Thai Curry with Chicken and Fresh Noodles
Okay, this one has a few moving parts; it will keep you busy for a while. But don’t let that hold you back. It reads bigger than it is, and can be put together in an afternoon. We got this one from our friend Megan Schlow; the first time we tasted it at her Lower East Side apartment, Barry and I vacuumed it into our faces, splattering sauce onto our clothes, slurping every drop out of the bowl even while our eyes teared up and our mouths smoldered from the heat.
There is so much to discover here: First off, the fun of prowling an Asian market for lemongrass, tamarind, and shrimp paste. Second, the complexity—and flavor control—that comes from freshly made curry paste (take notes while you eat it so you can make adjustments next time and make it your own). Third, using southwestern/Mexican chiles in an Asian dish—they add flavor and body. Also, making a fresh stock and the universal wonder that is fried shallots. Be sure to hide them from your guests before you’re ready to serve, or they will disappear long before the plates hit the table.
- 2 pounds chicken breast on the bone
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 5 sprigs of cilantro
- 3 (1/4-inch-thick) slices of ginger, each about the size of a quarter
- 1 Thai bird chile
- Top of 1 lemongrass stalk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into a few pieces
- 2 arbol chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into a few pieces
- 2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped tender lemongrass stalk
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 3 small shallots, chopped
- 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
- 8 ounces fresh Chinese noodles, such as lo mein
- 1/2 cup crispy chow mein noodles
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup Fried Shallots (recipe)
- 1 cup Pickled Mustard Greens (recipe)
Cook the chicken: Put the chicken, onion, cilantro, ginger, chile, lemongrass, salt, and 12 cups cold water in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and set it aside to cool, reserving the pot of liquid.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces, and set aside; return the bones to the stockpot. Simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool a little. Strain through a coarse China cap strainer (see page 83), then a fine one (or several layers of cheesecloth), discarding the solids and skimming off the fat from the top. Reserve 6 cups stock for the stew; freeze any extra.
Meanwhile, make the curry paste: Put the gujillos and arbols in a bowl, cover with hot tap water, and soak for 15 minutes. Gently lift the chiles from their soaking water and put in a blender along with the ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, shallots, garlic, shrimp paste, curry, turmeric, salt, and V2 c u p water. Pulse the blender a few times to get things moving and then blend on high to form a smooth paste. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
Cook the stew: Put a large pot over medium heat. Add the 6 cups chicken broth, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, soy, and fish sauce and bring to a slow boil.
Reduce the heat, add the coconut milk and curry paste, and simmer for 30 minutes to combine all the flavors.
Meanwhile, cook the fresh noodles in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain, and keep warm.
Add the chicken to the stew and remove the pot from the heat. Put some cooked noodles into each bowl and top with the stew. Serve with crispy noodles, limes, cilantro, fried shallots, and pickled mustard greens for garnishing at the table.