Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I like food. Why not start the new year with a recipe?

I was looking in my pantry and thinking about what to eat, and really not wanting to go the grocery store... I discovered that there were some old vegetables which wanted to be eaten. Also, it's time to clean things up a bit before the new housemate arrives. (Note: we're currently living in the OMF guest house in Sapporo. It's meant for people who are short term missionaries like us, or others from OMF and missionaries' families who need a place to live for a few months or less.) Our last housemate, Lauren, went home to Tokyo before Christmas. Here's a picture of our farewell dinner--Tonjiru soup, a recipe from a dear friend in Tokyo (Ronna Husby), who also happened to be my preschool teacher. :) Oh, by the way, Lauren went to high school with Ronna's daughter. Small world... (Actually, although I might eventually post about Tonjiru soup, this post is about curry.)

Anyway, back to the recipe. Or not. One more digression. Christmas was a little funny this year--first time on our own, and first time so far from "home"... although really, where is home anyway? In any case, Christmas presents were kept to a minimum, since we will have to either leave stuff behind to haul it home. I bought my own Christmas presents. That's another "weird" thing about this Christmas. My presents to myself were a special bento box for New Year's food, and a donabe--a heavy clay cooking pot that I can use on the gas stove! (It's pronounced doe-nah-bay, by the way.) Oh, I love it already. This is my first time cooking with gas, and I've been a bit frustrated that there's no such thing as "low heat." The lowest setting on this stove means "rapid boil." Oh dear. The wonderful thing about the donabe is that it's good and heavy, so even on a gas stove, I can simmer my soups. How exciting! (Keith's comment: "why is it that your favorite cooking implements are always the hardest to clean?")

Of course there are many wonderful Japanese dishes I can make with my donabe, but this isn't one of them. I invented this one on the spot. Influences were a wonderful curry I made with a friend 10 years ago in the Netherlands (the egg idea came from that recipe), a Japanese book I just bought about using up the old veggies in your fridge (I LOVE this book), and the particular things I had around the house. It was cold, so I didn't feel like going to the store. I use my donabe all the time. Tonight's dinner was risotto, also beautifully cooked in my donabe. :)

Here we go. Enough chit-chat.

Orange and Green Curry
  • 1/2 kabocha or other small-ish orange-fleshed winter squash, seeds removed, cut into large bite-sized chunks (if you are using kabocha, skin on is fine--hence the "green" in the title)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • A bit of water or broth
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into large bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, coursely chopped
  • Salt
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger root
  • A bit of leek
  • 1 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
In a heavy pot (I used a Japanese donabe), bring the kabocha, coconut milk, and enough broth or water to cover to a boil. Add sweet potato.

Meanwhile, heat a dollop of olive oil in a frying pan, and add the onions. Sprinkle them with salt. Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes to caramelize. Add garlic, ginger, and leak, and sauté for a few more minutes. Add curry paste and a few splashes of broth, and mix.

Pour the onion mixture into the soup pot, and deglaze the pan with a little water or broth. Cover and simmer until the kabocha and sweet potatoes are tender.

Also meanwhile, cook the lentils until they are al dente… if I can use such a term to refer to lentils. Add the lentils to the soup just before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve over rice with the hard-boiled eggs.

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