James Oseland and Indonesian curries were the topic of a New York Times Dining feature last week. I realized that I had just seen one of his recipes over at Leite's Culinaria - a fresh toss-up of vegetables and tofu in a golden coconut sauce - and I had to try it. Here's the galangal and spice paste, alongside slivers of snap peas and red cabbage. The spice paste is made with an incredibly pungent dried shrimp powder which drove me to the depths of my local Asian grocery.
It was worth it - once toasted the shrimp paste gave a pleasant depth and weight to the dish, which balanced the crisp vegetables soaked in the sweet, fragrant coconut milk. An appealing aspect of the Malaysian and Indonesian dishes that Oseland presents so well is their use of fresh vegetables, and with so many harvest vegetables at the market, this is the perfect time to make dishes with these bright, jewel-like colors. Take advantage of the color while it's here - there will be plenty of time in the winter to make meaty stews and potato curries. • Buy Oseland's book at Amazon: Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia