Chicken Curry with Rice Noodles


One of the first Asian recipes I learned to make when I moved to St. Maarten was Thai curry. Since there were only about 3 other Lao/Thai foods I knew how to make, Thai curry was in that rotation a lot!!! I believe I may have burned B and myself out on curry those first 3 months. We ate it in every form—red, green, Massamam, Penang, and even Indian curries.

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Usually, curries are eaten with Jasmine or Basmati rice, but I was really hankering for some “kapoon.” Kapoon is Lao for “bundle of noodles,” or so I assume? I also assume the Lao acquired the idea to add rice noodles to curry from the Vietnamese. Who knows? But IT IS GOOD.

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It hits all the right flavor notes. Sweet, sour, spicy, umami. My mouth is watering. I had finished a bowl before B even sat down for dinner. Today, I had leftovers and they were even better than the first time around. The aroma transported me to my mom or my aunt’s kitchen when there is a large function and they need to feed a lot of people.

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You know, I’ve noticed that Lao party food is some of the most complicated dishes to make and usually require teams of women in the more than one kitchen! It stresses me out, but everyone seems to eager to help out! Except one of my aunts. She’s not much of a cook, so she makes grocery store runs when the team(s) run out or need an ingredient.

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Anyhow, I love the fact that these women put in so much time and effort so their guests can enjoy themselves. My favorite part is that there is not only more than enough food to consume at the function, but there is also more than enough to take home too!!! Go ahead and load me up!!!

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Chicken Curry with Rice Noodles/ Kapoon Karee

1 package rice vermicelli noodles

¼ cup olive oil

1 can coconut milk, well shaken

1 small can Thai red curry paste

1 small shallot, finely diced

4 tbsp garlic, minced

2 5in long stalks of lemongrass

1 cup yellow onion, diced

1 5lb chicken, cut into pieces

1 cup carrots, roughly chopped

1 small can of bamboo shoots

2-3 cups sweet potato, cut into 1.5 in pieces

6 kaffir lime leaves

6 [coconut] cans of water (each can is 1 ¾ cups)

1 bundle of Thai basil, tied up

¼ cup sugar

salt

pepper

fish sauce

Cook rice noodles according to package directions—unlike regular pasta noodles, these noodles require longer cooking, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the amount. After the required cooking, “wash” the noodles in cold water. Form into fancy bundles—I don’t know how to do this, so I am not going to try to explain this!

In a somewhat tall cooking pot (to avoid curry splatter), combine olive oil, half the coconut milk, and red curry paste on medium high heat. Cook until the mixture “breaks”; that is, when there is a layer of red oil on top of the mixture. Add the rest of the coconut milk, along with the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, and onions. Cook 5 minutes. Be careful to not let the bottom burn and adjust the heat accordingly.

Add chicken. Cook another 5-10 minutes.

Add the carrots, bamboo, and the 6 cans of water. Bring to a hard boil—20-30 minutes. Remove any scum from the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium for 1 hour.

Add sweet potatoes and basil. I used sweet basil due to the unavailability of Thai basil on this island.

After the sweet potatoes are cooked, remove the lemongrass stalks, kaffir lime leaves, and the bundle of basil. Add the sugar and seasonings to your liking. You may add the basil, unbundled, and keep it in the soup. I usually leave it in when I’m eating curry with rice.

You’ll notice that when the curry settles, there is a thick red layer of oil on top.  This means that you made it “right!”  Congratulations!

P.S. I’ve also had kapoon karee with the addition of regular white potatoes and even pumpkin. I’m meh about the regular potatoes, but LOVE fresh pumpkin in this soup.

Serve with:

Finely shredded cabbage
Cilantro & green onions
Mint
Finely diced long green beans
Lime wedges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March Madness


happybay

The Boyfriend and I recently had some visitors, which turned out to be a great opportunity for us to see new places and try new restaurants on the island.  I had to take B and our guests to Rosemary’s in Marigot.  Unlike the many other lolos on the island, who serve grilled chicken and ribs, Rosemary’s offers genuine creole cuisine.  My favorite dish is her super tender conch creole.

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After lunch, we headed north to check out Happy Bay. We parked at Friar’s Bay and the menfolk stopped to get drinks at what I think said “Bob Marley’s Bar”? There was about a 10-20 minute walk through Friar’s Bay, then a hike up to Happy Bay, therefore, refreshments were needed.

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Happy Bay never fails to impress. The left side of the beach is dotted with rock formations and the water is crystal clear in an amazing shade of blue.  There were few people out, which made laying on the beach quite conducive to napping. If that is not your thing, check out the beach shack, stocked with beer and liquor.  The boys said Danny, the barman, made a pretty decent rum punch.

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For dinner, we decided to check out Karakter on Simpson Bay Beach. We arrived just as the sun was setting. It was the perfect Kodak moment for our friends.  I don’t think I could put into words how amazing the atmosphere at Karakter is. Let’s just say, it was so amazing that I didn’t care how slow the service was!  My favorite appetizers include the fried plantains and the goat cheese and honey bruschetta.

hilmas

For lunch one day, we ate shwarmas at Abu Ghazi (the best on the island, in my opinion) and Hilma’s Windsor Castle, both in Simpson Bay.  Hilma’s was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s first show, A Cook’s Tour (sense a theme here?).  I have to say, Hilma is one of the sweetest ladies with the warmest smile on the island. Her food is also TO DIE FOR. B and I have tried her pulled chicken and pulled pork Johnnycake sandwiches.  These little things are packed with flavor!  Her Johnnycakes are light and chewy and not a bit greasy. The sandwich is not complete without the local Scotch Bonnet hot sauce (in the old ketchup bottle). Mmmmm, my mouth is watering!  Her fried chicken drumstick is also worth trying–the batter has a touch of curry powder, making it slightly different from good ole American fried chicken.

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Tucked in a little waterfront space in Porto Cupecoy is Le Bateau Ivre or “The Drunken Boat.”  Hands down, some of the best food I’ve had on the island. The appetizer special was escargot aux cepes (snails with mushrooms) and it did not disappoint. I found a similar recipe here, though I have no clue where to find fresh snails? The Boyfriend had the best meal at the table, in my opinion–seared duck breast, cooked medium rare with honey sauce. I could have licked the plate! P.S., try the red blend from the Cote du Rhone region.  My favorite!

brunch

Our visitors left on Friday afternoon, missing out on the Westin Resort’s Sunday brunch.  This is significant because:  ALL YOU CAN EAT SNOW CRAB and ENDLESS MIMOSAS.  Oh yeah, and the Westin sits on the shores of Dawn Beach, where the view is not too shabby.

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I will be leaving the island soon. I thought I was ready to get back to the States, but as the date looms closer, I’m having a hard time letting go of this beautiful island.

Dawn Beach

Dawn Beach