Tonight’s dinner. It takes a bit too long to make on a weekday: it’s not as complicated as the list of ingredients might make you think, but it does take a little while and requires you to juggle a few skillets. Nice if you’re looking for something a bit special to cook during the weekend; also, it is a rare guest in my experience who won’t be pleased by being served this.
It’s from The Elephant Walk Cookbook; I trust the restaurants continue to serve the populace of the Boston area well. I’ve modified the recipe lightly to reflect the way we actually cook it; the most significant difference is that the original recipe calls for a couple of pounds of whole chicken pieces. (I’m just not into large pieces of meat.) I did, however, leave all of the esoteric ingredients intact, despite the fact that we rarely or never use several of them; please don’t let their absence from your local supermarket dissuade you from cooking this recipe. We did use star anise once when cooking this, but I didn’t notice a difference; we’ve never used shrimp paste whith it, and while I imagine I probably would notice a difference there, our kitchen isn’t well enough ventilated to want to play around with the stuff. (Rotting fish; yum!)
Cambodian Chicken Curry, from The Elephant Walk Cookbook
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and sliced
3 dried New Mexico (or Anaheim) chiles, soaked, seeded, and deveined
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger (or galangal, if you can find it)
1 1/2 cinnamon sticks, cracked
4 whole star anise
9 cardamom seeds
1 small Asian nutmeg
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup water
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro stems
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 – 1 1/2 lb chicken breast
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp fish sauce
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 – 1 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
First, make the paste: heat oil in skillet, and add the rest of the paste ingredients. Fry for about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to move it to a blender, and combine with water, cilantro, turmeric, and shrimp paste; blend until smooth.
In a large, heavy pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil, add half the coconut milk, and cook for 2-3 minutes. And curry paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken, onion, fish sauce, sugar, and salt, and cook for 5 minutes. Add rest of coconut milk, and continue to cook.
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup oil in a large skillet; fry potatoes until golden brown. Add them to the main pot when done; cook for a few more minutes to let the sauce pervade the potatoes.
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