Hong Kong Style Curry

Who knew Chinese cuisine included curry? Well, I assume the Chinese but I had absolutely no idea. I naively thought this delectable dish came to life solely in the hands of Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese chefs. This assumption shows you how much I know...I've also recently discovered Burmese and Japanese curry and guess at this point I should just assume all of Asia has got some sort of curry going on. However, this does not mean all curries are created equal. While Indian curries tend to focus on thick, turmeric-infused sauces and the Thai and Vietnamese rely heavily on lemongrass and coconut milk to produce thinner, more soup like curries, Chinese curry is right in-between: thick and well-spiced with a rich coconut base. Now the first time I happened upon curry at my favorite Chinese restaurant, I was entirely confused. In fact, I eyed said curry for several months before ever ordering it, gauging the excited responses as it arrived at other patrons tables. It certainly intrigued me but I was so addicted to their anise-spiced beef stew, I just couldn't take the leap (yes, creature of habit, here I am). Still, whenever we had a new server I'd ask him or her for their take on the curry. "It's the best dish on the menu," each one would gush. "Great, I'll take the beef stew," was my standard reply. Obviously I wasn't ready. One day, however, the stars finally aligned.

It was a bitter cold night, I had just filmed my first cooking class and I was in desperate need of something warming, creamy and comforting. I knew I was ready because I did not ask the newly-arrived waiter his thoughts on the curry. I simply said, "Hong Kong curry, please." A daring move, I know. Twenty fidgety-with-excitement minutes later, a steaming plate of orange-tinged stew arrived, and after swooning over the first bite, I immediately began to berate myself for not ordering it sooner. Consequently, and rather inevitably, a new dish addiction emerged. In fact, since ordering my first Chinese curry a year ago, I have yet to return to the beef. Okay to be completely honest, I sometimes make Gray get the beef so I can have a little bite...you know, get the best of both worlds.

The star of the curry and provider of its brilliant orange color is none other than my personal favroite, kabocha squash, which after about an hour of cooking melts into the coconut milk to create a sweet, starchy sauce that needs nothing else. In fact, that is the entire curry: coconut milk, kabocha squash and good quality curry powder. After this incredible revelation that all but changed my life, I decided to make my own version of Hong Kong curry to see if I could come close to the original. And I must say, mine is pretty awesome! The primary difference is that I added a few other vegetables to the mix, just to lighten it up a bit (in a good way). Even better, the curry is doubly delicious the next day as the spices have had time to coalesce and the coconut milk has thickened. Enjoy!

Hong Kong Curry

Serves 3

1 1/2 cans organic, full-fat coconut milk 1 tablespoon curry powder 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced 1/2 a red onion, diced One 1/2 a kabocha squash, seeded, peeled and cubed 1 8-inch daikon radish, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch rounds Sea salt 1/2 -3/4 cup of water 1 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped 1 cup broccoli florets 1 cup cauliflower florets

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small Dutch oven mix together the coconut milk and curry powder. Add the ginger, onion, kabocha squash, daikon radish, a bit of salt and the water. Mix together and place in the oven for 45 minutes. The daikon and kabocha should be very tender and the sauce thickened. If it needs to cook a little more, keep it in the oven for an additional 10 minute or so.

Remove the curry from the oven and place on the stove. Remove the lid and add the mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and another pinch of salt. If the curry has reduced too much you many also add a bit more water. Mix thoroughly and place on low-medium heat until the vegetables have softened. Taste for flavor and add a bit more curry powder or salt if necessary.

The first evening I served this dish with poached eggs (scrambled would work well too) and for lunch the following day I topped it off with a bit of sauerkraut. So good!

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