A curry is a dish cooked with a lot of spices, more like a stew with spices. In our recent study trip to Chiang Mai, I made a Thai curry paste by hand which took me a laborious 30-40 mins per curry mix because we had to roast the spices and pound them together with peppers until we achieved a nice paste (try doing that with a mortar and pestle and you’ll go crazy!).
Aside from India, Asian countries have their own types of curry. Most curries have a strong spice mix and are pretty spicy, but if you’re an enthusiast, you can easily tell one curry from another, because each country has it’s own distinct spice mix. I am thinking of a Filipino food that can pass for a curry…wiki says it’s kare-kare…but then it doesn’t exactly have a strong spice mix aside from the atsuete, nuts and rice…but the process is almost the same. In a curry, you extract flavors from the spice mix via roasting and pounding. Curry powder makes life easier because it contains a specific spice mix, but it for me, I like buying curries in paste form. Well, that’s my preference.
This Sunday dinners’ highlights were the 3 curries with different profiles, which were going to be eaten with a lot of buttered rice and condiments.
This Sunday dinner kicked off with some squid and fish flakes from cebu that my dad opened at the start (which Mig and I missed because we came from Greenhills). Then out came a very interesting hot and sour soup.
This hot and sour soup isn’t typical. In fact, I thought it was Japanese, but it still tasted chinese (must be one of dad’s eastern fusion ideas). The hot and sour soup contained soft tofu, which gave a wonderful nutty taste and soft texture; green peas, which gave an interesting burst in the mouth, shiitake mushroom, some pork, a few bits of dried baby shrimp, sea moss and seaweed. It looked pretty gross but it was good, and I am sure they used good black vinegar which was properly simmered down to give a rich, slightly tangy taste.
Out came the seafood curry, which was slightly a green curry because of the coriander. It wasn’t so spicy but it was made up of scallops, clams, shrimp, mussels and squid. I wasn’t so into this, it seems everybody forgot the ship that sank in our waters a few weeks ago because of the typhoon. Anyway, I had maybe 2 shellfishes since everyone seemed fine munching on the seafood, but I was saving room for the meats and the rice. 🙂
Then came the Beef curry with Japanese profile. Slightly spicy, the beef curry had less cumin like your usual Indian curry. The parts that were chosen were very fatty, so the meat was allowed to tenderize and soften along with it’s fat and tendons. The tendons were mostly still attached to pieces of meat and I didn’t feel like being so health conscious, so I left them on and ate it. It also had pieces of carrots and potatoes, like most Jap curries. This fabulous dish was served with umeboshi (pickled plum) and a sweet pepper confit by our chefs, which made the curry all the more Japanese!
The last curry was the best. It was an Indian style spicy chicken curry. And what makes it so special is that it was served with a helluvalot of condiments that made every bite a different experience of textures and flavors. They used a typical roasted masala mix but added an extra zing to the curry with chili peppers.
The condiments that were as much the stars of this dish as the curry — sliced bananas, chopped eggs, chopped shallots, chopped nuts, homemade mango chutney, guava confit, papadoms (which gave a wonderful wonderful texture to every bite) and raisins, and this was served with a hefty portion of buttered basmati rice. YUM! This reminds me of the good old days back in our ancestral home, although we used to have shrimp and chicken curry only, not beef and seafood.
To end the meal, we had en equally Indian flavored dessert — saffron, rosewater and pistachio ice cream. I couldn’t finish mine anymore though. I had too much to eat. :p I wonder what’s next week’s menu.