Monday, February 16, 2009
The Saga Continues: The Quest for Green Curry
I know this photo may not seem like much, but it was at this table that I ate some of the best meals of my life. And saw a little girl pee her pants whilst sitting on said table. Why do I remember these things? This is the table I sat at and ordered Thai green curry from Lek. Oh it was so good. Sweet, savory, spicy, all in one dish. And now I have been on a two-and-a-half year quest to find green curry as good as Lek's. To no avail. But I've checked out some good Thai restaurants in the meantime. I've already raved about the vegetables present in Lek's curry, and subsequently tried to copy it. The resulting curry was probably the closest I've come, except that it was too spicy too eat, but too tasty not to. Deadly combination, I'm telling you. Every time I go out for Thai I always get green curry. And it's never quite right. Bangkok & Cuisine (19th and Farnam) and Thai Spice (108th and Maple) serve it with bamboo, which I actually like, but it's not Lek's. I never saw bamboo in green curry. That's not to say it doesn't exist, I just never saw it. I should just give up, but I can't. I've tasted perfection, and I want it back. But even though I've been disappointed in my quest for green curry, that doesn't mean you all shouldn't go out and enjoy Thai food. And here's why: everyone in my family likes it (except maybe for Grandma who we're not sure about). I was looked to again to choose a dining venue for dinner on Saturday with Dad, Emily and Grandma. Dad had a hankering for Chinese, but Emily hates Chinese. Thai was an obvious choice because after my birthday dinner, we knew that there was at least one thing on the menu that Emily would like (Phad Thai). Em and I went out to pick Grandma up. We stole her away from a nice filet mignon that actually looked pretty good (a rarity at her place of residence, which serves cafeteria food every single day). So we deprived her of that fat, juicy steak and replaced it with food we're pretty sure she didn't care for. Apparently Grandma doesn't like rice--at all. Who knew? And for her we had to go with the absolutey-not-spicy-in-any-way route. Her choice: Chicken Satay. It's really an appetizer, but Gma's not a big eater. For the dish, the chicken comes skewered on a bamboo stick. It usually has a savory yellow marinade on it. You slather the skewers in this savory and sweat peanut sauce. It also comes with a sweet, pickled cucumber relish. She claimed she liked the meal, but she kept looking around and saying, "Does your mom like this kind of food?" We think she may have been looking for an ally. Emily, as you know, ordered Phad Thai. This is usually a safe dish for someone who approaches Oriental food with trepidation. However, this is not a safe dish for someone with a peanut alergy. Phad Thai is sort of like fried rice, but noodles. It comes with egg. Tofu, chicken or shrimp all complement it really well. For some reason the sauce in the U.S. is orange, another thing I never saw in Thailand where the sauce is brown. But, whatever, it still tastes good. Phad Thai is topped with peanuts, bean sprouts and cilantro, is served with a lime wedge and shouldn't be spicy. The whole dish comes together well with the sweet/savory combo that the Thais seem to have down. Dad ordered beef in black pepper sauce. I think it's safe to say that he loved it, and he'll be going back of his own accord (Mom, be prepared). Reasons why he liked it: 1) beef, it was meaty, thus manly; and 2) spicy, it was hot, thus manly. My dad is the sort who likes medium salsa, so this dish suited him perfectly. His dish was hot, but not so hot he couldn't eat it. I would argue Thai Pepper (on 128th and Q) has perfected the art of medium spicy: it's hot while you're eating it, but your mouth doesn't continue to burn once you're finished. These are the pickiest eaters in the entire Seyler clan, and they have been successfully converted to liking a (somewhat) exotic type of cuisine. Well, maybe not Grandma, but she'll have something to talk about at Walnut Grove, distracting everybody from their health issues for a moment.