The late Northwest harvest season brings us gorgeous local chiles, green beans, stunning basil and a rainbow of sweet peppers. All of those star in this aromatic and beautiful dish. I have been creating seasonal southeast Asian curries since I first started in the restaurant business, (just a few, okay maybe more than a few) years ago, and they remain at the top of my list of essential recipes. You'll be amazed at the complexity of flavors created by the combination of these relatively simple ingredients.
12-16 thin green beans, trimmed and cut in half on the diagonal
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (divided)
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and cut into julienne strips
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut in julienne strips
1 pound medium raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails removed
1/4 cup (or to taste depending on spiciness) curry paste (recipe below)
1 can (14.5 ounces) organic coconut milk
2 cups baby spinach leaves (or substitute any tender leafy green, cut into bite sized pieces)
10-18 basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
Fish sauce or soy sauce to taste
Squeeze fresh lime
Sprigs of cilantro for garnish
Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for about 4 minutes. Refresh in cold water and drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the onions, beans and red bell pepper and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion are crisp-tender. Add the prawns and stir-fry for 2 minutes more or until the prawns turn lightly pink. Make a well in the center, add the remaining oil and stir in the curry paste. Cook for a minute or so to bloom the flavors of the curry. Stir in the coconut milk, spinach or leafy greens, basil and cilantro. Season generously with the fish sauce and lime juice and gently heat through.
Serve over steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.
Green Curry Paste:
1 cup loosely packed seeded and diced green chiles, (see note)
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 2-inch piece fresh lemon grass, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves
1 shallot, finely minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped kaffir lime leaves or regular lime zest
2 teaspoons anchovy paste (optional)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to grind to a coarse paste.
Note: The type of chile you choose will dictate the level of heat in your curry. In this country Mexican chiles are most widely available. Choose Habanero, Serrano and Jalapeno for more heat. Choose Pasillas or even Anaheim for a milder curry. (Or mix and match to your taste.)