Last week I left you with a little teaser in my post about going to the Asian grocery store to collect the ingredients for my Thai cooking project. There were heaps of them, and they were used in three separate dishes. The first is one of my favourite Thai meals, a green curry made with chicken and veggies.
One of the most commonly seen ingredients in Thai curries is coconut milk, and learned from Leela that there’s a lot to know when it comes to coconuts. For example, you may have enjoyed curries that have a nice, rather aesthetically pleasing layer of coconut fat on the surface. This is created when the curry paste is fried in coconut cream, but some chefs (non-authentic ones) cheat in attempt create this same visual effect. Instead, they fry the paste in vegetable oil. As a result, the curry doesn’t have the same lovely consistency that a truly coconut-based curry has. Sneaky hey?
Other things I learned:
- When a recipe calls for coconut cream, it’s referring to the first extraction of coconut milk from the fresh coconut meat. It’s also called the ‘head’ and can be found floating about at the top of the coconut milk can. (Yes dad, just like the head on a pint of Guinness.)
- The coconut milk comes from all of the later extractions, and therefore is thinner. That’s what you’ll find left in the can once the cream is skimmed off.
…which I actually found at the Asian supermarket. However, I already had a can of the Thai Kitchen (yes I know it’s less authentic) lite coconut milk sitting at home.
Upon planning how I was going to make this dish, I had ambitions to be very traditional and make green curry paste from scratch. This was going to require shrimp paste, kaffir lime zest, galangal, lemongrass, and cilantro roots. Did I know where I was going to find these things? Almost. The Asian market had them all, except for the kaffir lime zest. I only managed to get dried kaffir lime leaves. But then I read that Leela figures it’s not worth it to make your own green curry paste unless you have every single ingredient available, and immediately considered that my free pass to buy a commercial curry paste. Thank you Leela, because you saved me tons of time!
Then there’s the fish sauce. Fish sauce is to Thai cuisine what soy sauce is to the Chinese and Japanese. If you sniff it straight from the bottle it might make you want to hurl, but it has a saltiness that makes food taste amazing. Use it sparingly because it’s quite high in sodium.
And about those Thai eggplants…. if you’ve been wondering what the funny green balls were in Thai-Oh-My Part 1, these are them! They’ve got lots of tiny little seeds inside and I liked the smaller ones much more than the large ones, which seemed to have a bit of a mustardy taste (In my opinion, if you want to ruin a dish, put mustard on it.) Once the stems are chopped off, you can eat them – skin, flesh and seeds. Thai eggplants are fairly mild, and they do a marvelous job of soaking up all of the other flavours in the curry.
Now for the recipe.
I consulted Kasma’s recipe list for this because she claimed to have an easy curry made with pork and while easy sounded very appealing, I also knew she wouldn’t take any shortcuts. However, being the non-pork eater that I am, I made a few small changes to create a close adaptation, Thai Green Curry with Chicken.
Thai Green Curry with Chicken
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Keywords: stovetop entree soup/stew dairy-free gluten-free high protein soy-free chicken vegetables Thai
Ingredients (3-4 smaller servings)
- 1 x 400mL can light coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons green curry paste
- 400g raw boneless skinless chicken breast, visible fat removed, cut into bite-size chunks
- 3 cups round Thai eggplants, washed, stems removed, and cut into quarters
- 3/4 cup frozen or fresh green peas
- 2 dried kaffir lime leaves
- Thai fish sauce, to taste
- 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
- very finely minced chilies, to taste
Open the can of coconut milk. Skim the coconut cream off the top of the milk and add it to a saucepan. The cream is the thicker, white part and the milk is thinner and less opaque.
Heat the coconut cream over the stove until it starts to bubble, stirring constantly.
Add the green curry paste and continue to stir until you have an evenly combined mixture.
Pour in the rest of the coconut milk and the chopped chicken breast pieces. Lower the heat and allow the chicken to begin to cook.
Simmer for about 10 minutes while you chop the eggplants. (I think the small ones taste better than the large ones, but that’s just my preference.) Add the eggplants to the chicken, cover the saucepan, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Add the green peas and dried kaffir lime leaves. You’ll remove the leaves at the end, just like you would if using bay leaves.
Add a small amount of fish sauce and stir. (I used about 1 tsp.)
Once the peas are defrosted (if using frozen ones) and the mixture is hot throughout, add the basil and minced chilies. I used 4 small chilies and this made a moderately-spicy curry. I recommend starting with 2 and let the flavours blend. Adjust by adding more if you prefer a spicier dish.
Simmer for 1-2 more minutes before removing the dried kaffir lime leaves.
Serve hot, with rice if desired.
Click here to print the recipe.
Thai protein-based dishes are meant to be eaten as a complement to rice, so the recipe above would serve about 3-4 people. While mine was a-simmering away on the stove, I had a pot of brown rice cooking that I planned to use as a vehicle for sopping up all the lovely curry juices and transporting them to my mouth.
If I were to make this dish again (and I’m about 99.9% sure I will), I’d like to make the following changes:
- Leave out the larger Thai eggplants – there was just something not right about them
- Add in some more veggies – possibly some long Asian eggplant, carrot, sweet peppers, baby corn, and bamboo shoots.
- Try chickpeas rather than chicken – just for variety
So there you have it: Recipe one of three in my Thai-Oh-My series. The next one is coming up next week, and it’s vegetarian and vegan friendly, raw, and gluten-free. Any guesses?
Have a lovely day!