Tuesday, February 6

Feb: Chicken Curry with Basil

Ahh, the long awaited curry recipe. Curry may be unfamiliar to some of you...but may it never be! I enjoy curry...although I will say it's kind of something you have to be in the mood for. Don't look at curry as being unapproachable and difficult to prepare. This recipe is a great introduction if you haven't made curry before. And yet it also tastes so good you can make and enjoy it many more times. I hope you try it.

For a very yellow meal, serve this dish with the roasted acorn squash (recipe to follow). No really, I was quite pleased by the combination and would very much suggest you try it. To make this curry dish extra spicy, add some fresh Thai chilies (should be available at your local grocery store) or crushed red pepper flakes (yeah, like the kind you get at the pizza parlor). I also really like adding basil to this dish. Thai basil is more pungent in taste...a taste that sort of resembles that of licorice.

This dish can be prepared with other meats such as beef, lamb, and pork...just simmer them longer (1+ hours) in the stock before you add the coconut milk. The longer cooking time will further tenderize those other types of meat. Aside from that, the preparation should be the same, starting with the marinating process. Also add the flour, which will help the meat brown and act as a thickener when you add the liquids.

Another way to ensure the browning of the meat is to make sure it isn't too crowded in the pan when sauteing it. You'll likely need to brown the meat in about three batches. If using a pan other than a nonstick, you'll notice a good fond (browned bits the meat leaves behind) has developed after you've finished the first batch. Something I do between batches is degrease the pan with some stock (and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon) then poor the liquid off into a bowl and reserve it for the sauce. Then I would prepare the pan again for the next batch. It may seem like a somewhat cumbersome process but it really isn't that hard.


serves: 8-10

6 (3 lb) chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), cubed
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp ginger, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp pre-made curry powder (or make your own...recipe to follow)
1/3 cup flour

Peanut oil, EP coconut oil, or other oil
1 large
yellow onion, 1/4 in. dice or julienned
2-3 carrots, 1/4 in. dice or julienned
1 bell pepper, diced or julienned (optional)

Optional, 3-8 Thai peppers and/or crushed red pepper flakes (1-2 tsp)

2 1/2+ cups chicken stock (use more if using another kind of meat)
3/4 12oz can coconut milk (click)
2 tbsp fish sauce (see "special ingredient")
2 tbsp more curry powder as needed

2 cups somewhat packed whole basil leaves (preferably Thai or purple basil)
Combine the first five ingredients and let marinate for twenty minutes or so. While they marinate, put a couple tablespoons of oil in a skillet or saute pan and heat until it slides easily across the pan. Add the carrots and cook over medium-high heat for about five minutes, and then add the onion and cook until the onion is somewhat softened (another three min). Remove the vegetables from the pan.

Add some more oil to the same pan and let it heat up. Add the flour to the chicken and stir it around. Add the chicken to the skillet and saute until golden and pretty well cooked (make sure not to crowed the chicken in the pan...you'll need to do 2-3 batches). When all the meat is cooked, return it all back to the pan. If you are using peppers or flakes add them at this time. Add the chicken stock and coconut milk. Stir and then cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Taste and stir in some more curry powder as needed. Add the fish sauce and cook for anther minute or two.

Add the sauteed vegetables and the basil. Cook a little bit longer until the basil is just barely wilted. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with additional fresh basil and chili flakes. Warn people about the highly fiery chilies and serve hot.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.

Special Ingredient: Fish Sauce
Beware! This stuff stinks! Don't worry, it cooks off. Fish sauce is actually made by a process of pressing and fermenting small fish (like anchovies). The juice is extracted and boiled. Good fish sauce should be clear and brownish in color. Fish sauce that has been only briefly fermented has a pronounced fishy taste, while extended fermentation reduces this and gives the product a nuttier, cheesier flavor.

This ingredient is essential in Thai cuisine and is often substituted there for salt and soy sauce. Thai food just wouldn't be the same without it. Fish sauce is also popular in Vietnamese, Filipino, Lao, and other Southeast Asian cooking.


The Fornari Family said...

We made this for dinner. It was delicious! Curry is one of our favorite dishes, so we really enjoyed this recipe. It was really flavorful, kind of a combo of Indian and Thai curry. Best of all it was very easy to prepare! We will definitely make this again.
Thanks for the great recipes Peter!

Peter Telian said...

I'm glad you tried the recipe and that it wasn't too involved. I made this with lamb the other night, and that was quite good. Like I said, if your going to be using a meat like lamb or beef, plan ahead and simmer it longer.