In restaurants, the "family meal"--the pre-shift dinner for the staff--can be the highlight or low point of a cook's day. One proven hit? The chicken curry chef Scott Drewno dishes out at the Source in DC's Penn Quarter. He serves it with steamed jasmine rice.
Thai Red-Curry Chicken
1 cup sliced carrots
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat, cut into 2-inch cubes
1½ tablespoons Thai red-curry paste (Drewno likes Mae Ploy brand, available at many Asian markets)
1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika (or substitute any paprika on hand)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
½ cup sliced red onion
½ cup scallions cut into 1-inch pieces (use both white and green parts)
28 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup lime juice
Fish sauce, to taste (try Three Crabs brand; salt is an acceptable substitute)
Sugar, to taste
½ cup bean sprouts
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots, cook for about 1 minute, then place them immediately in a bowl of ice water. Remove them immediately and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the chicken. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until slightly brown, then add the curry paste and paprika. When the spices begin to get fragrant, add the peppers, onions, scallions, and carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the coconut milk begins to thicken slightly (cook about 15 minutes for a thicker curry or if using larger cuts of meat).
3. Adjust the seasoning with lime juice, fish sauce (or salt), and sugar. The flavor should be a balance of these three. Stir in the bean sprouts and half of the cilantro.
4. Garnish with the remaining cilantro.
This article appears in the April 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.