My favorite kitchen tool: a sharp knife. If asked if I have a tomato corer or a garlic peeler or an onion chopper, I just pull out my ten inch chef’s knife. No gadgets for me. Kitchen gadgets just take up space, and I am not willing to share my limited space with silly little unitaskers. If the item only serves one function, it does not deserve a spot in my kitchen.
I honestly don’t remember much from culinary school, (sad) but I use my knife skills daily, so that alone almost makes the money spent worthwhile. Almost. I remember as the instructor of Cooking 101 passed out the black knife bags complete with straps and zippered pockets. I opened my brand new knife kit, ripping the Velcro straps apart to reveal shiny steel blades in evenly spaced pockets. I reached in to pull out one of the shimmering blades, and sliced my finger open. Stupid boning knife. The giant bandage on my hand certainly reminded me to act with caution around these tools during the first few weeks.
But, sharp knives soon changed from alien beings that I feared to absolute necessities that I could not cook without. Learning how to cut quickly, cleanly and correctly takes time, and lots of practice, but makes such a huge difference in all cooking. Food cooks unevenly when cut unevenly, herbs bruise when minced with a dull knife, and bread just squashes into a lumpy mess instead of falling into clean slices. Expensive knives are not necessary; my favorites are Forschner brand, only about thirty dollars for the larger knives. Very reasonably priced for tools that last for years.
Why am I talking about knives when the title of this post is carrot, cauliflower and coconut curry? Because the vegetables need to be sliced thinly and evenly so they cook evenly. Such an easy dish to make, don’t ruin it with giant, uncooked clumps of cauliflower! Take the time to really prepare all your ingredients, as the dish is so fast and easy to cook. I chopped up everything first, then started heating the pan.
Carrot, Cauliflower and Coconut Curry
Serves 2 to 3 people
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
4 large cremini (or button) mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup carrots, peeled, thinly sliced on a bias
1 cup thinly sliced cauliflower florets
1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp green curry paste (Green is my favorite, it is vegetarian and the ingredients include ginger, garlic, and lemongrass, yum! Red and yellow curry pastes will also work. If you are sensitive to spicy foods, start with just a bit of the curry paste, and taste as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out!)
2 green onions, sliced on a bias
Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and then the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the sesame oil, garlic, carrots and cauliflower. Reduce heat to medium and add coconut milk and curry paste. Cook until sauce bubbles vigorously and thickens, and vegetables are crisp/tender. Stir in green onions. Serve with brown rice, rice, coconut rice, rice noodles, soba noodles, whatever you have!