By Peyton Roberts
There’s no question that the local produce scene on Guam can be a little intimidating. I just stopped in at the Wednesday farmer’s market at Chamorro Village and was reminded of why I didn’t naturally gravitate to shopping and cooking this way when I first arrived on island. To a newcomer, the produce here just seems weird.
I found myself looking at a table full of spiny soursops, gigantic green grapefruit, lumpy guava, massive avocados, thin eggplant, and rooty ginger. Even a year into market shopping, I still find myself asking vendors, “What is that and how do I eat it?” If I didn’t already have recipes ready to go, I would probably walk away without buying anything. But thanks to my cooking class in Thailand, this trip I knew exactly what to buy and, in fact, was really excited with the selection.
For anyone new to the local cooking scene, I encourage you to make it easy on yourself and start with Thai recipes. Most recipes use simple variations of veggies that are easy to find fresh at markets on Guam. And better yet, many of the staple vegetables (like eggplant and peppers) and herbs (like lemongrass and sweet basil) that make up Thai recipes will grow really easily right in your backyard. And best of all, Thai food just tastes so good. I could be going out on a limb here, but I think the fresh factor has a whole lot to do with that.
Last week I shared my favorite Thai recipe, Thai Papaya Salad. But the menu of Thai food is so sensational, that I can’t just leave you with one recipe. So here’s another easy favorite that will leave you wondering why you didn’t try the Japanese eggplant before now. It’s a classic red curry recipe with a boonie pepper kick.
Adapted from The Chilli Club Cooking Academy
1 can coconut milk
4 tsp. red curry paste
1-2 lbs. beef, pork, chicken, or fish, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 Japanese eggplant, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. palm sugar
2-5 boonie peppers
1 small red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
8 kaffir lime leaves (I grow my own)
handful of Thai basil leaves (also called sweet basil)
Directions: Heat coconut cream in a wok on medium. Stir in red curry paste until well combined. Add meat or fish, then add palm sugar and soy sauce. When meat is cooked, add in eggplant, bell pepper, boonie pepper. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes on low to medium heat. Finally, add in kaffir lime and basil leaves, then turn off heat and simmer a few minutes. Remove kaffir lime leaves one minute before serving. Serve immediately over a bowl of steamed rice. Serves 4.
Peyton Roberts is a military spouse who moved to Guam from the States in July 2010. She started her blog, Peyt’s Island, as a way to keep friends and family informed about what island life is like. Over time, that space transformed into a forum for writing about her experiences discovering Guam’s beauty, and more recently its flavors. Peyton loves all Guam adventures, whether land or sea, and has a passion for sharing ideas about incorporating local produce into regular family cooking. At the Fresh Factor, Peyton shares recipes, interviews, and information about all things fresh on Guam.