I've discovered that for me, Soul Food is all about Asia. When I'm hungriest, I don't fantasize (much) about manicotti or tamales or beef stew. I want tempura, tandoori, mu shu, samosas, sushi, and pad khee mao.
Today, after four weeks of lentils, eggs, and pancakes, I made Thai green curry.
Notes: I used a store-bought curry paste for the first time and was very pleased with the results. One qualm: it's not very spicy, and neither were the farmers' market jalepenos I added. Red pepper flakes to the rescue! This was also my first time working with coconut milk; I didn't expect there to be so much solid fat floating on top. Next time I'll probably discard all but three or four tablespoons of it. Not wanting to splurge on fresh basil, I substituted some crushed fennel seeds to get that great licorice-y flavor. Peanuts aren't traditional in green curry, but I added some peanut butter just 'cuz. The curry paste didn't quite have the flavor balance I wanted; a little allspice and cumin rounded things out. Finally, I used canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas) in place of meat; this pseudo-vegetarianism thing is turning out to be much easier and more satisfying than I expected.
Recipe (all measurements are approximate; adjust each ingredient to taste):
1/2 onion, sliced
2 TB fat from canned coconut milk
1/2 TB garlic, crushed or minced
2 TB fresh ginger, minced
2 jalepeno peppers, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 TB red pepper flakes
more coconut fat
1 TB Thai Kitchen brand green curry paste
2 TB Adam's brand peanut butter
1 TB brown sugar
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 can coconut milk
1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat coconut fat in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cook until golden, stirring and adjusting heat as necessary (about 15 minutes). Add garlic, ginger, jalepeno, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking until onions are soft and golden-brown (5-10 minutes more). Add another tablespoon or so of coconut fat, let melt, and add green curry paste. Mix well, then stir in peanut butter, brown sugar, allspice, and cumin. Cook for a minute or so (should be bubbling). Add coconut milk and garbanzos, return to a slow boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve over white or brown basmati or jasmine rice. Makes two very generous servings.