Smoky Thai Red Curry? Where to Find / How to Make?
Ok here's a puzzle for you Chowhounds:
Like many I have a curry that haunts my soul.
It's made by a little Hmong woman in a hole in the wall in Detroit MI.
In Detroit this dish is called Pad Ped, and it's on the menu a couple of other places around town in a similar form. When I've had "Pad Ped" outside of Detroit, it definitely wasn't the same.
This curry is a red curry with meat, bell pepper, onion, bamboo shoots, and soft and smoky slices of briefly wok-fried eggplant. It has almost no coconut flavor. Sometimes I think I might taste crab paste. Mostly, it has this great smoky flavor to the point that I think it might have some kind of Thai paprika / smoked chili powder or even some liquid smoke added. I am doubtful that this flavor could come just from the addition of smoky eggplant. This dish is made in a flash in an extremely hot wok. There is definitely the flavor of "wok hei".
So, food sleuths, what am I talking about, and can I find anything similar around the Bay Area?
"Country Style" Red Curry paste does a non-coconut milk base. Perhaps you can try that with the smoked eggplant? I've never heard of your dish but it sounds delicious!
Siam Bay in Oakland has what they characterize as smoked chili entrees (they don't call it a curry); all come with zucchini rather than the items you mention and choice of protein, including seafood. The vegetarian option is eggplant w/ tofu.
The red smoked chili sauce has a nice, subtle smoky flavor and no detectable coconut at all.
Siam Bay Authentic Thai Cuisine
1009 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94607
Thank you very much for the recommendations! Siam Bay sounds like a good possibility.
The dish I'm thinking of is definitely made with some coconut milk or cream... it seems somehow the chef knows a brand or maybe just cooks it in some way so that it retains the richness but doesn't have that fruity coconut flavor.
I'll definitely check out those smoked chili entrees, I'm thinking this may just be a mild curry base spiced up with thai smoked chili powder of some kind... I've just never seen that ingredient anywhere before.