Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thai tastes really good!

So the Thai experiment went very well today. I started with making a green curry paste with fresh ingredients, but you can choose to use a bottled or canned version if you prefer. I then used some of that curry paste in a Green Curry Chicken with Eggplant dish that was a big hit with hubby and brother-in-law. Fair warning, this curry paste is HOT, although the author mentions in her side notes to the recipe that you can tame the heat by either removing the seeds from the bird chilies and/or using fewer chilies. Since we like our Thai food hot, we loved this as is, but you may want to start with a milder paste or use less of it in the final dish if you don't.

Here is the recipe for the curry paste that I began with:

The Recipe:

Green Curry Paste

  • 3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh green chilies (about 15 bird's eye chilies)

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, coarsely chopped

  • 5 shallots, coarsely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tbsp chopped galangal or fresh gingerroot

  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro roots or stems

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp shrimp or anchovy paste (optional)

  • 1. In a food processor or using a mortar and pestle, combine chilies, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, galangal, lime leaf, cilantro and water. Blend until coarsely chopped.
    2. Add coriander, cumin, pepper and shrimp paste, if using. Process until a paste forms, scraping down sides of food processor. Add extra water 1 tsp at a time, if necessary.

    Makes about 3/4 cup.

    Make ahead: Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze in small portions for up to 3 months.

    And here are the assembled ingredients:

    As I mentioned in my previous post, the three most difficult to find ingredients, the lime leaves, Thai basil (in the chicken dish) and lemongrass can usually be found either in your better grocery stores or in your local Asian market. They would also be a good source for the Thai bird chilies. I have purchased them there in the past and have quite a few stashed in my freezer which I used for this dish. For those who are unfamiliar with these chilies, they pack quite a punch for such a small package, so be extra careful when preparing them and make sure to either wear gloves or wash you hands throughly after working with them so as not to burn any sensitive portions of your anatomy :) Here is a link to a great on line source for Thai groceries. I have purchased from them in the past with great success:

    For this recipe I followed the directions pretty much to the letter, using ginger root instead of galangal as I didn't have any on hand and omitting the shrimp/anchovy paste as again, it was not on hand. I used about 25 bird chilies since they were small and the end result was VERY HOT! When used in the chicken dish though, we thought it was the perfect amount of heat for your average Thai food lover, but for the two of us (hubby and I) I might even use a little bit more... Here is a photo of the completed paste:

    To me it looked more like a well processed salsa than a paste, but worked wonderfully regardless. I did end up using a bit more water when finishing the paste to get it to puree smoothly. From this you will only use 2 tbsp in the following dish, so the rest can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. I froze mine in a ziplock bag so I can snip off as needed for future use.

    Next came the actual dish we used the paste in, Green Curry Chicken with Eggplant!

    The Recipe:

    Green Curry Chicken with Eggplant

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 2 tbsp green curry paste

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 tbsp palm or brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups diced Asian eggplant

  • 4 lime leaves

  • 1/2 cup fresh sweet Thai basil leaves

  • 1 tbsp lime juice

  • 2 tsp sliced fresh red chilies (optional)

  • 1. In a wok or saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add curry paste and stir-fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant, but be careful not to burn.
    2. Add chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
    3. Add coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, sugar, eggplant and lime leaves. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and eggplant is just tender. Remove from heat.
    4. Stir in basil and lime juice and garnish with chilies, if using.
    Makes 4-6 servings.

    Green Curry Chicken with Bok Choy:
    Omit eggplant. Add 8 halved baby bok choy (about 2 inches long) for last few minutes of cooking time.

    Again, a photo of my assembled ingredients. You will notice that those are NOT Asian eggplants. Our local grocery did not have any Asian eggplants in stock, so I went with traditional black beauties, but definitely will try the Asian variety next time can get them. I also used brown sugar rather than palm sugar since that was on hand.

    I followed the initial directions for this dish but had more eggplant than called for (about twice as much) and a little more chicken than called for (about 1.5 lbs total). I also chose, in the end, to add the remainder of the coconut milk from the can (about 1/2 cup additional) and then at the very end, prior to adding the lime juice and Thai basil leaves, mixed in a slurry of cornstarch to thicken the broth just a bit. I used about 1 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved into 2 tbsp of the left over chicken broth which I brought to a boil before removing the dish from the heat in the end. Here is a photo of the dish simmering away on my stovetop:

    I didn't think it looked very pretty when it was cooking , but adding the Thai basil at the end brightened up the color so it was indeed very pretty on the table. Here is a photo of the finished dish along with the sides I chose, steamed Jasmine rice and edamame.

    And finally of the dish in it's finished state:

    This served three hungry adults with enough left over for at least two more portions. Both hubby and brother-in-law said they loved it and hubby said the flavors were "right on". I really enjoyed the soft silkiness of the finished eggplant which takes on a kind of custardy consistency and the fresh Thai basil lent that licorice-y taste that brightens up the whole dish. All in all this was a big hit and one we will definitely do again. I hope you will try it too and let me know how it goes... Tune in to the blog tomorrow for a use for leftover rice... old fashioned rice pudding!

    1 comment:

    TattingChic said...

    Wow! You really like to cook, don't you!? That is fabulous. I wish I was as talented in this area!

    Thank you for entering my giveaway! Good luck to you!