One of my favorite aspects of cooking is the unexpected surprises. The dishes that don’t sound particularly delicious, but turn out to be fantastic… seductive… sublime. You know exactly what I’m saying. This is my latest entry into that category.
Paulo and I had been working around the house, and suddenly found ourselves hungry. The hunger that sneaks up upon a person when he’s intently busy on a project. We wanted something quickly. No time for shopping or long preparation. I looked around the kitchen, pulled from the panty a few somewhat appealing ingredients, and threw them together in rather mish-mash fashion. We weren’t expecting much, just a bowl of something warm, soothing, and creamy. But, oh my, wow, we were stunned by the sheer deliciosity. (I do create new words on occasion.) This dish is one of the best things we’ve ever tasted. Fragrant, rich, succulent, with depth and complexity of flavor. The kind of food that causes a person to lick the bowl with no care for who might be watching.
The recipe could feed four people, theoretically, I suppose, but Paulo and I ate it all in one voracious sitting. Pausing only long enough between servings to take the attached photo. After we finished, lounging at the table with goofy and satiated grins, we tried to analyze how the few ingredients used could create such perfection. We couldn’t determine exactly why, though we agreed that the pureed paste was a key element. The noodles wouldn’t have been nearly as good if the veggies had been simply chopped and sauteed. But other than that, these noodles remain for us a bit of a culinary mystery. One that we will explore again and again in the future.
A few notes about the recipe. It is very adaptable. Instead of broccoli, use whatever vegetable(s) you prefer. As for the noodles, we happened to find dried shrimp noodles in the cupboard, but use whatever fine, long noodles you have, such as angel hair or vermicelli. Add a few ounces of poultry, meat, seafood, or tofu, if you wish. (We thought the noodles would be particularly tasty with shrimp.) This spring, with its oddly cold weather (it snowed 4 feet here during the month of April!!), a warm bowl of these noodles will seem luxuriantly perfect, however you choose to prepare them.
Creamy Curry Noodles
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro (stems and all)
1 T oil
14 oz can coconut milk (not low-fat)
1 tsp curry powder
8 oz small broccoli florets (or sliced snow or sugar snap peas, or peas)
6 oz dried Chinese shrimp noodles (or angel hair pasta or whole wheat angel hair)
juice of one lime (or lemon)
In a food processor puree the tomato, carrot, onion, and cilantro to a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a wide pan until it shimmers. Add the paste, along with 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the paste is soft and cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and curry powder. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the broccoli and return to a boil. Add 2 cups of water and return to a boil. Stir in the noodles. Simmer, covered, until the noodles are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If the mixture becomes a little too dry before the noodles are done, add another 1/3 to 1/2 cup water. Repeat as/if needed.)
When the noodles are tender, stir in the lime juice. Ladle into bowls. Devour.