I may not have mentioned it before, but the Genius Husband is a phenomenal cook. People used to pay him to go to their houses and cook for their dinner parties, he’s that good. I was already in love with him when I discovered this quality, as the first meal he ever gave me was desert camping food, which consisted mainly of toasted soy nuts and Gingeroos from Trader Joes. (Still the best soft ginger cookies on the planet by the way.) We also had tea, and I was thinking, uh, I thought this dude said he would supply the food, what the heck is this. No matter how good for you soy nuts are, I was thinking something a little more substantial, but then, I’d never hiked in the desert before. Turns out he was right about what heat does to appetite.
After that he took me out for food a lot when we got around to dating, but I was already engaged to him before he cooked for me.
Now, I haven’t ever considered myself a slouch in the kitchen. I’m quite comfortable improvising recipes from scratch, I bake invent and experiment and my food usually tastes good. My mom is after all a caterer among other things, and though I may not have inherited her talent for effortlessly making food pretty as my sister did, I at least learned to make it tasty. Compared to him I’m like a three year old. He started out perfecting Northern Italian cuisine. The first thing he ever made for me was homemade tomato sauce, sweet and spicy, with deep fried scallops dredged in curry and flower thrown in at the last minute over top of linguini. The salad was this completely boring looking mass of green but when you put it in your mouth you discover basil and mint and lime and peppers and it almost melts in your mouth it’s so succulent.
Then he went to South-East Asia. Now flavors from India, and Thailand and Indonesia have taken over our kitchen, and wow, that tastes good. The problem that he has is that he will invent these brilliant dishes that everyone remembers for years, and he won’t remember making them, or how he did it. Enter me, the wonder wife, who often cleans the kitchen after every single pot, pan, counter space and cutting board has been dirtied. That is the price of genius I suppose, though he has improved tremendously since I started complaining. However the main function I serve is as walking database containing all of the ingredients and steps for past culinary triumphs, and reproducing them once he’s forgotten. Most of my favorite recipes are things he invented and I made him teach me so they wouldn’t be lost, though I have had a brilliant moment from time to time myself.
My favorite thing about Thai food is the way it tastes so fresh, I love the way they use fresh basil and mint and cilantro, the lime leaves and the peanuts, lemon grass and curry. It’s an adventure in my mouth unlike any other. I have gotten very good at following recipes for Thai food, most of which involve exotic ingredients that need to be purchased in Asian markets and taste amazing when finished. Recently though, I have been experimenting with creating Thai flavors, without recipes, out of what I can get nearby. The GH can already do this. The fact that half of the extended family here spent the summer there may have something to do with that. I am not all that great yet but I’m improving. Last night I attempted chicken, it tasted okay, the kids ate it all. The Genius Husband didn’t eat until later, and when he heated it up, he as usual rummaged in cupboards and added things as it occurred to him, and then I tasted it, and it was amazing.
So, as I planned dinner this evening, I couldn’t get that chicken out of my head and decided to try it. So I called the GH at work. Don’t tell me that you don’t think it’s funny that I call my husband hard at work on a construction site to ask him for his recipe for Red curry and basil Thai chicken, because it is funny.
Long story short, I followed directions, and we have a new favorite. What’s brilliant about this one is that the ingredients can be found at Vons, and it’s easy to make. So without further ado, I decided to share this recipe with you.
2lbs Chicken Thighs cut into cubes
juice of one lime
1/2-1 tsp Thai Kitchen Red Curry
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
Combine in a large ziplock bag and allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes
In cast iron skillet brown chicken on medium high to high heat. You'll need a bit of oil to start with something that doesn't burn at high temperatures.
Once it’s brown and getting a bit crispy, deglaze with some soy sauce.
Add about 1 tsp, more if you like it really spicy, of chili garlic paste, (Also known as Sambal Oleak) and found in a clear plastic jar with a green lid in the Asian section. For some reason it’s made in Vietnam and the jar is in mostly Vietnamese.
At the same time add at least a cup of chopped fresh basil leaves.
Saute for one or two minutes and serve over fresh made jasmine rice.
If you want to add a bit of northern Thailand too it, add some oil to the still hot pan and fry some eggs. Put them in a hot bowl of rice while the yolk is still a bit runny and eat together with the chicken.
Really try it, you’ll thank me.