Thai Butternut Squash Curry

I love everything about Thai food. The flavors are so dynamic and complex. I love the balance of spicy and sweet with subtle hints of citrus. When I finally got this recipe right, the flavors of red chilies, coconut, and lemongrass complemented each other in perfect unison. I also love how Thai cuisine incorporates fresh vegetables and warm spices. This traditional Panang curry recipe is very versatile.  During the summer, I like to create this dish with shrimp and pineapple as a fun variation.  But since it’s winter, I decided to change things up a bit and add butternut squash as a guest ingredient. Bursting with warm flavor, butternut squash brings a powerful source of nutrition to this dish. In less than 30 min, you can whip up this flavorful meal any day of the week.  All the ingredients are conveniently available in any grocery store.

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*I recently stumbled across a very unique trick for making curries. When using curry paste in Thai recipes, I usually begin by cooking the paste in a skillet on very high heat. Cooking it releases the oils and therefore blossoms or intensifies the flavor. When a can of coconut milk is undisturbed (not shaken) the coconut “cream” or oil separates and rises to the top of the can and the liquid remains on the bottom. The creamy part on top can be used to sear the curry paste and infuse it with the flavors of coconut (and prevent your pan from burning).

Ingredients

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk, undisturbed
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
12 oz raw chicken, sliced very thin*
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup fresh broccoli florets
2 cups bell peppers, sliced thin strips
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup fresh basil leaves, Thai basil preferably
1 cup jasmine rice, cooked

*Tip: The easiest way to slice chicken really thin is to slice it when it’s partially frozen with a very sharp knife.

Instructions

Combine all the chopped vegetables into a bowl.

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Open the can of coconut milk (that hasn’t been shaken or stirred) and scoop out the creamy white part from the top and place it in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the red curry paste directly into the cream.

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Whisk continuously for 2 minutes to awaken the flavors of the curry. The mixture should reach a light simmer.

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While simmering, whisk in the fish sauce and brown sugar. Cook for 1 minute.

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Still simmering, add the raw chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fully cooked through.

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Cooking time will vary depending on how thinly sliced the chicken is, but after a few minutes it should be firm and fully cooked.

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Add the fresh basil.

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Add the frozen peas.

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And finally, add all the chopped veggies and return it to a light simmer.

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The heat from the sauce will soften the veggies while maintaining their optimal freshness.

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So simple. So delicious.

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Traditionally served with jasmine rice.

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One response to “Thai Butternut Squash Curry

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