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Monday, December 3, 2012

Thai Green Chicken Curry

I love Thai food.  I think that what makes it so good is the perfect balance of flavours and textures (sour, sweet, salty, bitter, crunchy and creamy). 

Green chicken curry has this combination yet it is another easy to go to recipe when I am not sure what to make for dinner.  The pantry is stocked with coconut milk, fish sauce (nuoc mam), green curry paste, peanuts, dried basil and chicken stock.  I try to always have frozen green beans (you can also use fresh) and boneless chicken breasts.  You can add your choice of fresh vegetables like carrots and red peppers for color and fresh basil.  It is best served with sticky rice (sushi type) to help absorb all the wonderful sauce.

Green curry paste is spicy and can also be made at home but some of the ingredients may be hard to find: curry paste .  You can find prepared curry paste in the Asian section of the supermarket.  You can also alternate with the red (also hot) and yellow (milder) variety.  The flavors are different but all very good - yellow = turmeric, red = Thai red chillies and green = Thai green chillies.  The level of heat will be determined by the amount of paste you use (it's up to you).

Traditionally, Thai curries use kafir lime leaves and kafir limes (fruit native to Indochina).  These dried kafir lime leaves are from Douceurs du marché at the Atwater market.  You can find everything in this store and the staff are wonderful.  When I have these on hand, I use them in addition to the dried basil for this recipe (just crush them and add to the sauce).

You will need:  for 4 portions

  • 1 generous tbsp (15ml) of green curry paste (or to taste - this is spicy)
  • 1 can (400ml) of coconut cream or milk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) of chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) of fish sauce (nuoc mam)
  • 2 tbsp (25g) of sugar
  • 1tbsp (15ml) of soy sauce
  • 1 large dried kafir lime leaf crushed and/or 1tbsp of dried  basil
  • 2 large (400g) large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in bite sized pieces 
  • 1 large bunch (250g) of frozen of fresh green beans, ends trimmed
  • 1 medium red pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1.5 tbsp of cornstarch (dilute when ready to use in 2 tbsp water)
  • 1/4 cup (40g) of finely chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • Fresh lime, cut in wedges (if you have)
  • Fresh basil for garnish, washed and sliced

  1. Put green curry paste (1 tbsp - 15ml) in a large pot over medium high heat and stir to allow it to release it's aromas and flavours (about 1 minute);
  2. Add coconut cream/milk (1 can - 400 ml) and whisk to blend with the flavours of the paste;
  3. Add the chicken stock (1/4 cup - 60ml), fish sauce (2tbsp - 30ml), sugar (2tbsp - 25g), soy sauce (1tbsp - 15ml) and crushed kafir leaves (1 large) and/or dried basil (1tbsp) and bring sauce to simmer.  Allow to gently boil for about 2 minutes;
  4. Add the raw chicken pieces (2 large skinless, boneless breasts) and cook in the simmering sauce for 10 minutes;
  5. Add the green beans (large bunch - 250g), stir to coat them in sauce cover the saucepan and simmer for another 10 minutes (they should be cooked but retain some crunch);
  6. Dilute the cornstarch in a little water and add to the sauce, blending in well.  
  7. Add the red pepper slices (1 medium) and simmer for about 2 minutes (the sauce will now have thickened - if you find it is not thick enough, add a little more diluted cornstarch while the sauce is boiling).
  8. Serve with sticky rice and add fresh sliced basil, chopped dry roasted peanuts and lime wedge for garnish.