Two years ago my fiance and I traveled to Thailand. Hands-down, it was one of the best trips I've ever been on. From the breathtaking scenery to the spice-filled food, the warm and welcoming people, every aspect and every part of the country we visited was absolutely wonderful.
The first leg of our trip was Chiang Mai, a small mountain village north of Bangkok. It was rare if you encountered anyone who spoke a lick of English. On our third day there, we hired a driver to take us to a remote mountain village to hike and explore. After a grueling day of hiking, we found ourselves starving on the 2-hour plus drive home, and asked our driver to stop at a restaurant we passed by. It was totally nondescript, blending in with the greenery and almost hard to see. As we walked in I realized that we were the only people there (never a good sign), and there appeared to be only one person working, who was the host, server + chef. I gave my fiance a look that said "are we sure we want to stay?" as we were sitting down. He smiled and ordered a beer: hole in the wall restaurants are one of his favorite pastimes.
The meal we ate there ended up being the best food that we had on the trip, the stand-out dish being their vegetable green curry. While I'd had plenty of green curries before, nothing quite compared to this. It was bright, full of spice, and offset by the deep, rich coconut milk base. This curry also had cashews, which were surprising, but a delicious and welcome crunch amidst the soft veggies. Since our trip, I have made green curry time and time again and think I've finally perfected it with this recipe.
I like to buy Mae Ploy curry pastes off of Amazon, but also know that Whole Foods and other markets have great options. Just know, if you're averse to heat be cautioned - green curry is typically the spiciest of them all.
1 c. whole raw cashews
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 of a medium white onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 Tbs. green curry paste
1/4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbs. coconut aminos
1 medium-sized sweet potato, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, roughly chopped
2 13-oz cans of coconut milk (Native Forest is my favorite)
2 handfuls of raw spinach
For the roasted cashews
In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed skillet, place cashews. Cook over medium heat until browned and fragrant, stirring frequently, about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside until the very last step of the curry.
For the curry
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and shallot and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the curry paste, sesame oil, fish sauce and coconut aminos and cook for about 2 more minutes. Add the sweet potato, carrots, and zucchini. Stir for about 2 minutes, letting the vegetables meld with all of the flavors. Add the coconut milk. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil like you would a soup, then gently reduce to a simmer and let the curry cook for about 15 minutes. While the curry is cooking, I like to roast my cashews (see how above). Once the curry is cooked through, add the roasted cashews and two handfuls of spinach to the skillet. Gently fold in, letting the spinach wilt before serving.
Serve over quinoa, rice, cauliflower rice, or eat on its own. Enjoy!