Tuesday, January 4, 2011

#97: Saigon Market

The last week or so, I've been dying to attempt a somewhat daring recipe for me: Thai Green Curry Chicken.  I'm lucky to live just a couple blocks away from Saigon Market, which makes cooking intricate Asian dishes infinitely easier.  Rather than a long-winded description of this unique yet classic tiny Asian grocery store, here's the recipe (plus the locations and hours).  Pick up everything you'll need at Saigon Market and enjoy your own green curry.

Location: 208 West Colfax Ave
Hours: hmmm, not positive, but it's definitely open until 9:00 pm every night except Sunday (when it closes a bit earlier)
Tip: Friday is "meat day" when they get a huge shipment of fresh meats and seafood

Thai Green Curry Chicken
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:  (any of which you can't find yourself, definitely ask the owner/his wife/his kids - they're all incredibly nice and helpful)

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs. (about 0.7 kg) boneless chicken thigh or breast, cut into chunks
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • a generous handful of fresh basil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and cut into chunks
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise several times, then cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. oil for stir-frying
  • 4 small green Thai chilies, OR substitute 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup shallot OR purple onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thinly OR 3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste
  • 1 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice


  1. Prepare the chicken and chop the bell pepper and zucchini.
  2. Place all the "green curry paste" ingredients together in a food processor. Blitz to a paste. If necessary, add a few Tbsp. of the coconut milk to help blend ingredients. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the lime leaves by tearing the leaf away from either side of the stem. Discard the central stem. Then, using scissors, cut leaves into thin strips. Set aside.
  4. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl around, then add the green curry paste.
  5. Stir-fry briefly to release the fragrance (30 seconds to 1 minute), then add 3/4 of the coconut milk, reserving 2-3 Tbsp. per serving portion for later.
  6. Add the chicken, stirring to incorporate. When the curry sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium or medium-low, until you get a nice simmer.
  7. Cover and allow to simmer 3-5 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally.
  8. Add the red bell pepper and zucchini, plus the strips of lime leaf, stirring well to incorporate. Simmer another 2-3 minutes, or until vegetables are softened but still firm and colorful.
  9. Do a taste-test for salt, adding 1-2 Tbsp. fish sauce if not salty enough. If you'd prefer a sweeter curry, add a little more sugar. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. Note that this curry should be a balance of salty, spicy, sweet and sour, plus bitter (the bitter is found in the fresh basil garnish).
  10. Serve this curry in bowls with rice served separately, allowing guests to add their own. Top each portion with fresh basil, then drizzle over 2-3 Tbsp. coconut milk, and ENJOY!

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