“The thing you learn with Potage Parmentier is that ‘simple’ is not exactly the same as ‘easy’.”
Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, Julie Powell.
The fact that there is a distinction between “simple” and “easy” is all brand new to me – and apart from sparking contemplation about life in general, this statement made me want to try making the soup.
Yet, I bet when Ms.Powell wrote this, she had never tried making Thai curry paste from scratch!!! I could say with certainty because I made both.
Julia Child’s Potato and Leek Soup (Potage Parmentier – recipe here) which, despite the simple ingredients: potatoes, leek, water and salt simmered all together for 40-50 minutes – is marvelously delicious. The only not-so easy part is when you have to mash the potatoes with fork – which is really fine with me. I always like my soup chunky. A bit of cream is mixed in before serving. And yes! It’s just heavenly and comforting. I never cared much about leek nor potatoes before, but this classic soup changed my mind completely.
For the Green Curry Paste (recipe here), the list of ingredients is also very simple: garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, fennel, coriander seeds, Thai chili, shrimp paste, and salt.
BUT I had to pound them with pestle and mortar by hand for what seemed like forever to get the paste shown here — not as fine and smooth as what you usually see coming from a can or sold in fresh markets in Thailand.
Food processor did not work well in this case, I found. So now I know why the ability to make smooth curry paste used to be one of the many qualifications sought after in potential daughter in laws in the old Siam. Your patience and perseverance is put to a test! Big time! Much like marriage I supposed 🙂
If making Potage Parmentier is nowhere near easy, making green curry paste is climbing Mt. Everest in my book. I don’t know if I’d every make it again soon, but at least I know that I can now.