Making Curry

Thai food is, hands down, my favorite food. Pad thai? Love it. Curry? Love it too. The difference between these two dishes is that I can’t make the former on my own, but I LOVE making the latter for myself because I can get my hands on something already made for me. The thing with Thai food is that it takes a dozen different ingredients, all of which I would never in a million years buy as a staple in my fridge and cupboard because they’re too damn unique. What else am I going to use lemongrass for except for curry? Where the hell would I get my hands on gangalan in the first place? While there are a few amazing restaurants around me that will cook it for me, why not try it for myself if I can?

I live in a predominately Asian community, so luckily there are some Asian food markets around where I can get 1) curry paste (of every variety) and 2) canned curry pre-made for me. This is the stuff I buy (it must be good because it popped up first on Google images):

Image

You know it’s legit good curry when it’s not packaged the way other American canned food is packaged. You know what I mean. The label is made of this glossy paper that makes you think it was printed out of an Epson inkjet printer and the translation on the side isn’t written in the best English. You know how the best Chinese places have terrible English translations on the menu? Bingo, you’ve hit the motherlode.

Anyway, so this stuff is delicious. It even comes with potatoes IN THE CAN. If you know how long it takes to make potatoes, you’ll appreciate this (a whole potato can take more than an hour to cook through). All you really need to add is chicken and rice, but I like to guss it up a little more than that– I add string beans, too (fancy, amiright?). Remember, it’s a good rule of practice to start cooking the stuff that will take longer to cook to make sure everything is cooked at the same time.

Ingredients:
2 cans of curry
1 lb of string beans
1 chicken thigh
1 chicken breast

1) Put two cans of curry in a medium sized pot and bring to a simmer on very low heat. Keep in mind that it needs to be big enough for all that curry, chicken, and string beans. It’s better to use a pot that’s too big rather than too small.

2) Rinse and dice the chicken into cubes. When preparing chicken, it’s important to know that meat shrinks when it’s cooked. What you think is a good sized raw chicken thigh for one is closer to 3/4 of that after it’s been cooked. I like to combine one breast (white meat) with a thigh (dark meat) to get some variety.
When rinsing, be sure to use lukewarm water. Don’t use water that’s too hot or it’ll start to cook, which will make the outside tougher.
Then, cut off the skin and as much of the fat as you can. This is optional since some people like fat.
Finally, dice them up as close to a cubic inch as you can. For a chicken breast, consider slicing it half lengthwise (aka butterflying the chicken, pictured below) before dicing.This makes for a good bite-sized piece. Add to the curry.

butterflying chicken http-::www.goodhousekeeping.com:cm:goodhousekeeping:images:preparing-chicken-breasts-butterfly-pounding-3-ghv-325-86204037

3) Prepare the string beans. Rinse them (RINSE EVERYTHING!) and then snap (or cut) off the tips on both ends. If you look at it, you can see that the ends are likely going to be tough to eat or brown-looking. Then cut them into about inch and a half segments. Assuming the chicken has been cooking in the simmering curry for about 10-15 mins, add the beans to the curry and continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes. You’ll know when it’s done if you sacrifice a piece of chicken and cut it in half. White all the way through means it’s cooked. A little translucent (aka see-through) or pink means it needs to be cooked for another 5 minutes or so.

4) Serve over rice or pasta. Rice is more authentic, there are a lot of minute-made rices and microwave rice varieties available. Rice cooker stuff takes much longer.

Advertisements

Fresh Artichoke

Hey, guys, so after preparing, cooking, and subsequently devouring an artichoke, I realized that I could have used it to make a blog post and now I regret eating it in such haste! My initial reaction after finishing would be similar to what I probably thought about my first shrimp. Really good, but a lot of work considering how little meat it had. For those of you who don’t know, an artichoke looks like this:

artichoke

It was 2 for $3 at my local ShopRite and I picked one up based on color, much like I do for other produce. Beware, though, the tips of the leaves have thorns, so don’t do what I did and grab at them like an ogre. Honestly, I don’t know why you’d put them tip out; that’s just setting you up for failure!

When I was ready to eat it, I filled a deep pot with an inch (or a knuckle, to eyeball) of water and boiled it. To prepare these bad boys, I cut off those leaf tips (sweet, sweet revenge). The thorns are allegedly harmless once it’s cooked, but cutting them off makes it easier to work with. Once that’s done, I cut off about 3/4 of an inch off the tip and most of the stem, leaving about an inch of that.

Then I slivered a few cloves of garlic and tucked them under the leaves. Once the water was boiling, I put my vegetable steamer in the pot followed by the artichoke, stem down. Left the fire on high and cooked for about 3o mins*. If you try this, don’t worry that the color is darker, that’s normal! I knew it was done when the outer leaves came off easily.

I personally love dipping sauces, so I made one by melting 1 part butter with 3 parts lemon juice. I read an article that mentioned mayo with balsamic vinegar. If you don’t like dipping sauces, consider slipping some slices of butter with the slivers of garlic before you steam the whole artichoke.

Try it out and tell me how you did!

SITES I USED:
http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cook_and_eat_an_artichoke/
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/artichokes/

*Cooking temperature itself isn’t important, it’s about getting food at the correct internal temperature. Click here for a handy chart on food temperatures by FoodSafety.gov. In this case, it doesn’t matter how high the heat is, as long as the center is cooked. Too high of a heat and the outside leaves aren’t going to taste the same as the inside. Too low heat and it’ll take forever, but it’ll get there eventually! Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but food safety temperatures are 165 degrees Fahrenheit at the most.