Dinner Tonight: Thai-ish Yellow Curry with Pork and Kale

Tonight for dinner, I made a Thai-influenced yellow curry with pork and kale. The method is inspired by Mark Bittman, the flavors from several different recipes — and also what I had on hand. The results were scrumptious, and made four relatively modest servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 lb pork, cut into thin bite-sized strips
  • 1 dried hot pepper, slit partly open but not cut into pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into bite-sized strips
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, cut into 2″ x 2″ squares
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • salt and pepper

Procedure

  1. Heat half the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add half the ginger. Stir briefly, a minute or two, until it starts to darken slightly.
  2. Add the pork, and maybe a pinch of salt. Raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until the pork
    is a bit brown. Remove the pork from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and add the other half of the oil to the pan. (You can add less if some oil remains.) When it’s hot, add the rest of the ginger, and the hot pepper, to the oil. Cook a minute or two, as before.
  4. Add the onion to the pan, along with the garam masala and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften, four or five minutes.
  5. Add the kale to the pan. Cook for a minute or two, tossing and mixing it in. Add the coconut milk, the fish sauce, and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for three to five minutes, until the kale is intensely green and somewhat lower in volume, and the coconut milk is bubbling.
  6. Stir the pork back in. When the liquid starts boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and leave partially uncovered until the kale is tender and the sauce is somewhat thickened, about ten minutes. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as required. Serve over rice.

If I had to do it over again, I might have added a little garlic to the ginger. Or maybe not. And I might have used curry powder instead of garam masala and turmeric, but I didn’t have any on hand so that wasn’t an option. Also, I used white pepper and for the rice used ruby red jasmine rice, which was delicious and a little bit nutty but still very tender. About as good a weeknight meal as I could imagine.

Lark Whole Beast Dinner, and pudding

Laura and I attended Lark’s Whole Beast Dinner on Monday, and I have to admit that I feel a little bit cheated.

I’d assumed that we would, in fact, be eating several whole beasts. In fact, we ate small bits of many different beasts. Also, while we did have pig ears, beef kidneys, and sheep sweetbreads, most of the beast parts were fairly innocuous: guincale, pork cheeks, and so on.

Which isn’t to say that the food wasn’t marvelous. I particularly loved the winterier preparations, the braised pork cheeks, the pork tongue dolce forte, and the guincale wrapped, gorgonzola-stuffed dates. The (pickled?) sheep tongue salad was also superb. But last year’s menu looks tastier, and a bit more daring, as well.

The table we sat with was great fun: Michael Hood and a bunch of other folks whose names now escape me (that’s what they get for not having blogs!) were all generous enough to share their wine with us (next year we’ll bring some to share too), and talk ranged from food to politics to more politics.

I don’t want to sell the event short — I quite enjoyed it, and I plan to attend next year — but I was definitely hoping for more. I’d have been nearly as happy (though somewhat less educated, and less likely to meet new people) by any other night at the restaurant.

Right now, I have chocolate custard baking in the oven. This is an experiment: I’ve never made any kind of pudding or custard before. But we needed some milk tonight (for a very risotto-like orzo and broccoli dish), and I had about two cups left. The New York Times had an article on chocolate pudding and while none of their recipes matched the ingredients I had on hand, one from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything did. We’ll see, in five minutes or so, if I have a tasty dessert tonight…

Checkerboard Breakfast

Someone should take a Belgian Waffle, and fill alternating squares with scrambled eggs and cooked sausage, making a checkerboard pattern on the surface.

Okay, so it’s not exactly the healthiest breakfast. But it sure would be tasty, and pretty too!

PID-Controlled Slow Cooker

This week, my Cuisinart CSC-650 Slow Cooker trashed another batch of food. The temperature was too hot, and stayed too hot, and burned the heck out of my sweet potatoes. When I made stock this week, it also cooked too hot, and spit and made a mess of the countertop. The Amazon reviews suggest that many other people have the same problems that I did.
The Cuisinart has ruined food before, but enough was enough. This time, I gave up on the cooker, and got permission from my lovely wife to disassemble it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have a real thermostat, so it wasn’t something I could adjust. I ended up trashing the device, which was somewhat cathartic (not as cathartic as fixing it would have been). Oh well, I wasn’t going to be using it again anyway.
Wikipedia says that , for “safety” reasons. A couple of people have also looked into hacking slow cookers, but nobody seems to have done much work to solve the problem.
I’ve considered just buying another slow cooker after reading some reviews and meta-reviews, but I feel sure that whatever I get will just cook at too high a temperature.
What I really want is a tweaked-out slow cooker with a PID controller that’s content to let me cook at “unsafe” temperatures. It looks like this Hamilton Beach model actually uses a temperature probe to control cooking, and at $50 I might give it a try, but the absence of a high-end gadget model with more precise controls is disappointing at best.

Self-Stirring Risotto Pot

I love making risotto, but all the stirring! What if there was a nice, heavy risotto pot with a top like one of those old crank-driven popcorn poppers? It could slowly spin (driven electrically, presumably), making the risotto all nice and happy.

Espresso Bagels

It’s easy to find a zillion flavored bagels, all of which are too sweet and too soft.

A good bagel with some solid coffee flavoring, toasted, with a schmear, sounds pretty good to me.

More chip flavors!

Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut-butter chips can all be acquired for use in cookies. It seems that there must be a zillion other kinds of chips one might wish for: berry-flavored chips, coffee chips, and so on. The flavors might not be “real,” but kitchen shortcuts sell well regardless… plus they’re shelf-stable.