Thus the following section of this entry is dedicated to all of you people out there who have ever doubted your cooking abilities.
I ashamedly haven't cooked myself a decent meal in over two weeks. When I tried, I completely ruined one of our good pans before having even sauteed anything and then I proceeded to burn some rice. I also overcooked pasta and burnt the out of the jar sauce and garlic.
Here's a picture of the infamous pan.
However, I did manage to pull of moderate success with the Sophia's challenge with the red thai curry. After having had so many culinary setbacks during the week I turned to the only person I would turn to in the deepest of crises, my dearest and culinary saavy friend, Sarah.
After having savored Saison Dupont's Avec les bon veux and St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel, and a Unibroue fin du monde with Sarah, I was more than happy to stand back and be her kitchen slave as she showed me the ropes.
(Courtesy of http://bottlesofbarley.blogspot.com/2008_12_01_archive.html)
(Courtesy of http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/2874/6804)
Alas we had no camera to document so you have to trust my word that her red curry was beyond good. I particularly liked how she used eggplant, tamarind, and fish sauce. The baked tofu wasn't half bad either.
I tried to replicate her recipe here but after a long day and lots of acumulated hunger, I haphazardly made my way through the recipe. First of all, a wet tamarind block is a tricky little bastard.
According to http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ingredients/tamarind.html, ought to be squished manually into a liquidy syrup with a bit of water. Sarah suggested boiling a chuck of the tamarind down in a bit of water and then conserving the liquid to add to the red curry once it's at the simmering stage. The first time I tried to boil down the tamarind the liquid was too watery to use and I accidentally overboiled it until no liquid had evaporated. The second time, the liquid still wasn't thick enough to adequately fit the description of both Sarah or the Kasma Loha-unchit of the thaifoodandtravel blog.
I decided to throw in a little bit of my own flair to the red curry, by adding zucchini. The rest of the vegetables included: my favorite, brocolli, bell peppers, eggplant, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and baby corn (Sarah's favorite).
I suggest buying the broader bamboo shoots as the ones I purchased were as skinny and insignificant as potato sticks.
Sarah suggested marinating tofu for about a half hour before making the red curry. I failed to do so, but I also would suggest draining the water from the tofu or else it will end up crumbling and mushy as mine did. Sarah prefers to poach her chicken while I like to sear it in a lot of ginger and garlic and let it cook in the coconut milk. I also took Sarah's trustworthy advice and let the red curry simmer with stalks of lemongrass. I was frightened using fish sauce because I once used it in a stirfry and the stench was so strong that I could not bring myself to eat it. A few shakes of fish sauce after the coconut milk is added does the trick. Sophia brings up an important point about the curry that it has a nice flavor but it's a blanket flavor that lacks complexity and depth. Either way I find that red thai curry can always be improved with a bit of lime juice to top it off, another tip that Sarah and her family shared with me!
I will continue to investigate about red thai curry and as I still have ingredients I shall try once again! For one, I think I will amp up all the flavor, more lemongrass, more basil, better tamarind liquid, more thai red chilis.