Recipe Monday: Valentine’s Special

Today: Yellow Coconut Curry!

To my surprise, last week’s first edition of Recipe Mondays was met with unmitigated success among the blogging crowds. And because we thrive to please our public, here at Dr Dave Logs Inc., I shall do my best at keeping up with the now firmly established tradition of Recipe Mondays!

What? It’s not Monday anymore? Well, I’m sure it’s Monday somewhere else in the world right this moment. Internet time, all that…

By the by, talking about Monday…

Part 1: The Rant

I guess saying I despise Valentine’s Day and its commercial faux-fluffiness would make me sound like some kind of bitter dateless hater, or at the very least like an unromantic grinch who can’t enjoy an honest-to-goodness holiday when he’s handed one on a heart-shaped silver platter.

First let me clear that out: if I didn’t thoroughly enjoy being single on Valentine’s Day, then why on Earth would I manage to break up every single year without fail just a few days before it. Surely there must be some sort of subconscious fear that, come that fateful day, any lingering relationship, would require me to attend some kind of official Valentine’s celebration, likely out of common decency and possibly at gunpoint.

In fact, I don’t really hate Valentine’s that much. I am not this person who spend their day hissing at whatever looks like a mating attempt between two humans… It’s just that I don’t get it. I don’t get what’s so “romantic” about buying cheap industrial crap and/or overpriced luxury items as the yearly token of your undying love. If anything, it just goes to show that gender equality hasn’t made much of a significant progress ever since the dark ages, except you no longer pay your bride’s father with a herd of goats, but give the payment to your loved one directly, and preferably in expensive shiny stones.

But truth be told, I don’t really care, one way or the other, about the materialism of it all (hey, after all, ’tis Japan: over here, I am the one who receives chocolates for Valentine’s). I could live with it, if not for that freaking herd mentality.

Hear me now: I haven’t completely lost touch, I am well aware that any celebration is all about herd mentality.

But take, for example, that exercise in futility that is Superbowl Sunday: We all know Superbowl Sunday has little to do with watching the terminally boring encounter of two dozen gorillas on a green field… it’s all a very blatant excuse to get absolutely shitfaced with your friends on a Sunday afternoon and pass out in bed at 7:30pm. For you and me, it might not sound so exciting, especially seeing how that’s what we do every Sunday to begin with (well, I know that’s what I do anyway), but for some married folks, it does make a difference.

Problem is: while it might add to the fun to wedge yourself between 50 of your fellow beer-swilling football fans at your local watering hole, it adds very little to the romantic frame to be competing against every other couple in the city for mediocre seating at some not-so-great restaurant on Valentine’s Day. You might enjoy a communal atmosphere on your intimate dates, I don’t.

What? A recipe? oh yea… the recipe…

Part 2: The Recipe

What better way to celebrate the Day of Love than by cooking a delicious Yellow Coconut Curry to share with your roommate and your very-much-ex special someone (yea, no hard feeling, at least as long as I cook).

Yellow Coconut Curry is so laughably easy to make that even I hesitated to use it for this week’s recipe. But then I remembered that if you are the kind of person who gets his cooking advice from a website that usually draws people searching for “japanese upskirt pictures” (according to Google), you are not looking into becoming the chef at Pierre Gagnaire’s (well, might have to get rid of Mr. Pierre Gagnaire, to begin with). Talk about the paraplegic leading the blinds…

Okay, ready?

The only ingredients you really need for the Yellow Coconut Curry are yellow curry paste and, brace yourself, coconut milk!
That’s it, really. Oh, and potatoes too, but you’ll find potatoes aplenty and on the cheap in every single part of the world, except maybe if you live in Ireland and it’s the mid 1840’s. Otherwise, you are pretty much set. All other ingredients are optional and can be combined in an infinity of different ways, kind of a Make your own recipe thing, if you will:

  1. The Potatoes: we need a lot of potatoes, and we need them naked preferably. For those who really have no clue about that whole cooking stuff, allow me to give you a little tip that was imparted to me over the 15 year apprenticeship I spent at Shaolin’s School of Cooking in my youth:
    • Throw the potatoes, with their skin still on but with the dirt off (we don’t wanna make a mud bath), in a pot of boiling water.
    • Let it boil for a while (15-20 minutes minimum) until it nearly reaches “mashed potato-ready” consistence.
    • At which point, with a mere touch of your hand on four points located at the vital centers of the potato (see figure 1.a and 1.b), the skin will fall all by itself and the potato be vanquished.
    • Failing that, using any knife, or even your finger, ought to do the trick as well
    • Don’t forget to rinse the potatoes in cold water before you do that. And put some ice on that burn, it looks painful.
    • If you are in a real hurry and have no concern over exposing your potatoes to serious brain cancer risks, a few minutes in a microwave, followed by the aforementioned boiling process, will speed things up
  2. While the potatoes are boiling, it’s time to pick your other ingredients and prepare them. First, you probably do want onions: cut and peel a few. Actually, peel then cut: it’s much easier that way.
  3. Next, pick your protein: healthy fried tofu or possibly avian-flu infected chicken. If no chicken is available, any small rodent or household pet (cat, small dog, peacock…), skin and bones carefully removed, will do as well. If you go for the meat option, cut in small pieces and fry in a pan (or whatever you got), with two craploads of olive oil or 1.2 crapload of butter (see previous edition for measurement conversion to metric system). Skip that step for tofu (it should already be fried).
  4. Either way, throw the onion in the pan (with or without chicken) and fry for a while.
  5. Time to get out the cauldron: pick the special missionary-size (must fit at least one whole missionary with limbs removed if necessary) and pour coconut milk up to about an inch from the bottom. Add and mix in a few generous spoonful of yellow curry, cook on medium-high fire for about 10 minutes while stirring regularly
  6. During that time, prepare whatever other veggies you feel like using. Carots work (boil them with the potatoes), green, red or yellow peppers work too. Tomatoes (only one or two) … Whatever’s left in your cupbard, as usual.
  7. Time to throw everything in the big pot: more coconut milk (you probably need 1 liter total for a 3-4 person curry), potatoes, other optional veggies (carrots, peppers, tomatoes…), onions and chicken or tofu.
  8. Did I mention you were to cut/slice/whatever everything before throwing it in the pot? Well, I hope you did
  9. Roll a twelve-sided dice:
    • 1 to 3: add unsalted peanuts
    • 4 to 8: go for pineapple (sliced and cut in pieces, need I precise).
    • 9 to 12: skip your turn and lose 3 points of mana with a Cooking of Hell spell.
  10. Congratulations: You are done!
  11. Nearly
  12. Basically, it’s all cooking now. Once all the ingredients are into the pot, lower the gaz and stir regularly. The correct temperature should make the curry simmer ever so slightly (we are not going for witch’s brew boiling of hell here). As for the duration: just between you and me, it’s impossible to overcook a curry… The longer the better… Let’s say at least 30 minutes, perhaps a bit more. You want the final texture to be a bit creamy.
  13. A dozen minutes before the end of the cooking phase, you can add some more yellow curry, depending on your taste. If you like your curries spicy, you can also add a speck of red curry paste, but don’t overdo it: you want to keep the sweet and tangy flavor of the yellow curry. Cilandro and dill if you like the herb.
  14. Serve with rice and loads of red wine.

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