Wednesday, January 9

Smoked Chicken Massaman Curry

Massaman differs from the ubiquitous Thai green and red curries in that the paste includes some spices more familiar in Burmese or Indian cuisine. Many years ago I ate a fantastic version at a tiny street stall in Bangkok and the curry seemed to carry a smoky flavour, perhaps from the charcoal burners being used to fire the wok? Anyhow this is my version, the smoked chicken introducing that charred flavour I remember so well. Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients for the paste as I have a fantastic cheat that will work for all Thai curries so read on.....

For two or three:  

Paste Ingredients:
Garlic - 6 fat cloves, peeled
Ground coriander - 2 tsp
Ground cumin - 1 tsp
Whole dried red chilli (the large Indian ones) - 2
Fresh galangal or ginger - 1 thumb sized piece, peeled
Nutmeg - a good grate, maybe 1/8th of a nutmeg
Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
Clove - 2
Black peppercorns - 10
Cardamon - 6
Roasted peanuts - a small handful
Lemon grass - 2 sticks
Palm sugar - 2 tsp
Coconut milk - 1 tin
Fish sauce - 1 tbsp
Shrimp paste (optional) - 1 tsp

Ingredients - the rest:
Smoked chicken - 2 breasts, skinned
Waxy salad potatoes - 200g, sliced 5mm thick
Spanish onion - 1 large one, finely sliced
Vegetable oil - 25ml
Garnish - toasted peanuts, finely shredded spring onion/cucumber, fresh coriander, lime wedges etc

Blitz all the paste ingredients in the blender with a little water if it is too thick to blend. The term paste might be misleading as really you want an end result that is more like double cream. Blitz until it is as smooth as it will go, then transfer to a saucepan. Bring gently to a simmer and blip away for 5 minutes before pushing the lot through a fine sieve discarding the fibrous mass. You will now have a fantastically flavoured but beautifully smooth sauce with no bits (which I loathe). Adjust the flavour with fish sauce and a little more palm sugar if you think it needs it. Add the potatoes and simmer until cooked but not falling apart. In a separate frying pan gently fry the onion in the veg oil until very soft and golden, drain then add to the curry sauce. Slice the chicken and warm in the curry sauce. Check the flavour again and add a little water if the sauce has reduced to far, then serve topped with the garnishes of your choice and steamed rice.

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