Friday, December 22, 2006

Thai Curry in Hurry

It was cold (for us) in northern California today. I wanted something hot in temperature and spice. I was thinking a lot about the wonderful Pim of Chez Pim. The first time I met her she had made a group of us Menu for Hope II volunteers a pot of steaming Thai chicken curry.

Suddenly, that's all I wanted for dinner. Since I refuse to go to the market before major holidays (partly because of parking and lines, partly because I always seem to be the one behind the person asking the meat counterman or woman "can you recommend a cut of beef for pot roast that will cook quickly?"), I had to make the curry with whatever I had on hand.

Luckily, I've done that before. Read my ingredients and technique list here . This time, I cut up an onion, softened it in some vegetable oil over medium heat (I was using an earthenware casserole), added six cloves minced garlic, about a pound and half of boneless, skinless thighs and breasts, cut into pieces, two tablespoons of Thai red curry paste, 1 can (approx 12-13 ounces) light coconut milk, about 12 ounces chicken broth, and five-to-six ounces of regular coconut milk. I also added two sliced carrots, about a pound of Chinese long beans (you could use green beans) trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces, a red bell pepper, cut into a large dice, and a one-pound bag of Trader Joe's peeled and cubed butternut squash. When the chicken was about cooked through, I added a half pound of cubed firm tofu. There were lime wedges to squirt over individual portions of the lip tingling (but not overpoweringly hot) soupy stew (or stewy soup?). I served the curry in bowls over jasmine rice, but you could also use Asian wheat or rice noodles.

Of course, curry in a hurry works best if you consider Thai curry paste and coconut milk pantry staples. If you don't already, I highly recommend them. The paste (I used red for this recipe) is available in many Asian and specialty markets. Coconut milk (not the coconut cream used to make pina coladas or other drinks) is available in Asian and Latin speciality stores. Light (which doesn't have the thicker, fatty part of the milk) is available from some manufacturers. Feel free to just use all regular if you can't find the light version.

This website offers red curry paste, coconut milk and a wide range of other Thai foods by mail if you don't have access to local Asian stores. It also has a lots of recipes on how to use the various ingredients.
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