Thailand: Chicken Satay, Yellow Curry, and Mango Sticky Rice
One of my favorite restaurants is Vientiane in West Philly. Just half a block from where I lived, it’s a cozy, friendly, inexpensive and delicious Thai/Laotian restaurant. It’s also one of my brother’s favorite restaurants. So, I decided to make Thai food when my family was all home together last weekend for Easter and attempt to recreate my favorite meal from Vientiane.
Here are the primary ingredients I used in both the satay and the curry (though not all ingredients are shown in the picture). Also, you will notice Easter decor sprinkled throughout the photos as my mom is a total pro at all holiday decorating.
I haven’t yet tracked down an Asian market in Rochester (though I need to do that…), so I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that I could find most of the key ingredients I needed at Wegman’s! These western NYer’s obsession with Wegman’s is well-founded. Galangal! Lemongrass! Kaffir lime leaves! All at Wegman’s! Not all in fresh form, but they worked.
First up, chicken satay. A spoiler alert – this turned out AMAZINGLY well and I am going to go ahead and brag that my chicken satay was better than Vientiane’s. Chicken thigh pieces are marinated in a “marinade of many ingredients” and then skewered and broiled (there was still snow on the ground so we did not BBQ them, but the broiler worked great).
While the meat was marinating, I made the peanut dipping sauce for the satay. This was a trial of errors, and a comedy of errors. While I was making the sauce I was explaining to my mom (so fun to cook with her!) that a few years ago I attempted to make a Thai peanut soup and there was so much peanut butter in it that it was completely inedible. Well, my first attempt at this peanut sauce ended up being inedible too. The recipe calls for one cup of peanuts, to be ground in a food processor. I didn’t have access to a food processor so I used natural peanut butter instead and used a blender. A whole cup of it. Yep, do you see the problem there? I completely failed to use common sense and consider that one cup of peanut butter may not equal one cup of peanuts. So, I proceeded to make the sauce which has quite a few ingredients. After blending everything together the sauce was super thick. Upon tasting it, all I could taste was peanut butter despite the plethora of other ingredients. Turns out, one cup of peanuts is NOT equivalent to one cup of peanut butter. So I had to scratch that whole batch and start from scratch (like that play on words? 😉 I think I ended up using about 1/3 cup of peanut butter in the new batch. Here are the pictures of the bad first batch and the corrected second batch.
So, as I said, the satay turned out great and we all loved it. It really didn’t even need the peanut sauce it was so flavorful on its own. It was so tender and juicy and flavorful. I only marinated it for about an hour, but it would probably be even more tender if it had marinated a bit longer.
My favorite Thai entree is yellow curry. I’ve made yellow curry at home before using pre-made yellow curry paste, and it turns out pretty well and is quite a quick meal to make that way. However, I wanted to challenge myself and make the paste from scratch. Here’s the recipe I used, and I added the kaffir lime leaves even though the recipe doesn’t call for it.
Once the paste is made, you saute it oil to deepen the flavor, and it almost instantly smells delicious.
This is the recipe I used for the yellow curry, though I made my own paste and also added broccoli. I cannot describe my happiness as the curry was cooking that it smelled and tasted almost exactly like Vientiane’s yellow curry.
We all loved this dish, which I served with jasmine rice (though my dad said it was so good and hearty it didn’t even need the rice). As we discussed how similar it tasted to Vientiane, my brother said “you pretty much nailed it.” He gave me permission to quote him on that 🙂
My ultimate favorite Thai dessert, and one of my favorite desserts of all time, is mango sticky rice. I failed to plan ahead enough to hunt down real sticky rice, so I used arborio rice as a substitute.
I used this recipe. It’s really quite easy, and although the arborio was not the same as sticky rice, I was still really happy with how it turned out.
This weekend happened to be NCAA March Madness extravaganza, so we made this a true couch cuisine and ate our meal while sitting on the couch in front of the tv while watching basketball. A perfect evening.
Oh, and here’s what was left of the curry, as visual evidence of my linguistic argument that we enjoyed the meal.
Notes for next time:
The peanut sauce isn’t even necessary for the satay – it was so good on its own. I would make the curry exactly the same way. I should have saved some of the sweetened coconut milk to pour over the sticky rice right before serving it to make it extra flavorful. Plan ahead enough to get sticky rice and make the real deal.