Short List: Thai Green CurryWith the laundry list of ingredients and imprecise quantities that go into green curry, it’s easy to see how Thai cooking is often considered art, not science. But while curry might be a forgiving recipe, consider me the princess and the pea. To distill curries’ true virtues, I kept two controls for my venture: a medium heat level and shrimp as my star. Yet not even these constants were free from criticism, with cocktail-sized crustaceans and pathetically weak or ulcer-inducing heat landing otherwise suitable suitors firmly on the “no” list. A faultless curry, not so thin as broth but not so creamy as buttermilk, must master the delicate balance of savory and sweet. There should also be an abundance and variety of good vegetables, but not too many – this isn’t a stir-fry – and not too few – a fork should still be required. And the color? Lima bean green. Here now, the swans.
8416 N. Lindbergh Blvd., Florissant, 314.831.3701, pearlcafestl.com
Among the endless strip malls along North Lindbergh Boulevard, Florissant houses not one but two Thai titans. Even though Pearl Café and Simply Thai are owned by the same crew, the green curries were different and equally awesome. Succulent yet firm chunks of Chinese eggplant and slightly crunchy green beans created additional textures to the usual suspects: bell peppers, bamboo shoots and shrimp (peeled and deveined – nice touch). Too often the coconut milk and palm sugar added to the curry paste tip the sweet-and-savory scale into dangerous saccharine territory, but here, each bite started sweet and ended with a sip of water – just as it should.
Fork & Stix
549 Rosedale Ave., U. City, 314.863.5572, Facebook: Fork & Stix
Although Fork & Stix specializes in northern Thai cuisine (which doesn’t always showcase coconut milk or chiles – curry staples), this new eatery must have borrowed a page from NFL/MLB sensation Bo Jackson, knocking this Southern Thai treat out of the park. The curry itself was thin enough to soak through the rice, a necessity when ordering everything medium, but not so thin as to resemble soup. Added bonuses: sinuses cleared and insides made warm on a cold day. The best part: It tasted just as good, if not better, the next day for lunch.
2470 N. Highway 67, Florissant, 314.921.2179
This curry is green, as expected, but a faithful green, light in shade from the coriander, limes, lemongrass and chiles – none of that creepy Ecto Cooler neon stuff some restaurants dare to serve. Studded with a generous amount of plump shrimp, tender peas, shredded bamboo shoots, chunks of red and green peppers, and wisps of sweet basil, each bite was balanced with a heat that got my brow sweaty but didn’t deter me from jamming another bite in before I finished the first.