Japanese Curry, or What to do with that box of S&B Golden Curry you just bought
This is kind of a departure for me, as I'm writing about a box of stuff that you buy at a store. In my defense though, it's a box of curry paste that, although the integral ingredient is probably not that much off from when I start yammering about Madras Curry Powder or somesuch.
Anyway, if you ever wander through the "Asian Food" section of your grocery store, you've probably seen the "Golden Curry" packets, and if you've dared to delve further you'll understand why I'm writing this – to say the directions "leave a little to be desired" is quite an understatement. But, it's really nom so I thought it'd be worth talking about.
So I'll start by saying that this is all predicated by 'wokking out' (sorry, okay not really) your dinner. If you have a good skillet, that works too, but you may need to adjust accordingly.
But why are we talking about a wok? Woks have a special property. Sure, given enough time any pan will get up to ~700F but a good wok will get you faster, and the cooking temp changes almost immediately upon changing the dial *caveat – electric and induction ranges behave more slowly because of the nature of the coils*. That said, stay tuned for a whole conversation about woks (which I'll link here when the time comes).
Anyway, you really want to know about dinner, I'm sure. Golden Curry says it works with about anything, but really we want to talk about chicken. It's good protein, and doesn't fight with the flavors so much.
Before you go any further, start some rice. I use 3/4C rice to one mark on my 36-year-old Hitachi and roughly the same should work for you. If you don't have a rice maker, a basic one isn't that expensive and you'll be surprised at how handy one is.
The Magic Box says "1 to 1-1/3lbs chicken". In reality, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2lbs is really much more appropriate, particularly for the Western diet. Cut it up into 1/4"-3/8" chunks (but don't worry about measuring) and set aside. Also cut up an onion. I like stringy onions so I halve and slice them, but cut that in half again because really, you don't want too stringy. Add that to the chicken bowl, as we're going to cook all that together. Separately, cut up some bell peppers, celery, carrots, maybe some snow peas and whatever else sounds good and put them in a separate bowl.
I should take a second and talk about one of the interesting aspects of Japanese cuisine. They have their "traditional" stuff, but they're not above borrowing ideas from other cultures if it's (a) nommy and (b) has interesting textures. Case in point, katsu which was stolen from the Italians and made into their own thing. Incidentially, katsu sauce makes a damn good BBQ sauce. So often you'll see a lot of decidedly non-traditional ingredients in their cuisine.
Aaannnyway, back on topic. Assuming a wok (or that your pan can handle it) crank the stove up to eleven, and let the wok heat up a bit. Then, add a dollop (a couple of tbsp if you're counting) of oil and let that come up to temperature. Only then, add the chicken and onions. Stir-fry that until the chicken juice runs clear (and the onions should be wilted at this point) and only then add the veggies. Mix that all about until they start to soften.
At this point, we need to start preparing everything to start receiving the curry paste. The so-called directions want water, but really you want somewhere between 16-18oz (Costco 500ml yo) chicken stock. Add that in, bring to a boil, and drop to a simmer – this is another place the wok comes handy. Cover it and let it go for 20-30 minutes. Really though, let it go for a while until the liquid has dropped by about 1/3.
Finally, it's time to add the paste. It's a big block with divots, so break it into 4ths and then break those up into halves or so. Work them into the broth until they're dissolved, and bring back to a simmer for 5-10 minutes until the broth turns into a sauce.
If you've timed things right, the rice should be done about the same time. If it's early, cut off the power so it doesn't overcook.
Either way, serve over rice, hot, and preferably with chopsticks (especially if the people you're serving it to don't know how to use chopsticks)
And one side note – the veggies particularly will be soft, which is to be expected. The stir-fry process will still have sealed in most of the flavor, and the texture should be easy to eat in any sense.
The "Famous" shopping list:
- 1-1/4 pounds chicken breast
- medium onion
- splash of vegetable oil
- lots 'o' veggies – green peppers, carrots, celery, anything that sounds good
- rice (4c minimum for a full recipe)
- S&B Golden Curry (pick the heat to taste)
- 17oz/500ml chicken stock