To bring this Singapore themed recipes to a close, I decided to end it with one of Singaporean's favorite dishes, the chicken curry. You must be wondering what is so special about our curry. I am not sure about it's origin, but I am sure that it is a concoction of different cultures' element. It is a unique type of curry. It consists of coconut milk, potatoes wedges, chicken and loads of spices. Different households and eateries have their own spin of chicken curries. But, rarely, people are making their curries from scratch; most are using store-bought ready-made pastes, sadly.
I used to literally drink and lick my bowl of chicken curry clean whenever my grandma used to cook. She would cook a huge pot and it will be devored within a day. Some of us will serve the curry over some fried noodles, while some, such as myself, will eat it with a loaf of soft baguette. Yes! We have our own local style type of baguette. It is almost similar to Vietnamese baguette roll which they use for their banh mi; crispy crust with pillowy soft interior.
What I love about my grandma's curry is that when I took a sip, I will not get knocked off by the spiciness, but instead a sweet touch on the palette and the spiciness will kick in at the back of my mouth. The aftertaste will linger for a while. That's when I found out her secret ingredient: mango. What I dislike about her curry and any other curries are the chicken, potatoes and the extra thin layer of oil that seem to float on top of the curry. She will kill me for saying this, but that's the fact.
I cooked each element differently rather than just dump everything into the pot. I confit the chicken. Yes confit. I figured that not everyone has the luxury of owning a sous vide (myself included), so I used an old French technique in slow cooking the chicken. I then pan fried the chicken before adding into the curry. I also cook the potatoes in a separate pot. This is to ensure that the chicken and curry do not overcook as potatoes will take a longer time before fork tender. But as shown in my presentation, I roasted the potatoes instead. The rest is just curry magic. Now, as I serve this to my daughters, I watched them licking their plates clean too.
Boneless Chicken Thighs with Skin, 4 Pieces About 500g
Sea Salt, 1/2 TBSPWhite Pepper, Pinch
Lemongrass White Part Only, 3 Stalks
Kaffir Lime Leaves, 2
Garlic, 6 Cloves
Canola / Peanut / Vegetable Oil, For Confit
Dried Chilies Soaked & Deseeded, 5 Adjust To Preference
Fresh Red Chilies Deseeded Coarsely Chopped, 2 Adjust To Preference
Galangal / Blue Ginger, 1/2 Inch
Tamarind Paste, 1.5 TBSP
Gula Melaka / Palm Sugar, 1 TBSP Adjust To Preference
Coriander Powder, 1/2 TSP
Red Onion Finely Sliced, 1
Coconut Milk Preferably Organic, 200ml
Ripe Mango Coarsely Diced, 1
Fresh Lime Juice, 1 Lime
Fresh Lime Zest, 1 Lime
Sea Salt, Pinch
Yukon Gold Potatoes Peeled Wedged Boiled Fork Tender, 3 Adjust To Preference
Soft Baguette Roll Preferably Vietnamese, 1 Loaf
Fresh Coriander, Coarsely Chopped, A Handful
Cast Iron Skillet
Oven Proof Casserole Dish
Prepare chicken confit.
Rub and coat the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper.
Transfer the chicken into a shallow bowl.
Add in lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and garlic.
*Use the wholes cloves of garlic.*
Marinade in fridge for at least 12 hours.
After marinating, preheat oven to 120 degrees celsius or 250 fahrenheit.
Rinse the chicken thoroughly under running water to remove most of the salt.
Place the chicken and the rest of the marinade into an oven proof casserole dish.
Add in just enuff oil to submerge the chicken.
*Do not overlap the chicken.*
Cover tightly with aluminium foil.
Wack into the oven and bake for at least 2.5 hrs or until the chicken is tender and almost fall apart.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
*This can keep in fridge for up to a month.*
*Do not discard anything as they are needed for the next process.
The oil is bursting with flavors, why waste it? It will be awesome for deep frying or sauteing.*
After the chicken has cooled, in a skillet over medium heat, drizzle in 2 TBSP of the chicken oil.
Gently place in the chicken.
*Careful as the oil may splatter.*
Sear until crisp golden brown on both sides.
Set aside to allow the chicken to rest.
*Do not wash the skillet.*
Prepare the spice blend.
In a blender, add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and garlic from the confit.
*You can squeeze the wonderful garlic out of it's skin.*
Add in the chilies, galangal, tamarind paste, gula melaka and coriander powder.
Blitz until smooth.
Prepare the curry.
In the same skillet over medium heat, add onion.
Sauteing and scrapping the bottom of the skillet, picking up all the wonderful goodness that the chicken had left behind.
Saute until translucent.
Add in the spice blend.
*Do not wash the blender.*
Saute to combine well and until it starts to turn a darker shade of red.
Add coconut milk into the same blender.
Blitz to pick up all the nooks and crannies.
Transfer the coconut milk into the skillet.
*Still, do not wash the blender yet.*
Stir until well combined.
Bring it up to a slow simmer.
Continue simmering for about 1 min.
Add in mango, lime juice and zest.
Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt.
Stir to combine well.
Transfer the curry back into the blender.
Blitz until smooth.
Transfer back into the same skillet.
*You can add a bit of water into the blender to blitz up all the nooks and crannies, then add it into the curry. You can now wash the blender.*
Add the chicken and whatever amazing juices that had been released into the curry.
Bring it up to a slow simmer.
At this point you can add in the boiled potatoes, cover and simmer for about 1 or 2 mins.
*Boiling the potatoes separately will not overcook the chicken and the curry.
But if you want the same plating as mine, finely slice the potatoes. Using a cookie cutter to cut out round discs. Draw the circumference of your plate on a parchment paper. Place the parchment paper on a baking tray, penciled side down. Lay the potatoes discs along the circumference, overlapping one another. Drizzle some of the chicken oil over the potatoes. Lightly season with salt. Place another parchment paper over the potatoes. Place a heavy oven proof plate over the potatoes. This is to make sure that the potatoes will adhere. Wack into a preheated 200 degree celsius or 400 fahrenheit oven and bake for about 20 to 25 mins or until golden brown and fork tender. Remove from oven and carefully transfer onto serving plate.*
Transfer the chicken, curry and potatoes onto serving plate.
Serve with some slices of soft Vietnamese baguette roll.
Garnish the curry with coriander.