Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Kaeng Khiao Wan Kai: Thai Green Curry with Chicken

A harmony of fabulous flavours and tantalizing textures, Chicken in Thai Green Curry is a feast for the eyes, the nose and the palate. Lovely served with a small bowl of Jasmin rice on the side, this Thai curry is one of my favourite recipes from Wandee Young and Byron Ayanoglu's celebrated cookbook from their restaurant 'Young Thailand', which was the first Thai restaurant to open in North America in the 1980's. Having enjoyed authentic Thai curries from our recent trip to Thailand and Myanmar, I have been in desperate search for the tiny Thai pea and round 'ma keua pro' eggplants ever-present in Thai cuisine, but without any luck so far in shops around Toronto. A handful of frozen green peas is my nod to the ubiquitous tiny bitter Thai 'mak-heua pang' normally added to authentic Thai curries. Double up on the recipe's suggested green curry paste, and you might feel you were in Chiang Mai.

Chicken in Thai Green Curry (Kaeng Khiao Wan Kai)
Serves 4
Recipe from The Young Thailand Cookbook

10 oz skinless boneless chicken breasts
3 cups unsweetened coconut mik
2 tbsp green curry paste, or to taste
4 lime leaves
1 cup water
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 cup bamboo shoot strips
1/2 cup water chestnuts, sliced
1/2 medium red pepper, cut in thin strips
1 cup frozen green peas
20 fresh basil leaves, whole 
Jasmin or white rice, cooked according to instructions

Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips, about 1/4" thick, 2" long and 1" wide. Heat 1 cup of coconut milk in a wok or large saucepan over high heat until it boils. Add the green curry paste and, reducing the heat to medium, stir to dissolve it in the coconut milk. Add the second cup of coconut milk, raise the heat to maximum and let it cook 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Slice the lime leaves into thin strips and add to the sauce, then turn the heat back to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the heat back to maximum, add the chicken then the last cup of coconut milk as well as 1 cup of water. Stir-cook for 1 minute until the mixture is bubbling happily. Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir-cook for 2 minutes, until it's bubbling hard. Add the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and stir-cook for 2 minutes. Then add the red pepper, green peas and whole basil. Stir-cook 2-3 minutes, folding all the ingredients together into the sauce. Take the sauce off the heat and transfer into a warmed deep serving dish, topping with a sprig or two of basil, and serve with steamed rice.

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