We love Thai restaurants. We have a favorite in Hendersonville, NC when we are staying at the lake. We also have a favorite in Jacksonville, Fl. I have attempted to cook Thai food at home, but it never seems to have the complex flavors of the curries that I have eaten in restaurants. The lemongrass, fish sauce and Thai basil all contribute to the complex nuances.
While I was getting my hair cut last month I was talking to my hairdresser about food. Duh . . . What else do I talk about with such authority? I was lamenting the lack of alternative food markets in the area. She said, ” I don’t know what you are looking for, but you really ought to check out the Asian Market up the road” I had no idea it existed as it is in a small strip mall set back off the main road going through town.
It is a wonderful place. The parking spaces are usually all full and the small market buzzes with people roaming its crowded aisles. There before me were sheaves of lemongrass and packages of purple stemmed Thai basil for $1.00 a package. There were so many Asian inspired sauces and fruits and vegetables that I was in a fog of shopping bliss.
The variety of peppers was astounding and the packages of unusual herbs for $1.00 each made me very happy.
After shopping I came home with what I needed to put together a red curry chicken.
The basil you see in this picture is not the Thai basil. Thai basil has purple stems and has more of an anise flavor than regular basil. They were out of it when I returned for more ingredients. The lemongrass stalks are woody and have to be treated right so that they are not stringy. They have a lemon flavor. If you can’t find them you can use lemon zest and lemon juice. I use lite coconut milk and red curry paste. I decided to leave out the fish sauce.
I combined the Thai ingredients with chicken breast cubes, red and green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and red onions. We loved it. Now we don’t have to jump in the car and go to a restaurant when we need our Thai curry fix.
They say you should photograph your food on plain white plates but I love pretty plates. I think my curry looks special on one of my Paris Royal black and white plates.
THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 to 2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of lemongrass (peeled and sliced thinly) or zest of one lemon
3 to 4 tablespoons red curry paste (More if you like it hotter)
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 can of coconut milk or lite coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Jasmine or brown rice as an accompaniment
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken breast pieces and cook until all sides are browned. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the peppers and onions and cook until wilted. Add the garlic and lemongrass if you are using. (My lemongrass was too woody and I substituted the lemon zest).
Return chicken to skillet and add the red curry paste, coconut milk and Thai basil leaves. Stir the ingredients and cook over low heat until the flavors come together (about 20 minutes).
Serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.