Cook Date: February 9, 2021
We’ve been working our way up the traffic light of curries. We started with green (too watery, bad curry paste), moved through yellow (good with the Maesri brand curry paste), and now we made Thai red curry chicken.
I’ve had this recipe on the back burner (as it were) for a few weeks; I was unable to commit because it has squash in it. I’m not a big squash fan to begin with, but butternut squash is acceptable. Also, a number of curry recipes call for potatoes but I have a hard time getting my head around potatoes – or squash – served with rice. Lots of people love curries with these ingredients so who am I to disagree. I love, love, LOVE Nagi’s – of Recipe Tin Eats – Tikka Chicken Masala so I put aside any lingering doubts and dove into her Thai Red Curry with Chicken recipe.
Naji lives in Australia so some of her easy-to-find ingredients are a bit of a challenge here, even with a couple of very nice Asian supermarkets in town. You can make curry paste from scratch, or start with canned – like many other bloggers she recommends Maesri brand – and add a couple of flavor bombs.
The longest prep time is for shredding the ginger and dicing the squash. Lucky for me, Carla makes roasted squash almost weekly, so I grabbed a cup of the squash she cubed and cut them into smaller pieces so they would tenderize quickly. Last time we had fresh green beans they were tough – it’s winter here after all – so I opted for some frozen peas.
Coconut milk is an essential ingredient of curries. We get the full fat type, pour it out of the can into a mixing bowl and whisk the solid and liquid parts together. In addition to the lime leaves you can see in the coconut milk measuring cup, we have a bit of sugar and some fish sauce.
And we are off! First fry the curry paste and the lemongrass paste, garlic, and ginger in a bit of vegetable oil.
Then we add the chicken stock to dissolve the curry paste and simmer until it reduces a bit. Now we stir in the coconut milk mixture. When it is combined, add the chicken. Like the squash, I cut the chicken into small pieces – about ½-inch – so it will cook quickly.
When the chicken is cooked I added the squash and simmered it for a couple of minutes, then added the peas to simmer a bit more. You may notice that the liquid tends to separate; Naji tells us that is to be expected; just stir occasionally.
If you are having curry, you have to have rice (don’t you?). Naji also has a recipe for a non-sticky, fluffier coconut rice. In for a penny in for a pound.
Except for the Kaffir lime leaves it has the same ingredients as our go-to coconut rice recipe from Yellow Bliss Road. This recipe calls for soaking the rice for 15 minutes after thoroughly rinsing it. We always rinse our rice, but the extra soak was new. In addition, this recipe uses only ½ cup of water as opposed to 1½ cups in the Yellow Bliss Road recipe. The rice did come out much drier and the rice grains were all separate. It was very good, but we prefer our rice a bit stickier.
With our go-to rice recipe it’s easy to put a nice photogenic mound of rice in the middle of the bowl and pour the curry around it. This drier rice does not mound at all. Dinner is served!
Of course the presentation picture lasts less than a minute; here it is as I prepare to dig in.
Contrary to my expectations of the squash, yhis was the best of the three curries we’ve made – very bright taste but with deep umami flavor. But it was spicy!.
Naji says the prep time is 5 minutes and the cooking time is 20 minutes. I’m not sure how she crushes the garlic, shreds the ginger, cubes the squash and cuts the chicken in less that 5 minutes. And the cook time was probably closer to 25 minutes for me; I simmered the squash a bit longer to get it tender.
But those are just quibbles; it’s really a quick, easy, and tasty dish.
Rating: ★★★★ 4 stars
Definitely suitable for most company. The recipe makes 4 large servings so this would be great for having another couple over. Like the yellow curry recipe we made – and unlike chili or Bolognese sauce – this does not taste better the second day. But the leftovers are fine for being leftovers.
Next time instead of the whole can of curry paste (¼ cup) I’ll cut down to 3 Tablespoons. I’ll definitely make this again but I may make a couple of changes.
- Brown the chicken first – just enough to get some color
- Keep the coconut cream separate from the coconut water and fry the cream along with the curry paste – after browning the chicken.
- Then add the chicken stock and coconut water.
Will it make a difference? Who knows, but I’d like to build a standard basic curry recipe and I’ve liked the results of frying the curry paste with the coconut cream. I first read about this step on Mike Vrobel’s Dad Cooks Dinner website. I wasn’t a fan of his green curry recipe because it was more like soup. He cooked it in a pressure cooker – which isn’t necessary – and I used a poor quality curry paste. I think using the Maesri brand and cooking in the skillet could turn that around. We’ll see.
Finally, I think this would be good with tofu; which means it would be a great dish for Sunday dinner with our son and daughter-in-law. The kids will prefer hot dogs.