There is this really amazing Thai restaurant on the Washington coast. The owner's, whose names I don't know, are a married couple. The Mister is American, the Missus, is from Thailand.
He's the schmoozer. She's the chef.
Together, they are a fantastic team. The Mister's job is to answer any questions like, "What does this mean?", "What can you recommend?", and "Are you seriously going to put squid on my plate?" He also provides the comedy relief. An all-around good guy who loves his wife.
And by his wealth of knowledge on every single dish, he loves her cooking too!
Problem is this. Don't try to wrangle a recipe from them.
I tried once. Never again. I was afraid that sweet little chef was going to put me on the menu!
I decided to try to recreate this dish. It may not look like the restaurant's curry dish, but the taste is pretty darn close.
And that's good enough for me.
Thai Peanut Curry
1 can coconut milk (not the light stuff)
3 Tb. organic sugar
2 Tb. red curry paste (found in the Asian section of the supermarket)
1 cup ground, roasted peanuts (no salt)
1/4 cup fish sauce (also found in the Asian section)
1 stalk of lemon grass, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tb. ginger root, smashed
3 Tb. natural peanut butter
1/2 t. lime juice (It may have been a little more)
1/2-3/4 t. hot chili oil (again, the Asian section)
1/2 t. sesame oil
1/2-1 t. red pepper flakes
2 bunches asparagus
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
sesame oil for wok
Before you begin, this dish is based on taste. Continually taste the sauce through the process and adjust the heat as needed. We like it warm. Not everyone does, so remember to taste!
In a medium saucepan, dump coconut milk, sugar, red curry paste, fish sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, hot chili and sesame oils and red pepper flakes. Whisk it together and set aside.
In a food processor, puree lemongrass, garlic and ginger root together. Make sure that the lemongrass has had the outer peel removed and it's been sliced thin. I found it easier to work with in smaller, 2 inch pieces. Not all of the lemongrass will puree, but that's okay, you've released the lemony goodness and that's what makes this dish special. Scrape the processed ingredients into the saucepan.
Heat sauce on medium until it starts to boil. Turn down heat to simmer and stir frequently so as not to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Meanwhile, slice chicken breasts into thin slices. I cut the breast down the middle first, then cut thinly. It's best if the chicken is slightly frozen. Pop it into the freezer for about 20 minutes if using fresh.
Heat wok with about 1 Tb. sesame or peanut oil in pan. Cook chicken until no longer pink.
While the chicken is cooking, cut asparagus into 2 inch lengths, then quarter them lengthwise. (Except for the tips, just toss them in whole!)
When chicken is done, add the sauce and stir well. Add about half of the ground peanuts. Turn the heat up to medium. Add the asparagus and stir, then place a lid on top for about 5 minutes.
Taste! Adjust spices. Taste again!
It's okay to moan. Nobody'll know. Except for me.
Serve over brown rice. Sprinkle ground peanuts on top. Serves 4-5 .