I’m going to be honest with you. I really don’t have “recipes” for many of the dishes I know how to make. Anyone else like this?
Growing up, my family rarely had a recipe — a piece of paper with exact measurements and directions was a foreign concept to us. Rather everything is by taste or by tikim; the Filipino word for “to taste”. Even today, my parents go by taste. If something isn’t salty enough, or sour enough, or sweet enough, they adjust. That’s the beauty of cooking — it’s not as calculated and precise as baking.
However, there is a downside to cooking without a recipe — and that’s trying to teach someone how to make the dish!!! My sister-in-law, for example, really likes pancit bihon. The first time my dad tried to teach her, it didn’t end so well. There were no measurements to how much fat, salts, and veggies go in it. Thankfully, with more practice she’s gotten a hang of the tikim method. =)
Here’s another recipe that pretty much goes by taste. My dad will tell you that I really like to make curries. He believes I make curries once a week (not true). I may make a curry dish every other week, depending. AND I switch it up when I do. So maybe it’s Indian curry. Then the next time I make Filipino curry. Then the next time Thai curry. Sadly, Dad hates curry, so that’s probably swaying his judgement on how many times I make curry dishes.
Anyway, this recipe is pretty fluid. I’ve got a good sense of what goes in it, but as far as taste goes, you may have to play around a bit to get it to the lasa — another Filipino word for taste — you like.
‘Til the next time.
Thai Red Curry
- 1-2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 inch knob of ginger, sliced
- 1 can of sliced bamboo shoots
- 1 pound of sliced protein (chicken, pork, beef, or 1 container of tofu)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch quarters
- 1 cup of long green beans aka sitaw, cut into 2 inch segments
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce (or more depending on how salty you want it)
- 1 tablespoon of Thai basil or cilantro, optional
- 1 tablespoon of red curry paste
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1/2 cup of water or stock
- Sugar, to taste (depending on the type of red curry paste you purchase it may not have that sweetness you’re accustomed to.)
- In a big pot, heat the oil. Then add onions. Cook until semi-translucent and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the tablespoon of red curry paste with a little bit of coconut milk. Stir until the paste is dissolved. You may need to add more coconut milk as you go to completely dissolve the paste.
- Add the sliced protein to the pot. Salt and pepper while cooking the protein, and add the fish sauce. It may seem like a lot of salt, but it’ll mellow out as you add more items to the pot.
- Add the vegetables. First the long green beans (cook for 3-4 minutes). Then the eggplant (cook for 2-3 minutes). Then the red and green bell peppers (cook for 2-3 minutes).
- Once the vegetables are all cooked, add the bamboo shoots and a little bit of water or stock, depending on how thick or thin you like the sauce to be.
- Right before serving, add some Thai basil leaves or cilantro to the top.