WINE WITH…Red Curry Chicken and Rice
We might have titled this modest essay, "Ode to Red Curry Paste," for in our view this condiment is one of the tastiest assets available to contemporary cooks. Whether you purchase a little jar of this versatile concoction or make your own curry paste, you’ll be happy to have it in your kitchen. At the
moment we’ve been favoring a small (4 ounce) jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste, which is widely available in grocery stores across the country. This is not a convoluted product; the ingredients listed on the label are simply, “spices (including red chili), chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, salt, shallot, coriander root & kaffir lime peel.” While it may sound simple, this mixture delivers a wealth of complex flavors. And you don’t have to buy a prepared commercial mix. Making your own red curry paste is a fairly simple and open-ended business that might include such ingredients as red bell pepper, red chilies, garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, cumin, lemongrass, lemon and lime juice, salt and pepper, and perhaps a smidge of ketchup or tomato sauce, all of it whooshed together in a food processor. Once you’ve prepared it, keep the paste refrigerated and tightly sealed.
The uses of red curry paste are myriad. Among the many dishes you might consider adding a dollop of it to are curries, soups, salsas, stir-fries, fish cakes, steamed mussels, meatballs, grain bowls, or fried chicken (rub it under the skin before cooking the bird). Red chili paste is often mixed with coconut milk, as we do here in this chicken and rice recipe. Do note that this is a fairly mild dish, so if you want a little more heat feel free to add some red pepper flakes or even a little sriracha to the mixture.
Red Curry Chicken and Rice
1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
2 shallots, minced (about ½ cup)
About 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup red curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
One 13.5 can coconut milk (unsweetened and not lite)
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
Juice from one lime
4-6 cups cooked white or brown rice
Garnish: thinly sliced green onion; chopped fresh cilantro; 1 jalapeno pepper (or other hot pepper), seeded and very thinly sliced; lime wedges
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the shallots, stirring them occasionally until they begin to soften. Add the ginger and garlic and cook another couple of minutes, then whisk in the curry paste. Add the fish sauce (if using) and the coconut milk. When the mixture has returned to the boil, stir in the chicken pieces. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the mixture from the heat and squeeze the lime juice over it. Divide the rice among 4 bowls and add the garnish to each. Serve at once.
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More at home with whites and rosés than with reds, this satisfying dish benefits from a hint of sweetness to play off of its heat. The spicier you make it, the sweeter the wine should be. Our version was only slightly hot, so the wines we liked most were drier than we might have expected. If you make the dish, choose the wine you serve based on how much heat you want.