“Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet” has become our go-to resource for Southeast Asian cooking over the past year or so. Nearly every recipe is fantastic, and the pictures and background info are top-notch as well. It’s not a new book (published in 2000), but you need to add it to your Christmas wish-list. Basil chicken, pho, spicy greens and this little number below – everything’s tremendous. You can thank me later.
Chicken and Potato Curry (serves 8)
1 1/2 pounds chicken (breast, thigh or combination of both)
Salt and ground pepper
2 lbs. potatoes
2 cups water
3 dried Thai chiles, soaked in warm water
2 T minced garlic
5 small shallots, coarsely chopped
2 T vegetable oil
2 T Thai fish sauce
2 cups coconut milk, 1/2 cup of thickest milk set aside
8 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 cup chopped scallions (optional)
1 cup cilantro leaves
2-3 T store-bought red curry paste, just in case
Cut chicken into 1 1/2″ pieces and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing the potatoes and spice paste. Chop potatoes into 1 1/2″ cubes and place in a pot with 2 cups of salted water. Bring to boil and cook for 8 minutes, then remove from heat.
Chop chiles and pound in a mortar with shallots, garlic and a pinch of salt. You can do this in a food processor if you don’t have a mortar and pestle (or sense of decency). Set aside.
Heat a large pot or wok and add oil, then stir-fry the chile paste briefly, until starting to brown. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently for several minutes. Add fish sauce and cook until chicken is nearly cooked through, approximately 6 minutes (if using a combination of light and dark meat, start with the dark first, then add the light).
Add 1 1/2 cups of the thinner coconut milk, 1 1/2 cups of the potato water and the potatoes themselves to the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, the cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
Add the lime leaves and 1/2 cup of remaining thicker coconut milk and return to simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Note: This is where we kicked it up with pre-made red curry sauce…it was a touch bland before that.
Stir in scallion greens and transfer to large bowl, garnishing with cilantro and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve with rice and pass a small bowl of minced Thai bird chiles loosened with a few dashes of fish sauce for doctoring to individual preferences.