My office relocated to the International District a few months ago – and I’ve really enjoyed learning all about the different types of Asian cuisine. One of my favorite new restaurants down here is Thai Curry Simple – they are a Thai restaurant specializing in Bangkok street eating. Not only are the owners/employees super nice, they are also extremely helpful when asked cooking questions.
I’ve been making coconut curry for ages, mostly using Thai Kitchen’s curry pastes which can be found in most major super markets. Another good brand I’ve found recently at more specialized stores is Mae Ploy curry paste which is cheaper and I think a bit more flavorful than the Thai Kitchen brand. If you have access to an Asian grocery store like Uwajimaya they have a vast selection of curry pastes. Ok, off the curry paste tangent and back to Thai Curry Simple…
The guy at the counter (who I can only assume was the owner) gave me one key piece of advice. He said, “do not add the curry paste until the last three minutes of cooking. If you add it before it will dilute the curry flavor.” I always wondered why my curries never tasted as sharp and flavorful as the ones in restaurants – I just figured that it would be one of those dishes that would never be the same at home. Well I am happy to report the man was totally right. I have never had better curry at home EVER (and I’ve made a lot of curry). I’ll post the recipe with pics below. Even though this recipe is loosely based on the paste I bought from the restaurant, It can easily be adapted to use any paste.
Red Curry with Chicken and veggies (serves 4, but could easily be eaten by 2 hungry people)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
1 red or green bell pepper
1 small Chinese eggplant (if you can’t find one, you can use a normal eggplant)
Hand full of basil (whole leaves)
Red Curry Paste (amounts will vary per type of paste)
1 can coconut milk (can use low-fat if you prefer – just note your sauce won’t be as creamy)
1 tsp. red chili flakes (more or less depending on your love of spice/spiciness of the paste)
1 1/2 cooked white rice (I use jasmine rice)
1. Thinly slice the chicken breast (the thinner the cut, the faster it cooks)
2. Thinly slice the bell pepper and the eggplant (***see note on eggplant below)
3. Bring 1 – 1 1/2 cups (I like a saucier curry so I use 1 1/2 cups) to a boil in a large saucepan
4. Add the chicken and the veggies to the coconut milk, bring back to a boil, then lower to a simmer until the chicken is just cooked through (about 4 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken).
5. Once chicken is just cooked through and the veggies are limp – add the curry paste. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 3 minutes. And ONLY 3 minutes!!!!
6. Remove from heat, stir in chili flakes and basil
7. Spoon 1/4 of the curry mixture over hot white rice and enjoy!!!
***Note on eggplant: eggplant is a naturally watery veggie. To remove the water, place slices on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Wait until you start to see water beads forming on top (about 5-10 minutes) then pat with a paper towel.