Its currently 4am and I’m up. Shocking. Lately, my sleep pattern has been a little dysfunctional — to say the very least. But since I am up at this unsightly AND ungodly hour — I might as well be productive and try to *gasp* post another blog. Two blogs in one week?! *shudder* Even I have to admit that is a tad bit frightening.
Today’s post will be entirely dedicated to food and all things consuming there of — pun intended. Well, at least as much as I can recollect and relive within the past week. I’m trying to be a little better when it comes to my slightly A.D.D-esque attention span as it pertains to blogging and rehashing bits of my life throughout the week — its one of my many goals for this year. Goals which I tried to set out for myself but have sadly dropped the ball several times since the onset of this year. Whooopsie!!!
So the last two weeks I’ve been cooking like a mad woman. Well actually the past few months but in the last two — its essentially been me and the kitchen every evening. One — partly to clear out a myriad of frozen meats and seafood in my freezer. And two — I’ve exhausted all things to eat within my area and have taking a liking to cooking at home on a daily basis. The more I cook — the stronger and more creative I feel. Now don’t get me wrong — I’ve always cooked for myself and even though I would never consider myself a chef or a guru in the kitchen department — I think I can hold my own when it comes to basic and even slightly complex dishes. I respect my knives and all that jazz.
My only problem with cooking food is this: If I cook it — it had better be f#cking good! Like close to my mom’s cooking good. Otherwise, I feel as if I’ve wasted a good chunk of my time that I could have spent doing something else as I slaved away cooking a crappy meal — ya dig? Nothing is worse then cooking something and then come to find that its horribly disgusting or frustratingly unappetizing. I’d much rather go hungry.
So in the past two weeks I’ve been craving foods from my homeland. No, not from Queens, NY but from Thailand. Foods my mom cooked for my brother and I as a child but I (sadly and admittedly so) never appreciated. Curries, soups, noodle dishes. Hell, even desserts. Plenty of coconut milk and fish sauce plays a good part in said cooking and it makes me salivate.
So, the dish that this post will be dedicated to is massaman curry. More specifically beef massaman curry (gaeng massaman neur). This is a dish I never appreciated as a child but have come to love randomly as an adult. Simply broken down it consists of beef, potatoes, coconut milk, curry, and all sorts of spices and seasonings. The smell is likened to fall and holiday scents since the bulk of the seasonings consist of star anise, cinnamon, brown sugar, and tamarind paste (this is optional). etc. My wikipedia search on massaman curry tells me that the origins of this dish stems from central Thailand with a strong Muslim influence. Thanks wiki! Its very much a hearty dish. So if you are in search for something comforting that will fill you up. This is certainly a curry option to try.
You can be really creative to what you can add to this dish — its quite versatile. The only caveat I will stress with this: do NOT use lite coconut milk. Let me repeat — DO NOT USE LITE COCONUT MILK. Regular coconut milk is what brings life to this dish and trust me on this one — you don’t want to skimp.
Now I usually take the curry paste and slab it all over the beef before cooking the night before — I think it adds a layer of flavoring to the meat. But you don’t have to do that step. Take a tablespoon (or more) of curry paste dependent upon how mild or strong you like it and add it to your pot. Typically massaman curry is quite mild and not at all spicy. So some people tend to add additional fire with Thai chilis or chili flakes. Heat the paste up to release the oils then add the coconut oil. Next, add your star anise and cinnamon sticks (in my case ground cinnamon) to this.
Once it boils a bit — add your beef. At this point you can add more coconut milk or water to cover your beef. Let the sauce boil then lower the heat a bit and simmer. Simmer for awhile until the beef is slightly tender.
Add onions and bamboo shoots next and let cook for a bit. Finally, add your potatoes when you know your beef is completely cooked. Once the potatoes have been cooked for a bit — flavor with brown sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice to taste. Then lower the heat or turn it off completely and let it sit. The longer you allow the beef to stew in the sauce — the better your curry will taste.
Finally, you can remove the star anise and cinnamon sticks before serving but I don’t mind letting it sit in the sauce. I generally fish out the pieces while serving the curry. It just intensifies an added layer of continual flavoring and seasoning. And there you go! Bon appetite! YUM YUM!
On a side note. Recently, I’ve delved into the new world of coconut oil. I’ve started to use it in my cooking and various other random things. Of course the coconut oil used solely for cooking is segregated from the jar that is used for such things as my dry hair ends, lips, elbows, and even feet! I love it! Its currently my new obsession. We’ll see how long this lasts as my obsessions are usually short lived.