Catalina Cooking: The mystique of Red Curry

You can have red curry with chicken, fish, tofu or everything. No rules. Courtesy photo

Back in the early ’80s the food scene was insane in L.A. I was a chef/partner in a place called Restaurant Muse on Beverly (so many things to come) and I was really into Thai food. From Tourung at 3 a.m., after the scene to Chan Dara at noon for breakfast, my life was Thai Thai Thai … and them some. I used to put a red curry on the lunch and dinner menus. Red curry sake beurre blanc for dumplings, red curry vinaigrette, red curry and won ton nachos, soft shell crab tacos with red curry sauce and on and on. Over the years, the one thing I kept was the red curry and orange perfumed basmati rice. By then I was friends with Bowie. In the ’70s he would show up at a place here and there when he was in town. Don’t need to get into that, but he loved the curry. I would get a call at midnight that he was craving and I would run to the restaurant to make it for him and his recording people. (Seems I did that for a lot of rock and rollers and celebs. I was easy that way.) So we were at a Stones concert talking about Barbados and Mustique. I had never been. The next day I flew out to Cabo with my ex on a surf trip. We were there for three days and before we left for home, we went to the Palmilla for lunch where across the way I see Coco his assistant and guardian angel. David walks over and kisses my ex’s tummy and says, “I hear you’re having a baby. How about the two of you go to my house in Mustique as my guests?” The only caveat is that I teach Joel (his butler, and never mind that I would become a butler later in life) my red curry. We jumped on it big time. Private jet surfboards, et cetera. That was my first honeymoon surfing Barbados and kicking it on Mustique. We got married at the jail in Avalon. Her 4-year-old son T.J. was my best man and my bachelor party was a bottle of Dom on the Avalon pier. I splashed some on the seals while it was raining and it was all about my private party with resting seagulls out of the rain as bodyguards to keep the pier to just myself and the seals.

A month later it was wheels up. Anyway many recipes to come as I must keep on track. Here is that same Thai Red Curry I am making for my daughter Taylor (real name Jagger), and her husband Kevin. Visiting from France are my sister in law Lina and her cousin Lou and, of course, my granddaughter Thalia, gypsy and Annecy. My norm is chicken, shrimp or lobster and giant sea scallops. You can do one, all or do a nice tofu. No rules You only live once. Make it happen!

A couple pounds of mixed meats or veggies of your choice cut into large pieces or whole

• Peanut oil to sauté

• 4 minced shallots

• 2 minced thai chili or serranos

• 4 T minced fresh ginger

• 4 T minced fresh lemon grass

• 4 lime leaves

• 8 ounces red curry paste (you can find anywhere now in the Asian section. Used to go to Thai Town)

• 1 cup plum wine

• 1 cup dry sake

• 2 cups chicken stock

• 3 can coconut milk

• 3 T soy sauce

• 1/4 cup sweet thai chili

• 4 juiced limes

• 1 cup fresh cubed pineapple

• Basmaiti rice, chicken or veggie stock

• 1 orange sliced up

• Slice orange for garnish, chopped cilantro as well.

In a hot pan put some peanut oil and get it hot hot hot. Quickly sear your proteins seasoned with salt and pepper adding oil when removing and putting in more pieces not cooking all the way.

Toss in the empty pan the shallots, chili ginger and lemon grass string with a wooden spoon and add the plum wine and sake string to remove bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce this down to 1/4 and add the red curry paste, coconut oil and bring to a simmer. Add the lime leaves, soy and thai chili. Simmer a bit more and taste here. Salt is good? Heat is good? Balanced flavors? Add the lime juice and this will take the flat taste away. Set aside. You can make this the day before. Next steam your basmaiti rice per the directions with the stock and orange.

When ready, bring the curry up to temp, toss in the protein with the juices and slowly simmer until warm.

Put a bed of rice on the plate and ladle the curry over the rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro, pineapple and more orange slices. Add some cool sliced cucumber as well. I really can’t believe how many people read this. This is so much fun and I hope you keep enjoying. Email or call me if you have any questions and remember to visit the crew at The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills to really blow your mind. Ask for my daughter Breezy or Norb, Tony, Dom, Siobhan (a click over the a) Eric Rapha, or Linda upstairs! Summer truffles are in, the caviar is cold and the olive oil is nice and fresh … make it happen.

Capt. Vaughn Allen was a private chef and butler for the ultra rich and famous most of his life. Vaughn was recently called out of retirement to cook the intimate celebration dinner for Sir Ringo Starr and his close friends. Vaughn is a businessman, scuba instructor and most recently a yacht broker in Redondo Beach. You can contact him at


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