Thursday, December 4, 2014

Quick Homemade Dinner - Thai Curry Night

Dear Reader,

Tonight was one of those nights that was so similar to every other weeknight. I got into my car and raced home, starving, stomach eating into itself and I was angry at the world for putting so many obstacles in between me and my next meal. This is what hangry looks like. Hungry + Angry = Hangry. That's me at 6:00 p.m. The stomach rumbles usually start rolling in at around 4:00 p.m. where I then reach into my stash of Trader Joe's trail mix. By the time I'm on the road I've become an entirely different being. This. is. serious.

Nights like these mandate meals that are quick and easy to prepare, yet are still healthy, delicious and filling (for the very hungry man that lives with me). One such meal is my version of Red Thai Curry, a dish that is seemingly complex but is actually quite simple. Prep time is about 20 minutes (give or take) and ingredients can all be found at your local grocery store. Except for one ingredient, fish sauce, that is usually found in any Asian market.

Red Thai Curry
Makes enough for 3-4 bowls

1 14 oz. can of coconut milk (I use light coconut milk - you can use regular)
1 tablespoon of oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 cup of broth (chicken, beef or vegetable. If you don't have broth, you can use water instead)
2 tablespoons of red curry paste (you might want to add more curry paste as you taste test)
2 tablespoons of fish sauce (you might want to add more fish sauce as you taste test)
2 chicken breasts, diced
Mixed vegetables (I like to use broccoli, squash and carrots, but you can substitute with whatever you like)

Start by opening the can of coconut milk and setting it aside. You will need to reach for this quickly in the early stages, you'll see. In a saucepan, pour in the the oil and wait until it gets hot on medium heat. Then add the minced garlic, stirring until aromatic. Add the red curry paste, stirring quickly until the paste begins to loosen and spread. Careful, the oil with the paste will start "popping" and you may get hot paste shooting out at you! I like to mix for a few seconds, then quickly pour in the can of coconut milk, the broth, fish sauce and bay leaves and close the lid. If you haven't diced the chicken yet, you can do so while the liquid goodness continues to heat. Once the chicken is diced, add it to the liquid and simmer. After about 6-8 minutes, add in the vegetables and continue to simmer. Squash tends to cook quickly and gets mushy, so if you want to put it in a minute after the harder vegetables, do so, however, I tend to just put everything in at once.

Thai Coconut Milk Curry
So much of this recipe depends on your preference for the curry flavor. Taste test after the chicken has been cooking for at least 8 minutes. I usually end up putting a bit more curry (1/2 tbsp) and sometimes a bit more fish sauce. Once the veggies are soft, turn off the heat. Pour over a bowl of brown rice (or white, up to you), mix, and eat. Bon appetite!

There are a lot of versions of this recipe out there and I have tried a few. But in my opinion, a lot of the additional fuss doesn't make a huge difference for me, especially if I want this to be an easy go-to meal during a weeknight (and during my hangry moments). You can substitute tofu for the chicken. I take this opportunity to pack on the vegetables and like to include snow peas, cauliflower, etc. since this is one of the ways I can trick E to eating more veggies, and since he is also eating the broth a lot of the nutrients are still being consumed. Basil, lime basil, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and potatoes are also some additional flavors and veggies commonly included.

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