Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Spicy Thai curry for hot summer nights
I recently ventured into the Seattle Cash and Carry store, a restaurant supply warehouse, and must admit to a strange mixture of awe and recoil. On the one hand, much of its wares lift the veil on how most restaurant dishes really come together (don't ask). On the other, a little careful shopping with a keen eye on the ingredient list can reap some excellent finds - always cheap and sometimes just plain better than retail grocery stores can stock.
After eyeballing the fine print on a tub of Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste - 1 tenth (10th!) the cost of supermarket jars of similar paste and, it turns out, vastly fresher - I developed this very simple way to let it shine. No tricks here, just good ingredients and time.
It'll give you a good sweat on hot day - the way tropical climes work through blistering heat.
Thai Red Chicken Curry – the full-flavored, slow-food way
This isn’t something you throw together with cellophane wrapped factory produced chicken parts. Start with a whole, organic or at least free-range chicken and build a foundation for a truly rich, nuanced Thai curry. It’s not hard – it just takes patience.
This makes enough for 6-8 servings.
2 tbsp peanut oil, plus 1 tsp
Half of one yellow onion, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2 inch pieces and each piece smashed with the broadside of a knife
1 whole free range or organic chicken
2 C chicken broth or homemade stock
2-3 TBS excellent quality Thai red curry paste
3 cans coconut milk
1 pound crimini mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
1 bunch cilantro
2 tsp coarse sea salt
juice of 2 limes
Rinse the chicken and place it on a cutting board back side up. Press the heel of your hand against the backbone until it cracks. Then, take shears and cut up the back until you have split the whole chicken. Cut the chicken up into 6 basic parts – don’t worry too much about it b/c you’ll be taking the meat off the bone later.
In a deep dutch oven, heat the 2 tbs peanut oil and then sauté the onion and lemongrass until the onion starts to become translucent. Push it into a bank on one side of the pan and place the chicken pieces in the pan. Pour the broth into the pan. In a 2nd small pot, pour a tsp of peanut oil in and heat it gently, then add the paste. Once soft, pour the cans of the coconut milk in and warm and mix until the paste has dissolved into the milk. When the solution is relatively uniform, pour it into the chicken pot.
Cook until the chicken is still moist but mostly cooked through, about 40 minutes – turn chicken once or twice in the process. Using tongs, take chicken pieces out and place on a large plate to cool.
While chicken is cooling, throw mushrooms, cilantro, and salt into broth and simmer. The chicken will take 15 – 20 minutes to cool; cook the broth and its additions on lowest setting while the chicken cools.
Pull chicken off bone and tear into bite-sized pieces. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the broth and divide soup into bowls. Pass quartered lime pieces at the table.