It is way too tempting to order in for dinner in New York City, particularly when the temperature outside is 12° and any of 200 or so nearby restaurants will bring food to you at the click of the button.
But now that Spring has arrived it’s time to muster up a little resilience against the lure of take-out containers and bicycle delivery men. In the name of saving a little more money to go towards our dream projects, Brian and I sat down a week ago and decided that our beloved takeout had to go. You see, even though we eat well, we still have a general budget of how much we spend on food each week; our weekly $30+ ramen/sushi/thai delivery indulgence ends up tacking an extra 20% onto that budget. Listen guys, if I learned anything from my job in finance, it’s that you don’t want drive up your expenses.
Well, delivery dinner may be so last week, but that doesn’t mean the food we had delivered has to go, as well. Recently I found myself craving some warm and spicy thai green curry, and so I sent myself into the kitchen to recreate this take-out favorite. As I was planning the dish, it occurred to me that I might be able to improve it a bit by giving the protein some respect and cooking it separately. For the rest of the dish, I played it fairly traditional, staying true to the flavors I craved – peppery ginger, fragrant lemongrass, creamy coconut milk, and tender Asian vegetables. What resulted was a lush bowl of thai curry, topped with a bit of succulent roast chicken that had a perfectly crispy skin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Thai Green Curry with Crispy Roast Chicken, Mushrooms, and Bok Choy
I loved this curry served on its own, almost as more of a soup. However, if you feel like you’re missing some starch, or if you just can’t imagine having curry without anything to sop up all the delicious liquid, go ahead and serve it over rice.
I noted in the ingredients that the fish sauce is optional… but saying so pains me. I made this dish twice, once forgetting the fish sauce and once including it, and I have to say that the fish sauce really brings the dish together. It’s like the anchovies in Caesar salad – you don’t know that they’re there, but it definitely doesn’t taste right without them. Having said that, if you’re the type that is iffy about the idea of anchovies in your salad dressing, then you can certainly leave the fish sauce out of your curry. You can find fish sauce (nam pla) in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores.
2 chicken thighs, skin-on and preferably bone-in
2 tbsp butter or ghee
sea salt and red chili flakes
1 14 oz can coconut milk
2 tbsp green curry paste
1 finger-sized piece of ginger, cut into 3 strips vertically
2 stalks lemongrass, split lengthwise and bashed with the blunt side of a heavy knife
2 tsp. fish sauce (optional)
1 cup chicken broth
2 large handfuls shiitake mushrooms, sliced (substitute cremini or button, if necessary)
2 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
small handful basil leaves, sliced into ribbons, to garnish (optional)
2 lime wedges, to garnish
Sear and roast the chicken: Preheat the oven to 375º and place a pan over high heat. Allow the pan to heat for several minutes until it’s blazing hot. Meanwhile, coat the chicken thighs with the butter or ghee and season the skin with salt and chili flakes. (The best way to do this is to allow one hand to get messy with the butter and use the other hand for seasoning.) Place the chicken thighs skin side down in the hot pan and season the upward facing side. Sear for two or three minutes until the skin gets crispy, then flip and cook for two more minutes on the opposite side. Remove the chicken to a baking dish and place in the oven to finish cooking, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the curry: While the chicken is cooking, place a saucepan over medium-high heat on the stove. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Allow to reduce by 1/3. After the coconut milk has concentrated a bit you can whisk in the curry paste. Add the ginger slices, bashed lemongrass stalks, fish sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes. Once the ginger and garlic have steeped and fully perfumed the curry base, fish them out with tongs.
Add the vegetables: Set the chicken aside to cool a bit after it has finished cooking in the oven. With the curry base over medium heat, add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for about three minutes, until they begin to get tender. Add the bok choy to the curry, cover, and allow to steam for another two or three minutes. The curry is ready when a fork will pierce the bok choy with little resistance.
Serve: Slice the chicken thighs, discarding bones. (Actually, don’t discard – toss them in a freezer bag for future broth-making!) Serve the curry in large bowls, over rice or on its own. Place the chicken meat over the curry, and garnish with basil and lime wedges.
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