Ahh…February. Reds and pinks and cupids attacking from every direction, causing sensory overload; must mean Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.
So what’s better than a heart shaped mound of fragrant, parsley-garnished jasmine rice on your plate? That delicious red-hot lava like pot of red curry sitting right in front of you. Duh.
Who happens to be sharing their love with us this time? None other than Thai Nakorn (http://www.thainakorndavis.com/), a little restaurant attached to Regal Cinema in Davis, Calif. Just screams “date night!” doesn’t it? (Fellas, this would be the ‘dropping hints’ portion of this article).
Now, let’s discuss the deliciousness that is this curry. The red variety tends to be higher up on the spice chart, so if you are faint of heart, a better option would be to go with the green or yellow curry or the pa-nang varieties, which happen to be much milder in flavor. Now, if you’re not afraid to take a trip to flavor town, then we’re about to have a serious foodie discussion.
Heat punch aside, the red curry at Thai Nakorn is the perfect balance of the three S’s: sweet, savory and spicy. The ground chili paste packs a wallop that doesn’t hit you until it judo chops the back of your throat, adding a certain indiscernible textural grittiness to the dish that is almost completely masked by the smooth mouth-coating creaminess of the coconut milk.
One of the great cooking mediums, coconut milk is a staple in Thai cuisine. It carries any amalgamation of flavors well, not overpowering them and not being overpowered by them all at the same time.
In the case of our red pot of love, the coconut milk marries so perfectly with the Thai basil, another essential element in curry dishes, bringing out its sweetness and counterbalancing it perfectly with the ground chili paste.
The savory element makes its grand entrance through the other ingredients floating luxriously around the bowl: the crunchy julienned bamboo shoots, the tender peas (though those added a certain sweetness of their own) and the chicken, which absorbes every last bit of the creamy spicy coconut milk, becoming a flavor bomb in and of itself.
Not to fear, vegetarian friends! Tofu is always an option, be it steamed or fried, and acts much like the chicken in that it also absorbs all the flavors of the coconut milk.
Now, the proper way to eat is to pour some of the curry over the heart-shaped rice on your plate and consume accordingly, and wash it all down with a delectably caffeinated Thai iced tea. If you have left over broth, go ahead and eat it with the spoon provided, assuming you’re not afraid to take the heat head on.
Though, diving straight into the red hot pot of love does seem like a much better idea.