Sunday, March 3, 2013

A weekend to celebrate! (with soup)

Chicken Khao Soi
bon appetit March, 2013
Hi all, how was your weekend? Mine was quiet, but still felt somewhat celebratory, as the Fairway down in Red Hook reopened on Friday for the first time since Hurricane Sandy. It was lovely to go back to my local grocery store, and start to get to know it again. In rebuilding, they've changed the layout a bit, I think for the better, but it will take a little getting used to.
Other exciting news includes my father and sister completing the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon! It was a tough race, but they both did it, and I'm really proud of them!
So even though there have been rumors of spring coming (I'm looking at you, Punxsutawney Phil) this weekend has been cold, with snow flurries, so I took refuge in the March 2013 issue of bon appetit, which very nicely encouraged me to make some soup by putting a really tasty looking Thai curry soup on its cover. That looks good, right?
I didn't quite have every ingredient on the list- (yes, I went to Fairway, but it was the first weekend back, it was pretty crowded, and I had to do some cart-dodging to make it through with the basics. Grocery Shopping at Fairway on the Weekend: A Full Contact Sport)- and I also had some stuff in the fridge that I wanted to use up, so I adapted the recipe as I needed to.

The first part of the recipe requires the assembling of a curry paste. I happened to have a bag of dried chiles in my cabinet. Puya chiles in fact. I followed the recipe, de-seeding and -stemming 5 of them, before pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for 25 minutes. I didn't have shallots, so instead I used a quarter of a large onion, and I also didn't have any ginger. But I put the onion, cilantro stems, soaked and drained pieces of chile, garlic, coriander, turmeric and curry into the food processor, and mixed it up with about 3 tablespoons of the liquid from soaking the chiles, and it pasted up nicely.
Next part involved some food I had around that I wanted to use. I had about a quarter of a head each of purple and green cabbage that I needed to use. I also had the rest of the onion (that was a bit of an old onion) from what I had used for the chile paste. So I sliced these up and sauteed them on medium heat in about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil for about 10 minutes. I figured I would add this to the soup, a little cabbage and onion never hurt anyone, right?
So back to the recipe, I cooked the chile/curry paste in a large pot in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and after about 5 minutes, I added 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth, and 2 cans of coconut milk. Full disclosure- the "use by" dates on the broth and cans of coconut milk were all more than a year past (ok maybe 2) but I ate the soup 2 hours ago, and I feel fine. Seriously, though, while it is best to use things within the date printed on the package, always check and use your best judgement on the contents. If it smells/tastes weird, you're better off chucking it so you don't end up chucking up.
I brought the liquid to a boil, and then added the chicken. I did not, though, have 1.5 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I DID however, have 2 lbs of skinless, bone-in chicken thighs and legs, so I used that instead. Because this was bone-in chicken, I left it boiling in the chile/curry/broth/coconut milk mixture on the longer side of 20-25 minutes. Then I removed the chicken, from the pot, turned the heat off under the broth, and let the chicken cool for a bit before I started shredding it.
At this point, my soup was coming together, so I took a look to see what I had on hand in a noodle. I didn't have any egg noodles, but I did have some soba noodles, so I cooked them, ran them under cold water, and set them aside.
Once the chicken was shredded, I added it back into the broth, with about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, about 2 tsps of light brown sugar, and salt to taste. I decided not to introduce the cabbage-onion mixture into the soup pot. Instead, I treated it like the noodles, putting a mound each of cabbage/onion and noodles in the bottom of a bowl. I spooned the chicken and broth over top of the cabbage and noodles, and added sprouts and cilantro as a topper.
Does it look like the pretty magazine picture? Eh not exactly, but it was delicious, and I have to say it tastes much creamier and unhealthier than it actually is, my favorite! Hooray for coconut milk!

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