Houston is a mosaic of cultures, and its cuisine reflects that. With that in mind (and in honor of Meatless Monday), each week we’ll explore a new globally inspired vegetarian or vegan dish, and take a look at where to find its ingredients in Houston; discover other Meatless Mondays here.
This week we’re traveling to Southeast Asia with Thai green curry.
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Green curry is known as kaeng khiao wan, which translates to sweet green curry. The taste, however, goes well beyond saccharine. Made with a base of coconut milk and green chilies, the popular Central Thai curry rocks aromatics, a punch of spice, a hit of herbaceous and tart elements, and that kiss of sweetness. When done right, it’s a perfectly balanced explosion of flavor.
Making your own is the perfect opportunity to explore one of Houston’s local gems, Asia Market Thai Lao Food, 1010 West Cavalcade (not to be confused with the full restaurant, Asia Market Thai Restaurant, which is down the street on Fulton and is run by the old owners of the Cavalcade location…confused yet?). The mom-and-pop is small, humble and no-frills, but you’ll find a solid convenience store/restaurant offering Thai, Lao and other Southeast Asian delicacies that rival any selection in the city.
In the market portion, shop for hard-to-score items (some imported from Thailand), including kaffir lime and leaves, galangal root and pandan leaves, chile and garlic sauces, shrimp and curry pastes, vinegars and pickled vegetables, sacks of rice, imported teas and snacks, and housemade Thai sweets made with coconut milk and mung bean. And if you’re hungry, order some som tum (green papaya salad), stir-fried noodles, whole-fried tilapia and Northern Thailand Isaan-style sausage from the restaurant side. Just make sure you still have an appetite for the homemade green curry you're making later.
While many curry pastes are made with fish or shrimp paste, there are several vegetarian versions out there. If you’re feeling motivated, make your own green curry paste using this vegan recipe — which features those hard-to-find ingredients like galangal and kaffir lime. Otherwise, use a store-bought version for this Thai green curry and vegetables dish.