Thanksgiving is here already! Oh my gosh…I feel like I just celebrated the New Year and started my blog a few months ago. How can it be November so fast? I haven’t had time to sort through my pictures from my trip to France in May yet, let alone blog about it. Another year is about to disappear.
I was born and raised in Thailand, so Thanksgiving is pretty foreign to me. I have to admit that, to my understanding, a turkey was just a big chicken. My dad had American friends who would invite us to have a Thanksgiving feast at their homes once in a while, but they served roasted duck, not turkey, because turkey isn’t really a native bird in Southeast Asia. So they substituted the turkey with the duck or chicken.
I saw pictures of turkeys in books, but that’s about the closest I can claim about my knowledge of the bird, in my childhood. If you don’t count the period of time that I thought “Big Bird” on Sesame Street was a turkey, of course.
Turkey is such a lean meat – too lean, too dry, too healthy – too many things, but tasty! That’s my personal opinion. Oh, and I must tell this story. After my first real Thanksgiving experience at a teacher’s house back in Washington, D.C., I totally misunderstood about Thanksgiving concepts for such a long time. I thought Thanksgiving was just the time that Americans reminded themselves of how tough lives were during the pioneer days. They had to eat this horrible-tasting bird just because it was the only thing available during the wintertime!
To the Thai girl, Thanksgiving is just to remind every Americans of that austere time, so they can’t make them any tastier, or it would be too disrespectful to the memory of the pioneers. Or maybe it was just simply impossible to make turkey taste like food.
Well, the FOB days are over, since I’m married to an American whose family has a recipe that makes the turkey moist and somewhat edible. Anyhow, turkeys in general are so big even a whole family of 10-15 can hardly finish one. This time I want to give you an alternative recipe for leftover turkey from Thanksgiving: roast turkey in Thai red curry.
This recipe originally used roast duck like in the pictures here, but you can substitute with roast chicken or turkey easily. The fruit used in the curry is pineapple, which can be substituted with all kind of fruits: apple, pear, kiwi or any canned tropical fruits: lychee, rambutan even the canned pineapple. The tomatoes are used to give it the umami taste. I never substitute them with anything else, and canned tomatoes are fine.
Ingredients (this is for one serving portion; multiply times the number of guests)
Roast turkey, duck or chicken 1 cup
Whole cherry tomatoes 1 cup
Pineapple cut in cubes 1 cup
Thai Basil leaves
Coconut milk 2 cups
Water 1 cup
Thai Red curry paste (Kaeng Ped curry paste) 2-3 tablespoon (or less if you don’t like it spicy) You can buy pre-made curry paste of made your own from the recipe on the link above. The pre-made one is going to be spicier so use it carefully.
Fish sauce 2 tablespoons
Sugar 2 tablespoons
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
1) Curry paste: There are so many brands of pre-made curry paste, I will only mention the brands that I’ve tried. I normally make my own curry paste.
1.1) If I’m not making my own curry paste, I will use the Mae Sri curry paste brand. Everything seems to be balanced, and it’s not so spicy for my taste. (I’m a Thai girl who’s allergic to chili – no wonder they shipped me out of the country!) The only thing that I don’t like about this brand is it’s in a can, not a bottle, but at least the proportion is right. I do like that the cans are small – one is good for four to six servings. You can buy it from Amazon.
1.2) Thai Kitchen brand is less spicy but the balance of the herbs and spices in it was quite off to me. I like that they pack the curry paste in the glass jar, though. This brand is carried on the “exotic” ingredient shelf of a regular supermarket in many cities, so it’s easy to get.
1.3) Mae Ploy is my least favorite brand due to the level of chili heat. It’s so darn hot. If you like it quite hot this might be the brand for you. They’re also a little heavy on the garlic. You can get this from Amazon.
2) Coconut milk: I list a few brands here. I have tried many other brands but if they’re not listed here, I don’t recommend using them. The other alternative is to buy shredded frozen coconut and make your own coconut milk.
Warning: if you saw some website that said “to make coconut milk, open a YOUNG coconut, scoop out the flesh and puree it with water in the blender, then strain and squeeze the rest of the flesh through a cheesecloth until it’s dry”, please, erase that information from your memories. That advice is as accurate as this one: “to make heavy cream, boil down milk until it thickens, and add butter if the content isn’t thick enough”…
The coconut flesh used to make coconut milk is from OLD coconut. The flesh should be at least half an inch thick inside the coconut shell. Young coconut has just developed the fat content and doesn’t have enough to make the “milk” yet.
2.1) Aroy-D brand is the brand that I use regularly for the reason that it can be cooked until the oil separates. Most of the coconut milk in the market has a lot of binding agent added until the oil won’t separate anymore. You can buy this brand from: (Click on the link will lead you to the page where they sell Aroy-D coconut milk)
2.2) Mae Ploy brand is the kind I use if I can’t find Aroy-D, and it can be found online here: (Click on the like will lead you to the page where they sell Mae Ploy coconut milk.
If all else fails then try this place: TempleofThai.com
1) Over a medium heat, put 1/4 cup of coconut milk in the pot, wait until it bubbles, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
2) Add curry paste
and continue to stir constantly over medium heat, cooking the mixture at least two minutes.
If the mixture gets dry, add two tablespoons of coconut milk at a time. At the end of two minutes the coconut milk should start to break down and release some coconut oil.
3) Add the roasted meat,
and the rest of the coconut milk, tomatoes,
the fish sauce, sugar and water. Let them boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Taste the curry and adjust the taste to your preference. I only give you approximate amounts. (It’s Thai cooking, not French!) You can adjust it however you want. Watch until the cherry tomatoes break and blend in to the curry, then turn off the stove and add the basil leaves.
4) Serve with steamed white rice.
Note: I’m using roast duck in the picture because I’m making this before Thanksgiving. The leftover roast turkey will make a very delicious curry! Especially the leftover dark meat. Hopefully Americans will enjoy this turkey leftover alternative.