Curry in a Hurry

When an unexpected dinner guest or a long day at the office makes dinner preparation seem impossible, turn to this shortcut curry and relax. If you have canned coconut milk, chicken in the freezer, and a little red curry paste hiding at the back of the refrigerator, you are halfway there.

5 cups canned coconut milk
3 Tbsps. red curry paste (store-bought)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs rinsed and cut into quarter-inch slices
2 Tbsps. Thai fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 red chiles, cayenne, or serrano peppers cut into long thin strips (optional)
1/4 cup basil leaves

Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup of the coconut milk. When it is bubbling, add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for five minutes until the oil begins to separate.

Add the chicken pieces and stir well to coat them with the flavored oil. Cook over high heat for about four minutes, until the chicken has changed color and is somewhat firmer. Add the remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for five to ten minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and lime juice and simmer for five more minutes. Just before serving, stir in the chile strips and the basil.

Serve with Jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. Serves 4-6.

Steve Kuntz is a local chef and the owner of Call Steven Catering.