As I mentioned recently, my Irishman has started cooking dinner on a more regular basis. Which has been such a special treat.
As much as I love cooking, there’s something so magical about sitting down to a home cooked dinner that you haven’t been tasting and tweaking for the last few minutes.
Apart from enjoying the luxury of having dinner cooked for me, I’ve also found it fascinating to observe someone else’s cooking habits.
Now I don’t want to seem ungrateful because as I said, I love being cooked for. Nor do I mind waiting until 8.30pm or later to eat.
But having written a whole book focusing on 10 minute meals, you could say I’m a little obsessed with keeping the cooking process as streamlined and quick as possible.
So I wanted to share my observations, not to be critical, but to help you avoid as many time traps as possible next time you’re in the kitchen.
How NOT to Make Massaman Curry in 10 Minutes
1. Start cooking without a plan.
Having a good plan is key to speedy results in the kitchen. Having a collection of 10 Minute Recipes means all the difficult planning work has been done for you. But if you’re on your own, all you need to do is think through what’s going to take the longest to cook and get that part started first.
For example, my Irishman was making his massaman curry with potatoes (surprise, surprise). The spuds were easily going to take the longest to cook so this is where he could have started, to save loads of time standing around at the end waiting for the spuds to be ready.
2. Use a complicated cooking process.
While I’m all for maximising flavour, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of using a complicated cooking process when something much simpler would take a fraction of the time and still be delicious.
From our massaman example, my Irishman decided he wanted the beef to have an extra smoky flavour so he spent the extra time outside lighting the BBQ to grill the steaks before bringing them inside to finish off in the curry sauce.
3. Using indirect heat sources.
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, the closer your food is to the heat, the quicker it cooks. For example, roasting nuts under the grill (broiler) will take 2-3 times longer than getting them in a pan directly on the stove.
4. Leave the cleaning up until later.
I know that ‘cleaning as you go’ sounds about as sexy as wet cardboard. But if you find yourself with a few minutes waiting for your nuts to roast or your spuds to soften, using the time to get a head start on the cleaning up will save you time later.
Try just putting away the ingredients you’re finished with or starting to stack (or unpack!) the dishwasher. It doesn’t have to be an epic effort to make a difference.
10-Minute Massaman Curry
Traditional massaman curry is a slow cooked, rich curry with coconut and peanuts. A real treat. In this version we’re quickly cooking some steak so we get tender beef without having to wait for hours. If you wanted extra smoky flavours you could cook your steaks on the BBQ and then slice before tossing into the sauce like my Irishman does, but it’s going to take longer!
Enough for 2-3
2 steaks, finely sliced
1 jar (200g / 7oz) massaman curry paste
1 can coconut milk (400mL / 14oz)
2-3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan on a very high heat. Stir fry steak until browned on the outside and still pink in the middle.
2. Pop the cooked steak in a clean bowl. Quickly add the curry paste and cook for a few seconds. Add coconut milk and peanut butter.
3. Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes.
4. While the sauce is simmering grate your cauliflower using your food processor to give you cauliflower ‘rice’.
5. Return steak to the sauce and bring back to a simmer. Taste and season. Serve curry on a bed of the cauli ‘rice’.
vegan – replace steaks with about 500g (1lb) roasted sweet potato or butternut pumpkin chunks. No need to brown, just stir into the sauce. Cooked strips of red capsicum (bell pepper) are also lovely.
vegetarian – replace the steaks with about 4 hard boiled eggs that have been boiled, peeled & halved. You might like to add some roasted sweet potato as well.
nut-free – skip the peanut butter and season with a touch of brown sugar for sweetness. You could serve with a handful of coconut flakes if you like.
no cauliflower? – serve with steamed rice instead but it won’t be as healthy and will take much longer than 10 minutes!
slow cooked version – replace steaks with 2 large osso buco, beef short ribs or lamb shanks. Pop everything except the cauli and peanut butter in a cast iron, cover and bake at 150C (300F) for 4-5 hours or until your meat is super tender. If it starts to dry out, top up with a little water. When cooked stir in the peanut butter before serving.
greener – serve with a handful or coriander (cilantro) leaves on top. Or stir through some baby spinach to wilt just before serving.
can’t find massaman curry paste? – use a thai red curry paste instead and double the peanut butter.
hotter – massaman curries tend to be more rich and mild, so feel free to spike with a few fresh red chillies.
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More details over here: