A couple weeks ago, I was having another one of those days in the kitchen. Nothing was going right; seemingly simple dishes were eluding me; I was getting more frustrated by the minute. I have to remember that sometimes, incredible meals are born this way.
My only task that day was to make two dipping sauces for shrimp cocktail. That doesn’t sound too hard, does it? Well, three different versions went down the drain. I was in a foul mood. Spending HOURS working on a couple of measly dipping sauces is not my idea of time well spent. Eventually, I ended up with two that I thought were passable. At that point, nothing seemed good enough, mostly because of the sour taste in my mouth from the whole experience. At the last minute, I grabbed some leftover coconut milk from the fridge and made a third contender with curry, which actually ended up being the one I was happiest with. However, when my official taste tester got home and sampled all three, he deemed the coconut curry sauce to be too potent for the shrimp. Even though I was on the verge on tears by that point, I knew he was right. It went into the refrigerator to be put to use another time.
A few days later when I used the curry sauce, I was actually glad for the dipping sauce debacle. If I’d nailed those sauces right away, this meal never would have come about.
Coconut Curry Turkey Pitas
Makes 24 turkey patties (about 6 pitas)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon sweet curry powder
1/2 teaspoon hot curry powder
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped red Fresno pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1.25 pounds ground turkey
Pita pockets, cut in half and separated
Sliced red Fresno peppers
For curry sauce:
In a small saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat and quickly cook garlic and ginger. Stir in coconut milk, curry powders and salt. Let mixture simmer and reduce for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For turkey patties:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together first 9 ingredients. Add turkey and incorporate well.
Form roughly 24 patties (about 2” x 3/4") and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. When ready to cook, heat canola oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook patties in batches for about 3 minutes per side, until cooked through. (Time will vary depending on thickness.) Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
To assemble pitas, spoon sauce into pockets, then stuff with turkey patties, cilantro, arugula, tomatoes and peppers as desired. Spoon more sauce over the top if desired.
The flavors and spice in this dish are huge and fresh. Just looking at these photos made me want to change my dinner plans tonight. Next time I’m having an off day in the kitchen, I’m just going to make this instead.