In 2009, husband Dave, daughter Emily –for a couple of weeks anyway– and I spent the summer in St. Paul, Minnesota so I could take a few graduate music courses at University of St. Thomas. While there, we lived in a 3rd-floor walkup apartment on Grand Avenue above a Thai restaurant named — you guessed it — Pad Thai. (See below)
We had not before eaten too terribly much Thai food, but were intrigued enough as the aromas permeated our humble abode day and night. Soon we hopped down the stairs, following the hypnotic fragrance, and grabbed a quick dinner now and then. I have only a foggy memory of what we ordered at Pad Thai, but my favorite back then was a very mild Chicken Basil, so I’m guessing that was a regular request. Dave and Emily did the appropriate thing and ordered Pad Thai, I’m sure; we had made that at home a time or two. (By the way, I understand, from a Thai chef, that Pad Thai is actually more Chinese than Thai. Go figure.) Once back home in Colorado, with Emily safely ensconced at graduate school herself, Dave and I began a nearly weekly lunch outing to our local Thai spot, a small, but mighty and fast strip mall joint — also aptly named Thai Basil, which has since moved, more’s the pity. Thus began a small love affair with Thai food that goes on today, though we no longer have Thai Basil or any Thai restaurant near us and so cook our easy and probably not-so-authentic versions here at home. Many of us are not going in restaurants right now anyway, right? Breathing out, breathing out.
Whatever, we’re hooked.
What are you cooking? What have you become hooked on during Covid-Time? Old slow favorites? Newbie recipes out of what’s on hand? Fast cold stuff as it’s hot as hell in much of the USA? Simply salads? (I don’t blame you.) Are you just holding on for fall oven meals and meanwhile grilling every night?
Our weather, here in Colorado, is not nearly so warm as in many other states and we do have stellar central air–really needed right now because of smoke from the four fires west of us. We’ve been warned to keep our windows closed, skip outdoor exercise, and to stay out of the mountains where I-70 is closed anyway. Between lower temps and the AC, I’m likely to cook whatever comes to mind or needs using out of the freezer. And one night, it was this done in “the flashiest of flashes” Red Curry Chicken with Green Beans and Mushrooms— because at some point in late summer I usually become a little tired of grilling. If that’s you, too, try this:
red curry chicken with green beans and mushrooms
- 2 cups green beans-cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 medium red onion-sliced thinly
- 1 yellow or red bell pepper-cored and sliced thinly
- 8 ounces button or other mushrooms-cut in half or in quarters if large
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- Bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 13.5 ounce can lite coconut milk
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs-cut into ½-inch strips (cut breasts into 2-inch chunks as they’ll cook more quickly)
- Handful fresh basil or Thai sweet basil leaves
- ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper or to taste
- 3 teaspoons Sriracha sauce or to taste
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (I like Red Boat.)
- 2 limes: 1: zest and juice it for the sauce; 2: cut into fourths and set aside for serving
- Finely chopped peanuts and chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Cooked rice for serving
- Bring 1 ½ – 2 quarts of well-salted and peppered water to boil in a 3 or 4-quart sauce pan. Add green beans and let cook 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and stir in curry paste. Turn off heat and add the beans, onion, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, brown sugar, coconut milk and water. Stir.
- Heat the pan once more over medium flame, add chicken, basil, salt, pepper, and Sriracha sauce and bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until everything is tender and done, lowering flame if the curry begins to boil. Stir in lime zest, lime juice, and fish sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings, including Sriracha sauce.
- Serve hot over rice garnished with cilantro, chopped peanuts, and reserved lime wedges. Whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes.
A note about ginger: A knob of fresh ginger in a small bag will keep well in the freezer. You just take it out, peel a little, and grate what you need before returning it to the freezer. You can store it in the fridge in a small jar of sherry if you prefer. I also keep a prepared jar of grated ginger in my fridge for when I’m out of the fresh variety.
MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED
Two Favorite Thai Cookbooks:
LIFE GOES ON
Above: I continue to happily practice with the new Sous Vide. On Friday, I made these incredible Chicken Tacos and Dave made the Mexican corn albeit on the grill and not in the Sous Vide! A small investment in The Sous Vide Cookbook from Williams-Sonoma has been a great help as the appliance came with little instruction. We’re meant to use a phone app to actually push a button on the iPhone and cook the recipe!! Fun, but not terribly trusting of my cooking ability. BTW, I’m thrilled the book from W-S wasn’t some huge tome I’d never get through, but rather small, handy, and with just enough recipes from which to choose. I’m tempted to try lamb chops next, but since I have no lamb chops, that’ll probably have to wait.
Below: In a galaxy long ago and far away… Husband Dave and daughter Emily in our St. Paul apartment above Pad Thai in 2009, complete with rental kitchen. If you look carefully at the counter behind Emily, you’ll see my laptop set up to work on homework.
I hope you’re well and staying cool while cooking up a storm. It means a lot to me that you’re reading here and keeping me company in the kitchen. Some readers post photographs of my recipes on facebook after I post a link to the blog. Friend me if you’d like to do that! I’m on Instagram and Twitter, too–just not quite as much. Don’t know why. Needs thought. Later,