Fine Cooking's Create Your Own feature was another winner this month, with lots of options for different Thai curries. Tim and I decided on a red curry with chicken, snap peas, carrots, and bell peppers. We were really happy with the results - this tasted just like a curry you'd get in a Thai restaurant! It had super fresh flavors, and the veggies were perfectly tender with a little crunch. Plus, once you finish up all the chopping (which does take a while, depending on your chopping speed), the curry comes together super fast. Since the meat and veggies all go in at different times but cook in five minutes, you'll definitely want to prep everything before you start cooking.
I feel really lucky to live near Berkeley Bowl, a grocery store in my city that stocks lots of ingredients that are tough to find at a typical grocery - this made it easy to find lemongrass, wild lime leaves, and galangal (although we actually went with fresh ginger instead of the last, since the galangal was five times more expensive!). Although I definitely think these contributed to the "authentic" taste (especially the lime leaves - the smell of them just screamed "Thai curry" to me), I'd love to hear how this would turn out with easier-to-find ingredients (maybe fresh ginger and lime zest). Let me know if you try it!
Thai Red Curry Chicken with Veggies (adapted from Fine Cooking)
1 13.5- to 14-oz. can coconut milk
1/4 cup red curry paste
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp fish sauce; more as needed
6 whole fresh or thawed frozen wild lime leaves (or substitute 1 tsp finely grated lime zest)
3 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed, bruised, and cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces
3 1/8-inch-thick slices fresh ginger
1 pound boneless chicken thighs or legs, cut into 1/4-thick bite-size strips
1-1/4 cup halved snow peas (strings removed)
1 cup sliced carrots (sliced 1/8-inch thick on an angle)
3/4 cup diced bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh Italian or Thai basil leaves
Thinly sliced red or green Thai chili, to garnish (optional)
1. Shake the can of coconut milk or stir it well (this creates a consistent thickness, since the fat often solidifies at the top of the can).
2. In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan or wok over medium heat, simmer 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half, 3 to 5 minutes. It will get very thick and shiny and may or may not separate; either is fine.
3. Add the curry paste, whisk well, and cook, continuing to whisk, for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and remaining coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
4. Add the chicken, carrots, whole lime leaves, lemongrass pieces, and ginger slices and continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary. After 2 minutes, add the bell peppers and continue to simmer. After another 2 minutes, add the snow peas and simmer until everything is tender and cooked through, about 1 minute more.
5. Remove the curry from the heat. Season to taste with more sugar and fish sauce, and stir in the basil. Remove the whole lime leaves, lemongrass pieces, and ginger slices or tell your guests to eat around them. Garnish with thin slices of chili, to taste.