Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Switch-Up: Thai Coconut Curry

The title might seem familiar for those Food Network affectionatos out there; Anna Olson, host of the former program Sugar, often finished off an episode by showing how one recipe could be easily and slightly modified (whether with ingredients, assembly, cooking methods, etc.) to become a whole new dessert.  She does the same in her Sugar cookbooks as well, which I came to own through a generous gift.  I actually met Anna Olson once at her former Port Dalhousie bakery; I never thought I’d hear a Food Network chef ask me to “just swipe your debit card with the stripe facing me”.  Surreal!  But I digress.

Today’s switch-up: Thai Coconut Curry.  I found the initial recipe when I was fancying something curry-based and had two gorgeous fillets of basa in the fridge that needed to be prepared.  So, I turned to the lovely Google and typed “Thai curry fish”.  I came across this lovely recipe, which I jumped on.  Only modification?  A teaspoon of red curry paste (I’ve talked about that before) instead of chili powder, whole coriander seeds (my food processor, alas, failed utterly at turning them into a ground form), and freeze-dried cilantro (since I neglect the real deal until it rots).  I also didn’t have banana leaves, so I opted for some parchment packets (using a technique that I learned, ironically, by watching Chef Olson’s new show “Fresh”).  I also prepared the suggested coconut rice accompaniment, along with some steamed snap peas… a fantastic little Thursday night dinner ensued, followed by an even better Friday lunch.

Wine certainly helps any meal be fantastic... ;)
Now for the switch-up: coconut chicken salad.  The recipe for the coconut curry sauce made way more than I needed, so I used the rest to marinate a chicken breast overnight.  I wrestled a bit with the best way to cook the chicken, since I don’t have a barbecue and pan-frying might burn the sugars in the coconut milk.  So, I opted to bake it (like the fish) in a foil packet in the oven.  I also inserted my handy-dandy President’s Choice meat thermometer, which has a gauge that is kept outside the oven, and will sound an alarm when the meat has reached proper internal temperature for chicken.  Hooray for preventing a salmonella infection and/or overbaking!!

After baking and cooling, I sliced up the chicken and arranged it on a plate with some tasty baby romaine, red onion, green onion, and cherry tomatoes.  I had wanted to use mandarins instead of tomatoes, but unfortunately the container I had in the fridge had outlived its usefulness (shudder!).  I finished it off with a quick drizzle of sriracha on the chicken, for some kick, as well as a Thai-inspired vinaigrette made with canola oil, lime juice, garlic, ginger, minced lemongrass, rice wine vinegar, and a hint of Splenda.  Quite good, and just right for a light-ish Sunday night dinner before a jog.

So overall, this little curry recipe is quite versatile.  Amazing what Google will lead you to… I really had no idea that ran to instructional international cooking articles.  You learn something new every day!

Encouraging continuing gastronomic education through search engines,

This is what I deal with at every meal: cats who want my food.
Great companions, but terrible table manners. 


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