So, throw the 2 of us together, and add a dash of the Food Network (which we were basically addicted to in the early years of our marriage), and you come out with a couple of wanna-be foodies. Luckily, I can follow a recipe fairly well, and we are die-hard subscribers of Cook's Illustrated, so we've come up with a bunch of great meals.
One of our friends is an amazing oriental cook, mixing up incredible curries and stir fries and Thai Basil Chicken. One memorable evening, he worked a miracle with left-over chicken from a luncheon meeting, that has remained unrivaled to this day. Unfortunately, he now lives all the way across the United States from us, so having a wonderful Thai meal with their family at the last minute is not so easy to do.
The girls have been begging to watch cooking shows lately, so we sat down one evening last week to watch a couple of episodes of "America's Test Kitchen." We watched what looked like an amazing recipe for Thai Chicken Soup. Tonight I was feeling the pressure of twice weekly soccer practice and all day Sunday games starting to lift. Add that to the fact that both of our vehicles had oil changes and passed inspection today, and it made me nearly giddy. I felt like cooking! I found the recipe for the soup, and in the process, one for Pad Thai.
Thai-Style Chicken Soup
-recipe from America's Test Kitchen
1 tsp vegetable oil
3 stalks lemon grass, sliced thin (optional)
3 large shallots, chopped coarsely (about 3/4 cup)
8 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely **
3 T fish sauce
4 cups chicken broth
2 (14 oz.) cans of coconut milk
1 T sugar
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast sliced on the bias into 1/8" pieces
3 T lime juice
2 tsp Thai red curry paste (or more to taste)
coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Thai, serrano or jalapeno pepper, sliced thin
scallions sliced thin on the bias
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over med. heat, add lemon grass, shallots, cilantro, and 1 T fish sauce and cook, stirring frequently until just softened, not browned (2-5 min.)
2. Stir in broth and 1 can of coconut milk and bring to a simmer over hi heat. Cover, reduce heat to lo, and simmer for 10 min. to blend flavors. Strain solids from broth and discard.
3. Return broth to a simmer over med-hi heat. Stir in the remaining can of coconut milk and sugar, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to med, add the mushrooms, and cook until just tender (2-3 min.) Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until meat is no longer pink (1-3 min.)
4. Remove soup from heat. Whisk together remaining 2 T fish sauce, lime juice and curry paste and stir into soup. Garnish individually as desired.
**The cilantro can be safely left out if you have those amongst you who call this herb a "vile weed."