Thai Curry with Chicken and Eggplant

by Food Hound on August 26, 2013

in Main Dishes, Meat, Soups and Stews

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Welcome to meat and vegetable heaven.

I love a good salad, and I love a good soup.  But man, oh man, oh man, nothing shakes things up like a Thai curry.  It’s Thai penicillin. ‘But,’ you say, ‘Thai curry falls under the take-out category, right?  Surely the only people who make it are those people who swear it’s just as easy to make your own spring rolls in 48 easy steps than it is to get an order at your local Chinese joint, right?’

Wrong!  Thai curry a friend of the people.  So, so easy to make.  And I promise- it will taste exactly like what you get in a restaurant.  Better, even.  Read on, lemongrass lovers!

One of the biggest misconceptions is that Thai curry involves all kinds of ingredients that are hard to find.  True, many of them involve things like wild kaffir lime leaves (uhhhh, what?), but that’s the beauty of Thai curry- it’s totally customizable.  No wild kaffir lime tree growing in your backyard?  No biggie, just stir in basil leaves.  If you hate heat, go for red curry.  Love heat, pick green. Want to drink coconut milk by the can?  Nirvana awaits!

The notion that Thai curries are totally customizable is actually the reason I made it in the first place.  I love Thai food times a million to infinity and beyond, but I had never tried making curry at home.  I tore out a feature from Fine Cooking a few years ago that went step-by-step through the process, but for some reason I never tried it.  Then I was sent home from my CSA with a box full of Japanese eggplants which, while cute, were complete strangers to me.  The flavor was like standard eggplant, but the long, skinny shape made it a poor candidate for grilling, baba ghanoush-making, and anything other than a large batch of ratatouille, of which I was already becoming bored (#firstworldproblems).  I was already in possession of the knowledge that eggplant simmered in Asian flavors made for the most delicious of vegetables, so… Thai curry happened.  So happy for me.  So happy for you.

Thai Curry with Chicken and Eggplant
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 14-oz cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ c red curry paste
  • 1 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6⅛"-thick slices of fresh ginger
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into 4-inch pieces and bruised (aka thwacked up and down the stalk with the blunt end of a knife to release the flavor)
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs, cut into ¼"-thick, bite-sized strips
  • 6 cups total of eggplant, onion and bell pepper- all cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ¼ c light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 c loosely packed basil leaves
  1. Shake the cans of coconut milk well. Heat 1 c coconut milk over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half. It may or may not separate- either is fine.
  2. Add curry paste, whisk to combine, then whisk constantly for another minute. Whisk in the remaining coconut milk and the broth. Bring to a simmer, then add ginger, lemongrass, chicken, veggies, brown sugar, and fish sauce (yes, all of them at once!). Stir well to combine and allow mixture to come back to a simmer/low boil. Allow it to simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are crisp-tender.
  3. Remove the curry from heat. Season to taste with salt, and stir in basil leaves. Remove the lemongrass stalks and ginger before serving (but if you have trouble fishing them out, it's no biggie- just alert your dinner companions).
This seems like a ridiculous amount of food for four servings, but remember this... 1. We eat a lot, 2. It's a complete meal, and 3. I typically don't serve it over rice. It would easily serve 6, maybe even 8, if you wanted to serve it over some fragrant jasmine rice (YUM!).
I am very much a lemongrass snob, and the good stuff is not easy to find. Usually you get dried-out stalks that have been sitting in your grocery store for DAYS, and that's no bueno. Find your Asian grocery store for the best quality! I did!
I cannot WAIT to test this out with different meats, curries pastes, vegetables/fruits (especially sweet potato and pineapple, but always always with eggplant), and herbs (especially cilantro). I might even seek out those wild lime leaves if I'm feeling extra frisky.
This is totally appropriate for a weeknight meal. Chopping 6 cups of vegetables goes very quickly, and once all your prep is done, it comes together in less than 15 minutes of cooking.


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