Adventures in Bachelor Cookery, part 5: Thai Green Chicken Curry

It's been ages since I've written-up any cookery experiments here. This doesn't mean I've stopped experimenting with cooking, I've just been up past my eyes in customer-facing projects and stuff related to other milieus, including a bunch of radical security research which I'm not prepared to blog here quite yet - specifically, because I need to be sure I've not missed something incredibly obvious, and if I haven't, then the patents need to be filed first :-).

Nonetheless...

Having done a bunch of Japanese (or "Occidental pseudo-Japanese with pretensions" ) cooking courtesy of the Wagamama cookbook and my own imagination, I decided to branch out a little.

I really love Thai Green Chicken Curry. Also, having enjoyed eating fairly regularly in The Wrestlers in Cambridge for years (the landlord married a Thai lass, and she does most of the cooking) I suspect - just a little bit - that I've picked up one or two tricks. Nam Pla Prik, as discussed in Part 4, is one of them :-).

Anyway, on to the curry. This will do for either a smallish dinner party, or up to three days for a hungry bachelor...

Roughly slice a couple of chicken breasts, having trimmed the fat off first. You don't need to get particularly large quantities of chicken, a little meat goes a long way in these recipes. Put the pieces on a big plate, so they don't stick together.

Chop a couple of good-sized peppers up fairly finely - I tend to go for one red, one green.

Slice a generous handful of baby corn once lengthwise, grab a handful of mangetout.

Peel (via whichever mechanism you choose - I got an excellent tip from Alec which involves a flexible plastic tube...) and finely chop as many cloves of garlic as you see fit. I like garlic, so I tend to put 5 or 6 cloves in.

Also, peel (Bloody Big Knife being needed here) a piece of ginger root about the size of your thumb plus 25%, and finely slice.

Grab some bamboo shoots - Amoy do some very good ones, tinned. Pop a can of these, and wash them out.

I'm a big fan of shiitake mushrooms, so a bunch of these get fairly coarsely chopped too.

Grab some beanshoots too - a good fistful. Tesco do them bagged and fresh, and they work just fine.

I'm still pretty new to cooking, so as I'm looking at a plethora of ingredients here, I'd like to mention how on Earth I manage to marshal them all. Tesco sell little Tupperware-ish dishes - square plastic containers about 5 inches on a side, with lids which I never use - for 35 pence each. I really don't think I could do without them, and they are wonderful for lining ingredients up. I have 8 of them, just to be on the safe side, and stack each of them full of freshly-prepped and sliced ingredients before bringing them to within easy arm's reach of my hob just before I crank the burners up :-).

Oil your wok, and (hey, you know the drill now) whack it on a cranked-up burner until the oil starts smoking. Be sure to start your extractor fan and / or open your kitchen windows before the next bit, or you'll find your home's fire alarms going off.

The chicken goes in first. Stir it up vigorously, searing it off until all the sides of all the meat are blanched white.

Add a little (less than .25 pint) of water.

Chuck the garlic and ginger in.

Bring everything to the boil; let it roll on the boil for maybe a minute, stirring hard so things don't stick.

Here's where I really cheat horribly, again. Tesco do an excellent Thai curry paste range, called "Thai Taste". Pop a pot of the green curry variety from this range, and pile a couple or three of very heaped tablespoonfuls in. The stuff will keep in the fridge for a month. I've since bought sufficient kit to produce my own pastes (another entry on my experiments will happen here another time), but this stuff does nicely.

Let everything heat up and roll for a couple of minutes, again, while stirring madly.

Add a whole big can of coconut milk. Believe me, when it comes to cooking Thai curries, coconut milk is the one ingredient you cannot skimp on - I've tried, and what comes out is Not Good. My local Tesco stocks "Bart" coconut milk, and that does very nicely.

This is a good time at which to start cooking your Generic Fried Rice, to go with the curry.

Turn the heat on the curry down to a gentle simmer. Pay attention to the rice for a few minutes, until you have the lid on the rice pan with the heat down. The curry will happily survive the experience.

Chuck the rest of the veg in the curry at intervals of a couple of minutes, starting with the corn, following with the beanshoots, the peppers next, the mangetout next, mushrooms after that, and ending with the beansprouts as the rice cooks. If the beansprouts are in the mix on the burner for more than 2 minutes, you've got it wrong; in fact, it's perfectly reasonable to throw the raw beanshoots on the top when you divvy up onto the plate(s).

Turn the heat off under the curry. Do "the egg thing" with the Generic Fried Rice and finish it off.

Divvy everything up.

Add Nam Pla Prik as a table condiment, to taste.

The choice of what to serve drinks-wise with this is fairly moot. A dry white wine is conventional, but as a tip of the hat to The Wrestlers, I tend to go with a couple of bottles of Old Speckled Hen :-).

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