QUICK FIX CURRY: MASSAMAN THAI RED CURRY
I love curry because—at its essence—curry is comfort food. It’s stewed meat and vegetables and gravy seasoned with a myriad of flavors. Curry covers all the bases when it comes to flavor—savory and sweet, spicy and sour, and everything between. The firm chew of al dente vegetables, the melt in your mouth unctuousness of the meat, and the crunch and flavor punch of the garnish…need I go on?
“Curry” is a blanket term for dishes that are hyper-regional. One of my favorites is Massaman, a red curry from Southeast Asian that’s influenced by Middle Eastern and Indian flavors. Red curry paste is made from red chilis, coriander, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, peppercorns, garlic, and, sometimes, shrimp paste. If you were so inclined, you could make red curry paste from scratch (provided all the ingredients are readily available). But it’s certainly just fine to make curry at home using paste found on the shelves of your local grocery. It’s pretty easy to find and doesn’t usually require a speciality store.
Another shortcut is using ground or minced meat, such as pork or chicken. A lot of curry dishes utilize tough cuts meant for braises. But using a ground meat mixture can cut back on the cook time quite a bit and help make home made curry a week-night staple.
Ground Chicken Massaman Curry for 4
1 pound ground chicken
1 T Kosher salt
2 T coconut oil, or grapeseed oil
1 2-3 oz package of red curry paste
1 can coconut milk
1 onion, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 potato, peeled and diced, 1/2 in cubes
1 red bell pepper, julliened
2 clove garlic, minced
1 T fish sauce
Juice of one lime
2 sprigs basil
2 T chopped roasted peanut
2-4 T chopped fresh bird’s eye chiles (optional)
- In a large pot or skillet over medium high heat, brown the chicken, seasoned with the Kosher salt. Once the meat is browned, remove it from the pan and set aside.
- Add the coconut or grapeseed oil back to the pan along with the curry paste.
- Cook the curry paste for a couple of minutes until it is a bit rusty in color and well toasted. Add the coconut milk and stir until the mixture is well incorporated.
- Add the carrot and potato and cook for a about 5 minutes on medium.
- Return the meat to the pan along with the bell pepper, garlic and onion. Cook until the potatoes and carrots are just starting to soften, stirring occasionally.
- Season the curry with the fish sauce, lime juice and basil. Some people will like less fish sauce than others. Add a little at a time to season to your liking.
- If everyone at the table likes it a little spicy, go ahead and add some of the bird’s eye chilis. Bird’s eye chilis are tiny but they pack in a lot of heat. A little can go a long way, so be sure not to go beyond a heat profile that is comfortable for you. Anyone that wants a super spicy curry can garnish with the extra chilis if desired.
- Serve the curry on top of steamed basmati or jasmine rice, topped with the crushed peanuts, extra chilis and torn basil leaves.