During college I studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I spent the summer studying Thai culture, traveling the city with my sweet Lilo & Stitch scooter, and learning to cook Thai food. Prior to traveling to Thailand I had little to no tolerance for spicy foods. When eating at restaurants though where no one speaks English, the way you order is to point at a picture of a meal, and hope that that is what they bring you (although most of the time it wasn’t). By experiencing more and more meals that I essentially didn’t order I was slowly able to tolerate spicier and spicier food items. Although, word to the wise, if the color of a meal looks red hot, it likely is extremely spicy and will make your eyes water with just one bite. If that happens, and yes it happened a few times to me, stop and say sorry to your taste buds with some soothing mango and sticky rice.
Returning to the states, it took me nearly 3 years to find a restaurant that could remotely compare to “real” Thai food. It is a tiny food truck in Portland, Oregon near the nursing school that I attended. Their close proximity to my areas of study was very dangerous, yet very welcomed. There’s nothing like warm, delicious, authentic curry on a cold, rainy day to brighten your mood. Because I am a huge curry fanatic I love eating my curry like a soup with just a little bit of rice. This curry dish I am sharing with you all is a staple in our household. If you are looking for a warm, cozy meal for a night in or a meal to share with friends, give this curry a try!
PANANG SWEET POTATO CURRY
Takes: 40 minutes
1. Coat the bottom and and sides of a wok with:
3-4 teaspoons olive oil or vegetable oil
10 teaspoons panang curry paste
3. Stir the curry paste frequently over medium heat for about a minute, until the paste is fragrant. This is releasing the natural oils and flavoring of the curry.
4. Stir in until the curry paste dissolves:
1 can coconut milk
5. Mix in:
3 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
6. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes to allow sweet potatoes to soften.
3/4 pound of chicken, cut into 1" pieces
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
8. Cover again, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Stir in:
1/4 cup basil
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
10. If the curry is too spicy you can add more sugar, one teaspoon at a time. Serve over rice.