Saturday, June 3, 2017

Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly

     Tasty Spicy Coconut Milk Curry!
     Boiling or simmering food in coconut milk is an old Thai and Malaysian cooking style.  This cooking technique is used for making many Thai Curry recipes.  The finished sauce can be simmered and reduced till it becomes thick or it can be served thin and soupy.  The coconut milk can also be simmered till it becomes coconut oil, so the ingredients can be gently stir fried.  As one can see, a variety of textures can be achieved when using coconut milk.    
     Thin broth coconut milk style Thai Curries tend to be delicate in flavor.  A coconut milk curry that is simmered till it is thick will have a richer flavor, which works well when pork is the featured ingredient.  The problem is that not all coconut milk products will thicken when simmered and reduced.  
     Depending on the brand name, canned coconut milk can vary in consistency.  Shelf stable cartons of coconut milk tend to be emulsified and they are much thicker than canned coconut milk.   Dried coconut milk powder is an option too and it is easy to adjust the consistency with the amount of powder added to water.  Overall, it is best to stick with a coconut milk product that you are familiar with, so no surprises occur when preparing a recipe.
     Fresh Galangal (Thai blue ginger) really makes a big difference, when making a Thai style coconut milk curry.  Dried Galangal Powder does not pack the same punch.  The flavor of today's Thai curry has an unforgettably good long lasting fresh Galangal flavor.  
     Making home-made Thai Green Curry Paste is not difficult to do, but purchasing this product is a nice convenience.  Many chefs prefer to use pre-packaged Thai Curry Pastes.  One container of Thai Curry Paste can flavor plenty of food, so it is a good deal.  
     It is not only green chile peppers that gives Thai Green Curry Paste its green color.  Small Thai Green Eggplant actually are the base of the recipe.  Some pre-made packaged Thai Green Curry Paste products have Green Eggplant in the list of ingredients and some do not.  For today's recipe, try to select a Green Curry Paste product that has eggplant in the list of ingredients.

     Wood Ear Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Wood ear mushrooms are sometimes call Cow's Ear Fungus.  Wood Ear Mushrooms have many health benefits.  
     Step 1:  Place about 6 to 8 dried wood ear mushrooms in a container of water.  
     Soak the mushrooms overnight in a refrigerator to reconstitute them.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the mushrooms.
     Cut the mushrooms into bite size pieces and set them aside.

     Sticky Rice:
     Boil or steam 1 portion of sticky rice and keep it warm on a stove top. 

     Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée that can be shared by 2 guests. 
     Fresh Galangal does take a while to become tender when it is simmered, so it must be added early in the recipe. 
     For this recipe, select a Thai Green Curry Paste that has eggplant in the list of ingredients.  The volume of the container will be much larger than one that contains no eggplant.
     Step 1:  Select a 5 ounce to 6 ounce piece of meaty pork belly.  
     Remove the skin if it is attached.  (Save the skin for making cracklins!)
     Cut the pork belly into thin bite size slices.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 2 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1 fresh lemongrass shoot that is tied in a simple knot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh Galangal (Thai Blue Ginger)
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add the reserved pork belly pieces.
     Add the reserved wood ear mushroom pieces.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste. 
     Add 1 minced green Thai Chile Pepper.  (Optional.  Only add the chile pepper if a spicy hot flavor is preferred.) 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf that is cut into thin strips.  (Optional.  Kaffir Lime Leaves are not always available.)
     Add 1 teaspoon of Palm Sugar.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste. 
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 cup of rich coconut milk.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Keep the curry warm over very low heat.
     Remove and discard the lemongrass knot before serving. 
     Use a tall cup mold to place a portion of sticky rice in a shallow bowl.
     Ladle the Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly in the bowl around the rice. 
     Sprinkle 1 thin bias sliced green onion over the rice and curry.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of toasted shredded coconut over the rice and curry.

     The savory flavor and aroma of Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly is nice!  This spicy curry is a good summer entrée, because it helps to be the heat!  

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