Massaman curry recipe hack

Last night, I wanted massaman curry and I wanted it bad. I love making Thai curries, but I do it the fast way, using curry paste. I love red curry with chicken and pineapple, or green with zucchini and tofu. My local grocery doesn’t stock massaman. My local Thai restaurant is run by great people, but I feel they don’t cook their curries long enough – crunchy potatoes or pumpkins kind of ruin the experience. Homemade is better. Especially since curries take under 30 minutes to make!

So, armed with red curry paste, Google, and blind faith, I hacked a massaman curry recipe that turned out shockingly well. The leap of faith was adding the spices listed in massaman recipes. It didn’t seem like they could be combined in a way that would taste good. Cardamom and cinnamon are for desserts, right? I associate cumin with Mexican food, although it is key to most Indian dishes. Massaman means Muslim, did you know? Massaman curry comes from Muslim people moving from India into Thailand and bringing their tastes in food with them. Turns out you can’t confine a spice to one type of cooking without missing out on some true deliciousness. America, there’s a lesson here.

The picture isn’t pretty (get used to it). But the taste was fucking awesome.

massaman-curry-homemadeMassaman Curry Made with Red Curry Paste and Extra Spices

I wrote in measurements, but really, I just eyeball amounts. Use your judgement and taste!

Thai curry basics:

Red curry paste – store bought. 1 tablespoon.

Coconut milk –  1 can. full fat, always

Broth or water (cooking the potatoes reduces the liquid, otherwise I don’t normally add extra liquid to my curries)

 

Additions to make the red curry taste like massuman:

Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp

Cardamom – 1/4 tsp

Tumeric – 1 tsp, or more

Cumin – 1/4 tsp

 

Peanut butter – 1 tablespoon. natural chunky.

 

The main ingredients:

1/2 sweet onion, sliced

Waxy potatoes – the smaller the pieces, the faster they cook. About a cup and a half, total.

A carrot, sliced thin

Protein of choice – I used pre-cut stew meat. 1/2 pound or so.

 

 

Finishing touches:

Lime juice – half a lime

Brown sugar – teaspoon

Fish sauce – tablespoon

 

Process:

Cook the curry paste, onion and additional spices over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet till the aroma is released and the onions are coated with spices. Add coconut milk a bit at a time and simmer, stirring to mix well. Add the peanut butter. When it is all stirred together, add the potatoes and a little broth or water. The potatoes should be submerged. Simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked – 5-10 min, depending on size – and add carrot and protein. Simmer until everything is cooked through. Stir and sip some wine. Add a little brown sugar, fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. Stir.

Serve with Thai jasmine rice. YUM.

 

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Chicken soup with bok choy, ginger & wild rice

I’m not a huge soup fan, but I had a cold, was avoiding noodles, and love ginger. This turned out better than expected. Before I made it, I Googled soup recipes…there is something about seeing that at some point, someone, somewhere has put the same general ingredients together with edible results that gives me courage in the kitchen, even if I almost always tweak what I find. I wasn’t sure about bok choy in soup, but it is really quite nice…and unlike the standard celery, is something I actually buy!

Ingredients

1 qt chicken broth

2 cups water

1 lb chicken breast, diced (I had boneless, skinless…must easier to cut up when mostly frozen.)

1/2 cup wild rice (whoa – I know! carbs! I’m going low, not no)

Baby bok choy, sliced crosswise (I used one package from Trader Joe’s, but could easily have added more)

Fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into little sticks (to taste – a couple inches?)

Garlic, sliced thin (3-5 cloves, again to taste)

—-

Fish sauce – a few splashes for a little more salty/unami flavor.

Rice vinegar – a few splashes. Lime juice would have worked too.

Sesame oil – a drizzle to finish.

chicken-bok-choy-soup

Method:

Heat up the broth in a medium to large pot. Add all the ingredients (except the last 3 – save those till the end to season to taste) and simmer until the rice is done. Flavor it up with the fish sauce, rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil as desired.

*On my first attempt, I cooked just the rice in the broth before adding the chicken and bok choy stems, etc., saving the bok choy leaves for last – but after making it again I really don’t think those extra steps added anything.

Notes for next time: add more bok choy and maybe some mushrooms. Shiitake!