Peter travels often with his work and always brings home tales from his adventures and goodies for me in his suitcase. He has a list of favourite restaurants and eateries across Australia, from Hobart in Tasmania to Darwin in the Northern Territory, and as far afield as Thursday Island in the Torres Strait to Perth in Western Australia, and Warrnambool in Victoria to Orange in New South Wales.
My soul mate loves food and on one occasion after a trip to Darwin, he presented me with a little tin of red curry paste that had been given to him by Tim Hayward, the (generous) owner of Tim's Surf and Turf in Darwin. Peter always enjoys the chicken curry at Tim's, you see, so he asked Tim for the recipe. Hence the Maesri Red Curry Paste.
Having co-owned a cooking school for close to a decade, I watched and learned over the years as some of the icons of the culinary world created curry pastes from scratch: the likes of Charmaine Solomon, Carol Selva Rajah, Kurma Dasa, spice master Ian Hemphill, and so on; therefore you might understand my reluctance to open a strange little red tin. But I must tell you, with its balanced blend of red chillies, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, Kaffir lime, coriander, cumin and cardamom, this curry paste is fragrant, aromatic and delicious.
There is a recipe 'of sorts' on the label and the first time I prepared the curry I stuck to the recipe. I used chicken thigh meat knowing that it would be more tender than the breast. And, while I had my doubts about the seemingly excessive quantity of coconut milk recommended, to my surprise the dish was very good. Peter and I liked it so much, we bought a box of assorted Maesri products online and the next time I made the dish to the same method, with a little less coconut milk. Sadly, it was so incredibly hot and spicy, it almost blew our heads off! We were puzzled, to say the least, but we tried it again, with only half the quantity of curry paste. Again, it was too spicy, but we weren't keen to give up.
After a mid-year trip to Darwin, that included a chicken curry meal at Tim's Surf and Turf, we managed to pin Tim down and ask about the quantities in the dish. He threw his head back and laughed loudly when we told him we'd used the entire contents of the 114g tin of curry paste. 'No wonder it was so hot," he said. 'We use only three or four tins a week for the entire restaurant!" His response was one of those 'aha' moments and music to our ears. I also took note, that Tim's chef had used chicken breast (it was beautifully tender) and also that there were vegetables in the sauce.
So, here you have it. Thai Red Curry Chicken a la Lizzy. And if you'd like to know more about Maesri, visit the web site. *NB, you need only one heaped teaspoon of the paste, freeze the rest. Add more only if you dare.
THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN
500g free range chicken breast fillet, cut into bite sized pieces
114g can Maesri Red Curry Paste*
410mls light coconut milk
1 small red capsicum, flesh cut into bite sized pieces
a handful of fresh or frozen small green vegetables: broccoli, beans or snake bean pieces, peas
coriander sprigs, to garnish
steamed rice, to serve
Heat a wok and add a heaped teaspoon of the Maesri red curry paste. Stir fry briefly, then stir in the coconut milk and add the chicken pieces. Bring to simmering point, lower heat, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the vegetables during the last five minutes of cooking. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with coriander leaves. Serves 2-4.
In closing, as a wee disclaimer, this is not an advertisement in any way shape or form for Maesri. I was not sent free product nor was I asked to do so. Genuinely like the curry paste and can recommend it both for performance and also value!
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.