Scroll down to download the full, detailed recipe.
A tingling surprise
Do you enjoy a tingling sense in your cheeks and just below your eyes? The slight rise of temperature in your head, without needing to go visit a sauna? Fireworks in your mouth? Does it ring a bell? Well, I’m talking about red curry paste. If you are a Flemish girl like me, from a rather small town, your only contact with curry was probably in one or the other tv series in which some cliché Indian person made a curry for the whole family or another cliché überhip twentysomething living in a big USA city who got takeaway and enjoyed the curry with some rice sitting on a sofa. At least, that was how I used to see curry… Don’t take any offense if you feel spoken to. That was just the way it was. When I moved to Brussels, I discovered curry in certain touristic restaurants and warmup meals from the Carrefour and I rather enjoyed the taste of it. But I had the feeling there must have been more refined versions and probably even tastier curries!
Never would I have thought to try and make a curry myself. Sometimes, I bought a little jar with red curry paste and used it liberally in my home made dishes. But today I decided to give it a try. While looking for a chrononutrition recipe in “Le Régime starter” by Dr. Alain Delabos, I stumbled upon “Petites côtes de porc au curry”, small pork chops with curry. In the recipe suggests to use a ready-made curry paste, but I felt that it would be a great opportunity to make work from scratch. There weren’t any pork chops in the grocery store, so I changed the recipe and prepared it with pork smelt.
Le boyfriend and me, we were very tempted to lick the pan until the last drop of sauce and curry. In the end, we kept our cool (not really, because, as we aren’t used to eating spicy food, there wasn’t much of cool in our mouths…) and I froze the rest of the curry paste/sauce for later recipes.
And now we’re here. Let me share the recipe. Scroll down for the printable version.
The red curry paste
First make sure you have all the ingredients, so do a round in your kitchen, the garden, grocery shop and find everything you need. Preferably you put everything close to you on the kitchen counter. For the spices, I took what I could find in my local grocery shops, I didn’t go to any specialised spice shop.
The green pepper grew in my garden and I had no idea if it would be hot or not. In the end, I don’t think it spiced it up so much. Maybe a store bought pepper is more suitable if you want to know how spicy things will get.
You will have to peel the onions and the garlic before cutting them into big pieces. Make sure that no peel is left! I had to fish out some smaller parts after having made the paste and my hands smelled a looooot like onion and garlic after that..
You put the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor to make a paste of it. I didn’t have any fresh ginger at home, so I used the dried, powder version. The taste was just as strong. Texture wise, it may have changed a bit with fresh ginger.
Now you should prepare the tomatoes. In my garden there are many tomatoes growing at this moment, but unfortunately they are still as green as I am behind my ears regarding making curry paste. As you see on the picture, I didn’t take of the peel of the tomatoes, but is recommendable, because the tomato peels are quite large and they don’t melt when you heat them. Recently my mother gave me a trick to peel them. You have to make an incision, for example a cross, on the bottom of the tomato and you bathe it for a short time, maybe 30 seconds or less, in boiling water. You could even do it in a water boiler! Then you drop the tomatoes in ice cold water to stop the boiling and the peel comes off very easily. With your fingers or a sharp knife, you can take clean the tomato. But I didn’t peel them. I just washed the tomatoes and cut them in pieces. I cut out anything green and mashed the bunch.
After this, you should heat all the oil (a lot!!!) in a large pan. Don’t forget you’ll have to add the tomatoes, so make sure it is large enough. Once the oil is hot, you can put in the onion and garlic mixture. Be careful not to drop it from too high, because hot oil burns like hell. Stir it on a medium heat and let it simmer about ten minutes.
The mixture will become slightly brown and it is time to add the mashed tomatoes and all the spices. You blend it and let it simmer again, but now for about 15 minutes.
Now the curry paste is ready to use and you can start with the pork smelt. For the pork smelt, you’ll only need two spoons of the curry paste, so keep the rest aside. In a pot in the fridge (max a week) or in small bags in the freezer (up to a month). I really recommend not to put it all in one pot in the freezer, because it is too much and you won’t be able to take out portions for any recipe. In small bags as I did, is very easy to stack, you can press out the air, it freezes quickly and unfreezes quickly too.
The pork smelt with red curry paste
(variation on an existing recipe, reference, see below)
The preparation of the pork smelt is fairly easy and quick. You’ll have to heat a little bit of oil and add the chopped onion in it. I don’t like cleaning a chopping tool, because there are always bits and pieces stuck in it and I’m not a very skilled chef for chopping neither, so I tried to cut the onion in the smallest pieces possible. With the onion, you should also add the two spoons of curry paste and let it simmer for a moment, so all the flavours get mixed.
Then you place the pork smelt in the pan and with a spatula I covered it a bit with the oily paste. You let it fry for about five minutes on one side and then some extra minutes on the other. Once the meat is ready, you remove it from the pan. To make sure, I always make an incision. It should be well cooked, but not dried out. In the pan with the leftover paste, you add the white wine and the water, stir it and let anything stuck to the pan get loose. This is the sauce which you’ll pour on the pork smelts.
I served this dish with cooked green lentils, some broccoli (from my garden, but which I froze because I couldn’t manage them all), and a store bought package of pulled pork. It was absolutely delicious and we couldn’t stop eating! Every time I took a bite, my face started to glow in a pleasant way and I couldn’t stop smiling from joy.
Have you made this? Do you have your own curry recipe? Let me know in the comments below! Also read my blogposts on Chrononutrition! A new, tasty world will open!
Reference for the original recipe: “Le Régime Starter”, Dr. Alain Delabos, 2006, p. 178.