February 4, 2006

thai chicken curry & sour soup

Thailand is still in my mind. It’s one of the places I would love to visit again someday. Exploring the city and learning about the colorful and exotic culture was a valuable experience but I must say it was the food that was unforgettable. Got a chance to dine at the Royal Dragon restaurant, where part of the attractions were the foodservers in rollerskates, loaded with trays of food, constantly zooming by the tables at rather reckless speeds. Amazing. It was once listed in the Guinness Book as the world’s biggest restaurant. One superb dish our host ordered for us to try was whole crabs in a coconut milk-based sauce. Near the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok, we also sampled some delicious “streetfood” made fresh by order. I remember we had some kind of a veggie mix filling wrapped in crepe-like springroll wrappers which were made on a hot griddle right in front of us. The sugarcane juice we had with our crepes was quite refreshing. I also observed that there were many food stalls in open areas and parks everywhere where anyone can just sit and enjoy a meal. Bowls of chili sauce, dried red chili flakes and fish sauce were always within reach by everyone. It has been many years since that memorable trip, but I still look back with inspiration to relive the food adventure by attempting Thai cuisine in our kitchen. Somehow, the road to discovery led me to two of these favorite Thai dishes. I make this Thai chicken curry and sour soup ( tom ka gai ) combo on a regular basis now. The best thing is they're so quick to make with boneless chicken breast sliced into strips. The chicken strips may be marinated in lemon or lime juice for about a half hour in the fridge. Canned red thai curry pastes which are normally available in asian stores keep well in the fridge and it's good to have some available as needed. Coconut milk may be reduced to make the dish lighter. The chicken strips are simmered in a spicy and slightly sweet sauce combination. Red bell pepper strips are added last. Garnish with chopped cilantro or thai basil. The soup is a very light clear chicken broth enhanced with the flavors of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. I make it with or without coconut milk. I guess somehow travelling back to Thailand is possible anytime with these dishes.

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