I love to eat stir fry, but I don’t love to make it. It’s hard to get all the vegetables cooked perfectly with no soggy factor. In Asian kitchens, they have woks the size of coffee tables with real fire under there. That makes all the difference to a stir fry. When I want carrots or broccoli in this dish, I cook it ahead of time, shock it in cold water and just heat it up in the sauce at the end. Cheating? Um, yes. But I don’t have to apologize for overcooked veggies! That’s why I like this recipe. No sog factor and if you do everything in just this order it will come out right. As an extra little kick in the pants, the last time I cooked this dish, I made the jasmine rice in the microwave in a Corningware casserole dish! Shazam!
An hour before you want to start cooking, put 2-3 good sized chicken breasts in the freezer. Single layer, covered with plastic wrap. Partially frozen chicken breasts are easier to slice thinly.
Assemble your ingredients:
(2-3 good-sized chicken breasts, partially frozen)
1 small onion, sliced
1 red pepper, seeded, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled, minced
2 Tablespoons scallions, chopped
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 Tablespoon red curry paste*
1 Tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 small can pineapple chunks
6 big leaves basil, torn into pieces
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 empty plate
Start cooking 1 ½ cups rice according to the directions on the box or bag.
Prep your veggies, open your cans, get your measuring spoons out and find a heat-proof spatula and a whisk. Then slice your half-frozen chicken into thin strips. Put a BIG sauté pan on the stove over high heat and put about 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil in the pan. Swirl it around. Watch it. Just when it starts to smoke, add the chicken in a single layer. It might not all fit. That’s okay. It your pan is hot enough, the chicken will brown on one side and not stick. Flip it over to brown the other side, then get it out of the pan. Reserve the half-cooked chicken and juices on the empty plate, wipe out your sauté pan and cook the rest of the chicken. When the remaining chicken is half-cooked and on the plate, wipe out the pan and move on to the veggies…
Turn the heat down to medium-high and add your onions and red peppers to the pan. Toss ‘em around for about two minutes, then add the garlic, ginger and scallions. Toss for another minute – just until fragrant. Now for the sauce…
Pour the coconut milk into the pan with the veggies and stir it around with your spatula. Add the red curry paste to one corner of the pan and whisk it in. Add sugar, salt, pineapple chunks and up to ¼ cup of the pineapple juice if you so desire. My amounts are guidelines. Balance the heat, sweet and salty to your own taste. When the sauce is bubbly, add the chicken back into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is done in the middle. Taste again, just in case you need to add more salt. Or something.
To serve, spoon rice into a bowl. Ladle the curry on top. Garnish with basil and cilantro. Enjoy!
*Red curry paste can be found in a jar with the international foods in many regular grocery stores or in a can in Asian groceries. One Tablespoon isn’t going to make it very hot but any more than that and my kids won’t eat it. My husband and I usually kick our bowls up with Sriracha, a Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce that can be found near the red curry paste at the store. Look for the green cap and the rooster!