My husband’s family has corrupted me.
They’ve pulled me into the wonderful world of Asian food and Thai cuisine and it is becoming an absolute favorite. From the first time my husband introduced me to Pad Thai and various Curries, I’ve been seriously hooked.
It never occurred to me I could actually fix these dishes until I first ventured into our amazing Asian market here in Oklahoma City. It was then that I found curry paste and tamarind and all the ingredients I knew to be in the Thai foods that I loved, and realized I could actually make them!
This has become a regular around our house. I make it every couple of weeks and it’s a great re-heat the next day for leftovers. My taste buds seem to really jump for joy at the flavors of coconut milk and curry. They are the most wonderful pairing imaginable.
If you have an Asian market, you should check it out. They have the best fresh fish of all kinds at ours – the best ahi tuna I’ve ever seen, red snapper, chilean sea bass – you name it. If you can handle the smell of fish, there are also a whole LOT of other items to get there. Fresh lemongrass, baby bok choy, a whole plethora of mushroom varieties and yes, some things you look at and say…what in the world is that?
My first visit, I was overwhelmed and could find nothing. Many of the items are in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai or something other than English. After a few visits, I learned to be a pest and asked questions, and began to associate myself with the aisles. There were mountains of different chili sauces, fish sauces, curry pastes, flavored oils, soy sauces and countless items I don’t have enough space to go into…because, OH YEAH…. I need to show you how to make Red Chicken Curry.
So, let’s begin. I truly believe the easiest way to do most Asian food is to completely do your prep-work before you start cooking. Let’s start with a few basics.
Chop up 2-3 baby bok choy into julienned strips.
Chop up a red bell pepper into long strips, then cut them in half.
Cut up one yellow onion into bite-size chunks.
Take 2 cups of fresh green beans and snap off the stem ends.
Chop up 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-size chunks.
Also chop into bite size chunks, 4-6 medium-size red potatoes, peeled.
Okay, these are all things you probably recognize. Let’s get to some of the …less recognizable items in this dish.
Fish Sauce – the asian version of salt, an important staple in Asian cuisine. Red Curry paste – a mixture of dry chili pepper, shallot, garlic, galangal, lemon grass, cilantro root, peppercorn, coriander, salt, shrimp paste and kaffir lime zest. If you don’t recognize a few of those ingredients, TRUST ME! It’s yummmmmy! And the great thing about the curry pastes? You don’t have to find all of the pre-mentioned stuff. It’s all in the curry paste!
Coconut milk – quite obviously, the milk of a coconut. Sweet and derived from the meat of the coconut, it is not to be confused with coconut juice, which is the watery liquid found inside a fresh coconut. I always use the light version, as the full fat version is very fully fat.
One more thing -lemongrass. Now, it’s in the curry paste, so you don’t have to do this step. I just love this stuff, so I added some extra.
Take one stem of lemongrass, peel off the outer tough leaves, and smash it with the side of your knife, or a can works really well to “bruise” it.
This releases all the flavors of the lemongrass.
Cut it into 2 inch pieces.
Chinese basil and chives – you just have to try them. The basil is a bit more minty that our basil. The chives a bit more garlicky than our chives. Okay – enough of the Asian tutorial! We’re ready to get cookin’!
Pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil into a good size pan. Throw your onion into the pan.
Stir fry it around for a minute or two and then add 2 teaspoons of red curry paste. You can also add your 3 cloves of chopped garlic at this point.
Stir this around for a minute until the curry paste melts into the vegetables.
Stir in 2 can’s of light coconut milk. If you don’t know where to find light coconut milk….look here.
Toss in your chopped lemongrass. Be forewarned. Mr. Wonderful hates chewing on this stuff. But it’s SO good for flavor.
Pour in 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Fish sauce is the “salt” in Asian or Thai cooking.
Add in 2 Tablespoons brown sugar.
Now bring your mixture to a slight boil.
Now dump in your potatoes and chicken and red pepper.
Cover your curry with a lid, and simmer, around 8 minutes. If you haven’t already, start your rice. We like brown, if we’re feeling healthy, or jasmine if we’re just feeling a little naughty.
Now it’s time to add your green beans. (no picture)
Leave your green beans for about 4-5 minutes and add your bok choy.
Oh gosh, at this point, your kitchen smells sooooo wonderful!.
Cook with the bok choy added for a couple minutes more. Remove from heat and squeeze in an entire lime. Also, chiffonade up 4-5 basil leaves, preferably Thai basil, if you can find it. If not, regular ol’ basil will do splendidly.
Splendidly, is that a word?
Serve it up with a side of rice…and don’t forget a lime wedge to squeeze over top and a sprinkle of Chinese chives.
NOT your plain boring ol’ self…..
If you have an Asian market, try this recipe immediately and feel the zing to your tastebuds …
Tell me it doesn’t wake you up!
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