When I think of Thai food, I think of Tong’s. This little restaurant in Springfield, Missouri has wonderful food, and made me forever a Thai food fan. But my favorite part of going to Tong’s was Tong himself. He would come out of the kitchen to visit and tell fantastical stories about his adventures. After he flew to Thailand for a vacation, he made fun of the airline for taking away his nail clippers but letting him keep his chopsticks, laughing as he told us it was much easier to kill a man with chopsticks than with nail clippers! He had many photos on his wall of himself with celebrities, including one on a movie set with Bruce Lee. Of all of us, his favorite person was Luke. He was so tickled that at a very young age, Luke could easily polish off a man-sized plate of Pad Thai at regular spice level.
One happy day the local newspaper published an article about Tong, along with a couple of recipes. One was for one of my favorite dishes, his red curry. I started making it myself after that. Such a tasty dish, and one that’s so easy to throw together. I’ve long since lost the newspaper clipping but was shocked to find that it’s a pretty simple recipe. I think Tong’s version may have had a couple of additional ingredients, but this simplified recipe works great and is delicious. Any combo of vegetables (or meat) work well with this sauce. I’ve even used a bag of frozen veggies in a pinch.
Thai Red Curry
2 cups fresh or frozen veggies (I used fresh green beans and cauliflower this time)
1 can coconut milk
1 heaping tbsp. thai red curry paste (use more or less to control the spice level, I would consider this amount medium)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1-2 tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 cup water or broth
Fresh basil – chopped coarsely
Brown or white rice (I used brown with a little wild rice thrown in for texture)
Cook rice (I use a little rice cooker for this. Best $20 I ever spent). Meanwhile, saute veggies in a teaspoon of oil in a large skillet for a couple of minutes. Add coconut milk and thai curry paste and stir well. Add brown sugar, fish sauce and water or broth. Bring to a boil, turn down heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until veggies are tender. Stir in basil. Serve with rice.