Saturday, May 30, 2009

153. Malaysian-Style Chicken Curry (p. 359)

Like a lot of people, when I go to Thai restaurants, I often go with the old standby, and order Pad Thai. Recently, I've ventured further afield in the menu choices, and I've become a fan of various curry dishes, especially green curry.

This recipe, from Malaysia, Thailand's neighbor to the south, reminded me of some of the better curries I've had at Thai restaurants.

First, I roughly chopped a whole lot of shallots, some garlic and ginger root. I pureed all of these ingredients in the food processor with a little bit of water to make a paste. A very pungent paste! When I took the lid off the food processor, the "fumes" from the shallots and garlic filled the kitchen and made my eyes water a little bit.

Next, I browned some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my large Dutch oven. I transferred the browned (but not yet completely cooked) chicken to a plate. I turned the heat down and added the shallot/garlic/ginger paste, cooking for a bit and adding some curry powder. I returned the chicken to the pot and added a can of coconut milk and chicken broth. I also added a whole jalapeño chili, which I had made four slits in. Presumably, as the curry simmers, the jalapeño's heat gets infused into the sauce. I also added a cinnamon stick and one whole clove. The Book calls for one star anise, but my wife couldn't find any at the grocery store. She brought home some anise seed instead. At first, I said, it's not the same, but then I checked The Cook's Thesaurus, and learned that a 1/2 teaspoon of anise seed and a pinch of allspice will approximate a single star anise. I simmered it all together for a while until the chicken was cooked through. Then I took out the chicken and simmered the sauce for a bit longer to thicken. When I was done, I served the chicken and sauce over rice and sprinkled it with some fresh clinatro.

This is one of the best meals I've made from The Book so far. The chicken was so tender and flavorful. The sauce was fragrant and delicious. The coconut milk gave it just a touch of sweetness and a rich, velvety texture. The jalapeño and the other spices gave the dish a multi-layered flavor with just the right amount of heat (OK, I wouldn't have minded just a bit more heat). Even the cilantro on top wasn't just for looks. It perfectly finished off the dish with a bright clean note.

This dish remineded me of an excellent green curry that I get at a local Thai restaurant called Sweet Basil in Andover, Massachusetts. I will certainly make this dish again. It's a real keeper.

Date Cooked: May 17, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A


Gila S said...

I also like this one, and really impressed my mother-in-law when I served her this dish. If you want to make it into a one-pot dinner, you can add vegetables to the sauce 20 minutes or so before you think it'll be done (depending on the normal cooking time for the veggie) - green beans and cauliflower work very nicely.

Adam said...

Great idea, Gila. I think this would be excellent with some green beans and cauliflower. I'll try it next time.