13 December 2008

Fish with Red Curry Sauce

Pla Phad Phrik Khing
Fish with Red Curry Sauce
This is my entry to Darlene's Regional Recipes event, this month hosted by Darlene herself, featuring Thailand. Check Blazing Hot Wok on the 20th for the round-up-- and I'll have another Thai recipe up before then. W00t! Also, you might like to read a short article I wrote about my biggest food-related Christmas wishes over at Table for Three, Please.

Again over the past 2 days I've been neglecting visiting my favorite blogs, because of a nagging headache from lack of sleep (to be remedied in... 8 hours ;). Since I got the news that I passed my Step 2 CS exam, my impending trip to the East coast has become more tangible. Of course, I'd booked that January 1 (gulp) flight weeks ago, but there was always that uncertainty, the fear that I might have flushed a lot of my parents' money down the drain if I failed the exam. Thankfully, that isn't the case and now I have to worry about my interviews and how I'm going to spend my days in a very, very, very cold country (it's 80°F-- 26°C here, at night) without valuable parts of my body falling off. At the same time I'm wondering what the hell makes scarves so expensive ($30 on average here), and if it's a bad sign that the super-cute 2-pack of skull and crossbones beanies/skullcaps I found at Debenham's fit me well, even though they're for boys age seven (didn't buy them yet-- looking for a hat that makes my head look... Bigger, apparently).

My home base during that time will be Middlesex, New Jersey, and leave it to me to try to find a way to make the suburbs verrrry interesting (will it be MORE fun than El Segundo?). So far my interviews are in:

  1. Akron, Ohio (staying January 11-13) BRRR!!!

  2. New York (The Bronx), New York (January 16)

  3. Chicago, Illinois (staying January 21-24)

  4. Reading, Pennsylvania (staying January 25-26).

Hopefully there will be more interviews aside from those. I'm pretty pumped about the places I'm going to (would I be Manggy if I wasn't?), but it would do wonders for my confidence now if I felt... I dunno, wanted by more hospitals. But no matter what happens, I'll do my best and enjoy myself as best as I can, and of course you guys will once more be subject to WAY too many pictures! (Hopefully none of me getting slammed into a pile of garbage. New York fascinates and frightens me. By the way, that is a reference to 30 Rock Season 1, episode 20: "Cleveland." I won't spoil it. Watch it. Damn Youtube removed that clip I love so much.)

Sooo... As a substitute, we have Kylie. No reason.

As for meeting bloggers-- I'd love to, but it's freaky to invite myself to things. The main reasons why I had the moxie to ask Todd and Diane and Marvin to meet with me in El Segundo was because Todd and Diane had invited me to a party long before, and a mutual friend assured me Marvin would love to meet me (plus, he's kind of a homeboy, so...). And even then I was deathly afraid of letting them down. Hopefully in a few days I'll get everything straightened out. For sure I'll want to see Ann (and I'm pretttty sure she'll want to see me. I hope). I won't cause any more undue pressure by naming names, but you'll know if it worked out... When I post the pictures :)

Oh, and why aren't there any West coast hospitals? Believe me, I checked. The specific recruitment policies make it very difficult for non-residents of the United States to even think of applying.

This is also my contribution to Maryann and Joe's Seven Fishes Feast blog event! Contribute a fish/shellfish dish by the 19th and you might win a wonderful basket of goodies!

Pla Phad Phrik Khing adapted from The Celadon Restaurant at the Sukhothai Hotel, Bangkok (Gourmet February 2004)
This is an extremely easy recipe from one of the high-end restaurants of Bangkok. I'm not sure if it's a function of the brand of red curry paste I used, but I found the end result a tad salty (my dad gave it two thumbs up, though). Since the sauce requires only the barest minimum of cooking after seasoning, you're definitely free to adjust the amount of either dried shrimp or fish sauce without fear of wrecking the whole dish, and it'll be perfect. Oh-- and this is quite spicy. Juz the way I like.
  • 2 tablespoons dried shrimp

  • About 4 cups vegetable oil (I used about one... come on)

  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (preferably Mae Ploy brand)

  • 1 14-oz (397mL) can unsweetened coconut milk at room temperature, stirred well (I used one 50g packet of coconut milk powder dissolved in 400mL hot water)

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1-1/2 lb (1kg) skinless snapper fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup Asian rice flour (not sweet-- I used cornstarch)

  • About 10 Chinese long beans (snake beans or string beans) or 4oz (120g) green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces

Grind dried shrimp in an electric coffee or spice grinder until fluffy, about 1 minute. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook curry paste, stirring constantly, 30 seconds. Add coconut milk gradually, whisking until smooth, then add fish sauce and sugar and cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Stir in ground shrimp, then remove from heat and keep covered.

Heat 1 inch oil in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan until it registers 375°F (190°C) on thermometer (eh, I wasn't that exact, for once). Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt. Dredge in rice flour, shaking off excess, and arrange in 1 layer on a plate.

Cook beans in oil 30 seconds and transfer to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 375°F (190°C) and fry fish in 2 batches, turning, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer fish to fresh paper towels to drain. Bring curry sauce to a simmer, then add fish and cook, turning fish gently to coat with sauce, about 1 minute.

Serve fish curry with long beans scattered on top. For styling purposes, I reserved a few drained fillets to place on top and drizzled some of the remaining curry sauce over.

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