Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

Sounds crazy until you try it.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thai Love

Thai is our favorite kind of cuisine to order (assuming you don't count pizza as a kind of cuisine, which, well, I guess I can see arguments on both sides of that one). But I have zero confidence in my ability to make Thai food -- it seems so complex and nuanced, as though the tinest mismeasurement would send the dish galloping into disaster. So when the Angelic Co-Worker (who, by the way, has been known to lead yoga classes for the Patient Co-Worker and me when the boss is out of the office) started talking about a book of Thai recipes that were easy and delicious, my ears perked right up.

As always, the Angelic Co-Worker's advice was well worth following. Nancie McDermott's book Quick & Easy Thai is awesome. Nothing's overly complicated or frightening, the ingredient lists are manifestly manageable, and the recipes we've made turned out marvelously well. I can't speak to its authenticity level, but the food tastes as good as our favorite delivery place -- and that's saying something.

Here's one of the first dishes we tried. I drank every last bit of the spicy coconut sauce. The chicken absorbed the panaeng curry paste very well, although next time I will try tofu for kicks.

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles
Adapted from Nancie McDermott's Quick & Easy Thai

Serves 3-4.

2 T. olive oil (the book says vegetable oil, but I don't keep that on hand)
1.5 T finely chopped garlic
2 T. red curry paste or panaeng curry paste
.75 lb. boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 c. unsweetened coconut milk
1.75 c. chicken broth
2 tsp. curry powder (I used Penzeys Hot Curry Powder)
2 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 T. fresh lime juice
.5 lb. dried egg noodles
.33 c. coarsely chopped shallots
.33 c. coarsely chopped cilantro
.33 c. thinly sliced green onions

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and toss well. Next mush the curry paste into the oil and garlic, stirring about a minute. Add the chicken and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown it evenly and to mix it with the curry paste.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles as you normally would. Drain, rinse well in cold water, and drain again.

While the noodles are cooking, add the coconut milk, broth, curry powder, soy sauce, suar, and salt. Stir well. Bring to a gentle boil and cook at a simmer for about ten minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the lime juice, which really adds a noticeably tangy dimension.

Divide the noodles among your bowls, and ladle the curry over the top. Sprinkle each serving with shallots, cilantro, and green onions according to your whim.

* You could use tumeric instead of curry powder, if you prefer.
* I used a can of panaeng curry paste that Devorit and I purchased at Kalustyans, but next time I think I'd like to try to make my own.
* With the hot curry powder, these noodles were plenty spicy. I wouldn't have wanted it any more fiery (can you believe it?), because I inevitably slurp the noodles and thus expose my lips to the feistiness.
* Next time I would cook the sauce a little longer to reduce it, as it came out quite thin.


  • At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Rorie said…

    Sounds delicious. I always always always order in Thai food - guess I'll have to try making some at home! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger melissa said…

    This dish is very similar to one of my favorite Thai dishes, Kao Soy. There is a recipe in Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet that is pretty good. The general idea is the same but top the noodles and chicken with pickled mustard greens (or kale) and then something crunchy, usually some fried egg noodles. I use potato chips to top it off which I was told is an Indonesian variation. (I use Lays original.)

    To make the pickle: boil water and white vinegar 2:1 with about 1 tablespoon each of sugar and salt, add smashed garlic cloves and sliced onion (both optional,) for a minute or two, then add your chopped greens, simmer until soft, cover, remove from heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Drain before adding to the noodles. Yum!

    I would really like to learn how to cook fresh rice noodles without turning them to mush. So far, no good!

  • At 9:28 AM, Blogger BNA said…

    Hi Rorie -- this is just about as quick as ordering, so I say yes -- you have to try it!

    Thanks Melissa -- that sounds excellent. I should have mentioned in the post that the author recommends adding fried egg noodles -- I decided not to try that because my general clumsiness and largge amounts of hot oil are not a good combination. The pickled greens recipe sounds outstanding.

  • At 2:09 PM, Blogger karina said…

    Thai noodles = a favorite comfort food!

  • At 2:28 PM, Blogger Laurie said…

    Mmmm, I was NOT going to go shopping today, which meant veggies and eggs, pretty much. Now I have to go buy chicken!


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