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):
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.
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.
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.