thai red curry: a good meal before good jazz.

I love curry. I love really digging my hands into it with chapati or pita, getting messy, and having yellow hands the next day (they also smell of curry - I hope I don't have to shake anyone's hand today). People constantly think I'm jaundiced. But the aroma of curry, oh, there is nothing like it. And truly, there is literally nothing like it if you are trying to sell a house and it just reeks of curry. Its the only dish that I am a little bit scared to cook constantly - it seems to seep into walls and cupboards very very easily. But on a dreary day, how can that bright cheerful aromatic yellow not cheer you up?
It was one such dolefully overcast Sunday yesterday. I rolled out of bed and barely wanted to walk the two blocks to the nearby Anglican church. But I'm really glad I did - there was something so calming and fulfilling about the service. I also met this nice chap there (who pointed me in the right direction of the service - evidently I was heading towards the kids area or something, and as much as I love the song 'Jesus Loves Me', I didn't think that would help attain my spiritual enlightenment for the morning) who is doing his Masters in Theology at the Uni of Toronto, and yet works as an animator in Vancouver to pay for school. I love meeting other artists, especially those who can do things that I cannot. As we went to take our seats, I realized that we were in a literal representation of the problem of the modern church - it was a bunch of elderly people, sparsely spread out in the pews, and us. 

Even so, Anglicanism has its appeal. Some consider it the midway point between Catholicism and Protestantism (though of course extremes to one end or the other are apparent even within the denomination). There is something ethereal about repeating phrases that have been said for centuries, embed not only with spiritual meaning but also with history and tradition. There is a history of community in those very words, and I feel almost a kind of concord with those who have said them before me.
I brought that peace back to my house, and meditated through art. This piece is taking forever and a day, but it will be lovely when finished. I feel that my tangled emotions are somehow being unraveled with every stroke I lay on the paper.
And after such a calm morning, I needed to spice myself up before listening to the last performer I would see in this year's Vancouver Jazz Festival. Curry was the means to doing that (and I had also promised John a great curry, so I really had no choice). Thai Curry is even more interesting than normal curry (Indian style). The lovely thing about Thai food is that it combines Indian and Chinese cuisine - giving you a medley of flavors in your mouth, and making me inordinately excited when cooking it. You see the chinese influence in the means of cooking, similar to Szechwan, while certain spices were brought (supposedly by Buddhist monks) from India, and really only gained ground around the 1700s in the region (at a feast for King Rama I).
John helped quite a bit as you can see.
And for anyone ever wondering how I get those food photos - I usually situate them on wood, by the window (for the diffused light), and then stand above them. You wouldn't probably eat much of my food if you knew how close my bare feet came to the dishes.
After a huge dinner, helped down by laughter provided by Curb Your Enthusiasm, we headed over to Ouisi Bistro to listen to the last vestiges of the Jazz festival. Gary Comeau and the Voodoo Allstars were playing - they were absolutely amazing. I kept on saying to John - 'I should leave, I should go home to bed . . . .but just after this song.' And then one song turned into two and . . . you get what happened. Click on the link, see where they are playing, and, if you get a chance, definitely go out and watch a performance. It will make your soul so light, you will just want to get up and dance (just maybe don't make curry beforehand - your stomach will weigh you down!).
Thai Red Curry

2 chicken breasts, skin and bones removed, cut into strips
2 tbsp. peanut oil)
1 large onion, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste **(see below for recipe)
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp. fish sauce (good quality fish sauce, you can just imagine what bad fish sauce is like. . . )
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. lime zest
1 tbsp. lime juice
salt, to taste
2 green peppers, and a myriad of whatever veggies you want to put in - I always bulk it up with a lot of random vegetables
1/2 c. fresh thai basil, chopped
1/2 c. fresh coriander, chopped

1. Brown onion and garlic in the oil. Add 1 cup of the coconut milk, bring to a boil. Add the curry paste, and stir until combined.

2. Add chicken and cook until it is completely done. Add remaining coconut, and veggies. Cook until almost done, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Season with more or less to taste.

3. Serve over rice or with pappadums (such as I did).

4. Pray. Eat. Enjoy.

Red Curry Paste
(adapted from Temple of Thai)

5 dried whole chilies, seeds removed
5 shallots, or one small onion
10 cloves garlic
1 tsp. ginger (gangal is called for, but hard to find), minced
1 tbsps. fresh lemongrass, sliced
1 tbsp kaffir lime leaves, chopped
2 tsp fresh coriander root, chopped
5 black peppercorns, toasted and ground
1 tbs. whole coriander seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp. whole cumin seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. shrimp paste

1. Blend all together. Use fresh or freeze in cubes to be used up to 2 months.