Monday, February 21, 2011

Taste of Thailand

I don't know what inspired me to go down this road. I do l-o-v-e LOOOOOOOVE Thai curry, which I was introduced to by coworkers about a year ago. I think coconut milk has some addictive properties, probably because it's high in fat. The addition of Thai spices to coconut milk create this sweet heat comfort food medley that give off this smells-so-good-you-can-tase-it-with-your-nose aroma.

I wasn't really in the mood to make something I'd already eaten. That'd be boring. So I asked my good friend Google for some Thai recipes and found Tom Kha Gai - Thai coconut chicken soup. The ingredients didn't seem to deviate too much from things I'd already heard of, and I thought I'd be able to find all of them (which was almost true).  So this was my winner.

Coconut milk and chicken - that was easy. Thai fish sauce? Keffir Lime leaves? ... Not so much. Sunflower Market landed me coconut milk, cilantro, and straw mushrooms. Their chicken seemed super overprice so I thought that I could get that at King Soopers when I went there to look for lemongrass, Thai chiles, fresh ginger (Sunflower was out), and fish sauce. I saw the price of ginger and walked out ($3.99/lb!!!!) - because I knew I'd be going to H. Mart anyways to find the Thai chiles and the lemongrass. But of course, I got my chicken (and a box of Samoas and Thin Mints from the ever present Girl Scouts at the King Soopers entrance).

H.Mart is interesting. I had no idea that place was like an Asian Super Target! But I found my lemongrass and my ginger ($1.29/lb...take that King Soopers), and not my Thai chiles so I scored a giant bottle of sweet Thai chile sauce for $2. But this took me eons because a lot of the things sold in bottles/cans/boxes at H.Mart are in Chinese, Thai, Korean, or Japanese. Oh, and the lime leaves were just completely not findable. But most internet sources I read said that it wouldn't really kill my soup's flavor.

Honestly, the hardest part of this Thai thing was finding the ingredients. My recipe, an amalgamation of many that I found online, is as follows:

Tom Kha Gai
1 quart chicken stock
1 lb chicken breasts
2 stalks lemongrass (the white part only), cracked
1/4 cup ginger, finely chopped (I used my food processor)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (food processor again)
2 - 13 oz cans coconut milk (what? I love this stuff!)
1 can straw mushrooms
2 tbs Thai fish sauce (Don't fear the fish sauce. Seriously. You can hardly taste it in the soup but it adds flavor!)
2 tbs Thai chile sauce
1 tbs sugar
salt & pepper to taste
cilantro to garnish

1. Cook chicken breasts in broth over high heat. Remove from broth and set aside.
2. Add lemongrass, ginger, and garlic to broth. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes so flavors can blend with broth.
3. While broth is simmering, shred the chicken with a fork.
4. Add coconut milk, chicken, and mushrooms. Bring to boil over medium heat.
5. Add fish sauce, chile sauce, sugar, and salt & pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with garnish of cilantro and/or fresh ginger.

*note: take out the lemongrass before serving!

Also, since Jon is not the biggest fan of mushrooms, I made him some mango chicken.

Thai Mango Chicken
2 chicken breasts
1 ripe mango
2 tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbs Thai chile sauce

1. Puree mango, coconut milk, brown sugar, and chile sauce in food processor.
2. Place chicken in tupperware or ziplock bag and cover with sauce. Marinate ~1 hour in refrigerator.
3. Pan fry in olive oil until cooked through, about 4 minutes each side.

(this would probably be good grilled, too. But my chicken breasts were very thinly sliced)



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