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Monday, February 25, 2013

Some Like It Hot __Restaurant Redoux

I have mentioned before we eat out a lot.  We eat out more times a week than I like to and I am pretty sure if The Hub had his way we would eat out every meal.  It is something he really does enjoy doing.   Conversely there are nights I do not want to go out just so I don't have to put on makeup or  real clothes.

You would think with all of that eating out there would be tons of food items I want to try and recreate.  But, the truth is that we seldom eat anywhere the food is so good or unusual that I want to try and make it at home.  This week in spite of us eating out 6 nights ( yes you read correctly__ 6 nights) I could not think of one thing I wanted to duplicate.  Instead I harkened ( I love that word) back to a trip to Chicago years ago.  We had gone with my parents and Son3 and met Son1 and Son2 there for a little summer fun in the Windy City__in August__ which is why we packed all summer clothes__ without knowing about the freak cold snap where the high's plummeted to 56 at the hottest moment in the day.  So we were cold in flip flops and light cottons while native Chicagoans were tooling around in their nice fluffy warm coats.

After a quick shopping trip to buy all of us some much needed warmth, we set about touring the city.  By the end of night 2 the temps had cooled a bit more and we needed to eat someplace warm and needed some hot food.  Mom has always worried when I make a decision about a restaurant.  To quote her, "  If you let Anne pick you'll wind up at some damn Thai place"  Which is precisely what we did.

None of us remember the name of the place, but I could easily find it again.  It is right in the heart of the city's hub 2 blocks off Michigan Avenue.  While we were there I had the most delicious Red Curry Chicken I have ever eaten.  I have ordered it many times at different restaurants in different cities but never had anything as good as it was.  This is my attempt to recreate it.






Thai Red Curry Chicken

2 tablespoons grape seed oil*
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 small onions peeled and julienne sliced1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 red pepper seeded and sliced thinly
2 carrots thinly sliced ( I cut them is paper thin circles but grated or matchsticks would work also)
1 small carton white mushrooms, sliced ( I only had whole ones, wish I had bought sliced instead)
1 cup fresh bean sprouts ( the restaurant version had them,  I had none on hand)
1 can coconut milk
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon garlic paste or 1 minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste of 2 slices fresh garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon cilantro paste or 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon grass paste or fresh lemongrass ( no idea how much, 2 stalks maybe? pounded and chopped )
juice of 1/2 lime

* Since you are using 2 different oils in this you need something like grape seed that has no flavor.  The sesame oil is strong and will be flavorful enough. ( If you don't have sesame oil on hand don't go buy any.  It has a pretty short shelf life once opened plus there are enough seasonings in this that it won't make a huge flavor difference)  Heat the oils together in a skillet and saute the onions until they are crisp tender.  ( If using fresh garlic, lemon grass, and ginger add them right now and cook for 1 minute) Add the chicken and  stir until it loses its pinkness.  Toss in the pepper strips, carrots, mushrooms and bean sprouts.  Cook for a few minutes until the peppers wilt.  Add the coconut milk and the curry paste ( 2 tablespoons makes it pretty warm.  If you don't like a lot of heat start with 1/2 tablespoon and adjust up to your taste and tolerance, or substitute yellow curry paste which is much milder)  Stir well to incorporate the paste.  If using the spice pastes add them all now.   Cover and cook on low for about 2 more minutes.  Squeeze the lime over it all and stir to combine.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro if using it rather than the paste.  Serve hot over rice.  YUM!

This was very close to what I ate there.  I think if I had the bean sprouts it would have been a little better with the additional crunch, but it was dang fine as it was.  The Hub thought it was a tad too hot, but I thought it was just right.  Our tolerance levels are a little different and I usually cook for him and adjust mine at the table, but tonight was all mine!  And I loved it!

Don't be put off by the number of ingredients.  This goes together in about 15 minutes from start to the table.  It is quick and impressive and would actually be good for company providing you know in advance what acceptable heat levels are.  Oh and if you are like me and forget to cook the rice in advance, it works fine with minute brown rice.

Go out to eat and come home and try to replicate something!  It is not always successful but it is fun!

Rant!!! I know I have fussed about GMO produce before.  Read the newest Mother Earth Living magazine.  They have an article of the genetically modified food and take you aisle by aisle in a grocery store telling you where/how the GMO produce has saturated our food system.  Yikes!

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