Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Chicken and eggplant is a classic Thai combination. When stir-fried with a curry paste, it makes for an easy meal. This recipe took me less than 20 minutes from start to finish. I served it with some Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (Brown Basmati). So easy.

I used Maesri brand Prik Khing curry paste, which I bought at an Asian market, when I made this. I’m a huge fan of Maesri curry pastes.

Prik Khing Curry Paste

You can use your favorite Thai curry paste. Thai Kitchen makes red and green curry pastes and they are easily found in the ethnic section of some grocery stores. If using Thai Kitchen curry paste, you probably want to reduce the amount of curry paste. I would suggest with starting with 2 teaspoons and going from there if you want it spicier.

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I don’t always have access to fresh Thai basil. When I do get Thai basil, I chop what I don’t use immediately in a food processor and freeze it. I just break off a piece of the frozen Thai basil and add it to my dish while I’m cooking it.

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Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry

2 tablespoons oil (I used canola, but coconut would be good too)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons Thai curry paste (I used Prik Khing curry paste)
1 large unpeeled Japanese eggplant (or 2 small), sliced (about 1/4-inch) diagonally
1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar
fresh Thai basil, torn (about a handful)

Heat the oil in a wok (or skillet) over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until it is just starting to lose it’s pink color. Add the curry paste and stir-fry until the chicken is coated. Add the eggplant and bell pepper. Season with fish sauce and sugar. Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through, and the eggplant is cooked to your preference. I like mine tender, but not mushy. Add the Thai basil and take off the heat. Serve with hot rice.

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry 2

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Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

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The cucumbers in my garden are doing well this year. It makes me happy because I really love cucumbers. I especially love cucumber salads. This is my favorite one. It’s adapted from a recipe in one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking by Mai Pham (Prima Publishing, 1996).

I often make this salad using regular cucumbers found at the grocery store. Peel and then remove the seeds before slicing. Most of the time I make this salad only using cilantro since it’s an easy-to-find and inexpensive herb. In the summer months, I also use mint and Thai basil that I grow in my garden. I love the combination of cilantro, mint, and basil in Southeast Asian foods. Use any one of these herbs or a combination when you make this salad.

Spicy Thai Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers (English cucumbers work well), cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 – 3 jalapenos or other hot chile (to taste), seeded, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
fresh herb(s), to taste
….fresh cilantro, chopped
….fresh mint leaves, chopped
….fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine the sliced cucumbers, onion, jalapenos, and herb(s) in a bowl. In another bowl (or measuring cup) combine the rice vinegar, sugar, water, and salt. Pour the mixture over the cucumber salad. Mix to combine. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving.


Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

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I really liked this soup. The ingredient list is kind of long, but it results in a very flavorful soup. This soup doesn’t contain sugar, gluten (unless you use soy sauce), or dairy.

I love Southeast Asian inspired foods, so I pretty much always have the ingredients in this recipe on hand. I don’t use ginger on a weekly basis, so when I do buy ginger, I peel and mince it and then freeze it in 2 tablespoon- size portions. If I happen to find fresh lemongrass (usually at Asian markets) I buy a couple of bunches and cut it up and put in freezer bags for later use. I always keep a jar of sambal oelek (easily found at Asian markets) in the pantry. I like Huy Fong Foods brand (they also make that sriracha in the bottle with a rooster on it)

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, slivered
8 ounces beef, thinly sliced (I like sirloin)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in 2 cups of hot water, stems removed, and sliced (save the soaking water for the soup)
6 cups of beef broth (or more if you like a more brothy soup)
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
8 ounces snow peas, ends trimmed, and sliced lengthwise (sugar snap peas would work too)
2 tablespoons fresh lemongrass, finely minced
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (a ground chili paste)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce, which contains wheat)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 small head bok choy, root end removed and roughly chopped (or spinach)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
rice noodles, cooked (I like rice vermicelli)
fresh cilantro

In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they start to soften. Add the beef and continue to sauté until the beef is no longer pink. Add the garlic, ginger, and mushrooms and sauté for 4 more minutes.

Add the beef broth, mushroom soaking liquid, carrot, snow peas, lemongrass, sambal olek, tamari, ground coriander, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chopped bok choy and simmer 10 more minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the sesame oil.

Serve soup in bowls over cooked rice noodles. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.


Thai Green Curry with Eggplant

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant

I have been getting some beautiful eggplants in my Pinckney’s Produce CSA box the past couple of weeks. I love making Thai curries and eggplant is one of my favorite curry ingredients. Using canned Thai curry paste and canned coconut milk, this eggplant curry couldn’t be easier.

I keep a variety of Thai curry pastes and canned coconut milk in the pantry for quick meals. The Maesri curry pastes are so amazing and functional. There are many different flavors available. My favorites are the red curry, green curry, prik khing, and masaman varieties. You can find Maesri curry pastes at Asian markets. I have even seen them on amazon.com at triple the price (or more) than what they sell for at Asian markets. If you have never been in an Asian market, you should go. They are fascinating places with all kinds of ingredients you have never seen before at really good prices. I have left Asian markets with 6 bags of groceries that cost me less than $40. Many of the ingredients in this recipe are easily found at an Asian market, but may be harder to find at the grocery store. So, use this recipe as an excuse to explore an Asian market.

Here is a picture of the Maesri green curry paste:

Maesri Green Curry Paste

My favorite coconut milk is Chaokoh brand. Here’s a picture:

Chaokoh Coconut Milk

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant

.1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
.1 4 ounce can Maesri green curry (This amount will make a very hot curry. You may want to start with 1/4 or 1/2 of the can and then add more if you like. It’s easier to add heat than take it away.)
.1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk (shake the can before opening)
.1 large Italian eggplant (or 2 smaller ones), ends removed and cut into bite-size chunks (you can use any kind of eggplant, really)
.1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
.1 8 ounce can of bamboo shoots (sliced), rinsed and drained (you can also use fresh slice bamboo shoots that can be found in the produce section at Asian markets)
.1 tablespoon brown sugar (white sugar or coconut palm sugar is fine too) or to taste
.1 tablespoon of fish sauce (also found at an Asian market – my favorite brand is 3 Crabs, but other brands can sometimes be found in the Asian section at the grocery store) – leave this ingredient out to make this a vegetarian dish
.1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1/4 cup chopped Thai basil and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro)

In a wok (or skillet), over medium-high heat, heat the oil and then add the curry paste. Saute until fragrant and then stir in the coconut milk. Once combined, reduce the heat to medium and add the chopped eggplant, bell pepper, and bamboo shoots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender. Season the curry with the sugar and fish sauce. Add the chopped cilantro (and Thai basil, if using) and serve with rice.

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant 2


Won Ton Egg Drop Soup (includes a recipe for Filled Won Tons)

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This soup is so good. Making the filled won tons is a bit time consuming, but they are well worth the effort. Once the won tons are made, this soup is super fast to prepare.

Won Ton Egg Drop Soup

6 cups broth of your choice (vegetable, chicken, etc…)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 ounces snow peas (sugar snap peas are fine if you can’t find snow peas)
2 eggs, beaten
12 – 18 filled won tons, uncooked (recipe below)

Cook filled won tons in simmering water for 5 minutes.

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Drain and discard the water. Set won tons aside. In a soup pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the snow peas and soy sauce. Pour the beaten egg into the soup and stir. Remove soup from heat. Place 3 or 4 cooked won tons in soup bowls. Ladle soup over the won tons and serve. You can sprinkle sliced green onion over each serving of soup.

Filled Won Tons

The filling for the won tons is easy to make if you have a food processor. I toss the garlic cloves and veggies in the work bowl and pulse until everything if finely chopped. I empty the contents into a mixing bowl and repeat the process with the protein source.

I like making these with shrimp and veggies like cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, and water chestnuts. You can use almost any vegetables you want for the filling. You can easily make these won tons completely vegetarian by omitting the meat and doubling the vegetables for the filling. I usually have a little bit of the filling left over after filling all of the won tons. I stir fry the leftover filling in a tiny bit of oil over high heat and then spoon the cooked filling into lettuce leaves.

Filled Won Tons

1 cup finely chopped vegetables (cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, water chestnuts, etc…)
1 cup finely minced meat (shrimp, chicken, or pork)
2 cloves garlic
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 package won ton wrappers
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons water

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Combine the finely chopped vegetables, garlic, and meat in a bowl.

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Add enough soy sauce to just moisten the mixture. Cover and refrigerate filling for at least 15 minutes.

Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl. Set aside. This is the sealer.

To fill the won tons, place the won ton wrapper with one corner facing you. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the center.

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Moisten the top edges of the won ton with the sealer and fold the won ton in half to form a triangle.

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Press the edges together and try to keep the filling from oozing out. Now put some sealer on the bottom side of the left corner and on the top side of the right corner. Fold the left corner up towards you and fold the right corner over the left. Seal together.

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Repeat with remaining won tons.

The won tons are now ready to be used in your recipe for Won Ton Egg Drop Soup. Uncooked won tons can be frozen for future use.

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The won tons can also be fried for an appetizer. Fry the won tons in hot oil until they are deep golden brown. Drain the fried won tons on paper towels and serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce. I have had a little problem getting the filling to cook all the way through without burning the won ton wrapper. It may help to precook the filling before filling the won tons so that everything is cooked.


Orange Tofu and Broccoli

Three weeks ago I tore my calf muscle while testing for my green belt in Tae Kwon Do. Recovery has been slow and I am still unable to walk. Luckily, I can still cook. My kitchen is small enough that I can hobble around on one foot and do what I need to do. My hubby has been out of town quite a bit the past two weeks, so my vegan mom flew in to help me take care of my kids (especially the crazy toddler) and the house while I am recovering. This is one of the vegan meals I prepared for her. I served it with brown rice and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Orange Tofu and Broccoli

Canola oil (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 (16 ounce) package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup warm water
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha (or to taste)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 bunch broccoli, seperated into bite-sized florets
3 carrots, sliced on a diagonal

Lay the tofu slices on paper towels and then pat with additional paper towels to remove moisture. Heat the canola oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Place the 1/4 cup cornstarch in a dish. Coat the tofu slices with the cornstarch and gently shake off excess.

Fry the tofu in batches in the hot oil until golden brown on all sides (about 5 minutes). Drain tofu on paper towels. Allow wok to cool, and wipe clean.

In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, water, sugar, sriracha, garlic, and cornstarch. Mix until smooth and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil in the wok over high heat. Stir-fry the broccoli and carrots until tender. Form a well in the center of the vegetables, and pour in the orange sauce. Bring sauce to a boil and then add the fried tofu. Continue cooking until the sauce is thickened and the tofu and vegetables are well coated.


Green Papaya Salad

From January 28, 2007: I have wanted to make this salad for years, but haven’t been able to find green papaya.  Finally, yesterday, I visited a new Asian market that opened up in Spotsylvania, VA and not only did they have green papaya, it was already shredded.  Woo-hoo!  This salad was super easy to make.  I omitted an ingredient….dried shrimp (I can’t take the intense flavor).  Other Green Papaya Salad recipes I found included cherry tomatoes and/or green beans and I think that is more authentic.  I’ve also been told that the green papaya should be pounded in the mortar so that it takes on more flavors from the dressing ingredients. My mortar is not that big, so maybe I’ll leave this salad to the professionals.

Green Papaya Salad

1 small unripe green papaya, peeled and thinly shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly shredded
salt and pepper
lettuce leaves
crushed peanuts

Dressing:
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 small red or green chiles, seeded and chopped
2 tsp. sugar
3 T. lime juice
2 T. fish auce

Mix the shredded papaya and carrot with salt and pepper.  Arrange on a bed of lettuce leaves on a serving dish and pile the papaya and carrot on top.  For the dressing, using a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic, shallot, chiles, and sugar to a fine paste.  Blend with the lime juice and the fish sauce to make the dressing.

Garnish the salad with the crushed peanuts and pour the dressing over it.  Toss the salad as soon as you are ready to serve.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Adapted from a recipe in The Book of Vietnamese Cooking by Deh-Ta Hsiung (Salamander Books Ltd., 1997).