Love the coconut milk curry. Love it. In general, I find "red" my favorite at the Thai joints I've been to, so naturally, I had to try to make it better myself at home.
Been making this for several years now, and I'm now confident I can beat anyplace's red curry in this city. I'm not a braggart, it's not my style. I'm just telling you that I can make a product that will knock your socks off, and it really ain't hard to do. I was a little tentative to try at first, but after doctoring up this and that, I can now say it really is a cinch. If you've never given it a try at home, don't delay any longer. A few tries and you'll get the hang, and then start tweakin it to what you want. Here's what works for me...
More ducks. From left: about a tsp of lime leaf, a tbs of a volcanically hot jalapeno, and about 1/4 cup of leek.
Normally I'd use onion, but the csa box had leek in it this week.
Some sautee it in the coconut cream from the can, I use a mixture of veg oil, a splash of sesame oil and hot chili oil. 1/2 can of the maesri paste for 1 can of coconut milk. The rest of the paste goes into the freezer for use in a stir fry, or fried rice - perhaps as a base for a marinade for some bbq chicken... The paste gets sizzled for a few minutes here. Not browned, just sauteed to loosen up and release its flavors.
After a few minutes, the leek, jalapeno, and lime leaf are added:
This'll go for another few minutes for the leek, jalapeno to soften up. Once it's nice and soft - (again, not browned) Then the garlic, ginger, aleppo, galangal, chili garlic sauce, and toasted onion powder get tossed in:
This'll go for another few minutes for the garlic/ginger to release their flavor into the fold. Looks like a gross party prop, doesn't it? At this point, your whole household should know what's for dinner, and if you have a good vent, your neighbors on each side, two houses away, will know you're cookin something good too:
Next, a dotting of Oyster sauce. Unconventional? I don't care. Think about it. It's like reg vs decaf, diet vs real sugar. No contest if you ask me. It adds mouthfeel and beefs up the flavor. Not a lot - this is prolly a tbs and a half. This adds richness, and enhances the savoriness. Also at this point I'll add a few drops of ponzu, and lower sodium soy:
After a few more min, in goes the coconut milk + the juice of half of a good lime and averything is mixed well. It's brought too a low, low, simmer while I'm prepping the chicken and chopping cilantro. This is done to meld flavors, and to reduce the curry a little bit. About two minutes:
My first choice for this is thighs. I'll use breast if it's on super sale, but thighs are always better in my book. A lot of the recipes I see say to boil the chicken in the curry. If boiled chicken is your thing, then huzzah to you. I use a very slow simmer - like a poach. Chicken stays juicy. IMO, common sense prevails:
I usually make this with seared mushrooms. They were too expensive yesterday, AND my csa box had a few nice zucchinis. A lot of recipies say to use various veggies like green/red peppers, and to also boil them along with the meat. I'm not a fan of boiled veggies for the most part, so I always prepare the veggies I plan on using seperately - normally a quick sear in a very hot pan, then I add them to the curry just before serving. I'd rather have crisp veggies. If boiled is your thing - then go with it:
For something on the side, I like Trader Joe's "Coconut Curry" or "Lemongrass" Chicken Sticks. You toss em in the oven and a few min later, you have crunchy little deals for contrast to your curry. I didn't feel like running to the basement freezer for them, and also, I had half a bag of Trader Joe's mini chicken cilantro won tons in the freezer upstairs, and a hot pan from the zuchini. Problem solved:
Tangy, savory, spicy, layered heat that pops at first, then mellows out to a nice warmth while you chew. If you stop eating, then it gets hotter. That's where the wontons com in. The rice and sauce is a fine meal in itself, the juicy chicken, and crunchy zuchini are almost like a bonus. And yes, that's the unmistakable essence of lime leaf in there. I'd sprinkle some slivers on the top, but I keep mine frozen, and it kinda changes the taste, IMO. It's more concentrated than fresh, and I think it overpowers too much after frozen to eat straight.
Another thing. You'll note that no palm sugar was used. I think added sweetness ruins coconut milk curries. I much prefer them savory than sweet. And yes, like most stewy/curry/gravy dishes, it's even better the next day.
Lunch is going to be great today.