Friday, March 13, 2009
Day 34 - Slowdown Dinner (vegan green curry recipe)
One of the wonderful value-added products here at Creque Dam Farm are our "Slowdown Dinners." Beyond being an important revenue stream, they are an opportunity for people to come to the farm and see what goes on here. Many of the students here were first introduced to VISFI through a Slowdown (Ryan, Ashley, and to an extent, me.) Once you see the love that goes into a meal prepared from scratch with local and fresh ingredients, everything else just seems flat.
The Slowdown Experience here is a six-course pre-fixe menu for $60, pretty reasonable considering it's BYOB so no restaurant-priced drinks on top of that. Some people may think that is steep for a meal, but I've been to omakase (Japanese for chef's choice) meals that are twice the price and pale in comparison.
The culmination of our slow food week is to prepare a complete Slowdown Dinner for all of the farm staff to eat together. On Monday we each drew from a hat to determine which course we would be preparing and who our partner would be. I held my breath and drew a card..
Intimidating! However, the other person who drew the entree card was James, the youngest person in the program who will be attending Johnson and Wales Culinary school in Colorodo at the end of this program. He has some level of comfort in the kitchen, so that was good to have.
After a few attempts we made this recipe for a green curry sauce, gathered the coconut pulp for the crusting on the fish, and convinced the farm that we should purchase some local mahi-mahi because we never get seafood and we live 1.5 miles from the beach! We played with the recipe for many hours. We decided on grilled coconut-crusted mahi served on a bed of wilted bok choi, fresh green curry drizzle, and ylang-ylang infused rice. For the vegans we used the bok choi and rice but cut up an edible loofa squash and saute'd it with the curry and served it in a baked papaya.
Here are our recipes:
Modified Vegan Moringa Green Curry Paste
1 Stalk sliced lemongrass
2 t coriander (ground)
3 T Soy Sauce (use fish sauce if you aren't particular about it being vegan)
1 t brown sugar
1 green pepper
1 habenero pepper
1 onion (or a bunch of green onions because that's what we had on-farm)
1 inch piece of ginger
3 kaffir lime leaves cut into strips (more for garnish)
1 cup loose chopped cilantro (we used a bit of cilantro and recao, a similar herb in the tropics)
2 T moringa powder
1 T lime basil
Place all of these ingredients in the food processor with a dash of coconut milk to thin it out and keep it blending.
Once it is blended into a paste, put it in a skillet and heat it for a few minutes to help the flavors mature. You may need to blend it again to get it smooth enough. Line the plate with a wilted bok choi leaf and form the rice into a smooth ball. Once you have all of it put together, drizzle the curry over the top, and garnish with a fresh ylang-ylang flower, tiny strips of kaffir lime leaves, and diced red seasoning peppers.
That's all well and good, but the pressure of doing 28 of those between the courses (we sat for each course and then got up to prepare our part) was intense! The stress became exponential because after we had begun plating a group of teachers for Bush Skills arrived from the airport and we suddenly had 32 plates to prepare. It was wonderful how people stepped up to make it happen. I love you guys.