Like the burrito last week, there is something amazingly fun and freeing about creating a recipe for a food that you know very little about. Anything involving chili peppers, I know very little about.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, on holidays with my family in Jamaica, we were visiting friends who were staying in a villa nearby. Out in their back yard was a tree with the cutest little red peppers I had ever seen. What did I do? Of course- I plucked it from the tree and took a bite, than scratched my face, maybe rubbed my eye in the process- next thing I knew, I was in tears begging to have my head removed from my body as I was sure it was on the verge of complete explosion. I had never felt such a searing discomfort before in my life.
Lessons learned! The little red peppers are not sweet like the big ones. Simple enough.
But I was ready to brave these hot chiles again. I had started introducing cayenne into recipes a few years ago and my man-panion of choice sprinkles cayenne on just about everything. I also instruct "a pinch of cayenne" whenever I include as more than salt even, spicy is a personal preference.
I have always loved the idea of a spicy green curry using full fat (always use full fat!) coconut milk in it. It's almost like building a fire and having the bucket of water built in. The coconut milk works with the spice to maintain the flavour but remove the mouth searing pain.
When I started researching green curries, it was clear that I was going to need some green chiles. This was the pepper listed in every recipe I looked at. But do you know how many kinds of green chiles there are? Likely about the same as the number of tears I shed when I burnt my head off biting into that chile many moons ago.
As it turns out, there is a chile pepper commonly referred as a Green Chili.
It looks like this.
The spicy heat of chiles is rated on something called the "Scoville Scale". According to Wiki: "The number of Scoville heat units indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound that stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes".
Sounds painful right?
The Green Chile or Chlie Verde I used for this dish are certainly not the hottest kids on the block (or peppers on the vine) but they were perfect for me. Use this handy dandy chart to decide what you want to venture into. (Source)
Now because I was traumatized for life by my first hot chile eating contest where I was the only one participating, I donned latex gloves to slice, dice and deseed my chiles. Perhaps not necessary but be sure you wash your hands really, really well and keep them away from eyes and private spots! Also remember- the seeds are like little spice bombs so if you are uncertain of how much heat you can handle, deseed your peppers or start with just a few.
Now, aside from adding a delightfully delicious kick to your dish, they also add a delightfully delicious kick to your health.
- Fight migraines and sinus pain
- Help prevent Sinusitis and relieve congestion
- Help lower high blood pressure
- Fight inflammation
- Soothe the intestines (contrary to popular belief that they make digestive stuff worse- moderation my friends)
- Give a boost to metabolism
- Power packed with vitamin C
- Warm your feet and hands by promoting circulation- which also means they can give an extra firmness to gentleman (wink, wink)
So now that you had your lesson on hot chile peppers, I now feel it is time for you to cook. Ready, set, Green Chili Magic!
- 8 small green chillies - seeded and chopped (wear gloves and keep hands away from eyes)
- 3 Tbs garlic, minced
- ¼ cup shallots, chopped
- 2 cups fresh cilantro - leaves and stalks
- 2 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
- 1 tsp turmeric, ground
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 2 tsp lime rind, grated
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tbs sesame oil
- Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
- Will keep in fridge for 2 weeks, or freeze in ice cube trays for single serving.
- 2 Tbs Coconut Oil
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 Tbs Thai Green Curry Paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup water, homemade vegetable stock or water from steaming the veggies
- 2 stalks lemon grass, bruised (this means break them up by hand or banging with the back side of a chef’s knife)
- 1 cup small broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup cauliflower florets, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup green beans, chopped to 2 inches in length
- 1 package organic firm tofu, drained, rinsed and cubed
- 1 red pepper pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup spinach, chard or kale, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup cashews, raw (Reserve ¼ cup for garnish)
- Small bunch of cilantro (Reserve ¼ cup for garnish)
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- 2 Tbs lime juice
- 1 tsp sea salt or more to taste
- Brown rice or rice noodles, for serving
- In a medium sized pot, sauté the onions in coconut oil just until translucent.
- Add the curry paste and lightly fry for a couple of minutes.
- In a separate pot, steam broccoli, green beans and cauliflower just until tender, but not too soft. You just want to get them half cooked.
- Add the water/vegetable stock and bruised lemongrass to the pot.
- Add the broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, red pepper, and tofu and simmer for 15 minutes until veggies are tender.
- Add the coconut milk, greens, and cashews and simmer another 5-8 minutes. Nice to keep them still a little crunchy.
- Add the chopped cilantro leaves, basil and the lime juice to taste.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn stove off and allow to sit for about 10 minutes to mix flavours together.
- Remove stalks of lemongrass.
- Serve in a large bowl, with the noodles or brown rice at the bottom, and the curry and vegetables on top, garnish with fresh cilantro and cashews.