20 May 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Thick Curry with Chicken & Coconut Rice

You know how there are some days when you get a craving so bad for something that it's all you can think about? You totally obsess over it; no matter what you're doing - vacuuming, walking the dog, tabulating spreadsheets, neurosurgery - no matter what, your brain checks out every 27 seconds to be like, Nurse, I'm gonna need a little more suction here and, uh, DAMN, I wish I had some fried chicken right now. Is anyone else hungry?

I'm struck by this kind of craving pretty regularly. And when I say "pretty regularly" I mean, like, every four days. And I crave only one thing:

THAI. Specifically, thick chicken curry with coconut rice.

Financing these cravings every four days (or, in some weeks, every. single. day.) has its challenges, Sometimes, no matter how bad I'm jonesing, I can't afford a fix and since Daryn has forbidden me to set up shop on the street corner begging for loose change from kind strangers, I've had to take some drastic measures. In that, I learned to make it myself.

Preparation: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 4
Thick Curry with Chicken
  • 1 (14 fl.oz.) can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 2 tbsp. natural smooth peanut butter
    You can also use panang curry paste (also spelled 'panaeng' or 'paneng'), which is red curry with ground roasted peanuts added, but if your local supermarket doesn't carry this specialty item, as mine doesn't, the red curry + peanut butter works just as well.
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
    I used chicken.
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed, bruised and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. boneless chicken thigh, leg or breast, cut into bite-sized strips
    I'm a white-meat kind of gal, so I went with nothing-but-chicken-boob, but I would bet dark meat would add extra flavor.
  • 1 cup red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed
  • 3-4 tbsp. sweet chili sauce (more for more heat, less for less)
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed Italian or Thai basil leaves + more for garnish
  • coconut milk, basil and/or cilantro for garnish
Coconut Rice
  • 1 (14 fl.oz.) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
Cooking Directions:
  1. In a medium, thick-bottomed sauce pan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 18-20 minutes until rice is tender.
  2. While the rice is cooking, shake the second can of coconut milk or stir it well, to create a consistent thickness (the fat often rises to the top of the can.)
  3. In a large sauce pan (or wok, if you have it - I don't) over medium heat, simmer 1/2 cup of coconut milk until reduced by half (roughly 3-5 minutes.) It will get very thick and shiny and may or may not separate. Either is OK.
  4. Add the curry paste. Whisk well and cook, continuing to whisk, for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, sugar, fish sauce and remaining coconut milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a simmer.
  5. Add the chicken, green beans and lemongrass. Continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent scorching. After 2 minutes, add the peppers, snap peas and sweet chili sauce. Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, another 3-4 minutes.
  6. Remove the curry from heat. Add basil, and season to taste with more fish sauce and/or sugar as you like (I didn't add any extra, but you might want it.) Remove the lemongrass pieces (or, if you're the kind of superb host I am, tell your guests to eat around them. Crybabies.)
  7. Transfer the rice to a deep bowl or plate with sides. Serve the curry over the rice, and garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk, chopped cilantro and basil leaves. Tuck in.
I wish I could take total credit for developing this all by my lonesome but I can't. I have the create-your-own recipe maker on FineCooking.com to thank, for the basic recipe at least. It's a handy little tool that you can use to create your own customized curry recipe(s), designed to suit your exact tastes and preferences. And then, of course, I added my own "flair" to make it truly mine.

So the next time you're suffering from crazy-bad Thai cravings, give this recipe a whirl. It's crazy-delicious and will save you a bundle in delivery fees.

NOTES | ONE-POT-WONDER (in that the curry is made all in one pot), EASY