Ever since I moved to France, I’ve had a complicated relationship with Asian food.
You see, I grew up in New York City, where you can get good food from pretty much any country and at pretty much any time of night. When I was in boarding school, the first thing I did as soon as I got home for vacation was simultaneously order pad Thai and buffalo wings (oh, my old metabolism…) and enjoy them together in front of episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Add to this the fact that my father has long been a sushi-holic, and I was lucky enough to accompany him to some of the best places (including Sushi Nozawa in Los Angeles), and – I’ll admit it – when I moved to Paris, I was a bit of a snob when it came to Asian food.
It’s not that you can’t get Asian food here. I’ve got a favorite Thai place in the Marais, as well as a favorite Vietnamese place that I finally found after spending an inordinate number of evenings seeking out the very best pho with my best friend my first few years here. But while The Country Boy likes to order in sushi at least once a week (I try to keep it closer to once a month), I tend to avoid Asian restaurants as a general rule in Paris.
The French don’t like spice.
There’s something very strange about ordering a vindaloo that’s more cream than pepper or pad see ew that tastes like generic peanut noodles. The French versions of these dishes don’t really do it for me, and so I’ve had to take things into my own hands.
This coconut curry isn’t authentic by any means (a complicated term whose association with food I recently explored), but it combines the Thai-ish flavors I miss with veggies that I tend to have around the house and a nice hit of spice, and that’s enough to make it a regular lunchtime staple, at least until I get back to New York.
Paleo Veggie Coconut Curry (serves 2)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
4 small potatoes, large dice
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red jalapeño, minced
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 1/2 tablespoon coconut aminos
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
3 leaves kale, chopped
cilantro, for garnish
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, potatoes, and peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned, about ten minutes. Add the garlic and chile, then reduce the heat to low, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, and cook for an additional ten minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, almond butter, coconut aminos, lime juice, and ginger in a bowl.
When the vegetables are cooked, add the kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for an additional three minutes, or until the kale is just slightly wilted.
Add the sauce to the pan and toss to combine. Add a few more tablespoons of water if desired to thin out the sauce. Serve and garnish with cilantro.