Thai Chicken Curry

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We eat Thai-style chicken curry often but I’ve never posted it here, mostly because it’s hard to take an appealing picture of braised meat and vegetables swimming in a brownish/reddish curry sauce.  But it’s so delicious I thought it was worth mentioning.  I’m not Thai and I’m sure my version is nowhere near authentic, but I’ve eaten curry at enough Thai restaurants to know what I’m going for:  thinly sliced pieces of chicken and vegetables in a curry sauce with an almost stew-like consistency finished with lots of fresh basil on top.  And it needs to come to the table piping hot with Jasmine rice on the side.

I make this when I have small amounts of a variety of vegetables that need to be used and I have all the necessary canned items in the pantry.   These are all from the Asian section of my grocery store and it’s by no means cosmopolitan here, so I’m sure they’re in yours too.  I prefer the red curry paste, the one on the bottom, but I keep the more mild, yellow one on hand as well.

There are two keys to great Thai curry at home.  The first is to use a lot more curry paste than the recipe on the container calls for.  I discovered this because the recipe on the container uses metric measurements and I have a strict policy of ignoring the metric system in my kitchen.  I only realized later when I did the math that I was doubling the recommended amount.

The other key to great curry is to let the mixture cook for at least 30 minutes, longer if possible.  When I first starting making curry, I had a liquid management problem.  When the chicken, vegetable and coconut milk mixture looked like it wouldn’t yield that piping hot sauce I wanted, I would add chicken stock, water or more coconut milk.  The result was either watery or overwhelmingly coconut-y.

The solution is to not panic when you see that your curry needs liquid and wait for the vegetables to release their starch and liquid into the sauce, thickening it up.  That’s why a longer cooking time and using vegetables that will release lots of water (like cauliflower or bell peppers) will get you the consistency you want.

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Last night, I used most of a head of cauliflower, three small diced potatoes, a red bell pepper and the canned bamboo shoots and straw mushrooms above.  I only used two chicken breasts and four of us ate with enough leftovers for another meal or a couple of lunches.  (I should mention that two of us are under five-years old.)

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Pretty in pictures or not, it’s delicious.

Thai Style Chicken Curry

2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp of red curry paste

1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk

1 onion, diced

1 bell pepper, roughly chopped

3 small potatoes, diced

1/2 head of cauliflower

Bamboo shoots, canned

Straw mushrooms, canned

Non-flavored cooking oil, I use canola

Heat 2 Tbsp of canola oil over medium heat.  Add curry paste, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cook until fragrant.  Add 1/2 can of coconut milk and stir until combined and thickened with the curry paste.  Add the chicken and cook until liquid boils, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the remaining ingredients.  Cover and continue to simmer until the vegetables soften and the mixture is thickened.  Season to taste and finish with fresh basil.  Serve with Sriracha sauce and bowls of Jasmine rice.

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