Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.
My husband claims this is as good as what they serve at our local Thai restaurant, Sweet Basil. If nothing else, this will clear your sinuses! Here's what I did:
For the stirfry: I took two boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced them up, and stirfried them until cooked through in some sesame oil. When that was done, I added: some broccoli florets, 2 julienned carrots, some sliced mushrooms, a sliced onion, 1 can water chestnuts (sliced in half), 1 can bamboo shoots, and 1 can miniature cobs of corn (quartered). I obviously drained the canned stuff first! I stirfried this a few minutes until the broccoli turned bright green. Then I added the sauce.
For the sauce: Thai cuisine has a balance between salt, sweet, sour, and spicey. Here are the five ingredients for the sauce: red curry paste (spicey), fish sauce (salty), coconut milk, lime juice(sour), sugar (sweet). As you can see in the picture, I used Thai Kitchen brand fish sauce and curry paste, and I basically followed the recipe on the jar of paste when making this. But I don't like really spicey food, so I cut down the amount of curry paste. The approximate measurements were 2 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp curry paste, juice of 1 - 2 limes (mine weren't juicy so bear that in mind), 1 - 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 can (398mL) coconut milk. I whisked this all up in a glass liquid measuring cup.
I added the sauce and stirfried until heated through. I then added a couple of handfuls of freshly chopped cilantro, and garnished with bean sprouts. I served this over a bed of basmati rice.
Notes to the readership.
- Fish sauce smells RANK. The first time I bought it, back in my university days, I chucked it out before using it because I thought it stank too much. But, those were my salad days and I was concentrating on things other than food. Do not sniff this or you may be put off! But it tastes great and is a must for any Thai dish.
- Make sure you buy coconut milk for cooking rather than baking. The baking variety is much thicker. Also noteworthy about coconut milk is that it isn't so bad for the waistline: 1/4 cup contains only 60 calories and 1 gram of carbs.
- Re. the sauce, do everything to your own taste. My husband likes this much spicier, and if you like it hot, add more curry paste. When you're mixing the ingredients, put them in a glass measure as I did and taste the sauce first before adding it to the stirfry, so that you can adjust it at will. Also, many Thai sauces tend to be more soupy as they didn't adopt thickeners when their cuisine was evolving, so don't do anthing stupid like adding cornstarch to this - it isn't necessary.
- The key to any good stirfry is having everything chopped up and ready to go before even starting to cook. This is essential! You don't want to be chopping one thing up as another cooks. That is a recipe for stirfry disaster! Also essential is that you ensure that your ingredients are approximately the cut the same size and thickness, to promote even cooking.
- You do not need a fancy wok to stirfry, although it's more fun. A cast iron skillet or large frying pan is perfectly fine - as long as you don't get overzealous and start flinging your veggies around as you stirfry.
- Always add the cilantro last. It's a fresh herb and very delicate. Overcooking it will only kill it.