Thai Red Curry with Plantains and Bok Choy

Thai Red Curry with Plantains and Bok Choy, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you have not tried plantains before, now is your time to give them a try. Plantains look like bananas – perhaps slightly bigger than average bananas. But, they are not usually paletable without cooking and are thus often referred to as “cooking bananas“. This starchy fruit is used in number of different dishes all over the tropical world where these plants are cultivated and grown.

Although you can eat plantains when they are still green, it is best to wait for them to get quite ripe. And for plantains that means really quite brown – think bananas that are two days beyond their “use to make a banana bread” date. Most of the time the plantains you find in the store need more ripening and the best way to do this is to leave them in a paper bag for another week or two.

Once they are nice and mostly brown, it’s time to make them into something delicious. You could grill them, boil them, fry them, roast them – and with the right spice combination plantains will not disappoint. I prefer to double cook them. First, I roast them without peeling and then I use them in different applications. For example, this chili was a great combination of beans and plantains, and worked really well.

For the curry recipe below, the plantains were roasted first then diced. In general, roasting brings out flavors that are sometimes hard to get any other way. In the case of plantains, this extra step is definitely worth it since ripe plantains still tend to be pretty tough.

The curry itself is really super easy – it takes only one pot and about 30 minutes to get to a fragrant and rich red curry with a subtle level of heat. If you are looking to increase the heat, you can consider adding some finely chopped red Thai chili peppers, which punch some serious heat!

The basis of the flavor here is the combination of lemongrass and ginger, further fortified by the red curry paste (I used store bought but you can make your own – see below for the link to a great recipe). If you are buying your red chili paste in a store, do check the ingredients to make sure that there is no fish or oyster sauce in there.

Other than the flavor agents and plantains, you will also need bok choy, and if that is hard for you to find where you live, Napa cabbage, spinach, or even kale will work. The final flavors are going to be slightly different but the cooking times and the rest of the recipe will be about the same.

Finally, you can’t make a great curry without some coconut milk. You can use either full fat or low fat versions, just note that the curry with low fat coconut milk may need more simmering to remove access liquid. You may also need to adjust the amount of vegetable broth in that case as well. The final curry should be rich and thick, and goes really well over some simple boiled brown rice!

Thai Red Curry with Plantains and Bok Choy

Thai Red Curry with Plantains and Bok Choy

What you’ll need:

4 super-ripe plantains
1 lemongrass, thinly sliced
2 inch ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red curry paste (store bought or homemade)
3 pieces of bok choy, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz) coconut milk (full fat or lite)
1 tablespoon cooking oil (canola or vegetable)

Rice or quinoa for serving

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Roast the super-ripe (almost brown) unpeeled plantains in a parchment paper covered roasting pan for 45 to 60 minutes. You can do this a day ahead – plantains’ skin will be completely black and the plantains themselves will be softened but not mushy.
  2. Let the plantains cool completely before handling further. Peel the cold, roasted plantains and slice into bite size slices. Set aside.
  3. Wash bok choy, shake off the excess water, then and slice into bite size pieces and set aside.
  4. Place a large pan over medium heat, add the oil and thinly sliced lemongrass and ginger. Let the flavors develop for 1-2 minutes then add the red curry paste. Mix and let combine for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the diced plantains, and let them brown for 5-8 minutes.
  6. Mix in the vegetable stock and the coconut milk, increase the heat and bring to boil.
  7. When the curry is boiling, add box chop, lower the heat down and let simmer for 20 minutes or so. The longer you simmer the thicker the curry. Turn the heat off, and let the curry cool just slightly. As it cools the consistency will thicken further and be perfect for serving over rice or quinoa!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Easy Breadfruit Curry

Easy Breadfruit Curry, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Easy Breadfruit Curry, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Breadfruit is not something that you can find in your local grocery store unless you live in one of the tropical countries where it’s been a staple food for millennia. Yet, it’s a fruit, or maybe I should say a vegetable, that has been taking the fancy of historians, writers, artists and the silver screen perhaps because of its poetic name, breadfruit, that suggest ability to pick your loaf of a branch! Or perhaps because it hails from exotic regions of our planet that one could reach only by taking an epic journey, like the one taken by the “Bounty“, a ship whose voyage and its mutiny is part of actual and the movie making history.

To be quite honest all my knowledge of breadfruit comes from watching different versions of the mutiny on the Bounty movies so I got quite excited when I saw it in my local Indian supermarket. I was looking for some frozen jackfruit and the breadfruit was right next to it. So I grabbed a bag and decided to give breadfruit a try!

Texture-wise, breadfruit is not unlike jackfruit, and they do belong to the same plant family. But, breadfruit is a bit softer, at least in my hands, and less chewy. It worked really well in this simple curry, and pairs really well with simple Basmati Rice.

The recipe is really simple and starts with frozen breadfruit, scallions (green onions), curry powder, green curry and turmeric, and finishes with some rich coconut cream. The dish comes together into a fragrant curry that tastes almost decadent.

Easy Breadfruit Curry

What you’ll need:

14 oz (400 g) bread fruit frozen

6 scallions (green onions)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon green curry paste, like Thai Kitchen (or make your own)

13.5 oz (400 ml) coconut cream

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Spray a large pan with cooking spray and place over medium high heat.
  2. While the pan is heating up chop scallions, both white and green parts. Add to the pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the green curry paste, turmeric and curry powder. Mix everything together and sauté for another minute or two.
  4. Add the breadfruit. You can add it frozen or defrost in a microwave. Mix well, and let sauté for 10 minutes or so until breadfruit is soft, covered in spices and starts to brown.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and deglaze the bottom, which means use your wooden spoon and coconut milk to lift all the brown bits of caramelized scallions and spices of the bottom of the pan and incorporate them into the sauce.
  6. Decrease the heat to low and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Serve over rice, couscous or even polenta!!!
  8. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017