Sunday, July 15, 2007

This week in the kitchen, part two: Gaeng Garee Gai

The triple-G of Thai curries, Gaeng Garee Gai is a yellow curry with coconut milk, potatoes, and chicken. Chris and I always, always order it in Thai restaurants and are rarely disappointed. The creamy coconut milk tempers the heat of the curry paste; the long simmer renders the chicken fork-tender and mouthwatering; and the excess of smooth, rich sauce is gorgeously decadent over rice.

So when Chris asked if I could give this dish a try at home, I decided: what the heck? I agonized for a few minutes in the grocery store about which kind of curry paste to buy, then decided the generic “yellow curry paste” from Thai Kitchen would probably do nicely. I even bought the regular coconut milk instead of the light I usually pick up. I parboiled five small Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped three boneless, skinless chicken breasts into large pieces, and dug up a recipe on Ye Olde Internette.

The results looked something like this:

I served it with sticky rice and frozen green peas for some colour and vitamins. It looked and smelled delicious, and Chris raved over it, but to me it was only fine. I realized halfway through the cooking process that the recipe I was using calls for both coconut cream and coconut milk, though it only mentions this in the directions, not the ingredient list. (The site was Thailand-based, I believe, and the translation not fabulous.) I think that must be why I found the sauce so thin and not as flavour-packed as the restaurant versions I’ve tried. The professionally rendered ones have all been much sweeter as well, something I tried to achieve by adding two tablespoons of brown sugar during cooking (though it was not called for). It wasn’t nearly enough, and makes me wonder just how much sugar the restaurant chefs are adding to Westernized Thai food.

All in all, it was a bit disappointing, and I think I’ll leave this one to the experts from now on. I know I can cook some Thai dishes well – I’ve made delicious chicken satays and one wonderful, if overly hot, red curry with beef and peanuts. I should go back to my little Thai cookbook and see what other dishes catch my fancy. After all, now I have the rest of the jar of yellow curry paste to use up.

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