The Spice of Life
Being part of a military family brings all sorts of new things to life. The Brother has spent a lot of time in Japan over the years so when we spend time with him we do a lot of Japanese cuisine. Remember the Tsunami a few years ago that basically annihilated Thailand? The Brother and his troops packed up and went to Thailand for relief efforts. While there, he fell in love with Thai food. When The Brother and Sister-In-Law moved to North Carolina one of the first things he did was sniff out a good Thai restaurant.
The Husband and I would alternate a few weekends a month with The Brother and family travelling between Ft. Bragg and Camp Lejeune. Of course, every trip included a trip to the local Thai House. Sticky rice (which I have a slight addiction to) was had by everyone as a starter. The inevitable curries would arrive and The Husband and The Brother would have man-up contests to see who could eat the spicier curry without guzzling the Singha brew, leaving The Sister-In-Law and I in stitches as sweat trickled down their foreheads.
Military bases are most always surrounded by wonderful hole-in-the wall restaurantsprimarily run by former military wives from foreignlands. The places are incredible. The food, as authentic as it can be. Try as I might, I cannot duplicate the incredible curry we had at the Camp Lejeune Thai place. I can come close though!
The Husband’s favorite is Chicken Panang Curry, but he likes the crunch of bamboo and the wholesomeness of broccoli… so I make it my own.
Cat’s Chicken Panang Curry
A Cat’s Pajamas Concoction
1 T vegetable oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cleaned and par-frozen
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T panang curry paste*
1 can coconut milk*
2 c fresh broccoli (frozen will work too)
1 can sliced bamboo shoots*
4 basil leaves (Thai basil if you can find it)
Cooked Brown Rice
I always find it easier to thinly slice chicken when it’s par-frozen. I usually clean it, then throw it in the freezer when I go for a walk or get some other things done for about an hour.
Slice the chicken as thinly as you can, I try to get it paper thin (see through). Heat the oil in a large stainless steel pot over medium-high heat. Quickly stir fry the chicken until lightly brown. Add onions and garlic and stir fry for another minute or so until tender. Reduce heat to low, add curry paste and stir so it coats the chicken and vegetables. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
Once the coconut milk has been simmering for about 10 minutes it’ll start to thicken. Add the broccoli and cook to your desired doneness (which for me is about 2 minutes). Add bamboo shoots and basil, warm through. Serve over hot cooked brown rice.
*Curry paste is increasingly becoming more available at Supermarkets. A Taste of Thai makes an excellent curry paste that is readily available in the Asian aisle at the grocery. Bamboo shoots and coconut milk are also found in the Asian aisle. I’ve tried several different coconut milks, and really, A Taste of Thai has the best flavor.
In other news, MSgt Gomer Pyle has finally decided to earn his keep. Since he loves Chicken Panang Curry he offered to do dishes that night. I love the fact that I have a camera in the kitchen these days… The Husband never would have believed me otherwise! Of course (for those of you that know me… you know this is exactly what happened), I took him out of the sink, sanitized it and then washed the dishes myself.