Red Thai Curry

Red Thai Curry (Gaeng Peht Gai)

2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk, unshaken
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon red curry paste, or to taste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken*, cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
Ginger (optional)**
Garlic (optional)**
Lemon grass (optional)**
Bamboo Shoots (optional)***
Eggplant (optional)***
Potato (optional)***
Sweet potato (optional)***
Green beans (optional)***
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (garnish)
Fresh lime juice (garnish)
Jasmine or sticky rice

Carefully open cans of coconut milk, spoon thick coconut cream from top and put into wok, frying pan or medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until bubbly. Add curry paste and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes or until an oily sheen comes to the surface. Optional additions: If adding garlic, ginger, and lemon grass to enhance the curry, add with curry paste.

Add chicken, stir to coat with curry paste, and fry 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add remaining coconut milk from cans, along with onion. Optional additions: If adding other vegetables, add with coconut milk.

Simmer gently 15 minutes or until chicken and onion are cooked. Add fish sauce and palm sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Stir in fresh basil leaves and lime juice to taste. Serve with jasmine rice or sticky rice. Yields 4 servings.

* To substitute for chicken use: 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, or 1 pound pork or beef, cut into thin slices; or 1 pound firm white fish, cut into serving-size pieces.

** Add one or more of the following herbs to curry paste and stir-fry: 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 2 slices ginger, crushed; 1 stalk lemon grass, peeled and sliced diagonally, using lower third of stalk only. Remove whole spices before serving.

*** Add one or more vegetables to curry with coconut milk just before simmering: One 8-ounce can drained, sliced bamboo shoots; 1 small eggplant, diced; one potato or sweet potato, parboiled and cut into chunks; fresh green beans.