Thai Red Chicken Curry

red thai curry

I grew up with a fairly narrow view of ethnic cuisines.  Anything outside of Chinese take-out or “Mexican food” served at Taco Bell was considered “icky”.  As far as I was concerned, Pad Thai was the only acceptable Thai dish to my American palate.

Luckily my tastes changed as I got older and was exposed more and more dishes and flavors from all around the world.  I can’t imagine what life would be like now without all of the different cuisines I eat on a weekly basis. Thai food being among my favorites!

My friend introduced me to Thai curries at a restaurant in Hollywood that features a Thai Elvis impersonator who croons to you during your meal.  She suggested I try her panang curry and I’ve been hooked ever since.

curry paste

I’ve been experimenting with some Asian ingredients and attempting to make more authentic Asian meals at home.  When I figured out I could make Thai curry at home, it was all over.  Now, I can’t handle spice like a normal person (I’m from the Midwest, after all), but I do love the way this dish makes me sweat and my nose run.  This recipe tastes authentic compared to what I’ve had in Thai restaurants, but I used ingredients that are easy to find.

mise en place for thai curry

This dish has all of the aspects of Thai cooking that I have come to love: sweet, sour, spicy, and salty.  Once you get the right balance of flavors, you can’t go wrong.  I make this red curry at least every other week and I’ve made it enough times that it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.

thai curry simmering

Thai Red Chicken Curry

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • scant 2 Tbsp. curry paste
  • 2 chicken breasts – sliced thinly
  • 1 red pepper – cut into strips
  • 1 green pepper – cut into strips
  • 1/2 yellow onion – sliced
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch + 1 Tbsp. water – whisk together to make a slurry (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped basil (Thai basil is best, but Italian basil works in a pinch)
  1. Pat chicken strips dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering.  Add curry paste and garlic until it starts to brown slightly (about 1 minute).
  3. Add chicken to the pot and mix until chicken is fully coated with the curry paste. Cook for about 1 minute.
  4. Add coconut milk and water, and bring to simmer.  Simmer for about 4 minutes.
  5. Add peppers and onions, simmering for another 4 minutes.
  6. If you want thicker curry (I always do), add the optional corn starch and water slurry now.  Stir in and simmer until the curry has thickened.
  7. Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients through basil. Taste and adjust as needed.
  8. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Notes on this recipe: You can add any veggies to this dish, but peppers and onions are my favorite.  I frequently see carrots, baby corn, tomatoes, snap peas, and green beans in other versions of this curry.

I’ve found that 2 Tbsp. of the curry paste is just right.  Any more and it’s so spicy I can’t eat it.  Any less and I can’t taste the curry flavor.  If you can handle heat better than this Midwesterner, you can always add an extra teaspoon or two at the end of cooking.

You can make homemade curry paste or you can buy a giant tub at a local Asian market or on Amazon.com for about $5.  One tub will last forever in the fridge; I’ve made about 10 curries with the same tub. Don’t skip or substitute the curry paste…it’s essential.

More traditional recipes call for kaffir lime leaves, but I find lime juice works just as easily and is a lot easier to find at the grocery store.

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Thai red curry

Do you cook a variety of ethnic cuisines at home?  What’s your favorite to prepare?

-Mads

 

Maple Pear Oats

A few weeks ago I posted about going on an elimination diet and then I disappeared from the internet.  Well, I did 10 days of strict elimination dieting, but then I went out of town for about 3 weeks and had a hard time updating my progress…obviously.  The plus side of my time off was that I got to meet my new baby niece (SO EXCITING) and meet some of my blogging friends in Houston (ALSO EXCITING).  The downside is that you were left hanging.
maple pear oats
For 10 days I avoided dairy, gluten, eggs, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, alcohol, and chocolate.  I did all this because my acid reflux was getting out of control and the next steps would have been surgery.  Yikes!  I tend to roll my eyes at “natural remedies” because I am a researcher, and pseudoscience without evidence doesn’t sit well with me, but I was in so much pain I was willing to try anything.

pear
The results were astounding.  To be clear, I went off of my acid reflux medication (and all other medications), did the 10 day “cleanse”, and removed significant stress from my life all at the same time, so I’m not sure which contributed the most to my health.  Whatever it was, I feel incredible.  I can wake up without pain for the first time in months, maybe even years!

pear oats
I still have some heartburn when I eat large meals and if I eat right before bed, but even that pain is limited.  Alcohol almost always causes a great deal of pain, so our relationship is still tumultuous.

I am thinking about trying another elimination diet soon just to see if I feel even better, as traveling interrupted my plans to try the diet for 30 days. I would highly recommend trying this for anyone who has mysterious health problems, as long as they have the go-ahead by their doctor.

oats
As you might imagine, an elimination diet is not really exciting for your palate, but I did find a few foods that I really loved.  These are healthy and can translate easily into any diet.  First, check out my Beetberry Smoothie recipe here.  I also made these fabulous and easy maple pear oats!  It’s so easy, it’s hardly a recipe, but you still need this in your life.

maple pear oats
Maple Pear Oats
1/2 cup dry oats
1 cup water
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tab butter
1 pear diced
1 pinch cinnamon
1.5 Tbsp. maple syrup
toasted walnuts and shredded coconut (optional)
  1. Bring water to slow boil in saucepan.
  2. Add oats, vanilla, and salt to boiling water and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until oats are cooked to your liking.  I usually like softer oats, so I cook them for the full 10 minutes, adding water as needed.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter, then add the pear, cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Cook until pear softens slightly and syrup thickens a bit.
  4. Pour pear mixture over oats.
  5. Top with toasted walnuts and coconut and enjoy!  
Notes on this recipe:
-Toast coconut and nuts and cook a large batch of oats at the beginning of the week so you can have quick pear oats on hand before work.  Ain’t nobody got time for toasting nuts before the work day.  hehe nuts hehe
-You can easily substitute peaches, apple, banana, etc. for the pear.  I make variations of this recipe several times per week and it never gets old.
-If you are on the elimination diet and don’t want to eat the trace amounts of gluten in oats, you can use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Hot Cereal, which is mostly whole wheat brown rice.  That’s what I used during my 10-day cleanse.
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To toast the walnuts and shredded coconut, simply place them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes.  The coconut will turn a golden brown color and the nuts will start to smell really nutty and delicious.

To toast the walnuts and shredded coconut, simply place them in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. The coconut will turn a golden brown color and the nuts will start to smell really nutty and delicious.

Have you tried an elimination diet?  How did it go?
-Mads

Korean Gochujang Beef BBQ

Once every few months, my friends get together for a “meat-up”.  This entails shoveling our faces full of all-you-can-eat meat at any local BBQ establishment.  If you’ve never had Korean BBQ before, it is quite an experience.  You point to whatever types of meat look tasty on the menu (bulgogi beef, kalbi pork, squid, chicken, etc.) and it’s brought to you raw at the table.  Each table has a little grill and you grill the meats while you chat and dine on side dishes.  Then you feast!

A recent "meat-up" at a Japanese BBQ.  Meat fields forever.

A recent “meat-up” at a Japanese BBQ. Meat fields forever.  The dishes taste very different from Korean BBQ, but the concept of grilling endless amounts of meat at your table is the same.

The all-you-can-eat aspect of KBBQ is really the highlight.  Perfectly marinated meats of all varieties endlessly served on platters upon platters.  *Drool*

grillin meat

Japanese BBQ grilled directly at the table.

I’ve been making Korean marinades at home to replicate our meat-ups, but I haven’t written down a recipe until now.  This isn’t authentic bulgogi, but the Korean chili paste adds extra oomph to this Asian-style marinade.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Korean Gojuchang Beef BBQ

  • 1 lb. beef steak (sirloin or flank are good cuts for this)
  • 4 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Thinly slice the steak or cut into bite sized cubes.  Toss into a ziplock bag.
  2. Add all of the rest of the ingredients into the ziplock and squish the bag around with your hands until all of the ingredients are combined and all of the meat is covered in the marinade.
  3. Seal it closed and marinade in the fridge for at least 30 minutes…if you have time to marinate it overnight, do that.
  4. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add half of the meat mixture and brown both sides (1-2 minutes on each side, depending on how thin you sliced the meat).  It should be a nice golden color.
  5. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. Repeat step 4 with the other half of the meat mixture.
  7. Serve over rice with a side of steamed broccoli.

Notes on this recipe: You can find gochujang paste at any Asian market, but if you have trouble finding it near you, Amazon sells it online.  Magic!  It lasts an exceptionally long time in the fridge, but you can use it in meat marinades, soups, stir fry, dips, sauces, etc.  I was hesitant to buy a whole jar of an ingredient that I was only using a tablespoon of in this recipe, but it’s so versatile you will have no trouble using it up.

Cooking the meat in two batches ensures your pan will remain hot enough to get that lovely golden brown sear to the meat.  If you add all of the meat at once, the pan cools off just enough so that your beef will steam.  Nobody wants yo’ steamed meat!

If you want to substitute fresh raw ginger you can.  We like a mellow ginger flavor at our house, so we use the ground powder.

kbbq marinade

Now we can have a version of KBBQ at home!  The marinade is so easy to whip together that we eat it about once a week with different types of meat and veggies.

What’s your favorite secret ingredient in Asian marinades?

-Mads

Reading Roundup

Hello folks,

I’m just starting to get past my winter slump of mainlining Netflix series directly into my veins.  Something about cold weather and “winter break” makes it impossible not to watch 6 seasons of Gossip Girl over the course of 2 weeks.  It’s not just me, right?  (Disclaimer: I realize Gossip Girl is a terrible show with mostly unlikable characters, but I can’t turn away from the Chuck and Blair storyline.  It’s my guilty pleasure. #ChuckandBlair4Evah)

Getting past the tv slump, simply means books have replaced my favorite shows because LEARNING.  I feel like my brain function is slowly returning to me, one little neuron fire after another.

I started slowly by reading Heat Wave, by “Richard Castle”, which is actually a book based on a tv show.  I told you, I was in a Netflix stupor!

Heat-Wave-book-cover

If you hate reading, but love watching tv, the Richard Castle books are for you.  It reads more like a script than a novel, with so many pop culture references and grammatical errors, it’s almost impossible to read.  One sentence actually used the term “cray-cray”.  I thought the whole book was a joke, but diehard fans of the show (Jonathan) will probably need to own all books in the series.  Not that I know anything about that…*cough*.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.

handmaids tale

I thought I would love this book.  It has everything I usually love: a dystopian future, a female author, and strong feminist themes.  However, the execution was a heavy-handed and boring, despite great reviews on Amazon.

Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.

gone girl

The perspective and narration were totally unique and unexpected for a who-dun-it.  It was definitely a page turner and took me by surprise.  However, I was still hoping for a bit more complexity…I don’t know how to describe what was lacking, but I would give it a 3 out of 4 stars.

The Rule of Four, by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

The_Rule_of_Four

This book was heady and elitist, in part because it was set at Princeton University, but it was still intriguing.  It had a lot of similarities to the Dan Brown series, but I have to say I prefer Dan Brown.  Overall, it was a decent historical adventure.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King.

different seasons

This was my first time reading Stephen King, but I knew the story from the movie.  I was surprised to discover the story was actually a novella and only 150 or so pages long.  It’s incredible how well you know the characters in that amount of time.  The writing was impeccable.  I’m in the middle of his second novella in the Different Seasons series entitled, Apt Pupil, which is equally enthralling.

After all of that reading, I was a little disappointed that I only really liked Gone Girl and Shawshank.  I clearly need help picking out my next book.

Do you have any recommendations?  What are you reading right now?
-Mads

Beef Empanadas

beef empanadas

Jonathan and I went to a Spanish tapas bar for our date night last week and it was delicious!  I love grazing on my dinner like cattle…truly I do, and tapas give me an excuse to try a bit of everything. I’ve been scheming ways to make some at home every day since.  While our schedules don’t currently allow for hosting a tapas party, I knew I needed to make something at home to satisfy my urges.

Enter stage right: beef empanadas.

empanada filling

I tend to shy away from making pastries or frying food at home because it can be a lot of work.  However, I happened to have a few pie crusts hanging out in my freezer that needed love and attention.  You can easily use Pillsbury crescent rolls if you want to cut out a few steps and save time.  As for the frying?  Well, you can bake these puppies instead, but why would you do that to yourself?

dough

These beef empanadas are packed with flavor and have a perfect flaky and buttery crust.  I love that they are only three bites, which makes me feel a little better about eating fried foods.  So if I’m doing my math right, eating 6 of them is practically a health food.  Math is hard!

Beef Empanadas

Makes approximately 20 empanadas with beef filling to spare!

  • 2 tsp. bacon grease (optional)
  • 1/2 jalapeño minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste (Please taste it!  Salt and pepper are the key to tasty meat! I used about 1/4 tsp. of each.)
  • 3 Tbsp cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • No Excuses Pie Crust or Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • approximately 20 oz. frying oil such as Canola
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions, jalapeño, and garlic in bacon grease (or olive oil) for 2 minutes or until slightly soft.
  2. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking it up into tiny bits.  Drain fat from pan and set back on heat.
  3. Mix in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Taste the beef mixture and add more seasonings as you see fit.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a heavy-bottomed pot or a dutch oven, heat fry oil until 375 degrees.  Give it at least 10 minutes over medium heat to come to temperature.  Adjust until you get to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s approximately 1/8 of an inch thick.  Use a large cookie cutter or whatever tool you have on hand (I used an empty 28 oz. can of pumpkin as an empanada cutter) to cut circles out of the dough.
  7. Dip your finger in the beaten egg and spread it around the outer edge of each empanada.  This is the “glue” for the dough and prevents the empanadas from bursting open in the fry oil.
  8. Place approximately 2 tsp. meat mixture, 1 tsp. cheese, and a pinch of cilantro into the center of each empanada.
  9. Gently fold the dough over the filling and crimp the edges together.  You can use a fork or your fancy fingers to crimp it closed.
  10. Fry empanadas three at a time, flipping after about 2 minutes…just keep your eyes on it…when it’s golden brown, it’s ready to flip.
  11. Use a slotted spoon to move the empanadas to a plate with a paper towel to allow it to drain off excess grease and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes on this recipe: I’ve been saving bacon grease in a mason jar in my fridge lately.  It feels a little Howard Hughes-esque, but my life has significantly improved now that I have bacon grease on hand for sautéing vegetables and other things.  If you happen to keep a jar of the stuff (you are a champion), then feel free to use it to sauté the onions, but you could easily substitute olive oil.

You should buy tortillas to go with this recipe because you will have extra filling, but lucky for you, the filling tastes great as tacos too!

empanada cutter

beef filling

empanada collage

One more little note…crimping the edges of empanadas, and any pies for that matter, is my kryptonite.  I would like to show you my two trial run empanadas just to stay humble:

fail

#FAIL They still tasted damn good.

Do not be like me.  Be delicate and graceful and an empanada savant.

Do not attempt to glue the rips in the dough together with more dough.  Your food will look like a burn victim and it will appetize no one.

There’s a solid chance I rolled out the dough too thin.  Don’t do that.

If you are like me (bless you!), don’t worry.  Hot fry oil cures all ails.  Pop those bad boys in their little jacuzzi until golden brown!

frying empanadas

Can you hear them sizzling?

I already miss them.  Their poor little lives were cut too short.  Until we meet again, my fried friends.

-Mads