Dec 7, 2010

Earl's Kitchen - Gaeng Massaman

Over the weekend, my sister had us over along with some friends of ours for another round of karaoke madness and drinking.  A wake, of sorts, for our kitty Sammi who passed away last week.  A night that both Gia and I really needed.

I made a batch of Bacon Bourbon for after-dinner cocktails that helped fuel the karaoke fire, but we started the night off with a bunch of home-made Thai food prepared by yours truly.  My sister and her husband have never had Laab/Larb, so I made two different batches of that (beef and pork).  And since we needed something else, I tried my hand at a simple version of Gaeng Masssaman that veered a little bit from the traditional recipe.

Gaeng Massaman (kinda)

not my Massaman...but it looks about the same

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 2 pounds small golden potatoes
  • 3 tsp massaman curry paste/red curry paste
  • 1-2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 3 14oz cans coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Unsalted peanuts for garnish (optional)
  • Salt and ground white pepper to taste (optional)
I really veered a bit from the traditional recipes (which you can find elsewhere on the web) and focused on making it a simpler "meat and potatoes" kind of dish since I wasn't really sure if my sister and her husband were really going to like the Laab I made (see my recipe for that here).  And the sweetness of this dish goes wonderfully with the savory of the Laab. And it has enough savory to hold its own too.

 - Poach the chicken first in a covered saucepan with about 3/4 of a cup of water, just until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Poaching it this way will keep it moist before we slice it up and add it to the Massaman.

 - Clean and quarter the potatoes (or halve them if they are small enough), leaving the skin on because that's where all the good stuff is.  Steam them for about 5 minutes in a covered pot so that they cook a little bit but are still firm to the touch.  They will cook the rest of the way in the Massaman.  Drain and set aside.

 - In a deep, large saucepan heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat, and then add the curry paste.  (Sidenote: you should be able to find the curry paste, coconut milk, peanut oil and the fish sauce in your market's Asian food section, or you can visit a specialty food shop for those items).  Frying the curry paste will release the flavors and oils, and it just smells really good.  I used red curry paste because my local grocery didn't have any Massaman curry paste, and it came out tasting fine. 

 - After about a minute, whisk in the coconut milk one can at a time.  After it starts a low boil while you are whisking away, add in the brown sugar until it is dissolved and mixed in really well.  Add the fish sauce to give the Massaman a little salt flavor or just some salt to taste if you can't find any fish sauce.  You can also add some ground white pepper to the mix, if you so desire.  Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

 - After slicing up the cooked chicken into bite-sized chunks, add to the Massaman along with the semi-cooked potatoes.  Cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

 - Serve either on its own or over some cooked jasmine rice in a soup bowl.  It should look like a stew at this point. You can either add the peanuts right at the end or you can simply sprinkle some on top.  Or leave them out altogether, like I did.

That's it!  Extremely simple and extremely tasty.  You can find some more traditional recipes that call for other meats and ingredients, but like I mentioned earlier...I wanted to keep this real simple for it to have a broad appeal.  For a first-time recipe where that I was mostly making up quantities as I went along, it came our really well.   Enjoy!


Candy's daily Dandy said...

Ooooh I'm a loving me some THai.

Sooo sorrry about Sammi. xoxo

RW said...

We were good till we got to the coconut. I can't have, sad to say, but i am SO glad we got food porn this time! yay!

Slyde said...

that looks pretty good actually.

not that i'd ever cook it myself... make it for me!

sybil law said...

Can I just move in with you and Gia? I don't eat (too) much, and I don't have to use the catbox!

I want that for lunch, now. :(

Verdant Earl said...

Candy - Thanks! (And congrats on the Pats absolute BEATdown of the Jets last night)

RW - coconut milk for you? Sorry.

Slyde - The rare

Sybil - can stay in our guest house. The one with the pool boy and the views of the Caribbean. PS - we don't have any of those things...