I love Thai food. Really love it. And 10% of our users love it according to their taste profiles (don't have a taste profile yet? Take our profile quiz.). This post is for you, lovelies.
Despite my love affair with green curry and spicy eggplant, I rarely cook Thai at home. It's hard to find Thai basil around here, and I always feel like it is so critical to getting it right (my sister, who often makes Thai food, confirmed that there's a certain 'je ne sais quoi' about Thai basil that regular basil does not capture). Luckily for us there are these awesome pastes and sauces that come in jars that incorporate some of these hard to find flavors. I'd long ago stocked up my Thai pantry with Thai Kitchen's red curry paste, green curry paste, fish sauce and other random things. But there they sat, untouched for months, in the fridge door. Until last night.
See, last weekend, we topped off our streak of dinners "out" (which included David/Melissa's and Kim/Mike's), with an awesome dinner at Cory and Corinne's (those are really their names! Cute, right?!). I loved that Corinne took a risk and made a Spicy Thai Chicken Basil stir-fry; suffice to say that I went back for seconds. I brought over mango sticky rice (recipe to follow in a subsequent post), and it was all in all a perfect dinner "out." I was inspired -- if my friends can make Thai food at home, why can't I?
I took some guidance from the back of the Thai red curry paste jar, and mostly improvised. While napping, I decided I had to have potatoes and green peppers in this dish, and sent the almost-mister (no, we haven't set a date yet...), to the store for those ingredients. It was shaping up for a downpour, and this hearty red curry was going to be the perfect warming mechanism. I could see the whole vision in my head, now I just had to execute.
The rice went on the stove. Blake got to work pounding down the chicken and chopping it up (man, it helps to have a sous chef!) so that it would be nice and tender. Into the wok went some coconut milk, red curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar and chopped potatoes, green peppers and asparagus. Meanwhile, I cooked the chicken in a separate skillet and then dumped that into the wok too. A large wok is recommended; mine was heaping and difficult to stir. Note: don't overcook the chicken on the skillet -- cook until it's no longer pink, but then immediately get it into the wok. Remember that it's going to simmer for a bit longer in there...(I forgot that part and my chicken was slightly overcooked). Alternatively, you could cook the chicken in the skillet fully, and then add it at the last minute to the wok. Once the potatoes were soft and delicious, it was ready to go.
I'll admit that this didn't have quite the punch of flavor that our local Thaitanic resto packs, but it beyond satisfied my craving for Thai. And, it gave me confidence to try again and get closer to the real deal! Don't think you have it in you to cook a Thai curry? Maybe you don't -- but you have it in that little jar in the fridge. Open it up and see what happens.
Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Veggies (Serves 3-4)
- 1 1/2 tbsp Thai Kitchen Thai red curry paste
- 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 small red potatoes, washed and chopped (skins on)
- 1/2 bunch of asparagus, washed, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 chicken breasts, pounded and sliced into pieces
- salt to taste
- olive oil
In a large wok or sauce pan, simmer coconut milk with red curry paste over medium heat for five minutes. Add fish sauce, brown sugar, chopped veggies, water and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook chicken over medium heat in olive oil. Add chicken to wok and simmer a few more minutes (until potatoes are tender). Add salt to taste, and serve over jasmine rice.