Corn Simmered in Coconut Milk with Thai Basil

When Matt and I moved last summer, we had to find all new take-out restaurants. (I know, poor us!) But luckily, our pal Rachel made us say the following four words aloud: Wat. Dong. Moon. Lek. And I'm so glad she did because Wat Dong Moon Lek is a Thai restaurant in Silver Lake with probably the best tom kha udon I've ever tasted (and maybe some of the worst customer service). (But honestly, who needs customer service when your food is that good and so well-priced?)

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.


Matthew said...

I totally loved this! Almost as much as I loved waiting 2 hours for Wat Dong Moon Lek to deliver their amazing tom kha and red curry! xoxo

Jarhead said...

Thanks for this fantastic recipe! Definitely gonna try it. (I particularly liked the segue into a Thom Yorke sighting)

Sara said...

Yum, this looks lovely! Corn is on our CSA's list for next week, and now I know what I'll be making! :)

Mary Anne said...

Oh yeah girl, I feel ya on this. Excuse me if I go back to 1997, windows-down tunes-blasting with friends while driving to "downtown Chicago" as we used to call it back when we were kids, screaming to Karma Police: "For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myse-e-elf!"

Incidentally, that is how I felt when we saw Thom Yorke.

Ileana said...

This looks awesome. Lucky girl on both counts! I've yet to find a suitable replacement for the Chinese takeout place near my parents' house in Miami.

Anywaaay, you've reminded me I need to flip through Vegetable Literacy again soon! :)

Marie Matter said...

I've been eyeing this recipe in VL for a while! Cannot get enough corn right now - have to try this!

Andrea said...

This looks amazing. When you use corn, I pay attention. Case in point: this delicious stuff, which I am looking forward to making again soon!


Dan from Platter Talk said...

We have two cobs of corn just sitting in a bin of our fridge. Now I know where they are headed - directly to this awesome sounding recipe! Thanks for posting!!

Eileen said...

This sounds so delicious! Perfect for the new summer corn coming in. :)

Ashley Blom said...

This looks so good... I am missing some of the spices but am trying to figure out in my head replacements... Might have to be a side dish for me soon!

KK said...

Looks amazing.

Katherine {eggton} said...

The bowl you put it in rocks! Where did you get it?

I made pad thai and green curry this weekend--my first attempt at Thai at home. The Asian grocery store experience was awwwwwwesome. Among other amazing products, they sold something labeled "Women's Tea with Dong." I got home and was like "What is wrong with me? Why did I not buy that?"

Amelia Morris said...

Hi Katherine! That bowl is a pasta bowl in redwood from Heath Ceramics (where I work.) Thanks for noticing! As for the Women's Tea... you may need to go back to that store, huh?? ;)

Amelia Morris said...

Ahhh, loved that song too!!

petal and plume said...

oh my, this looks positively perfect!

Rachel said...

I'm famous!!! Also, WDML used to have the nicest service in the world but when they expanded they had to hire a bunch of people and it got crazy! So much attitude, but still soooo delicious.

Shelley said...

As a writer, it's the words that make me hungry. So you had me at "Corn Simmered in Coconut Milk"....

Kara said...

Just catching up from some weeks of vacay! May I say your tofu looks beautiful, doll?

Absolutely adore Tom Yorke!!! Congrats on your LA sighting.

Rachel said...

that looks yummy. love me some pablo honey too.

Heather Tanji said...

Ahh reading this at 3 p.m. was a mistake. So hungry just from looking at your photos and reading your descriptions! I'm not a fan of spicy myself (my tongue is something of a wuss) so I would say pass on the jalapenos but everything else looks absolutely mouth-watering. Thank you for sharing!

Ami O said...

I really enjoy your patter as well as your recipes. I adore Thai food. I shy away from ghee due to the fat content and will attempt it with something lighter. Fresh corn season is here! I love Deborah Madison. So simple yet delicious. Her recipes are trustworthy, a word I do not often use regarding cookbooks! I am new to blogging and would enjoy your feedback.


Lydia said...

I made this tonight. It was one of those shining moments where I thought "what can I do with all this corn?", remembered that you posted a corn recipe in June 2013 (or I searched - either way), and then had all the ingredients. Kapow! So flavourful. Merci!

Amelia Morris said...

love those kinds of moments!!