One of the features  I like the most in Fine Cooking magazine is their section called “Cooking without recipes.”   They pick a particular dish, say,  risotto or meatloaf or lasagna, and  dissect it into its basic techniques, helping you devise your own take on it.  A recent issue (number 110) offered an overview of Thai curries,  including poultry, seafood and vegetarian, from spicy to mild, with all sorts of aromatics to round out their flavors.  If you love curries – and who doesn’t? 😉 –  get this issue and start experimenting.   Here I share with you my first interpretation of a chicken version, that ranked high on the yummy-ness scale.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Fine Cooking)

1 can of coconut milk  (13.5 oz)
1/8 to 1/4 cup red curry paste
1 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 Tbs lemon zest
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs  cut into 1/4-thick bite-size strips
3/4 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed well
2 cups asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
salt to taste
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves

Shake the can of coconut milk, open it and stir well if not completely smooth.  Transfer 1/2 cup of it to a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken it up.  Don’t worry if it starts to separate.  Add the red curry paste, whisk for a minute, then add the broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, and the rest of the coconut milk left in the can. Bring to a simmer over high heat, and add the chicken pieces.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, ginger, asparagus, and garbanzo beans.  Simmer for 5 minutes, adjust seasoning with salt if necessary (fish sauce is salty, you may not need to add additional salt), sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and serve right away over white rice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Cooking the chicken in the sauce (instead of sauteing it first) saves a messy step that’s particularly hard to deal with in a tiny kitchen, where I’m working with a two burner hot plate.  Plus, the meat turns out very tender and juicy this way.   Of course, if you prefer chicken breast instead of thighs  then substitute, but something about the velvety texture of chicken thighs makes them more appropriate for this type of recipe.   Once the meat is cooked   add the vegetables that you like (some of which might profit from a previous parboiling: potatoes, butternut squash, carrots);  as long as you pay attention to their cooking times, they’ll be fine.

Keep in mind that different brands of curry paste vary considerably in their spiciness.  If you’re new to this ingredient, then start with a small amount, taste, and add more according to your level of tolerance.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Zen and the Art of Risotto

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