Crappy weather and a toxic workweek had raised stress levels to new heights, so I decided it was time for some curry comfort. First, Forbidden Rice. I'm not really sure why they call it that, although the carb police would probably argue that all rice should be forbidden. As far as rice goes, though--black, fragrant and slightly nutty Forbidden Rice would probably be the best kind, being relatively high in fiber and antioxidants compared to the rest of its peers. As the grains and water do their thing in the rice cooker, it's time to move on to the Thai-Curry Seafood Stew. Totally Unrelated Thought #1: Funny how no Filipino kitchen, however minimalist, is complete without a rice cooker.
First, plop some red curry paste in a pot with some coconut cream. The recipe I used calls for a tablespoon but different pastes have different heat levels so tailor accordingly. Mine, bought in a street market in Bangkok, is not for spice wimps. Whisk to dissolve the mixture (and any lingering aggression) and bring to a boil before adding the rest of your coconut cream. Those of you with more space and talent can opt for fresh coconut cream. I go with canned, given my space and ability constraints as well as my affection for all 10 fingers.
When the coconut-curry mixture is bubbling, add broccoli because a) fiber is comforting and b) a spoonful of curry will make just about any vegetable go down.
Sprinkle a generous handful of Thai basil and any other herbs you feel like. I used spring onions and cilantro, mostly because that's what was in my fridge. I also added in a red bell pepper that I had gone to town with earlier with my new toy--a blowtorch. Did you know that playing with blowtorches is great for stress and anger management? TUT #2: I should put the fire department on my speed dial.
Bring the mixture back to a boil and then simmer until your stew is a nice, creamy, "stew-y" consistency, around 10 minutes. Add a ton of shrimp, scallops and if you can find them, mussels. I couldn't find them.
Add lime juice and Thai fish sauce to taste, and simmer until shrimp are pink, mussels (if you managed to score them) are open, and scallops are heated through.
Remove the pot from heat and slip into soft, oversized pajamas, preferably with a happy print (mine had parrots). Fuzzy socks and/or bunny slippers are not required, but they are highly recommended.
Scoop a steaming bowl of rice into a soup bowl and top with your seafood stew. Huddle up on the couch with a blanket, your bowl of comfort and chopsticks. Or a spoon. Or both. Inhale deeply and feel the heat of the curry clear up your sinuses and your pores. Consume while watching an episode of Suits. Repeat as necessary until you are officially and thoroughly comforted by your hot and succulent seafood curry and the equally hot and succulent Gabriel Macht.
Thai Curry Seafood Stew
(Adapted from a Bon Appetit October 2001 recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Thai-Curry-Seafood-Stew-105676)
Yield: 4 servings
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 can coconut cream
1 head broccoli, sliced thinly
1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined
1/2 pound sea scallops
1 pound mussels, scrubbed
1/2 cup chopped Thai basil
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped spring onions
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce (nam pla)
2 cups hot cooked Forbidden Rice. White rice (or any other rice) will work, too.
Place curry paste in large pot. Whisk in with ¼ of coconut cream. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute. Stir in remaining coconut milk. Add broccoli, bell pepper, basil, spring onions and cilantro and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp, and scallops. Top with mussels. Return to boil again. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until mussels open and seafood is cooked, about 3 -5 minutes. Discard unopened mussels. Add basil, lime juice, and fish sauce.
Serve with lime wedges over hot rice.