Saturday, November 15, 2008

Recipe: Three Sisters Red Curry

Today, my world food at home recipe is a bit of fusion. A melding of Native American and Thai food. It's not as strange as it may sound, in fact given all the ingredients, anyone familiar with both cuisines can see the common sense in it.

The "three sisters" refers to the staples of the tribes of the East Coast of central North America. They are squash, beans and corn. The cultural and mythological references to their origin are many, but the one I like most speaks of an otherworldly maiden seen walking on a moonlit night, in each footprint that she left grew squash, corn or beans. That's some beautiful imagery, no?

In practical terms, the farming of the three sisters was nothing short of genius. On a mound of dirt, corn would be planted, then beans around the corn. This way the beans could grow up the corn and thus produce more fruit, while the corn benefitted from the support of the bean's vines in heavy wind. Around the base of the mound was planted squash. It's broad leaves would shade the ground and keep it from drying out. It's prickly stems would discourage pests and varmints from compromising the crop. Yes, genius.

Earlier this week I was considering making dinner with the food I had on hand. I was thinking of doing some Native American dish, but my wife asked for a Thai curry with some sticky rice. 2 + 2 =4, and Three Sisters Red Curry was born. It is a delicious, spicy and rich red curry that benefits from the contrasting sweetness of the squash (I used sugar pumpkin) and sweet corn. The beans of course make it satisfying and filling. I chose pork for the protein, but chicken or beef would work just as well.

You can get a little creative with the other ingredients as well. Acorn or butternut squash could be substituted for the pumpkin and pintos or some other beans can work where I chose Anasazi beans. It's all good.

Three Sisters Red Curry

1-1/2 cups of coconut milk
2 TBS red curry paste
3/4 lb. of pork loin (trimmed of fat and cubed in bite-sized pieces)
1-1/2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of sugar pumpkin (cut in 1" cubes)
1 cup cooked beans (I use Anasazi, pintos will work fine)
1 cup of fresh or frozen sweet corn
2 TBS fish sauce
1 TBS palm sugar (brown or turbinado work fine)
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno (thinly sliced into rings and de-seeded as a garnish)

Place a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the coconut milk and heat for a few minutes until it begins to thicken and simmer. Add the curry paste and stir until it is dissolved.

Add the pork cubes and cook for a few minutes stirring frequently. Be sure the meat gets coated well.

Add the chicken broth, pumpkin, fish sauce and palm sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook stirring occasionally until the pumpkin is tender but still firm, (about 7 to 12 minutes).

Add the beans and the sweet corn and continue simmering for a few more minutes.

Plate in shallow bowls, sprinkle generously with cilantro and garnish with jalapeno pepper rings. Serve with sticky or jasmine rice.

Recipe: Three Sisters Red Curry from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk


  1. I love that 3 sisters story (and the curry sounds great too)!

  2. This looks awesome! Great photo!


  3. Thanks very much for your kind words. It is one of those dishes that just glows and is really delicious.

  4. Henry,
    i learn something new everyday, ditto the spud, great story about the 3 sisters.

    btw I love food and I love eating it too :D great blog!