Szechuan Pepper Tofu Bowl

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I’m eagerly counting down the days until 2 a.m. means soulfully gazing at my navel – or more accurately, at my fingers on my laptop. As much as I try not to, I’ve been staring off into empty space and thinking a lot about, oh, you know, LIFE! – the kind of ridiculous big thinking that requires both capital letters and exclamation points.

I write down a sentence and an hour goes by. I turn back to the study books. No use at this point though, I’ve burnt out. Can’t force myself to review material I’ve learned before, none of sticks. It’s hard to admit that weakness, and to think of how little that matters anymore. I tell myself that wearing a suit and heels for 14-hour workdays isn’t part of whatever I hope I’m ultimately going to do. I’d feel a lot less irresponsible if I could say all of these feelings are the result of some deep thinking and reflecting, that’s not truly true. It is sort of because I never wear heels, and I think I’d be a poseur if I did. More importantly, it is almost wholly because I’m tired from trying to keep up with a life that I’ve outgrown and mentally checked out of years ago. No matter how many times I spin it in my mind, I can’t find a reason in pursuing that sort of life. So here I am, at the end of something, and I don’t know what’s next.

The only conclusion that all of that thinking has brought me to is this: no perfect right answer exists. We can only hope it will work out. I’ve gone around and around in circles – literally, pacing around my apartment – and mentally too, and I always come back to that same place. It’s juvenile to presume there is an surefire approach, to have the arrogance. And frankly, you shouldn’t believe any person, any book or blog or teacher that tells you otherwise. Sitting or meditating or traveling to some place where the people look a lot like me (small and brown-skinned) is not going to give you that either. No, there’s just living, not the perfect, glossy version where everyone’s eternally grateful and never has a bad hair day, but real stuff: the mistakes and bad ideas, the ways we seek beauty, how we alleviate our loneliness, put food on the table, and the work we do that informs us. In that we find the shimmering elusive thing that we were seeking, because it was inside of us all along.

I promise I’ll be back, very soon. And I’m trying very hard NOT to add another “I don’t know” because, really, that seems to be the current running theme in my life.
 
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So this recipe is really all about the sauce. I’ve been experimenting for a few months with stir-fry sauce based on Szechuan pepper, and I think this one’s worth sharing. It’s peppery, garlicy, and full of umami and big flavors.


Szechuan Pepper Tofu Bowl

For Tofu
12 oz. tofu, cut into ½ inch by 1 inch pieces
2.5 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
Paper towels/clean tea towel to drain

For the pepper sauce
1 tbsp black peppercorns*
1.5 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns*
1 tsp. olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced (about 2 tbsp minced)
1.5 inch piece ginger, grated (about 1 generous tbsp, grated)
1 tsp or so of cornstarch, leftover from the tofu
1/2 cup good-tasting, low-sodium broth
¼ cup light/white soy sauce  (I used this, cheaper here)
2 tbsp dark soy sauce, preferably tamari
2 tbsp water
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp sriracha
To serve
1 lb steamed broccoli (or other vegetable)
1 cup cooked brown or white jasmine rice

Toss the tofu cubes with the cornstarch. Save the leftover cornstarch in the bowl for the sauce. Heat wok/pan on medium high heat for one minute. Add the sesame and olive oils, and fry the tofu for 1 – 2 minutes per longer side, or until the tofu is golden-brown. Save the oil in the wok/pan used for the tofu. Drain on paper towels/clean tea towel
Grind the Szechuan and black peppercorns. Add the teaspoon of olive oil to the same wok/pan used for the tofu. Re-heat to medium heat, add garlic, ginger, and fry for 2 minutes, or until lightly brown. Add the Szechuan and black peppers, fry for another minute.
While the garlic/ginger is cooking, combine the light and dark soy sauces, broth, water in the cornstarch bowl. Whisk out any cornstarch lumps. Add this to wok of garlic-pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be thick enough to coat your spoon. Add the chopped chives, and if using, sriracha.
Heat the tofu and vegetables with the sauce for a minute or two in the wok, and serve with rice. Serve with additional sriracha and/or soy sauce.

*if you’re using pre-ground, you’ll have to reduce the amount. I think after grinding, the whole peppercorns yielded about 4 teaspoons of ground stuff.

 

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Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing

summer squash pasta with green goddess dressing

 

If you asked me right now, I’d say Munro and Nabokov are my favorite writers. I would have said Nabokov a few years ago, because I’d only discovered Munro just before she won the prize. That means that I’ve only been reading her work for a year. When I read that first story, I’d never read anything like it, and it still felt familiar. As though I’ve been reading her work all my life. Part of that is that I recognize and identify with one of her most common character types: the poor girl who wants to escape her place in the world. Mostly though, it’s a sort of pure delight to read something so beautifully written. Munro writes short stories, but her stories have the satisfying depth and character development of the very best novels. The Bear Came Over the Mountain is her most respected story, I think, but my favorite is Free Radicals. I could tell you the basic plot, but the plot is secondary, or tertiary maybe, to sparse, beautiful prose, structure, and organization.

These nights, to relax my mind so I can sleep, I’ll re-read a bit of her, or Nabokov’s, work. Those works are familiar and comforting. But then again, Lolita, how I can find something new each and every time I read of you? The characters are more real to me than friends. It makes feel desperate; I want to climb into their work, to tear it apart from within, to somehow be inside of them. Is this how crushes feel? I’ve never been much of a fan girl, but I totally completely like love them. I haven’t got posters, but I have quotes all over my walls.

I forget to look at those quotes these days. Instead, I do the usual: stare at really boring books for twelve hours, with ab-so-lu-tely­ nothing – like seriously, NOTHING, I’m more burnt  than toast – sticking in my head. I go to the farmer’s market once a week, because it keeps me sane. I buy pounds of zucchini. And a few weeks ago, I got to meet Kimberley H. of The Year in Food. I have a copy of her gorgeous book, Vibrant Food. There’s a reason the whole food blogosphere’s been all a buzz about it for the last few weeks. Highly recommend. This recipe from it, and I’ve made and eaten it about 6 times in two weeks. It’s that nice.

Herbs for Green Goddess Dressing

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Summer Squash “Pasta” with Green Goddess Dressing
Vegetarianized from Vibrant Food

2 pounds summer squash,
1 tsp fine salt, plus more for serving
1/2 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Italian basil, chopped
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons tarragone
1 large garlic clove / 2 small, minced
1 tablespoon capers (salted preferably), rinsed
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Pepper and small basil leaves

Cut the squash into very thin strips (“noodles”) with a mandoline or julienne slicer. Sprinkle the squash with the salt, toss gently, and place in colander over a bowl for 20 minutes, allowing the excess liquid to drain. Carefully squeeze the squash over the colander. Pat with clean kitchen towel to dry.

Combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, chives, tarragon, garlic, and capers in a food process. Blend until smooth, creamy, and pale, speckled green.

Using your hand, gently toss the squash with about ¾ of the dressing. Add the Parmesan and put nuts and toss again. If needed, add remaining dressing. Store remaining dressing in refrigerator, or spoon on the extra if you’re like me.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with small leaves of the basil. The dish is best served immediately.

p.s. Today is Alice Munro’s 83rd birthday.
Also, the underlined areas in my posts (and throughout the rest of this site) are links – if you click on the links above, you can read Munro’s stories online, if you’re so inclined.

Brown Butter Lentils with Roasted Carrots

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I’ve been staring at my bar review books a lot these days. At three in the morning I push them aside. They sleep on the pillow next to mine. They’re always with me. They’re spectacularly bad in bed. Cold. Uncaring. Difficult to get acquainted with.

Studying alone is making me morose. My grandmother used to tell me of how sad she felt for the child I was because I’d cry for someone to play with. I would chase after the few children who visited when it was time for them to go home. There were no other children around, no one I could be friends with. I used to press my face against the big picture window and stare for what felt like ever. When the window frosted over, ghostly impressions of my nose and fingers showed up.

I feel like that shadow child again. Lonely, and not quite real because there isn’t anyone around I can talk to. My review course is online – it was the much cheaper option, and it allows me to stay up and study instead of waking up early to trek to class – but it also means that I don’t have regular contact with people.

Yet, as I’m writing this, I know. This is what was missing, this is the important thing. I’ll end up deleting most of these words. And then rewriting them. Later on, months from now, I’ll wonder how I could have written (and posted) so badly. These posts are streams of thought; there is very little structure, a bit of practice, and the beginning of something I want to pursue. What matters is that axe, and the frozen sea that has been breached.

 

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I wanted to build a very simple, not-too-tart “vinaigrette”/dressing based on browned butter instead of olive oil. There’s a bit of tarragon and truffle salt too, which go very well with lentils and brown butter.
I’ve made this a few times, it’ll be in frequent rotation in my kitchen. The leftovers were great – but if you’re going to set some aside for later, don’t add all of the greens to the dish. This recipe also is fairly flexible. You can add a bit more browned butter, a bit more lemon – I don’t like tart so I kept it minimal, just enough to contrast with the richness of the butter and truffle salt – double up on the greens or replace the carrots with roasted tomatoes or squash…you get the picture.

 


Brown Butter Lentils with Roasted Carrots

Lentils:
1 cup lentils du puy (French green lentils)
3 cups of good-tasting broth
2 garlic cloves, halved
Truffle salt [the amount of salt you'll need depends on the saltiness of your broth]

Brown Butter dressing
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 – 2 shallots, minced (you’ll want a scant 1/4 cup of minced shallots)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
Optional: 2 tablespoon dried currants
black pepper

Carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound carrots, well scrubbed
2 – 3 branches of thyme
1/2 tsp chunky/flaky sea salt

1 handful of microgreens or chopped arugula

For lentils + dressing:
Rinse the lentils thoroughly, picked out any tiny stones. Place in medium pot, add garlic cloves and broth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, turn down the temperature. Test at 25 minutes. You’ll want the lentils to tender (not hard), and you’ll want to have some of the cooking liquid leftover.
Discard all but one of the garlic clove halves; mash that half into your lentils. Taste, add truffle salt as needed. Cool for 10 minutes.

While the lentils cook, make the vinaigrette. In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium low heat until it is golden brown and smells nutty. Pour the butter out into a bowl, leaving just enough to coat the pan. Add the minced shallots and cook over medium-low for 2 minutes. Add the shallots, lemon juice, tarragon, pepper, and if using, currant, to the bowl of browned butter.

Stir the vinaigrette and the handful of greens into the lentils.

For carrots: Preheat oven to 400 °F. Heat olive oil in oven-safe skillet over high heat, add carrots and sear for 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Top with thyme and sea salt, and put the skillet in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are browned and just tender through. If your carrots are thick, this will take over 15 minutes.

 

Oat-Hazelnut Cake

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On graduation: a little paragraph from a very wise lady: “I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package,” she said. “I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”
Joan Didion, commencement speech at U.C. Riverside, 1975

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So I graduated. Done with law school, finished with graduate school. I’ve been struggling to think of something profound, meaningful, and deep-Joyti-thoughts to say about it all, but all that goes through my head is that I am free. Free-Free-Free. I am full of ambition but lost in the newness. Where do I begin? I want do the sort of work that I can be proud of when I’m on my deathbed. Who knows if I’ll make? But here’s a cake, to celebrate taking the first serious steps towards a (I hope) lifetime of all of this.

This is definitely my kinda celebratory cake – substantial, full of good things. It’s more on the rich custard-like side than the fluffy-crumbly. It’s the sort of thing that works equally well for breakfast, tea-time, or dessert.
I particularly adore the crumble, which I sometimes use to top off bowls of yogurt and fruit.

 


Oat-Hazelnut Cake
Crumble
1/2 cup hazelnut flour/meal (finely ground hazelnuts)
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
pinch of salt
Cake
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup hazelnut flour/meal (finely ground hazelnuts)
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
2 large egg, whisked
For crumble: Toast the hazelnut flour, oats, AP flour in a small saucepan over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove and place in a medium bowl. Add butter to the saucepan, heat over medium-low heat for a few minutes, or until golden brown. Add sugar and butter to the bowl with the flours, stir until incorporated, place in refrigerator while making the cake batter.
For cake: Line a 8-inch circular pan with parchment paper and butter sides [Note: you can use a 9-inch, but it will be a thinner cake and you'll have to adjust the baking time]. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine hazelnut, AP and whole wheat flours, rolled oats, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Melt the butter in the saucepan, add sugar, buttermilk, and whisked egg. Stir well to incorporate. Add this mixture to the large bowl of flours, and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Pull the crumble from the refrigerator, crumble with a fork and add to the top of the cake batter [NOTE: you may have extra crumble leftover]. Place cake in oven and test for doneness after 40 minutes. Bake until a tester (toothpick) comes out clean.
When the cake is done and you’ve pulled it from the oven remove it from the pan as soon as you can! And serve with lots of berries.

Pistachio Yogurt Cake

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I remember going into the bathroom one night when I was three. It was dark, and everyone else was still sleeping. That bathroom was frightening, with the shadows of mountain ash branches coming through the little window and moving on the dark walls. The wallpaper is still so clear in my memory – such a dark-dark blue – and then the blank white space that was left when I grabbed a little loose edge and pulled away.

There is a sort of fear instilled into you in growing up a poor girl. You are told that the safe road is the only road, because it is the only one the rest of them have ever seen. If you dare to stray from it, your books are locked up, and your drawings stolen from the closet you thought they’d be safe in. That’s a lesson: do what you are supposed to, or bad things will happen.

So I grew up thinking I’d settle for being some Vera to some Vladimir with a very questionable measure of talent. Get through university, through graduate school, get a job to the pay the bills to fuel someone else’s dreams. It was safer to expect someone else to take the risks of putting their heart, soul, ambition, childhood …whatever you’d call that part that comes out in one’s work and art…out there.

Still, I didn’t smother that part completely. A teacher submitted a short story I’d written for class to the school annual magazine’s. Then there was an essay that my freshman English teacher read out loud to the class, the one on appreciating “every, every minute” – the sort of slightly silly, sentimental thing a fourteen-year-old would write.

And there it is, what I’ve been afraid to admit to for all these years. I can’t quite say it yet, it feels too arrogant to even try to dream of it. I’ll say this instead: I’d always been a reader. Books filled my head with ideas, stories. It’s always been what is real, and the outside world feels like the fiction. Silly analogies comparing writing and reading to air and breathing, saturation and focus come into my mind. But this – it is too important to be reduced to that. I know that this is something that I do. It’s part of wresting from life whatever meaning and happiness and version of love I can. To do good works and do something to be proud of, whatever that may be. To not not be afraid, but to look at whatever that fear is in the face, and live fully in spite of it.

 

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I used raspberries in this cake because – they’re finally here! it’s spring! and they are so good! already! – but feel free to use whichever berry/fruit you feel. I bet sliced apricots would be nice.

 


Pistochio-yogurt cake
3/4 cup finely ground pistachios (You’re essentially making a pistachio flour; I used a coffee grinder but a food processor should work)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached AP flour
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine salt
7 tbsp softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg white, both at room temperature
3/4 plain yogurt (NOT Greek-style)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
6 ounces raspberries
Line a 9-inch springform (or 9*3) circular pan with parchment paper and butter sides. Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a medium bowl, combine ground pistachio, both flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whip together butter and sugar, until the mixture is smooth and pale. Whisk in yogurt, egg, egg white, and spices. Add dry ingredients (flour mixture). Whisk thoroughly, until smooth and homogenous.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Gently fold in raspberries using a rubber spatula (or a wooden spoon). Test at 35 minutes, and bake cake tester inserted into the center of cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for 5-10 minutes prior to removing from pan.
Tea pairing: A hearty black, such as an Assam or Yunnan. I chose a lighter Darjeeling, which works well with the berries.

Miso-Brussels Sprout Quesadillas

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Logic tells me I was happier then – when I had a boy, six-figure income, and a saving account. Just before I started blogging. Like other poor girls, the pressure to marry and earn a living was so great that it became something I had to, so they’d stop bothering me about it. Once I got those out of the way I could stop living in books and daydreams and begin my real life.

The books are now in shelves along one wall, stacked up on the makeshift desk, and a piled on an old wood crate. There’s another lying on the pillow next to mine, bookmark resting on the page while I sleep. The cat screams in my face at 4 a.m. because she wants to snuggle into my belly. I snap into a half-sleep state, scoot to give her room, and throw an arm around her. Scratch her head while she snuggles closer. Couple hours later I’ll wake up, fingers still tangled in fur. It’s Saturday morning, so I’ll leave the apartment at 7:15 to be at the farmer’s market at eight. The city is still and quiet in this hour, the fog burned off by sunlight but the buildings still cast long shadows. The only people out at this time are a few runners in sleek pants and bright unscuffed shoes, and the people who don’t have permanent shelter, pulling their sleeping bags and blankets off the sidewalks before the tourists wake up. Only the grown-up marker-goers at this hour. I’ll bring home little brussels sprouts, cauliflower, fresh corn tortillas, and the most gorgeous little chicken eggs.

Truth is, this is “real life”, there’s nothing but. And what I once thought milestones of success were really just comparisons of the prestige of the university you attended, your potential future financial worth, the political correctness of your opinions and thoughts. A different, narrower set of expectations than those that I grew up with, those milestones weren’t anything at all. I never did learn to balance a cocktail glass and appetizer napkin in one hand. I used to lie to myself and think it would be have been easier if I made the right sort of sparkling, meaningless comments at cocktail parties, if the career and the boy had worked out, but honestly? I’d just be too busy climbing that ever-growing mountain sometimes called success to notice that I didn’t like that mountain, and mountain climbing doesn’t particularly suit my skill set.

Instead of pretending to drink cocktails, I cook. I make my favorite miso-braised brussel sprouts – the good slightly tart, wholly savory ones I could happily eat three days in a row without tiring of – and tuck them warm corn tortillas. The sparkling commenters sometimes asked me how I had the time to cook, sighing with satisfaction over their modern liberated busy-ness that obviously precluded old-fashioned activities like cooking. I find the time because it matters. It’s makes me feel real, whole..or something I don’t yet have the words to describe without sounding banal. I know is that it is the important thing for me, to cook, to write, to (struggle and try to) create images that say something.
 
It strikes me sometimes, how far I’ve come. How wise I was when I was six and ten and fourteen, wiser and braver than when I was twenty. I got lost. We stumble and sometimes we fall but the important bit is to get to work again. We find ourselves in that. This is true, although clichéd: you must following your bliss, DNA, talent, or whichever part whispers to you how it is that you should live your life. Go out there and happen to things and people. Be responsible and loyal to them.

 

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Brussels Sprout Quesadillas

1 tablespoon olive oil/butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 lb brussels sprouts, sliced into ¼ inch rings using a mandolin/food processor
Generous ¼ tsp salt
Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon miso, dissolved into 2 tbsp warm water
1 tablespoon thyme
Juice of ½ small lemon (1 – 2 tsp or so)

9 – 10 corn tortillas
1/3 cup jack or white cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup parmesan/fresh cotilla cheese, grated
½ tablespoon of smoky chili powder (I used this)
Butter or olive oil, to preparing quesadillas
Lime wedges, and sikil p’ak or other salsa for serving

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat for one minute. Add olive oil, garlic, nutmeg, sliced brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper. Braise for 2 – 3 minutes. Add miso-water mixture, and cook for another 2 or so minutes, or until just bright green and tender. Add thyme and lemon juice.

To make quesadillas, soft corn tortillas by individually wrapping in clean, damp dishtowel and placing over very low heat in a heavy skillet/sauté pan. Warm through for about 30 seconds. Combine the cheeses and smoky chili powder in a bowl. Fill each by layering 1 tablespoon or so of cheese, scant ¼ cup of brussel sprout mix, and then another tablespoon of cheese.
Add a thin layer of butter/olive oil to a skillet/flat pan. Heat each quesadilla for 2 – 3 minutes per side, or until just golden brown.

Serve warm with lime wedges and sikil p’ak/salsa.

Thai green curried squash + coconut rice

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Two months ago, I drove by myself to a double funeral. It was a surreal experience, one I hope never to repeat. I can’t quite remember the details of the day, except that the children handled it like the champions they are and will have to continue to be, and someone near me was wearing far too much perfume. Or maybe multiple someones, I couldn’t tell. My head ached from it. Lonely, I sat on the very edge of a hard chair, and watched hundreds of people file past. More and more black-clothed strangers crowded in around me, separating me from the people I knew. I tried to look up and forward, but my mom’s dark wavy hair blended in with her sister’s. More people crowded into the pew I sat in. The little seat edge I perched on shrank. Or maybe I grew smaller and smaller, like Alice in Wonderland going down that rabbit hole. Because I really couldn’t be here, alone, and this sadness we all (more or less) felt couldn’t be real.

I had written a whole other post of thoughts I wanted to share with you, but after the funeral, I had to write of something different. I wasn’t sure entirely what. But there’s something in my perspective that had changed. Maybe to tell you how small the problems we/I moan about everyday was in comparison to this. Or something about love and family. All of the things my mother and I said to each other after she told me, while I stood trembling in my socked feet. All of those things that don’t become our truth until something happens to make them so.

Since childhood, my mind constantly touches upon something a reading from grandfather’s funeral, something about life being a balance of good and bad, happy and sad. Are not the good parts worth suffering through the bad? Or is my brain going fuzzy from too little sleep? It’s 3 am here now, I’ve got an 8 am class and should sleep but I have written and rewritten this post so many times that I think I’m going crazy. It’s never going to be perfect. The balance: good food, family meals, falling-apart shoes, funerals. What the most of us live with. I don’t believe in the cheesiness of a “happily ever after” or a “new beginning”. No such thing, we have what we have and all we’ve got is another chance to make the best of it. We carry on. Simply that. Just the chance to take what we’ve got and make 2014 mind-blowingly, soul-crushingly beautiful.

 


Thai green curried squash and coconut rice
1 cup of your favorite broth
1 cup coconut milk (not lite)
1 cup brown/white jasmine rice
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
1 stalk of lemongrass, bottom 4 inches, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. of Thai green curry paste (Nigel Slater’s recipe is my go-to)
12 – 13 oz. cubed squash (about 1 inch cubes)
zest and juice of one lime (kaffir lime if you can find them)
¼ cup toasted sliced almond
Extra lime wedges and thyme for serving

Rinse the rice two-three times in cold water, or until the water runs clear. Put in a medium saucepan, add coconut milk and broth/water, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes (or according to instructions for the rice that you are using). Fluff, then quickly replace the cover and let stand at least 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the onion, then the coriander and cumin seeds and lemongrass. Sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until the onion is golden brown. Add the curry paste and sauté for a minute more. Then, add the squash and lime juice. Sauté for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Once the rice and squash mixture are both read, combine them both in your sauté pan, add the lime juice, cook through for a few minutes. Top with the sliced almonds, and serve with thyme and lime wedges.

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***p.s. Darjeeling Dreams has moved away from blogspot. If you were subscribed or following via Google Reader, you will have to resubscribe to RSS. thank you!