Scratch-made chicken curry is a thing of beauty, with far greater complexity than anything that comes out of a jar. Add supple rice noodles and an array of toppings, and consider me satisfied for the next week. Leela Punyaratabandhu's curry noodles with chicken from her new cookbook, Simple Thai Food, are especially good. She provides options for making the dish using store-bought curry paste and for making everything from scratch. If you've got the time, I'd definitely recommend going for the fully homemade version; her curry pastes pair especially well with the array of toppings for the dish.
Why I picked this recipe: Give me a bowl of curry and noodles, and I'm happy.
What worked: The finished curry is quite complex when made from scratch, and it clings to the rice noodles with comforting ease.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: Making the curry pastes from scratch is definitely a chore, but the fresh stuff really can't be beat. Consider making at least one of the two—you can freeze the leftovers for your next curry night. I made a second batch of the curry sans chicken and fish sauce (and using vegetable broth) for a vegan friend, and it was quite good. I'd suggest adding extra salt and lime juice, in addition to upping the tofu, if you choose to go that route.
Reprinted with permission from Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Leela Punyaratabandhu. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs (great) or breasts (okay)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk)
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste, store-bought or homemade
- 2 tablespoons kari (“yellow”) curry paste, store-bought or homemade
- 2 tablespoons packed grated palm sugar or 1 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 3 cups sodium-free chicken stock
- 6 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into matchsticks 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide and thick
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 8 ounces mung bean sprouts (about 4 cups)
- 8 ounces dried rice sticks, 3 millimeters (about 1/8 inch) wide
- 1/4 cup finely chopped preserved radish (optional)
- 1/4 cup fried shallots
- 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/3 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
- 2 hard- or medium-boiled eggs peeled and halved lengthwise
- Table Seasonings
- 2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges
- Fish sauce
- Granulated sugar
- Red chile powder
Cut the chicken against the grain and on the diagonal into thin, bite-size pieces. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
In a 1-gallon saucepan, combine the vegetable oil, coconut cream, and curry pastes, and stir over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and stir for about 1 minute, until the chicken is coated with the curry paste. Add the sugar, fish sauce, coconut milk, and stock, stir well, and bring to a very gentle boil. When the chicken is cooked through, after 3 to 4 minutes, stir in the tofu and curry powder, mixing well to distribute the curry powder evenly. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting; keep the curry warm.
Have ready 4 large individual serving bowls. Half fill another 1-gallon saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the bean sprouts, stir, and then immediately fish the bean sprouts out of the water with a wire-mesh skimmer, shaking off the excess water. Divide the bean sprouts evenly among the bowls. While the water is still boiling, add the dried noodles, stir to submerge, and cook until they have softened through, about 15 minutes. Taste a strand to make sure they are ready. Drain the cooked noodles through a large colander placed in the sink and rinse off all starchy
liquid that clings to them with running hot tap water. Shake off the water. Divide the noodles evenly among the bowls.
Immediately ladle the curry over the noodles, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle each serving with an equal amount of the radish, fried shallots, cilantro, and peanuts. Top each serving with an egg half. Serve immediately with the limes, fish sauce, sugar, and red chile powder for adding as desired.