Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thai One On

One of the greatest joys of living in Manhattan is that you can have any cuisine your little multicultural heart desires delivered to your door in under an hour. You can eat Mexican on Monday and Turkish on Thursday, and send your stomach all the way around the globe in between. But all that taste bud travel adds up, and by the time you tally up your delivery bill, it seems you might as well have really gone on vacation.
The good news is, that in these days of trimming back expenses, you don't have to
settle for mundane meals. A little imagination and ingenuity (and canned coconut milk) goes a long way. Here's how to make an easy and deelish Thai dish yourself in half an hour (it might not be totally authentic, but your stomach won't know the difference). Feel free to eat it with disposable chopsticks out of a take-out container, for that just-like-delivery feeling. Next stop: India.

Green Thai Curry

You will need:
Basmati or Jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk (unshaken)
2 tbsp green chili paste (see photo at right- available at Whole Foods, and most ethnic food stores)
2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil if you have it)
2 tbsp fresh ground ginger
1 large zucchini cut into rounds
2 handfuls of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 large yellow onion sliced into long slivers
1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into long slivers
6-8 small red or white potatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds removed, minced
1 cup frozen peas
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 handful fresh basil, chopped
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (optional)
salt and pepper

What you do:

1. Follow the instructions on the bag or box of rice to get that cooking, as it will take the longest.

2. If you are using the chicken (and I should mention that it is equally delicious without it, and even more healthful), heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large, deep pan or pot. Slice the breasts crosswise into 3/4 inch strips, and season with salt and pepper, and add to the pan, cooking until opaque and slightly browned. Put the chicken on a plate and set aside.

3. Into the same pan or pot, put the remaining olive oil, and the garlic,ginger, jalapeño, green curry paste, and just the milky solid part at the top of the can of coconut milk (to get this, DO NOT shake the can and open carefully with a can opener. Scoop out the solid, which will have risen to the top, with a spoon, leaving the watery portion in the can to be used later). Stir the ingredients together in the pot until they are well mixed, and start to bubble. Add the vegetables (except the peas) and cover over low heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. When the vegetables seem to be nearly cooked through (you will be able to pierce the potato easily with a fork), add the watery part of the coconut milk, the peas, most of the herbs (save a little for garnish) and the chicken to the pot. Cook until the peas are bright green and cooked through, maybe 1 minute.

Serve over rice and garnish will remaining herbs. You'll have the Thai of your life.

photo credit:

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