Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe (Curry Mee)

















When I was in college, I skipped breakfast, ate popcorn and diet coke for lunch, and made tuna fish sandwiches or pasta with red sauce for dinner. It’s a wonder I’m still alive. My students at Juilliard are fortunate to receive nutrition counseling, and I am impressed to see them eating fruit, yogurt, and nuts between classes (protein and carbohydrates are necessary for muscle recovery, especially immediately after exercising), and from tupperware containers packed with leafy greens, sweet potatoes, lean meats or beans, and whole grains for their main meals.

The following recipe is for my former student Doug, who lives in Israel now. Doug is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School, an excellent dancer, and is making his way as a young member of the Batsheva Dance Company. He wrote to me a while ago saying that he is interesting in expanding his culinary repertoire, and that a recipe he made for coconut curry from The Joy of Cooking was lacking. Actually, what he said was, “I just made a chicken coconut curry recipe from The Joy of Cooking and it sucked.  Edible but uninspiring.”

This one doesn’t suck. It is from the New York Times, and has been tested by them and by me, more than a few times. Forget conventional chicken noodle soup; to me, these complex, spicy citrus flavors are the ultimate comfort when autumn arrives. Enjoy, Doug; this is heaps better than a tuna sandwich for dinner, and more fun to make, too.

Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Curry Mee): a recipe from the New York Times located here.

Note from Banu: This time I poached a whole cut-up chicken for 45 minutes in a couple of big pots of low-simmering water infused with some cilantro stalks, a few crushed garlic cloves, some curry leaves, and a sliced up onion. I removed the chicken pieces, shredded the meat as I picked it off the bones, and returned the bones to the simmering broth for about another hour and a half. I strained the stock, used half of it for the soup, and froze the other half for another use. Since the chicken was already cooked, I added it at the last minute, along with the noodles. I like this soup with chicken, but I am sure this would be fantastic with some shiitake mushrooms and tofu, for a vegetarian version.

I ate little bits of this soup all week, so cooked the noodles (I used mung bean noodles this time) at the last minute, so they wouldn’t get soggy. Also, I garnished with sunflower sprouts instead of bean sprouts, and I forgot to garnish with the cilantro for the picture, but it's a lovely addition to the flavors of this soup.

Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemon grass or pale green cilantro roots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dark red chili paste, such as sambal, more for serving
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
About 12 kaffir lime leaves or curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (bun or vermicelli), or other Asian noodles such as udon or lai fun
Salt to taste
1 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, cut into thin rings
2 shallots, thinly sliced and deep fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)
Quartered limes for serving.

1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and lemon grass and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary. Add garlic and chili paste and stir until fragrant. Raise heat, add chicken and stir-fry one minute. Add curry powder and paprika and stir to coat. Then add coconut milk, half-and-half, chicken stock, turmeric, fish sauce, sugar and lime or curry leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook rice noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about 4 minutes). Rinse and drain.

3. Taste broth and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar. Divide noodles into large soup bowls. Bring broth to a boil, then ladle over noodles. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions and fried shallots, if using. Pass limes and sambal at the table.

Yield: 4 main-course servings.

Note: To make this rich soup more substantial, boiled potatoes are sometimes added to the simmering broth and cooked until very soft.

Similar recipes from A Hungry Bear Won't Dance: Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup Recipe, Mushroom-Studded Tortilla Soup with Chipotle Chiles and Goat Cheese Recipe, Sorrel and Stinging Nettle Soup Recipe

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