In my head I hear the words of a song, "don't know much about history, don't know much biology...." The upshot of the song is that the guy knows he loves his gal, and if she loves him too, "what a wonderful world this would be." My thoughts about the song have to do with a whole other subject, mainly, don't know much about curry. Being that I chose to cook an epicurious recipe for Salmon and Bok Choy Green Coconut Curry, I googled "curry," and found a great deal of information.
At an epicurious site I learned that Asian curries are often made using curry paste mixed into coconut milk, so I would venture that the style of this Salmon and Bok Choy Green Coconut Curry may be Asian. However, given the depth of information at wikipedia, curries are found in numerous locals including India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, East Asia, the West Indies, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, just to name a few. Many of these cultures use green curry paste and coconut milk as a base for their curries as well.
If you are like me, and are not a big fan of spicy hot dishes, you may find that a more gentle green coconut curry is lighter on the fire alarm scale and more to your liking. I hope you will dip your cooking thumb into the waters of Indian/Asian cuisine, and try this recipe for Salmon and Bok Choy Green Coconut Curry, which may be found at the end of this blog post. We can all travel to other lands through our cooking. It certainly makes me feel adventurous. Travel with me, and enjoy!
Beyond the kitchen...This, That, and the Other.
I had bought tickets to Mark Morris' "The Hard Nut," for my son, daughter-in-law, and myself, for our holiday season celebration together. Unfortunately, I came down with a bad cold and a friend of my son and daughter-in-law took my place. The next day, in a telephone conversation, I asked my son how he liked the production, as he had never seen it before. I was happy to hear that his favorite part was mine as well, which is the waltz of the snowflakes. Morris has staged it so that there is a chorus singing from a balcony, as dancers leap across the stage to the music, throwing snow in the air at the top of their leaps. It is a joyful, energetic, estactic dance, that is so wonderful, I wanted the moment to go on forever.
Talking about it took me back in time, to a time when I had a chance encounter with Mark Morris, before I ever knew who he was. This took place in a time when my son was about two years old. It was a time when he liked playing in sand boxes and was happy rolling a toy truck along the ground.
My parents sold the house at Sackett Lake, where we had always summered. So my husband and I experimented with renting houses, in order to escape the NYC heat of August. I believe that the first summer of our rentals, we wound up at a place called Otis in the Berkshires. Otis was close to Lenox, MA, but more working class, not fancy or refined. The location let us enjoy the privileged benefits of the area like Tanglewood, Jacobs Pillow, and Williamstown, without the expense.
The house we rented was in a complex of condos situated around a lake, reminding me a bit of the bungalow colonies of my youth. But these houses, some of which were for rent, were owned by somewhat wealthy retired people. Because of this, my son and I, who stayed at the house by ourselves during the week, did not run into any other people. Not even visiting grandchildren. There were no groups of other parents with young children on the beach by the lake, as one would find at the beaches or ponds by Wellfleet in Cape Cod.
It was lonely and not what I had expected. The only place that felt welcoming was a working man's diner, where we went for breakfast most days. My son and I would hold hands and strut into the diner in the mornings. People would greet us with hellos when we entered and walked to a table. There were baskets of toys with which my son could play if he got bored waiting for the food to arrive, or if he finished eating sooner than I. The waitress was like a second mother, and I was grateful to feel so welcomed into a community.
But, one day taking a stroll on the beach with my son, we ran into and man and his friends, frolicking on the beach. They seemed to be doing acrobatics, and sometimes would leap into the air. This was the first I had seen of any people on the premises of this big complex of houses on a lake. I thought they must be circus performers in the area for some kind of outdoor fair. It seemed like a surreal vision.
One man, seemingly the leader of this group, was strikingly beautiful, with long hair that was curly to the point of looking like it was in ringlets, and oh, those eyes. He struck up a conversation, and I was surprised to have someone like that taking an interest in me and my son.
He asked questions about who we were and what we were doing in the area. I think this young man told me that he and his friend were there because they would be preforming in the area. This my illusion that they were circus performers. I don't think I really knew about Jacob's Pillow at the time, had never been there, and it was not on my radar's list for the summer. I was mostly about music at Tanglewood and theater in Williamstown or Stockbridge.
I remember being so struck by this encounter, I told my husband all about it, wondering who these people could possibly be. I guess I was shy, and did not ask too many questions of my own at the time. In retrospect, I wish I had.
It was only many years later that I put two and two together, and realized that this must have been Mark Morris, the dancer and coreographer, at a young age. In hindsight, he and the others were probably performing at Jacob's Pillow at that time, during my family's stay in Otis.
In the summers that followed, my husband and I got more experienced and even a bit savvy, at renting houses for summer vacations. We would vacation for a couple of weeks together with our son, instead of renting for a month with my husband coming up on weekends for two of the four weeks away.
We experimented with sharing a larger house with friends and family. Sometimes one week with one, and the next with the other. When family visited it would feel like our own much smaller version of the Kennedy compound in Hyannis. It felt great to have everyone visiting together in one place. It was a time of life when there were new babies in the family, and everything felt possible. Now there are new babies in the family again, this time it is the time for my nieces to make their family' ways into this stage of life.
Eventually my husband and I would bring one of my son's friends along to vacation with us when we rented a neighbor's house in Chatham, MA. Some summers, other families we knew from our home neighborhood would vacation the same weeks as we did, and we would meet them on the beaches of the ponds at Wellfleet, and our kids would get to play together. Sometimes, new friendships were made over children building sandcastles, or swimming in the shallow waters.
Many, many years later, my husband and I vacationed in Lenox on our own, staying at the Brook Farm Inn. This was a time when our son was more grown and away at a sleep-away camp. In these years, we would finally go to Jacob's Pillow and see a much more mature Mark Morris dance. We were thrilled. A bit surprised by the dances which he performed alone, one time dressed as a member of the women's army auxiliary corp, another time dressed as a female flamenco dancer. But thrilled nonetheless.
In even later years, we continued to follow Morris' career, by seeing his company perform at Tanglewood. Today, the Mark Morris dance company is located close to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, just an hours' walk from my house. Thus, our tickets to see The Hard Nut this December. I am looking forward to seeing "Pepperland" (alternate video) in the spring.
Wishing you all Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Salmon and Bok Choy Green Coconut Curry
A one-pan salmon dish. Be sure to serve on a bed of rice, to soak up the wonderful flavors of the curry made with green curry paste and coconut milk, as well as ginger and garlic. Top your serving in a bowl, with chopped scallions, cilantro, cashews, and chile (if using).
- 4 six to eight oz. skinless salmon fillets
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 fourteen oz. can of full-fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup green curry paste
- 2 tsp. finely grated peeled ginger (from one 2" piece)
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 head of boy chow (about 1-½ lb.)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
- ¼ cup roasted salted cashews
- 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced (optional)
- steamed rice (for serving; optional)
Season salmon on all sides with 1 tsp. salt. Let sit until ready.
Cook coconut milk, curry paste, ginger, garlic, and remaining 1 tsp. salt in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until simmering, 5-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut bok choy stems into ½" thick slices and leaves into 2" pieces. Rinse well and drain. Add to coconut milk mixture and stir to coat.
Nestle salmon fillets into bok choy in an even layer. Cover pan and cook over medium-low heat until salmon is just cooked through and flesh is opaque, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and pour lime juice over salmon.
Scatter scallions, cilantro, cashews and chile (if using) over salmon and box ahoy. Serve with rice alongside (if using).