This post was originally published in March 2018. It has been updated with improvements to the text and recipe as of August 2020.
I love Thai food, but it’s virtually impossible to get in the region I’m currently living in (the closest is in Amsterdam, and in these times that’s not going to happen). There aren’t any specialty Asian food stores, but we can get jarred lemongrass, which does the trick in a pinch.
A friend said something the other day about how this kind of dish is not even close to a resemblance of what it should look/taste like without lemongrass. If you can get it fresh, all the better. So this is kind of a northern European in the boonies yellow curry, and it’s pretty good for what it is.
I make this all the time in summer, especially when it’s quite hot out – it only takes a few minutes to cook, so barely heats the house as a result. More often with plain rice noodles instead of the fancy black ones, but you know. Aesthetics.
- Coconut oil
- Mushrooms (see substitutions)
- Yellow onion
- Red bell pepper
- Lemongrass (jarred)
- Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper
- Vegetable broth (or water)
- Canned full-fat coconut milk
- Coconut sugar
- Lime juice
- Baby greens (see substitutions)
- Rice noodles
Heat a large-ish pot over medium high heat and add the coconut oil. Start by cooking the mushrooms for a few minutes, to sear them and draw out the water. This prevents soggy, chewy mushrooms. Add the onion, cook for another minute, then follow with the carrots.
Stir in the bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook to just soften, then add the lemongrass and spices. Frying the spices briefly improves the flavour and aroma, rather than adding them to the broth instead. Add the stock and coconut milk.
Heat it up to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. This is largely to cook the carrots, so the time will depend on the size you’ve cut the carrots. While this is simmering, cook the rice noodles (this is usually a couple minutes in boiling water from the kettle – follow package instructions).
Once the curry base is ready, stir in the coconut sugar and lime juice, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, lime, or sugar to taste, then stir in the noodles and greens an serve immediately. See the tips below if you’re thinking about leftovers.
Tips and Notes
Rice noodles will turn into a soggy mess if they’re left in broth for any length of time. If you know you’ll have leftovers, keep the noodles and the curry separate. To reheat, only heat the curry, and serve it over the noodles instead of combining them.
There is a good chance that your rice noodles will stick together if they’re not added to the broth immediately. Don’t worry if they do. They should un-stick as soon as they’re added to liquid again.
If large pieces of ginger and garlic sound unappealing to you, either mince or finely grate them instead. Fresh turmeric can be grated and added alongside these if you have it, instead of using dried.
Looking for a little more protein here? If I could eat tofu without getting a rash, I’d add some of this baked tofu to the broth alongside the noodles. There are some alternatives now like hemp and lupine tofu but I’m not sure how well they’d work here.
Any rice noodles, or any other kind of pasta, really, can be used here. I am partial to Udon noodles if I don’t have rice noodles (also can’t get Udon here) but even spaghetti works in a pinch.
Baby spinach, rucola, or even chard or kale can be used as the green. Frozen is good too, just thaw it in the hot broth before adding the rice noodles. You can also add a bit of fresh cilantro if you’d like.
Lemon juice is not comparable to lime here so if you can’t get fresh limes (I often can’t) then use bottled lime juice instead. And if you’re using fresh lemongrass, a couple stalks should do it.
More Quick Meals
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Vegan Yellow Curry Noodle Bowls
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 100 grams button mushrooms, sliced
- ½ a medium yellow onion thinly sliced
- 2 medium about 150 grams carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 medium about 150 grams red pepper, cut into matchsticks
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1 thumb ginger thinly sliced (about 5 cm or 2 inches)
- 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- 250 ml vegetable stock or water
- 125 ml full-fat coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- Juice of a lime ~2 tablespoons
- 30 grams baby greens
- 100 grams rice noodles cooked according to package instructions
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes to sear them and draw out the water, avoiding stirring.
- Stir in the onion and cook for another minute to soften. Add the carrots, and cook for another two minutes, stirring, followed by the red pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook for another minute, until fragrant.
- Add the lemongrass, turmeric, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and stir for 30 seconds. Add the vegetable stock and coconut milk.
- Bring the broth to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes, or until the carrots are softened.
- While the broth is simmering, cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Once they’re finished, strain and divide between two bowls.
- Add the coconut sugar and lime juice, then taste and add extra seasoning as needed. Stir in the baby greens and serve immediately, ladled over the rice noodles.