But one can't order from Wat Dong Moon Lek everyday of the week, so I thought I'd try my hand at Deborah Madison's corn simmered in coconut milk with Thai basil.
Bingo! I've found a Wat Dong Alternative.
A few tips. One, in Wat-Dong fashion, I wanted the dish to be spicy. So I didn't seed the jalepeno. And while Matt loved this bold move, I think that next time, for the comfort of my own palate, I'll lighten up on the jalapeno innards. Secondly, this is the first time I had an easy time of browning tofu, and I definitely credit Ms. Madison's directions (and my cast-iron pan). I like the way she quietly assures you that the tofu is going to release some water, but then if you just hang tight, that stuff is going to brown right up. Well, she's right.Oh, and speaking of tom kha, the other day I saw Thom Yorke while at Trail's Cafe in Griffith Park. Apparently, he was/is in town for a few shows with Atoms for Peace, which I bring up mostly just to say: I saw Thom Yorke! And partly to ask: remember Pablo Honey? OK, now if you'll excuse me while I go back to 1998 and drive home from tennis practice (at the indoor courts out near the Pittsburgh airport) with the windows down, blasting (and shouting): "Stop Whispering... Start Shouting!"
Corn Simmered in Coconut Milk with Thai Basil slightly adapted via Vegetable Literacy
serves 3 or 4
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder, or 12 curry leaves
2 bay leaves
1 jalapeño chile, seeded for less heat if desired and diced
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
3 cups corn kernels plus their scrapings, from 5 to 6 ears
About 3/4 cup light coconut milk
sea salt and pepper
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
slivered Thai basil, plus whole leaves to finish (I substituted regular basil and it worked great.)
3 to 4 teaspoons light sesame oil
1 package organic firm tofu, drained and cut into slabs or cubes
4 green onions, including an inch of the firm greens, slivered diagonally
(I served this with white basmati rice, so you may want to add something similar to your grocery list.)
Heat the ghee, mustard seeds, curry, bay leaves, chile, and ginger in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the mustard seeds start to sputter and pop, then add the corn and stir it about with the seasonings. Pour in the coconut milk and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the basil, then taste for salt.
While the corn is cooking (or even later if that works out better for you), coat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet with the oil and place it over medium-high heat. When hot, add the tofu. At first, the tofu will release its water, which will evaporate, then, after several minutes, it will begin to brown. If the tofu was cut into slabs, turn them carefully to brown both sides; if it has been cut into cubes, give them a turn occasionally to color all sides.
When the tofu is golden, after about 8 minutes or so, season it well with salt and pepper and add it to the corn.
Turn the dish into a shallow bowl and scatter the green onions, basil leaves, and flowers over all.