Razor Clams, Shrimp, and Cod with Curry and Lemongrass

Clam Shrimp and Fish CurryWith clam season upon us here in the Pacific Northwest, there is more than a little pressure to get rid of the clams that I hoarded through the summer.  When frozen properly in water, these suckers can take up a considerable amount of room in the freezer.  As summer wears on and freezer space becomes more of a commodity, there comes a dawning realization that you really need to start cooking some clam-involved dishes.  Clam chowder is the standby, but one can not live on clams chowder alone…and if you did, you would either be the size of a walrus or simply dead.  It isn’t exactly low calorie or low fat.  When preparing such dishes, I have hear whispers in the dark recesses of my brain reminding that heart disease is still the number one killer the United States.

This seafood curry is my attempt to incorporate clams into a tasty, yet reasonably heart-healthy main dish.  Heck, there isn’t even any coconut milk in it.  The formulation is somewhat Thai is style but probably pulls in more variety in fish than would be considered common.  The yellow curry is slightly more mild and a bit sweeter than its green or red cousins and lines up well with the clams, which are also quite sweet.  Fragrant notes are provided by the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves.  Turmeric and a bit of garlic provide some additional depth…. 

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Corn Cakes with Sweet and Tart Relish

Corn CakesThere are many different versions of this classic Thai appetizer out there, this one just happens to be the one that we cook at our house.  They may not look like much, but these corn cakes are absolutely fantastic.  Frying at a high heat brings out the pungent flavors of the curry paste that, along with the bread crumbs and a little corn starch, binds the vegetables together.  Despite being deep fried, the corn and beans retain just a little bit of crunch and the kaffir lime leaves provide a fragrant citrus bite…. 

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Red Curry Peanut Sauce

Red Curry Peanut SauceThere are few things that do not taste better with this sauce on them.  It is quite spicy and will induce a little bit of sweat while you are eating it, but it is generally not unpleasantly hot.  This is the classic peanut sauce to serve with Chicken Sateh.  It is richly flavored and would be overly sweet if it weren’t for the tamarind, which adds a fantastic tart flavor that pulls it back from the brink.

DSC_0001There are a couple of things worth noting about this recipe.  There is not much complicated about the technique here, but the ingredients that you use matter.  If you don’t do much Thai cooking, you may not be familiar with the concept of curry paste.  When you say the work “curry” in teh context of Thai cooking, this is the stuff that you are talking about.  Rather than the yellow powder that you buy in a jar, curry paste is a complex blend of chilies, garlic, shallots, lemon grass, galangal, lime leaves/rind, and other spices.  Fortunately, it comes in a plastic tub so you don’t have to make it yourself.  Mae Ploy is the brand I use and it is available in most asian grocery stores.  If you can’t find it, drop me a line and I can explain how to make it from scratch…. 

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Shrimp Pad Thai with Chicken Sateh

DSC_0076Something that the rest of the country may not know about the Pacific Northwest is just how abundant Thai food is here.  I am not sure why, but the population here has embraced the flavors of southeast Asia with gusto.  Even in my medium sized city, I can choose from about 12 different Thai restaurants that are within 10 miles of my house…and I don’t live in town.  With so many options to choose from, the quality of food that these establishments kick out is usually pretty good since competition is a bit stiff.  One item that is always on the menu is some variant of Pad Thai.

I am really not clear why people here developed such a fever for Thai food; maybe it’s the dismal weather.  I do have a vague recollection of Thai food becoming common place some time in the late 1980’s.  I do know that pad thai was a staple food for me in college, as it was very cheap and highly available in Seattle.  And honestly, there is a lot to love about pad thai.  The fried rice noodles are satisfying, filling, and have a delightful sweet and sour flavor.  The chili and fish sauce accent both the sauce in which the noodles are cooked and the stir-fried ingredients in the dish.  And what a great variety of ingredients there are; you typically get your choice of meat (shrimp, chicken, pork, beef) to go with the array of vegetables and tofu that the cook selected.

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Shrimp with Lemongrass and Chili

Shrimp with Lemongrass and ChiliIf you are looking for an easy main dish, the sort of thing that you would serve for a light lunch, you can’t go astray with this one.  In our case, we served this with Cream of Jalapeno Soup, Mushroom and Burdock Rice, and Smoked Citrus-Peanut Chicken Wings.  Sounds complicated, but hell, my Dad dropped by and we felt like cooking something a little nicer than usual.  In reality, this dish will stand alone with either rice or noodles; although if I was going to serve it with noodles, I would dress the noodles with Hot Chile Oil first to balance them a bit.

There is not much to say in the way of guidance regarding this dish.  The main thing you need to make sure you do is properly devein your shrimps.  Shrimp are filthy animals. They spend their day grubbing around on the sea bottom and they are not picky eaters.  … 

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