Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Green chicken curry May 8, 2009

Filed under: Chicken — smop @ 12:16 pm

Ever since I wasn’t able to buy Lee Kum Kee’s Portugese curry sauce about two years ago (I forget when), I stopped making curries.  A dish that I would have made roughly once a month, I completely stopped doing them.  It sounds bizarre, but without LKK’s Portugese curry sauce, a curry wasn’t a curry — despite all spices, the red and green curry pastes out there.  It was a time before I really knew about food.  Then, last year, having plenty of spare afternoons I got into watching cooking shows, and on cooking shows, they tend to make curries, and they make them using everything but LKK’s Portugese curry sauce.   Watching them make it, and hearing them them talk about it (as much as they were likely to be inflating how great it was) was enough to get me into cooking curries again, and since then curries have been put back on the dinner menu.

curry

Green chicken curry
(The amounts in this recipe are rough estimates as I usually make my meals off the cuff, though I’d say they are relatively good estimates.)

Ingredients

  • 400g chicken thigh, cut into roughly 2cm pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, optional
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, sliced
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1.5 cm pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon green curry paste
  • 300 mL coconut milk
  • 200 mL chicken stock
  • bit of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli oil or chilli flakes (as I like a bit more kick in my curries)

Method

  1. Marinade chicken in soy sauce, salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with cold water and place potatoes and carrots into the pot.  Bring the pot to a boil and turn the heat down so that it is just simmering.  Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.  Simmer for 15 minutes, drain and set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan on med-high heat, add the oil and swirl around to coat the pan.
  4. (Add the cornstarch, if using, to the chicken)
  5. Add the curry paste, being careful as it can splatter, and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken and let it seal on both sides.
  6. Add the onions, and once the onions have softened slightly, add the coconut milk and stock.
  7. Add the drained potatoes and carrots, and bring to a simmer.  Add about a teaspoon of sugar and the chilli oil or chilli flakes.
  8. Cooking for another 10-15 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.  Serve with steamed rice.

According to the cooking shows I watch, the purpose of frying off the curry paste is so that the fat from the paste is separated and floats to the top, thereby allowing the spices that are in the paste to get cooked and therefore to really come out with a punch.  As with the sugar, I’ve always been told by my mum that sugar enhances and complements a curry, the chemical basis for which I don’t know but I guess it would not be unlike the pairing of salt with chocolate.

This has become my standard recipe for a quick midweek curry and usually makes enough to last me for 3-4 meals.  Like all curries and foods packed with a myriad of flavours, with each day, the dish becomes more flavoursome.  The photo doesn’t do it justice to the intensity of flavour this dish has — when I go around to making it again, I might take another photograph of it.

 

Chicken salad February 12, 2009

Filed under: Chicken,Salad — smop @ 7:12 pm

Sorry for the lack of updates!  I have been cooking and taking photos, but have just been putting off the writing part.  So now, that I have still a couple more sections of my thesis to write, I decided it would be a good idea to blog.

These warmer days are seeing a comeback of the salads.  I love a good salad – the ideal salad is one that has a mixture of textures, and a balance of flavour and colour.  Often, the simpler the better it is.  For dinner, I usually make one with three different kinds of veg and some form of protein.  I don’t when I started having salads for dinner — it just sort of happened.  On the hotter days, I would put together a salad of spinach, rocket and beans in the morning, leave it in the fridge for the day so by the time I came back, I’d have something that would tempt my appetite on a warm evening; while in winter, I’d roast pumpkins / sweet potatoes / potatoes / carrots, throw them in with some salad leaves and grill a lamb steak or chicken thigh.  It was a quick and easy meal and I got hooked.

I started off using bought dressing for my salads, and sometimes I would try tweaking it to suit my own tastes.  After watching a lot of Jamie Oliver and reading food magazines and blogs, I ditched the Kraft / Paul Newman dressings,  bought some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and started experimenting with vinegarettes.  There is a heap of creative freedom with vinegarettes so long as you follow the 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar or lemon juice (just something acidic) – you can add mustard, honey, garlic, spices, etc … Earlier this year I started experimenting with natural yoghurt and in summer when mint, dill and basil are at their best, they make a delicious dressing (even if I say so myself!).

The other day I felt like something light for dinner, so a salad it was.

The veg

I like the peppery taste of rocket, sometimes I add baby spinach or a mesculan mix.  I have an aversion to iceberg lettuce.  If you’re using onions, the Spanish onions (the red ones) or white onions are preferable; and make sure to slice finely – nothing worse than a mouth full of onions and then onion breath.  Phwoar!  Add carrots, capscium (according to Martha Stewart, red caps with 3 knobs on the bottom are better for salads as they are sweeter; 4 knobs are better for cooking), mushrooms, roast veg … whatever!

The protein

This time it was 2 chicken thighs. I cooked it in the easiest way I know how to cook chicken (and also my favourite way) — there’s nothing to wash up, uses hardly any oil, and is extremely versatile.  This was actually the first thing I did first so I could use the cooking time to make the salad and dressing.  It’s all about being efficient!

Preheat oven to 180oC.  Line a baking tray with foil and then baking paper (hence the no washing up part).  Take the chicken thigh (breasts are too dry for my liking but if you like it, go for it), spray with olive oil and sprinkle any form of spice on both sides.  This time I used a Southern blend spice, but I’ve used Cajun, Moroccan, mixed herb, garlic salt, lemon pepper…

Pop in the oven till done (15-20 minutes depending on the size of the thighs).  Cool slightly then slice.

Allow the meat to cool slightly before adding it to the salad mix otherwise you’ll have wilted salad leaves, unless of course that’s what you’re going for.

Dressing

I hardly measure out the amounts of things I use which makes it difficult to write up – but basically it is (roughly) 3 parts oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, a semi crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper and chili flakes.   Let the garlic to infuse into the oil until the chicken is done, and when ready, discard the garlic clove, give the dressing a quick mix and pour over the salad leaves.

I could write up the other dressing recipes I use, but I think the fun part of making salads is making the dressing – taste and adjust and you’ll eventually find the right combination for your own tastes!