really a baker - never will be any kind of fancy nuthin' in the kitchen.  But I am a cook, and I've been cooking daily long enough to have reached a sort of "Next Level."  By that I don't mean so much that what I make is amazing.  What I mean is that I now have a general understanding of various (admittedly Americanized) genres of food.  Like - you want a Mexican?  Pick a protein (black beans, chicken, shrimp), slice some vegetables in long strips (green peppers, onions), use cumin and oregano for spice, heat it up and put it in some sort of tortilla (roll it up for a burrito, roll it up smother in sauce and bake for enchilada, lay out flat and layer with filling for a quesadilla, etc.)  If you want Italian, it's basil and oregano, some sort of tomatoes and garlic, a pasta, and a filler (zucchini for us, usually).  For Asian, cut some vegetables into thin slices, make rice, throw soy and hoisin in a wok and heat it all up, voila.

These are the basic themes, and I can perform them in infinite varieties, but after my fifty seventh cumin-and-oregano-meal I began to tire of these basics, and my inability to go beyond them.  Yes, I have stores in my cupboard and can make a number of delicious dishes without a recipe - but only very basic stuff.  Yes, I can switch it up enough to keep the interest of the family who eats the food - but I myself began to get bored cooking these things.

So.  I have decided to move up a level, and try some new stuff.  And my latest fetish is for very simple vegetable curries.  And people - can I just tell you that "curry" is, like, a single word in American English.  But I think for Asian peoples, they must have dozens of words for curry - like the proverbial Eskimos and snow.  Because when you send your husband out with a grocery list that says "curry" on it - well, you just never know what you're going to get.  There is curry paste, which comes in little pots - some green, some red (probably some other colors, too).  You've got your curry powder, which most of us probably have in our spice cupboard but rarely use except maybe in a chicken salad when you're getting fancy.  There are curry bars - kind of like a chocolate bar, and you break off a piece and that's your serving (it dissolves in hot oil and coats your vegetables and whatnot).  There are also pre-made curry simmer sauces which come in korma, roganjosh, masala, vindaloo, madras.  Each of these have different variations depending on the regions from which they come.  Recipes involving curry tend to also include turmeric, ginger, basil, coconut milk, peanut or sesame oil, and lots of stuff that I cannot rattle off the top of my head which is kind of the point.

My journey into the land of curry began with a coconut curry shrimp soup that I got from here.  When I saw how easy it was, I decided to delve a little deeper.  I went into foodgawker, typed curry in the search box, and away I went.  (foodgawker collects recipes from all over the web, and allows you to search by ingredients.  When you find what you like, click on the picture and it will lead you to the site where the recipe is - kind of like pinterest, if you're familiar.)  What I particularly love is trying different kinds of noodles - udon, glass noodles, even fettuccine sometimes. I've also learned to cut vegetables into batons.  This is my new favorite trick.  Little batons of zucchini, batons of bell pepper, batons of carrot.  The curry is awesome, but the batons and the glass noodles helped get me out of a rut.

So there you have it.  My latest and greatest fave spice.  Because it's forcing me out of my oregano hidey hole, and opening me up to a whole new and fascinating world of cooking new fun stuff.  And it makes cooking less of a drag and more of a creative venture - just about my only creative outlet these days..  Ah.  I love it.  Ya'll are welcome to stop by for a curry any time.

1 comment:

MSO Rin said...

I learned something new! I had no idea that the name for that style of cutting vegetables was "baton." Thank you!