This post is less because of the green curry and more because of the fact that I finally made my own coconut milk! My best friend is a brilliant eco-warrior who has been making her own coconut milk recently and has been telling me that it’s very easy and delicious. She was right. You literally need nothing but shredded coconut, water, patience, and a blender.
I had read a few recipes online that soaked the coconut in hot water, some that incorporated coconut oil, and that was the approach I tried at first. It was great, but my friend assured me that she just blended the coconut with cold water for ages and that was all you needed to do. So I tried a combo approach – one part coconut one part hot water, and blend. For ages! And it was delicious! Creamy, sweet, full of coconut flavour, and better than canned coconut milk by far!
1 cup dried shredded coconut (not desiccated)
1 cup hot water
Green Curry Tofu
300g firm tofu
5-6 shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water
2 jerusalem artichokes
2 long red chillies
2 tbsp green curry paste
2 garlic cloves
Coriander (to finish)
Fried shallots (to finish)
This was a weeknight cook so the vegetables I used were whatever we had in the fridge at the time. The jerusalem artichokes in particular are not a traditional Thai ingredient, but I used them as a substitute for bamboo shoots – they have a similar crunchy, slightly sweet flavour and I had a few left over from a previous dish. I do try not to waste food wherever possible, and some of my best food discoveries have happened through experimentation. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that jerusalem artichokes should be added to all green curries, but when peeled, sliced thinly, and added towards the end of the cook they do substitute for bamboo shoots in a pinch!
Start by putting equal parts shredded coconut and hot water in a blender – pulse briefly to combine and then blend on high for about 8-10 minutes. If your blender seems to be struggling or overheating, turn it off for a quick break and then keep on blending. The longer you are able to blend, the creamier the coconut milk will be.
When it has blended, strain the coconut through a very fine sieve into a bowl – a nut milk or muslin bag is ideal, or you could use two Onya mesh bags like I did. Once the liquid has moved through, squeeze the remaining coconut to release the creamy liquid. You should end up with fine coconut that is damp but not wet, and a bowl of delicious creamy coconut milk. You can reuse the coconut by blending it into smoothies or add it to cakes or similar.
While the coconut milk is blending, cube the tofu, mince or finely chop the garlic, and slice the rest of the vegetables. Slicing thinly on the diagonal is always good for asian dishes.
Heat a wok or other large pan, and heat a tbsp or so of coconut oil. You can substitute another vegetable oil if you don’t have any coconut oil, but the coconut flavour really complements asian food. Lightly sauté the garlic, chilli and tofu, until the garlic is very lightly coloured. Add the curry paste and a small amount of the coconut milk – just enough to blend with the paste – and fry for a minute or two. Add the shiitakes, carrot and zucchini and stir through before adding the rest of the coconut milk.
Let cook for about five minutes, and add the sliced artichokes. Stir through and let cook for another few minutes, and remove from the heat. Serve over jasmine rice, garnished with coriander and fried shallots