Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Kitsch, Koi, and Curry

Alliteration, mmmm...

We've managed to participate in a couple events lately that we wouldn't ever have been a part of before moving to Hawaii. First up, last weekend we dropped by the Spam Festival in Waikiki.

Yes, the Spam Festival.

That's my kitschy event in the title. People in Hawaii genuinely do like spam. If you ask B his favorite food, he will tell you that it's spam musubi, which is a block of rice with a little soy and a spam slice on top, wrapped in nori with a little furukake sprinkled on top. Though he does take the nori off and give it to me. If you go to McDonald's you can buy special local breakfasts, which are scrambled eggs, rice, and either spam or portuguese sausage.

However, Hawaiians also know that mainlanders can't believe people eat spam by choice and they like to play up the weirdness of it, hence the spam festival. They close the main thoroughfare through Waikiki and set up stages for bands at either end, and then there's a bunch of booths in between, mostly food. I did see such yummy items as Spamghetti and Spamakopita. I can imagine the latter being okay, but spam on spaghetti? I shudder at the image, and this is the guy who ate a spam musubi each day for lunch when I was teaching. Well, at least until I learned to like kim chee and could stay at school for the break.

This past Monday, many of you may have celebrated Cinco de Mayo. Did I spell that right? Well, it's also Boy's Day, a Japanese holiday, which is celebrated by many here. We had picked up a fish windsock about a year ago at an art fair for B's Texan cousin, but it turned out to be hard to ship, so we pulled it out for B instead. N brought home about $5 worth of goodies from the grocery store; I cooked a meal that B selected (beef, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and broccoli); and then we walked around Waikiki with our fish windsock. When I went into school today, I noticed a list of various Boy's Day presents that people had gotten and B was listed there with a koi nobori, which it turns out is what we had given him. Here's a bit about koi nobori in Hawaii. If you'd like to purchase your own koi nobori, you can here.

Finally, I did have a chance to do a little cooking this weekend and tried out a recipe for bamboo shoot chicken curry. It came out pretty decently. It's a red curry. I halved the red curry paste, knowing that N is not a spicy food kind of gal right now, and that was good for her. Anyway, here are the ingredients all lined up for you folk:

Let's see if I can remember how to make this.

1 lb of chicken
2.5 cans of coconut milk
1 can of bamboo shoots
1 can of green beans (optional)
Thai fish sauce, like 1 TB
1 TB sugar
1 TB of thai red curry paste (this is the full amount, not the halved amount)

(I know I have chicken broth in the pic, but I didn't use it and it wasn't in the original recipe.) The recipe recommended whole bamboo shoots instead of the sliced ones. I had never seen a whole shoot before, so here's a pic of what came out of the can.

Chop everything up. Bite size pieces and what not. I did a little mise en place prep here:

Next heat up half of the coconut milk in your pan until it boils "and separates". Ooh, coconut milk!

After it boils, cool to a low boil and add the red curry paste and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Add in the fish sauce and sugar, stirring. Next add in the chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes or until done. Then add in the bamboo shoots and green beans, and the rest of the coconut milk, and return to a boil. Simmer for a bit until everything is nice and hot. Serve over rice.

It's not all that amazing to look at

but it tasted decent and it was really pretty easy. By far the hardest thing was chopping up the chicken and possibly the fact that you have to stir and can't let it sit. Otherwise, it's a 20 minute meal. Now, I'm biased in that I love a good Thai red curry almost as much as good biscuits smothered in butter and honey. This was only at the "fine" stage, and I can't open a Thai restaurant yet, but I still recommend giving it a try.

Oh, that's right. I was supposed to add some kaffir lime leaves in around the time of the chicken, but I didn't have any. So if you got 'em, use 'em. I imagine a little fresh basil would be welcome, too, though that wasn't part of this recipe.

And there you have it: Kitsch, koi, and curry.


Ello said...

I like red curry but I think I like the green curry better. But I love that you post your culinary efforts! They are some of the best posts you do! At least for me! Spam festival! Love it! I'd go although I am not a fan of the stuff - but I would go just to quote Monty Python Spam, spam spam spam....

Robin S. said...

Hey - love it that you equate your Southern cookin' biscuits heritage with your love of red curry.

That tells me how much you enjoy it!

Keep the pics and recipes comin'.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'll have to try your red curry. I doubt I can find kefir lime leaves in Maine, but they might have them in the specialty section or at Whole Foods in Bangor the next time I go there.

I've never made a red Thai curry, just yellow curries with coconut milk. The coconut milk makes all the difference, doesn't it? I will have to try your recipe