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Recipe from: Colonel Ian F. Khuntilanont-Philpott
Yesterday was my wife's day off (it's a public holiday in Thailand - okh pansa: the end of Thai Lent). We were sitting watching TV, and as a 5 minute filler the local cable station transmitted a recipe for "spicy chicken", demonstrated by a chef from one of Bangkok's restaurants (this series isn't usually of interest to us as the dishes are usually pastiches of european food). This time it was a Thai dish. It was amusing to watch the demonstration and listen to the commentary - the chef put a large scoop of curry sauce in the wok (probably half a cup), and the commentator said "put a tablespoon of curry paste..." similarly the chef added a splash of nam sup, splash of coconut milk - perhaps 2-3 tablespoon of each, and a good shake of the fish sauce bottle and the commentator said "add a quarter of a cup..." There is no doubt that if you followed the commentary and the listed ingredients you'd get a rather wet, bland result. My wife watched in fascination - she knew the chef as they'd trained together, and after the show she rummaged through our files and found her college notes and found the same recipe. This curry is cooked partially in the wok, and then, in Thailand, completed by packing it in a bamboo stem, plugging the ends with bamboo leaves or sticky rice, and roasting it over a charcoal brazier. This allows the residual water to be driven off to yield a dry result. As lengths of bamboo stem aren't that easy to acquire in the west the method below is equivalent.
1 cup chicken, cut into ½ inch cubes
3 tablespoon coconut milk
3 tablespoon nam sup (chicken stock)
3 tablespoon hanglay (or red) curry paste
2 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce)
2 tablespoon bai kaprao (holy basil leaves), shredded
2 tablespoon bai manglak (sweet basil leaves), shredded
1 tablespoon bai makrut (kaffir lime leaves), shredded
1 tablespoon palm sugar
Warm a little cooking oil in a medium hot wok, and gently fry the curry paste until aromatic. Add the chicken and stir fry until it just starts to chage colour, then add the remaining ingredients (except the leaves), and stir, continuing until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Transfer to an oven proof dish, and add the shredded leaves, mixing thoroughly, then cover with aluminum foil, and pierce a few times to allow steam to evaporate. Transfer to a medium oven and bake for about 15 minutes (until the liquid is evaporated). Serve with steamed long grain (jasmine) rice, and the usual table condiments.