My friend Kelly shared something with me that she had read in a book. It’s the idea that a dish becomes your own after you make it three times. The first time you should follow the recipe exactly. The second time you should add your own twist. By the third time you should be comfortable making it, perhaps even comfortable enough to do it from memory. At that point, you can call the recipe your own.
I’ve made Chef Michael Smith’s Thai Coconut Curry Soup twice now, and by the third time I made it I really did feel like I was doing my own thing. I’ll admit I didn’t follow the recipe to a T the first time I made it, but it was very close! The soup is delicious with rice noodles (which the recipe calls for), but the second time I made the soup I served it over rice. We enjoyed it over rice more, but both are worth trying.
For my third attempt I wanted to try to make the dish more like the kind of red curry entrée you would see at a Thai restaurant, as opposed to a soup. I took out the chicken stock and added more red curry paste, as well as adding red pepper slices and mushrooms. Andy said, “now we’ll never have to order out for Thai!” (I wouldn’t go that far—I’m a sucker for panang chicken. When I get that dish down at home, then we can stop ordering Thai.) I’ll try to remember to take a picture the next time I make it!
Notes: I used a rice cooker to cook up some jasmine rice. I started with one cup of dried rice and it ended up being not quite enough, but we like a lot of rice. Next time I will use two cups of dried rice. This is a two pot meal—one for the curry and one for the rice!
Laura’s Thai red curry chicken
makes 4 generous portions
-2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (about an inch or smaller)
-2 cans of coconut milk (don’t use light!)
-2 TBSP of red curry paste
-1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch strips
-1/2 cup roughly chopped mushrooms
-2 TBSP fish sauce
-1 TBSP of lemongrass paste
-1/2 TBSP of minced galangal or one small knob of fresh ginger, grated
-the juice from 1 lime
-2 TBSP corn starch
-1 bunch (handful) of cilantro, rinsed and chopped
-1 or 2 cups of dried jasmine rice, depending on how much rice you like
1. Don’t forget to prepare your rice in a rice cooker or in a separate saucepan. :) I used the “quick rice” setting and it was ready in half an hour.
2. Remove the thick layer of coconut cream from one can of coconut milk and place in a large saucepan over medium high heat. (It’s not hard—the cream is separated from the juice, so just use a large spoon to scoop out that top layer of thick goodness.) Add the red curry paste and stir. Stir in the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, or slightly longer if your chicken pieces are thick.
3. Add the juice from the first can of coconut milk as well as the entire second can. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, fish sauce, lemongrass, galangal/ginger, and lime juice. Stir. Bring to a boil, then turn to a low simmer.
4. Remove 2 TBSP of the sauce and put it in a small bowl. Let it cool for a few minutes and then whisk in 2 TBSP corn starch. (This is called a slurry.) Return the thickened sauce into the pot and stir. Continue simmering the chicken for 10-20 minutes.
5. Serve the curry over rice and top with chopped cilantro.