Friday, October 22, 2010

Curry in a Hurry

There's a fishy smell in the air and it's coming from AK's Kitchen. I had a craving for something warm, aromatic and spicy.  My Thai Curry Chicken fits the bill. This is my kind of comfort food. It's fast and easy to make. It's essentially a chicken stir fry/ stew.

Whenever I make my Thai curry chicken, the neighbours can smell it from the street. The smell of fish sauce is very pungent. But don't let the strong aroma scare you. It adds a deep and rich salty layer to  your dish. Start with a little and add drop by drop because the flavour is very concentrated. You can buy fish sauce at any Asian grocery store. It will keep in your cupboard for months.

The key to good curry is good quality Thai curry paste. I like "Thai Kitchen" brand. It's hard to duplicate because it contains galangal which is hard to find outside of southeast Asia. You can find green, orange and red pastes, green being the spiciest. Another sweeter, milder option is Roasted Red Chili paste. Many stores sell Thai Kitchen paste for about $5 a jar. I found the best deal at Food Basics for $3.99 a jar.
You will also need coconut milk for this recipe. It adds richness and colour to the dish. Here's a tip when using canned coconut milk: DO NOT SHAKE THE CAN. There is usually a layer of white coconut fat sitting on top of the coconut milk. Skim off the fat and use it in place of your usual cooking oil to stir fry your meat and veggies.

I've been making Thai curry chicken for so long that I don't use precise measurements. The recipe below reflects my best estimation of quantities. Feel free to adjust the amount of curry or fish sauce to suit your palate. If the taste isn't right, it's easily fixable. Add more coconut milk and sweetener to temper the heat. Add more curry paste, chili sauce or chopped chili peppers to kick up the heat. Remember, it's always easier to start mild and slowly turn up the heat, rather tone it down. When I make Thai curry for my for children, I do a mild version and add a can of chunked pineapples with the juice.
The recipe below is mild and sweet because it uses Roasted Red Chili Paste.

AK's Thai Curry in a Hurry 

AK's Thai Curry Chicken
Yields 6 generous portions
6 pieces skinless, boneless chicken thighs sliced into strips
1 can coconut milk
1/4 inch piece fresh grated ginger
3- 4 Tbsp Thai Kitchen's Roasted Red Chili Paste
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small sticks
1 can baby corn
1 can mushrooms (shitake/straw mushrooms) 
1 sweet pepper, sliced into strips
1 package firm tofu, cut into cubes
2 handfuls fresh spinach 
2 limes
1 hot chili pepper (optional)
Large wok or skillet

Stir Fry Chicken in coconut fatSkim 2 tablespoons of the white cream from the top of the can and use it to stir fry the chicken over medium high heat. Add grated ginger. Cook until chicken is light pink.

Stir in chili paste and fish sauce. 

Stir in veggies and canned ingredients.

Add remaining coconut milk reducing heat to minimum.

Add zest and juice from limes. Stir well.

Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add spinach.

Serve over a bed of basmati or jasmine rice or rice noodles. Enjoy!

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