Sunday, 10 January 2010

The Green, green Curry of home

When I came across a picture of a green curry on Petrina's blog, I was surprised to find a recipe for it in a new cookbook of mine "Curry" by Sunil Vijayakar ( go ahead , say it quickly five times in a row :)4

The recipe is simple , even if I didn't know half of the ingredients ^_^, but that has never stopped me before from cooking and eating them.

You will need ( for 4 generous servings )

800 gram chicken breast , diced in bite sized cubes
1 ts (tablespoon ) sunflower oil
3 ts green Thai curry paste
2 green chili peppers , finely chopped
0,4 l coconut milk
0,2 l chicken stock ( or use half a cube in 0,2 l boiling water )
6 kaffir leaves
2 ts fish sauce
1 ts grated palm sugar ( or brown candy or cane sugar : you'll never taste the difference )
200 gram Thai pea aubergines
100 gram green beans ( I used sweet peas , because I like those better ), cut in half
50 - 75 grams of bambooshoot ( canned ), diced in cubes (
one large handful of Thai basil ( smaller leaves and smells sweet like aniseed : interesting )
one large handful of Thai coriander ( smaller leaves but pretty much the same taste as European coriander
all the juice from a freshly squeezed lime
From left to right and top to bottom : kaffir leaves , sweet peas, chili peppers, bamboo shoot ( about 150 grams : it's too big, but it looks so nice I HAD TO photograph it, coriander

Thai pea aubergines ( this is 100 grams : you need two packs )

Diced chicken and the curry paste bag removed from package.

The Thai fish sauce, Thai green curry paste package and a lime

The coconut milk ( also from Thailand !) and the brown candy sugar

Tip 1 : rinse and prepare the vegetables before you take out the chicken breast from your refrigerator : you need to pull the pea aubergines off their stems and open cans
,etc.. Takes about half an hour to prep.

Pull the basil leaves and coriander from their stems.
Cut the bamboo shoots in small slices ( about 1 cm thick )
Cut the sweet peas in half.

The cooking is fairly straight forward and over in 25-30 minutes

Pour the oil in your favourite wok and turn on a medium fire ( electric 7 ) which is the same setting I cook a steak on.

Before it gets too hot and starts to give off blue fumes ( unless you really LIKE getting cancer ) , take it off the fire to keep the oil from overheating, add the paste first and then the chili peppers. Put it back on the hot plate.
You'll notice the paste absorbs all the oil, so keep spreading and stirring for about 3 minutes

Turn the heat up to full heat 12 and add all the diced chicken at once.

You need that much heat to brown that large an amount of cold meat, because the bottom of a wok on an electric fire is smaller : in a flat pan or on gas I guess you'd keep it at 7 to 9. Keep stirring and turning over for about 6 to 8 minutes till the chicken is lightly browned and you can't see a single pink spot of meat anywhere.

TIP 2 : To work more quickly, add the 2 tablespoons of fish sauce ,1 tablespoon of sugar and the coconut milk to the chicken stock and stir beforehand , so you only need to pour it in in one go instead of having to start messing with the fish sauce bottle over your wok , which needs continuous stirring ! Keep the kaffir leaves and pea aubergines close by.

Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, chicken stock mix , add the 6 kaffir leaves and the pea aubergines.

Set the heat at about 11 , so you get a good bubbling in the middle. Keep stirring the mix through the middle so everything gets evenly cooked.If the middle stops bubbling while stirring , you need more heat, if it boils too much even while stirring, reduce the heat.

The times I mention here depend largely on how well you can keep the bubbling going.
After about 12 - 14 minutes, add the sweet peas and the bamboo shoots.
If you want your bamboo shoot diced larger , put the sweet peas in 2 minutes later : the're flat and cook more quickly.

Keep stirring for another 6 to 8 minutes . Taste a sweet pea and a bamboo shoot to see if it's done : the pea should be soft, but not mushy and the bamboo shoot not too crunchy ( aka slightly RAW )

Take the wok off the fire and stir in the coriander and the basil : they'll wilt , but THAT's OK : they're supposed to.
Please click on the picture for a mouth-watering large view !

So how does it taste ?
Well, the sauce looks slightly yellowish greenish and has a nice smell of lime ( must be the kaffir and lime juice).
The sauce is very tasty , the chicken is soft and moist and the coriander and basil don't overpower the taste. It is quite spicy ( I tasted the curry paste and that is already spicy ) but not very very hot. Spicy is OK, but you should still taste your food.

The pea aubergines were a surprise :) : Uncooked they're quite tough : I cut one in half and even cooked their skin is not really soft : when you bite into them their insides spurt into your mouth and tastes fairly bitter, which I didn't know.
Not bad , considering the rest of the dish is a mixture of creamy and sweet and spicy.

I found a German site , describing the pea aubergines as absolutely essential to this dish, but too bitter to eat for most people. The site's advice : just shove them aside and don't eat them. Hahaha !
My advice : don't be such a WIMP.

Serve this with a traditional perfumed Thai rice ( should go well with Basmati too ) and a good BELGIAN beer of the lager type.

IF you want to try Thai beer : Phuket Beer has recently won a Gold Medal Award in the Category of Best Lager under the selection process of the Monde Selection organisation based in Brussels, Belgium.

Tip 3 : keep a towel lying by closeby , with a wet tip, to keep cleaning the surroundings of your wok and wipe along the top rim of your wok, to make your pictures look good. There , now you all know my SECRET !
Tip 4 : in a dish that gets cooked so quickly , either learn how to shoot quickly like me or take the wok of the hot plate to make your pictures , put the camera out of harms way and shove the wok back on the hot plate.
DO NOT attempt to stir with one hand and shoot with the other, you're likely to get hot splatters all over your camera.

1 comment:

godzilla_rabbit said...

Hi Walter,

It seems yummy!
Thanks for comments on my blog.