Thai Curried Chicken or Shrimp (Erik style)

Erik Rogers

By
@erikivan

Continuing my family's love of ethnic (read "other than typical American") food, we decided to have Thai curried chicken the other night (although this dish is even better with shrimp…we just didn't have any on hand). Although I have some idea about how to make Thai curry, I need to develop a friendship with someone who actually is Thai to make sure I'm not putting things together in my dishes that "just shouldn't be done." But for now, ignorance is bliss.

Anyway, I've done a dozen or more variations on this dish – sometimes doing more of a stir-fry, sometimes more of a soup/stew type dish (as in this case). Long and short of it is, this is mmm mmm mmmmm GOOD! My daughter (who happens to be the pickiest eater in our family) said, "Daddy, I give this one hundred and one trillion stars!" This, from my harshest food critic, was quite an honor. (Yes, I've included photos.) We all love the combination of flavors in this dish. This meal is also great because it can be easily expanded or diminished according to the number of people you want to feed. The taste can also vary somewhat depending on ingredients used.

One last note: I almost never cook from a recipe, preferring to make things up as I go along using what I've learned from cookbooks, cooking shows, other cooks, etc. This "recipe" is no exception, and, since it changes every time, depending on how I feel and what ingredients we have on hand, this is just my best attempt to put it down into writing. Don't let the list of ingredients and instructions fool you, it's not as time/energy consuming as it looks. It comes together pretty quickly.


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Comments:

Serves:

6-8

Prep:

30 Min

Cook:

30 Min

Method:

Stir-Fry

Ingredients

2-3 c
rice (we prefer jasmine or glutinous/sticky rice)
1-2 lb
chicken pieces, white or dark, boneless, skinless or not – whatever you have on hand, we prefer thighs (or 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined)
1 tsp
garlic powder (approx.)
1 tsp
onion powder (approx.)
1/2 tsp
ground ginger (approx.)
1 Tbsp
salt
1 large
onion
3-4 clove
garlic
1 Tbsp
minced fresh ginger root (optional)
1 large
red, orange or yellow bell pepper (or a combination of all of the above)
1 c
fresh broccoli
2 large
carrots
2
stalks celery
1/4
head napa cabbage
4-6 bunch
baby bok choy
1 c
fresh pineapple chunks (or 1 can pineapple chunks) (optional)
8-10 sprig(s)
fresh thai basil - remove stems, use leaves (approx.) -
1/2 c
palm sugar
2 can(s)
coconut milk or cream
1 can(s)
water chestnuts - drained
1/4 c
coconut oil (can use peanut oil) (approx.)
1-2 Tbsp
toasted sesame oil
1-2 Tbsp
cornstarch

Directions Step-By-Step

1
Be sure to read all the way through all the directions to familiarize yourself with the recipe before beginning. I like to prep (measure, chop, dice, etc.) most, if not all, of my ingredients prior to cooking; everything just flows so much easier that way once the cooking gets going in earnest. (For anyone who doesn't already know, but is interested, this is referred to in the culinary world by the French term, "mise en place," which means, "everything in place.") So…
2
PREP INGREDIENTS
3
Clean chicken, pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt, garlic powder, onion powder and ground ginger. Cover loosely and set aside (back in refrigerator, if you prefer) while you prep other ingredients. (If you want it really spicy, rub a little of the curry paste on it too!) (other options would be to soak it overnight in coconut milk, or pineapple juice, or add minced ginger…or all of the above, YUM!)
4
Remove and discard papery skin and ends of onion. Cut onion in quarters. Dice one quarter of the onion, place in a bowl. Then cut the other quarters in halves or thirds, place in separate larger bowl (or pile).
5
Remove and discard papery skin of the garlic. Smash cloves between chef's knife (or other broad, flat object) and cutting board, then roughly chop. (You can just use a garlic press, but I prefer the larger pieces of this method.) Add to bowl with diced onion.
6
Cut off a piece of fresh ginger (enough to make approx. one tablespoon once minced) peel it and finely mince. Add to bowl with onion and garlic.
7
Chop about half a crown of fresh broccoli into approx. ¾ inch pieces and small floret's. Add to larger bowl with chopped onion.
8
Remove and discard stem and seeds from bell pepper. Slice pepper into strips. Add to larger bowl.
9
Wash carrots, peel if you really want to. Chop about ¼-1/2 of a carrot very finely and add it to smaller bowl with onions, garlic and ginger. Slice remaining carrot into thin strips, or, using a vegetable peeler, turn into ribbons.
10
Trim and wash celery. Finely dice about 1/3 of one stalk. Add to smaller bowl with other diced ingredients. Slice remaining stalks at a 45° angle in ¼ inch slices. Add to larger bowl.
11
Remove a few outer layers of napa cabbage leaves (you may want to use these for something else). Holding head sideways (the cabbage's, not yours {wink}), starting at the tips of the leaves, cut ¼ inch slices crossways, or perpendicular to the leaves, producing thin discs of fine cabbage ribbons. Add to larger bowl.
12
Rinse and dry baby bok choy. Cut off and discard bases. Roughly chop into 1-2 inch pieces. Add to larger bowl.
13
If you're using fresh pineapple and haven't done so already, skin and core it, then cut into chunks. If using canned, open and drain (You may want to use juice for something else, or just drink it right there for a little energy boost.) Add pineapple chunks to larger bowl.
14
Remove Thai basil leaves from stems. Place one third in larger bowl. Set the rest aside.
15
Start rice cooking in rice steamer or on stovetop.
16
Remove chicken from refrigerator. Set on counter. (Don't worry, it's just for a few minutes.)
17
Open and drain can of water chestnuts add to larger bowl.
18
Open cans of coconut milk – don't stir to reincorporate cream and "water" if separated. (and don't worry either, unless the can is expired. In my experience, the coconut milk often separates; and for my purposes this is good. No worries if it's not separated either.)
19
Measure palm sugar. (You can use honey or light brown sugar if palm sugar is unavailable, but the taste will be different.) Set aside.
20
Measure curry paste. (I use one of several brands from our local int'l market that come in a tub, NOT a box – other types of Thai curry are good too. Also, you'll want to increase or decrease the amount of curry paste that you use depending on how spicy you want this dish. The amount I've given here will make it about medium, at least to a typical western palette.) Set aside.
21
NOW GET COOKIN'
22
The Chicken
In a wok, deep skillet or dutch oven, heat ¼ c coconut oil over medium high heat (a drop of water will sizzle and pop when the oil is hot enough).
23
Carefully add chicken in a single layer. Let sear until golden brown on one side, turn. Continue until all sides are nicely browned and bottom of pan is getting coated with brown crispy bits (called "fond").
24
The Curry
While the chicken is searing (keep an eye on it), place the 2 Tbsp of coconut oil, ¼ cup of the palm sugar and the 2 Tbsp of curry paste into a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring regularly to incorporate. If needed, pour in a little coconut "water" to help. Once fully incorporated, stir in about half of the coconut cream from the can that you've already partially used. Turn heat to low and stir occasionally until ready to use.
25
Now back to the chicken…
Once the chicken is a nice golden brown on all sides, add the contents of the smaller bowl (diced onion, crushed/chopped garlic, minced ginger) along with a large pinch of the fresh Thai basil leaves, a few dashes of toasted sesame oil and a pinch of salt. Stir and sauté for a minute or two.
26
Pour off most of the coconut "water" from one of the cans, using it to deglaze the pan - make sure to move all the chicken around and scrape up all the wonderfully flavorful fond. (If your coconut milk isn't separated, just add a little water or chicken broth to the pan along with about half a can of the coconut milk to deglaze.)
27
Add the remaining coconut milk and palm sugar and stir to dissolve.
28
Add ingredients from larger bowl a little at a time as the wilting leaves make more room. Add a few more dashes of sesame oil. Adjust the heat to keep it simmering, but not burning on the bottom.
29
Remove curry sauce from heat. Add as much or as little as you like to chicken. (I usually just add a few tablespoons for flavor and then serve the rest on the side so whoever wants can add more to their dish at the table…my kids really appreciate this.)
30
Mix a little cornstarch and water in a small bowl into a thin, easily pourable paste. Add to simmering "soup" just a little at a time while you stir until desired thickness is reached. Don't overdo it.
31
Continue simmering until your vegetables reach your desired doneness and the chicken is thoroughly cooked - an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of your meat pieces should read at least 165°F.
32
Serve over hot rice in bowls. Eat with large spoons. (We use chopsticks too, though this isn't really the Thai way.)
33
Leftovers, if there are any, are great the next day, though they tend to be a bit spicier.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Chicken, Fish, Seafood
Main Ingredient: Chicken
Regional Style: Asian