Holiday celebrations this year will feel even more special as many of us get together with our families as many of us renew traditions that were skipped a year ago. During our annual “holiday food” conversations with local chefs and restaurateurs, each of the recipes they chose to share had some connection to their roots. We hope these dishes encourage you to spread warmth and hope to your loved ones this holiday season.
The Joy Nest
Caroline Jolliffe, owner of The Joy Nest in Newburyport, remembers the familiar comfort of her mother’s holiday cooking.
For Jolliffe, who has Swedish roots, the holidays have always meant celebrations that bring light and warmth into the dark and cold of winter. “Meatballs that my mother made are what comes to mind,” she says.
When you enter Jolliffe’s cozy restaurant, you won’t find Swedish cuisine. The Joy Nest combines the ambiance of a 1920s speakeasy with Thai street food, an amalgamation inspired by the two-plus years she lived in Thailand during the 1990s. “I’m really drawn to contrasts; the combination of elegance and comfort is really appealing to me,” Jolliffe says.
While living in Thailand, Jolliffe fell in love with the country’s cuisine. “The food itself was so complex, containing so many flavors,” she says.
The Joy Nest’s menu reflects this experience with dishes such as gai tod hat yai, boneless chicken thighs commonly sold by street vendors in southern Thailand.
When considering a recipe to share, Jolliffe was drawn to Thai fish curry noodle soup, which she describes as “very traditional and often served at gatherings.”
The Joy Nest
Fish Curry Noodle Soup
Yield: 8 servings
3/4 pound whitefish, such as cod
1 cup fish balls (available in Asian grocery stores)
3 stalks lemongrass, cut into halves
4 slices galangal
8 red Thai chiles
3 tablespoons red curry paste
3/4 cup krachai root, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 shallots, cut into quarters
3/4 teaspoon shrimp paste
6-7 cups water
coconut milk (to desired texture)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 package soft rice noodles (available in Asian grocery stores)
1 bunch green beans cut into small pieces
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 green cabbage, cut into narrow strips
8 hard-boiled eggs (one for each serving)
Heat water in a wok or pot until it starts to gently boil, then add the stalks of lemongrass, lime leaves, chiles, krachai root, shallots and galangal. Stir and let the ingredients simmer for about 3 minutes.
Add the whitefish; stir delicately and let the fish cook for about 5 minutes. Spoon all of the herbs and roots into a bowl, and the fish (carefully) into another bowl. Throw away the galangal. Separate out the lemongrass and lime leaves, and set aside. Keep the remaining broth in the wok to use later.
Put the shallots, chiles and krachai root together and use a mortar and pestle to grind them into a paste. Add the shrimp paste and red curry paste to this mixture and combine. Add the whitefish and crush everything together thoroughly.
Heat the broth that you left in the wok on high. When it starts to simmer, spoon in the paste mixture. Add the leftover lemongrass and lime leaves and stir again. Once it comes to a boil, add the fish balls.
Cook soup for about 5 minutes, turn off the heat, then add coconut milk at the very end to your desired texture. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. Serve with rice noodles, cabbage and green beans. Garnish with a hard-boiled egg and cilantro.