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

 

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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!

IMG_6704

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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

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

Sweet and Sour Pork

Hello friends,

I realize it’s strange to post about my weight-loss and then immediately post about deep-fried pork, but everything in moderation! 😛

I recently married a Chinese-American man.  His dad is renowned for his bbq pork buns (cha siu bao), and his grandma makes the absolute best chicken curry.  I want our kids to grow up and learn Cantonese, understand the traditions, and eat the delicious homemade cuisines of Hong Kong.

Which is why I have been attempting to create fabulous Chinese dishes at home.

After I stocked my pantry with a few Asian staples, I found that cooking was not as intimidating as I thought.  (Keeping soy sauce, chili sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and oyster sauce on hand helped a lot.)

This recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork came from Easy Chinese Recipes.  The pork was restaurant-quality, but it was also very easy to make.

To start, cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and marinade in 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. corn starch, and 1/2 tsp. rice wine or sherry.

Then chop up your veggies and set aside.  I used onion, bell peppers, green onion, garlic, and pineapple.  You could easily add snap peas, carrots, or whatever your little heart desires.

Kitchen trick: If you place a paper towel behind your cutting board, you can scrape the yucky bits off of the board for easy cleanup!

Jonathan’s heart is easily won over by pork, so this recipe was an instant hit!

While your 2 inches of vegetable oil is heating up to 350 degrees in the pan, whip together the fry batter.  (Fry batter=1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 egg white, 1/3 cup water, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, shake-o-salt)

Make this step look really good.

Making kitchens sexy since 2012.

Everything tastes better deep-fried.  Amiright?

Kitchen tip: If you want to keep your fry oil for future frying adventures, put it in a mason jar in the fridge. Then bring it to room temperature before your next sweet and sour pork dinner!

Deep fry the pork until golden brown, turning occasionally.  Babysit that pork with love.  When it’s done, drain off the excess oil on a paper towel, just like you would with bacon.

My babies.

Grab another pan and heat up 1 Tbsp. of oil.  Get to stir-frying those veggies!  Once the veggies are slightly softened, add the sweet and sour sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce = 2 Tbsp. ketchup, 1 Tbsp. plum sauce, 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire, 1 tsp. rice vinegar, 1/2 Tbsp. oyster sauce, 1 tsp. sugar, 4 Tbsp. water, 1/4 tsp. sesame oil, 1 tsp. cornstarch

Once the sauce starts to thicken, add the pork and toss to coat.  Serve over rice.

What is your favorite ethnic cuisine?  What is the most intimidating cuisine you have attempted to make in your home?  Did it work or did you have a kitchen disaster?  

-Mads

p.s. You can substitute a lot of the ingredients for sweet and sour pork if you don’t have a lot of Asian sauces.  This website is a great resource for food substitutions: http://www.foodsubs.com/

 

 

Life Changer

I will post more about wedding stuff soon, blah blah blah.

BUT my life was drastically changed tonight when I discovered something magical on the internet.

MAGICAL.

This blog boasted the best umami flavor in a grilled hamburger ever.  Umami is that crazy smack of flavor that wakes up your taste buds and has you saying, “What was that?” (more about umami here).

The White on Rice Couple said their secret to the best umami burgers ever was fish sauce.  That’s right, the Vietnamese sauce that seems to go well with all Vietnamese dishes…but in an American burger.  As soon as I read that, I smacked my forehead.  Of course you should put fish sauce in a burger.  D’oh!

Three Crabs is the brand we use. (Click on image to be redirected to photo source)

Fish sauce is filled with glutamates, which are those nummy little amino acids that give umami flavor to soy sauce, worcestershire, meats, and anything delicious.

I followed their recipe to a T, and I can honestly say it was the best burger of my life.  I’ve never been able to grill anything remotely close to that awesome flavor.

Ignore my freckled skin and peach fuzzed arms.

I topped my burger with feta cheese, caramelized onions, basil, and Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Sauce.

p.s. This is awesome…as if you ever doubted the awesome power of a Trader Joe’s sauce.

I was literally hooting and hollering on my patio.

Life=changed forever.

Please try this.  Even if you have to buy a jar of fish sauce, you can always use the rest of the bottle for stir fries (frys?), fried rice, AND ALL THE BURGERS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Thank you for your time,

Mads

Turkey decisions in time for Thanksgiving

I was going to post my day in Tweets, but last night I found out that I won Pioneer Woman’s giveaway for a turkey set!

I have never made a turkey before, let alone been in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey.  Now I don’t have any excuses because I have this:

Roaster

The fact that Jonathan’s family is Chinese works greatly in my favor because they don’t quite know what to expect with a Thanksgiving bird.  Their taste buds aren’t biased and expectant of an herb-buttered golden moist bird.

Which brings me to the point of how to make the Thanksgiving turkey.  The internet is SO divided on this topic.  Some are briners, some are basters, some use fresh fowl, some use frozen, some use herbs, some use citrus…there is just no way of knowing what is the best.

Here are some recipes I found that intrigued me (click on the photo for the original recipe and photo source):

Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey. This recipe uses some crazy aromatics like apple, onion, and cinnamon. With over 3000 reviews, this recipe is 5 stars.

Ree Drummond's favorite brine. This one uses apple juice, oranges, and peppercorns. Such creativity! This one didn't get the same stellar reviews as Alton Brown, but it could be tweaked.

The New York Times has a meaty rendition of Thanksgiving, involving Italian sausage and pancetta. I know this will be Jonathan's vote, but it's not the traditional bird.

My tried and true bloggy friend, Comfortably Domestic, has a citrus herb roasted recipe. This involves a bunch of herbs and lots of butter. You really can't go wrong with that.

Needless to say, my mind is spinning with ideas.

What recipe do you use for your turkey?  Are you a traditional bird person or do you like funky twists on an old fave?

-Mads

Fall recipes I’m dying to try

Fall always gets me in the mood to bake, roast, and mash all of the best comfort foods.  There’s nothing like curling up with a bowl full of homemade chicken soup or digging into a slice of piping hot apple pie.

This fall, I’ve decided to commit to a new approach.  I’m going to make recipes that I’ve never attempted before.  This could result in epic failures, but I have a feeling it will be more delicious than anything else.

Here’s what I’m committed to making this fall:

Miss InsideNanaBread’s Head’s POSOLE!  NanaBread is on a vacation from blogging, but I promise she is worth checking out when she comes back.

Mexican-style stew with hominy

Pam’s pie crust for apple pie (featured on The Pioneer Woman).  I have never made my own crust (shhhh), but I am determined to try this flaky goodness.  I have also never ventured into baked fruit pies, but apple pie is in the game plan.

101 Cookbook’s Easy Little Bread.  My track record with bread is not stellar.  Usually I end up with a cement lump or a dough ball of goo.  This no-knead bread promises that it will be easy and totally doable for a baking beginner like me.  101 Cookbook is a great blog with BEE-U-TI-FUL food photography.

Comfortably Domestic’s Mediterranean Inspired Chicken Wraps with Dill Cucumber Sauce.  Jonathan and I have been on a Mediterranean kick and anything by Comfortably Domestic is sure to be a win.

Kitchen-tested and children-approved

(Click on any of the pics above to find the original recipes.  These pictures are all from the bloggers linked in the text.)

Hopefully I remember to post my adventures in these dishes here, but let’s face it, I frequently forget who I am and what I’m doing.

Are you trying out any new recipes this fall?  What’s your favorite blog source for recipes?

-Mads