For New York City it’s Chinese food and for the North Fork it’s pizza, but for the tiny hippie town I grew up in on the Big Island of Hawaii, Thai food was the go-to take out dinner.
Out of approximately eight restaurants in the village of Pahoa, three were Thai and all owned and operated by Thai families who had moved to Hawaii from Thailand, so the food was the real deal.
Now that I’m here, with no Thai restaurants in sight, I’ve taken to making Thai curry at home, often despite the challenge of hard-to-find Asian ingredients. IGA in Greenport generally carries red or green curry paste, coconut milk and canned vegetables such as bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and baby corn. Surprisingly, Big Lots in Riverhead has the most extensive selection of Asian ingredients I’ve found on the North Fork.
There’re no rules when it comes to what you want in your curry, so feel free to throw in any of your favorite veggies or a diced-up potato. The same goes for the curry paste — add more paste for more taste.
1.5 cups jasmine rice
2 cans of coconut milk
4 tablespoons red curry paste, available at IGA
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 pound tofu or boneless, skinless chicken cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup snow peas
1 can water chestnuts
1/2 cup bamboo shoots
1/2 cup broccoli
1/2 cup bell pepper
1 cup baby corn
1/4 cup fresh Thai basil, (optional)
1. Cook rice according to package instructions and set aside.
2. Bring coconut milk to simmer in a large skillet on medium heat. Stir in curry paste and sugar until well blended, bring to a boil for 1 minute then reduce to a simmer.
3. Add chicken or tofu and vegetables. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender-crisp, around 15 mnutes. Stir in basil.
4. Serve over the rice.
Cook’s notes: Crush up roasted cashews to garnish your bowl of curry.