Yellow Thai Chicken Coconut Curry

Cook Date: December 1, 2020

Wow, so many words to describe curry dishes! Last month I cooked and wrote about Green Thai Curry Chicken Soup. It was supposed to be a curry but was really more of a soup. (Plus the name was so long because I accidently used the adjective “green” twice.) That left us with a curry itch that needed to be scratched – real curry with an aromatic, tasty thick sauce that would coat the back of a spoon. I knew a pressure cooker was out of the question because it retains so much liquid. Many of the yellow curry dishes include potatoes; but I thought potatoes plus rice would be a bit too much starch. I found this recipe on the Averie Cooks website and it looked like it suited our desires.

Yellow Thai Chicken Coconut Curry ingredients

We have been stretching our palates the past few months, pushing beyond American staples and Tex Mex favorites to these Asian dishes. It’s been fun. The flavor bomb for this dish is centered on ginger, turmeric, curry paste, coconut milk, and lime juice.

Flavor bomb for yellow curry.

The green curry paste I bought at our local market was disappointing so I bought a combo pack of 6 curry pastes made my Maesri containing 2 cans each of green, yellow, and red paste. Interestingly enough, Averie recommends a different brand of curry paste. But, to paraphrase toothpaste ads: “9 out of 10 cooks recommends Maesri curry paste” so I stuck with that.

In addition to the curry paste brand, I strayed from Averie’s recipe in three ways: two were ingredient changes and the third was in the process. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts because chicken thighs are both more flavorful and doesn’t dry out. If you aren’t super careful with chicken breast they tighten up during cooking and squeeze all the liquid out. You end up with dry chicken despite it swimming in sauce.

Averie’s recipe says this dish can be prepared in less than 30 minutes: five for prep and 20 for cooking. Now I might be able to gather the ingredients, measure out the spices and curry paste, and separate the coconut cream from the coconut water in 5 minutes, but there is NO way I could dice an onion, shred 1½ cups of carrots and cut 1½ pounds of chicken in that short bit of time. Not to mention it takes our rice cooker just under an hour to cook a batch of Jasmine rice.

I’m breaking one of my guidelines here showing the raw chicken (TWICE!) cut into bite sized chunks.

Yellow curry ingredients

Similar to stir fry dishes, you’ll want to get everything lined up for cooking before you turn on the stove. I lined things up in more-or-less the order they go into the dish. I was surprised that the yellow curry paste was actually red.

Yellow curry mis en place.

The first step is to sauté the onions, then add the chicken and cook until mostly cooked through. It will spend more time in the pan so will cook through – but don’t undercook. Rare chicken? No thank you. I love the way this dish transform through the various steps.

Then add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, and coriander. The turmeric is what gives this dish that yellow color.

Onions, chicken, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and corriander

My next variance from Averie’s recipe was in handling the coconut milk. She adds the full can of coconut milk at once to start the braise. I like Mike Vrobel’s (Dad Cooks Dinner) technique of keeping the coconut cream separate from the coconut water. I fried the curry paste and coconut cream before adding the liquids. Eventually most of the rest ingredients make their way into the pan.

Yellow curry braising

It’s almost ready. First, add the shredded carrots and a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach.

Yellow curry with carrots and spinach added.

The final step is to adjust the flavor. We don’t use cilantro because it tastes like soap to Carla – it’s a genetic thing having to do with taste bud receptors. The other final ingredients are brown sugar to combat the heat – I used a bit less than a full can of curry paste so it wasn’t too spicy – and lime juice to brighten things up a bit.

Adjust salt to taste and dinner is served: yellow Thai chicken coconut curry served over jasmine rice.

Dinner is served: yellow, Thai chicken coconut curry over Jasmine rice,

Rating: ★★. Definitely something we will eat again, but probably not ready for company. It was flavorful – I’m glad I bought that Maesri curry paste – and it had a pleasant heat that sneaks up on you. Not too hot; just right for us. I’ve been pondering if this would be good with tofu instead of chicken – I think our vegetarian son and daughter-in-law might like this.

Unlike some other dishes, the leftovers are not better the second night. And, it won’t come together from whole ingredients to plate in the 25 minutes Averie promises. Count on 45 minutes to an hour.

If you’ve got a hankering for curry, this is an easy way to scratch that itch. But stay tuned, I have a red curry and a chicken Tikki masala recipe on their way.

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