Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thai Green Curry with Vegetables and/or Chicken

Yeah I said and/or.  Because the chicken was good and all, but the veg were spectacular, so you could skip the chicken. 

Tonight was one of those nights where Sous Chef Brian was on top of things, and I was not.  As we finished dinner, he looked to the pile of dishes and said, "Are you going to go blog now?"

Me.  "No.  Tomorrow is the farmshare post and I already have that written."

Him.  "Maybe you want to get this down while it's fresh."

Me. "No."

Him. "How about I get on these dishes, and you start writing."  

Thanks, Mom.  "Honey, have you blogged tonight?" "Are you getting enough blogging in?" "Have you had enough blog?"

The reality is, he's a smart boy and I have a backlog of posts of things I don't quite have recipes for anymore.  Things I just made and set aside.  Like, maybe I made this pasta sauce two weeks ago.  

So hows that for your fourth wall?

Tonight I made a Thai curry dish that we had at the house of friends a couple weeks ago.  A week ago.  In the past.  We were there, and they were cooking and they were making Pina Coladas and suddenly I realized why - there was an open can of coconut milk... there was coconut milk in the dish.  Damnit.  You never want to be the person who doesn't want to eat what they're served, but I can't stand coconut milk (or coconut for that matter) and Brian is even more opposed... the coconut he's fine with but the milk...ugh the milk.  So that's what goes in the Pina Coladas.  The drink I can't drink even though I really like: 1. pineapple and 2. drinks. 


Coconut milk was why we swore off Thai food in 2007.  We've ordered very cautiously since. So I took him aside and was like, "Taste the sauce, and if it's a no-go, act like you're really into the salad.  Fill up on salad."  And he snuck a taste and reacted negatively.  So I lied (they're going to read this now, and know).  I was like, "Oh, Brian had a huge meal right before we came here."  I was all wrapped up in how he was gonna deal with it, I didn't even think to how I'd handle it. 

Tentatively, we took our portions.  And inhaled them.  It was incredible.  We went back for more.  Chicken and asparagus in curry paste and coconut milk.  Who knew?  I asked for the recipe.  

So tonight's dinner is based heavily on this Epicurious recipe from more than a decade ago.  And it's life-altering delicious.

For me it is, but if you've eaten this sort of thing in the last ten years or so, maybe it'll just be good.  What do I know, I haven't had coconut milk in at least twenty years. 

I started with chicken.  Two breasts.  When I say breasts, I mean boneless skinless little breasts as packaged at Whole Foods.  Smallish breasts.  Hehe.  I defrosted them (my chicken is always frozen) and cut them into bite sized pieces and marinated them in this:


Fish sauce. 

Brown sugar.

Black pepper.

So while the chicken was soaking that in, I got started on some sauce.  Curry paste.  I was sure I was going to make my own curry paste.  When my friends shared the recipe, I was like, "Well, sure I'll make this, but with my own curry paste, none of this storebought crap. I make my own food."  But the curry paste recipe I liked had lemongrass, and none of the local standard supermarkets had lemongrass, and sure, I could go to Washington Avenue and get me some lemongrass, but I didn't.  I bought a jar. 

Three tablespoons or so in some oil in a pan.  Scooch that around a bit on medium.  

Add brown sugar.  Scooch. 

Add veg stock and coconut milk.  I used "lite" coconut milk.

Meanwhile, Sous Chef Brian was putting wilted chard and basil (unwilted basil) in the mini-chopper.   We used half Thai basil and half basil-basil.  Italian basil?  We used all the Thai basil we had, and then needed some more. 

And he was whirring and nothing was happening and he was all, "Is something wet supposed to be in here?" And I was all, "Eh, you're supposed to put some sauce in.  Does it really need it?"  Yes.  The answer is yes.  Put a quarter cup of the sauce in and whirr away.  The add the minced chard and basil and sauce mixture to the remaining sauce. 

Stir that in and think about vegetables.  

I DVR America's Test Kitchen.  The only magazine I read is Cook's Illustrated.  I test recipes for them (though, somewhat conspiciously, they have not sent me one since I admitted to that a few posts back). I read the magazine like it's porn; I'm usually not all that into the actual recipes, but it's still fascinating to look.  Most of it seems like roast pork and spatchcocked chicken (ok, that's not a recipe but a technique, still, not something I'm going to do).  Brian and I will watch it at night, and he typically passes out... but doesn't want me to watch it without him.  Still, a night in front of the PBS is often a night when I'm nudging and kicking him, and eventually shouting, "Just go to bed if you're gonna be asleep."  I can't stand when he's asleep near me and I have to be quiet.  Not that I'm normally yelling at the TV, but I want my freedom. 

So he sleeps through Test Kitchen and picks up techniques via osmosis.  Seriously.  Like we're making pizza and he starts turning his dough 1/4 turn, rolling it, turning it again, rolling it, and it's a circle, and I'm like, "Whoa," and he's all, "Test Kitchen."  So tonight, I'm messing with chicken and he's cutting up veg and he opens up a pepper all the way to slice it.  And I'm like, "Whoa," and he's all, "Test Kitchen."

Also a zucchini. Or what you've got. So cut the veg into strips.

I also had some pre-cooked eggplant, but I waited to add that in.  Put your veg strips into the sauce to cook.  Give it like 15 minutes on medium, uncovered. 

I tasted the sauce at this point and it wasn't spicy.  So I added a minced serrano pepper. 

I kept some seeds.  I was looking for heat. 
Hey, remember that chicken you have marinating?  Or not.  Either way.  If you're chickening, get a separate pan going, and coat the bottom with oil.  Get it hot.  Also get some corn starch.  3/4 cup for our two little breasts.   Dip marinated chicken in corn starch, shake off, and drop in hot pan with oil.

Do this in batches until they're all cooked through and crispy and getting browned.  Drain on a paper towel. 

I thought I'd need to thicken the sauce with some corn starch, but cooking uncovered a bit had thickened it some.  I added my pre-cooked eggplant (add what you've got).

And threw some rice in the microwave.  Because I can't cook rice.  

Then I added the chicken into the sauce to warm it back up and get it coated. As soon as the rice was ready, dinner was ready. 

Oh, the rice.  Yeah.  So I buy frozen rice and the instructions say to cover and vent it.  And it typically turns out poorly, but not as poorly as if I had just made rice properly.  Or improperly, as it were.  So I covered with a plate, but first added a few drops of water so it wasn't dry (off-label).  I can't vent with a plate, but I'm not about to put plastic wrap in the microwave.  Two minutes per cup put me at four minutes.  With a minute left on the clock I saw it was overflowing.  Boiling over, really.   So this is inside my microwave. 

I know.  My microwave sparkles on the inside, doesn't it?  Yes, and it isn't a remarkable coincidence, I didn't just clean it with my steam cleaner, it's always like this. 

Anywho, salvage your rice and top with the dinner.  YUM. Sweet and a little hot.  We actually didn't find it hot enough, so we added some red pepper flakes.  I'll call that optional. 

This made four good sized servings (ok, I only had enough rice for two servings, but you'll do it right.  You can make rice.)

So what's your coconut milk?  Is there an ingredient fear you've overcome, or one you're not willing to overcome?  

Also, local folks, have you checked this out yet?  I'm posting local food stuff. 

print recipe

Thai Green Curry with Vegetables and/or Chicken
Sweet and spicy, this rich dish works with or without the chicken, and is a great way to use up whatever veg you have around.
  • 2 small boneless, skinless breasts of chicken (optional)
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 cup eggplant, sliced
  • 1 14 oz can light coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 6 big cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp, brown sugar divided
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  •     1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  •     1 serrano pepper, minced (optional)
  •     3 tablespoons vegetable oil (your choice)
  •     3/4 cup corn starch
  •     1/2 cup Swiss chard, wilted (or spinach or something else)
  •     1 cup Basil (Thai or otherwise)

Cube the chicken (bite sized) if using. Mix garlic, fish sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and black pepper. Marinate chicken in this for 1/2 an hour, while making the rest of the dish.Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan on medium and add curry paste. Swish around for two minutes. Add brown sugar and scooch around. Add coconut milk and stock. Simmer medium. Mince chard (or other leafy green) and basil in food processor. Add some sauce from the pan to help. Add everything back to the pan. Add sliced vegetables to sauce, and simmer medium until cooked through. Taste. If not spicy enough, add a serrano pepper. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil (2 tbsp) in a pan on high. Coat chicken in cornstarch, shake, and add to pan. Toss after a minute. Brown on both sides, check to be sure it's cooked through. Do this in batches. Don't crowd the pan. Set chicken to drain on paper towel. Add chicken and, if you've got it, pre-cooked veg to the sauce. Stir gently to coat and heat throughout, 3 minutes. Add red pepper flake to taste. Serve over rice.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 big servings

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