Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thai green curry rice balls.

Fried jasmine rice and Thai green curry balls with crispy basil. © Ryan Schierling

Around here we use the term "legacy" when referring to the yesterday's food and its delicious potential. Most folks use the designation "leftovers" but that seems so... unseemly. In this instance, I am referring to our last post and the recipe for Thai green curry. Make it, enjoy it, and save whatever remains for these delicious Thai curry balls.

You will need about two cups of chilled curry with plenty of tofu and vegetables from our Thai Green Curry with Fresh Tofu recipe. If you have few cups of rice from the day before, you may use that, but if it has been more than a day I would recommend making a fresh batch of jasmine rice. The only other items you will need are some additional coconut milk and panko breakcrumbs. Plus oil for frying, of course.

That's it. No eggs are necessary. The tofu acts as a moist binder on the inside – not to mention it being a great source of protein – and we use coconut milk instead of eggs to prepare the balls for breading.

Whether the aim is to make yesterday's Thai curry new again, or to simply sneak a bunch of vegetables into a beloved picky eater with the allure of fried food, we're all over these little appetizers. But calling them leftovers? I have no idea what you're talking about.

Thai Green Curry Rice Balls

2 cups of Thai green curry with tofu, cooled
3 leaves fresh Thai basil, chopped (optional)
3-4 cups of cooked jasmine rice, cooled 
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups panko Japanese breadcrumbs, lightly crushed
Oil for frying

Puree the Thai green curry in a blender or food processor, utilizing as many vegetables and tofu pieces as you can. Just be sure to include enough of the sauce for it to blend easily – it should be somewhere between pourable and a soft paste. If you have a few leaves of fresh Thai basil, throw those in to brighten the flavor.

Mix the blended curry with cooled rice to achieve a mixture with a consistency that is soft enough to form gently but still hold its shape. Form mixture into 1-1/2" balls. It works best for us to shape all the balls first and set them on a tray or plate before commencing the dipping and coating process; this will save you a few trips to the sink to wash your hands, at least.

Next, dip the balls quickly in coconut milk to coat them lightly. The next step is to dredge them in lightly-crushed panko breadcrumbs. I like to set each ball in the panko, put some panko over the top and then pick up the ball to continue distributing the coating in my hand. This keeps the ball from being flattened while turning it or becoming over-breaded.

Fry in minimum of 1" oil at 375º F, turning until evenly browned. You may also deep fry. (See below for notes on alternate "oven-baked" method.) Drain rice balls on a wire rack that has been turned upside-down over paper towels.

Serve at once, or hold in 200º F oven to keep warm temporarily. Delicious accompanied by fresh or fried Thai basil leaves and Thai chile paste.

Notes: We have used the exact same method for oven-baked rice balls, as well. The main difference is that when baking, the panko barely browns in comparison and doesn't develop the same level of external crispness. Drizzling and tossing the panko in olive oil before using it to coat does help, but not significantly. They are still very tasty. Form and coat all balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375-400º F for about 30-40 minutes. Everything is already pre-cooked, so you are just looking to get them hot and lightly-browned.

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